How to Teach Children When You Can Scold

My son was seven or eight years old when he asked me about the “S word”. My husband and I decided from the beginning that we would not scold him, so he was completely unfamiliar with most, if not all, important figures. (Note: this is what we believe in infancy for – it took us the first full year of his life to break the habit of swearing with him in our house.) When he asked, I looked at my husband, shrugged, and told him everything about “shit”.

While I still don’t want to swear around him, and I don’t want him to swear around me , I always prefer to be the one who will tell him about these things, especially when he can just as easily ask a buddy if I could refuse to answer. … Then he asked about “word A”, “word D” and “word K” – at this point I realized that he was just picking random letters. But we went through them all, and then I laid out my rules for when he could and could not use them.

Every family is different when it comes to cursing – or when – children and whether they allow them to do the same. It’s okay for some parents to swear at home, but not in public. Other parents allow their children to swear as an expression of emotion (” Damn it, it hurts! “), But not as an insult (” You are such an asshole! “). While I didn’t really want him to use those words at inappropriate moments, I also remember well enough as a child to realize that at some point he swears.

Therefore, I developed a three-part rule for him, which I will share with you in case you, too, expect your children to swear at some point, but prefer not to drop F-bombs on grandparents:

1. Do not scold adults until you become an adult.

2. Do not scold children younger than you. (Do you and your buddies want to keep swearing flying while you play Splatoon 2’s funky game? Okay. You don’t have to teach your kids how to swear at recess, though.)

3. Don’t use these words for mean words. (See above for a rule of thumb to use obscene words to express emotion, not insult.)

So far, for our family, this shit seems to work.


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