Every now and then I write a parenting post

And here’s one.  OK, so I have one child, a son.  We have three rules in the house

*go to bed on time

*be at dinner (and no electronics at the table)

*don’t cuss in front of grandma (even though grandma cusses)

I was laughing when I read this:

It’s Kind of Fucking Pointless to Shield Kids from Swearwords

Kids are “little language vacuum cleaners,” according to a new study that finds that children are pretty good at cursing by the time they’re 5 or 6 years old. While parents have an impulse to shield their kids from bad words, it might actually be an exercise in futility.

*My emphasis

Of course it is.  In 2014 there is no way you’re going to shield your children, North Korea style, from finding out that there are swear words.

Instead I look at is as lesson.  You can use certain words around certain people, but you have to be careful not to use them in front of others.  Life is like that.  I talk differently at work than I do when I’m out at the bar.  I trust my son to handle that.  I also want him to understand that if words have power based on context.  If I’m yelling at someone and cussing at them, that’s a different thing than making a joke using an inappropriate word.

Maybe I’m making excuses because I don’t feel like policing my language when I’m around him.  I’m not a perfect parent.

I try to be real when I’m with my son.  I try to answer his questions as best I can.  I try to show him that things aren’t always simple.  A word isn’t like punching someone in the face- a word can hurt more.  But words can be appropriate or not appropriate, where punching someone in the face almost never is appropriate.

I wouldn’t want my son walking around swearing like a sailor all day, because that’s not going to lead him anywhere successful.  He cusses fairly often at home, but only once have a heard from a teacher that he was cussing*.  I want him to have a big vocabulary, and to enjoy language.  But let’s be real- cussing is a form of cultural capital for kids.  No kid wants to be a square, and other kids can tell when you’re using a word awkwardly.  I’m just looking out for him, making sure he’s prepared for school.

 

*One of his punk friends tattled on him.  This too was a lesson- don’t tattle on your friends for stuff like that.  Go to a teacher if they punch you, but don’t try to get your own buddy in trouble for something they blurted out.  That’s not being a good friend.

 

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2 comments

  1. How remarkably sensible. As an addendum, I remember telling both my son and granddaughter that if they were going to lie, they either had to get a lot better at it or give it up. They got a lot better.

    1. I’d want my son to know that every now and then the world will require you to lie about something (usually to be polite) and that’s it not necessarily wrong to do it.

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