Children and swearing

How do most people introduce children to swearing? Is it becoming acceptable to just swear at/with them from a young age? Is there an age where it becomes acceptable?
This post inspired by some random woman and her child I passed recently (in Reading, UK); girl aged 5-6 was making strange noises, woman turns to her and (rather loudly) says “oh would you shut the FUCK up!”. I found this a both surprising and excessive… kids make noises, it’s what they do… no? In passing I also heard someone saying “it’s fucking cold” to a young boy (maybe 9-10). Was I just in the wrong neighborhood?

(yes I am 100% childlesss)

My kids are 10 and 12. It’s not acceptable for them to swear. I do hear kids here swear, but more in older kids and unfortunately a lot from adults. This only bothers me coming from nearby adults when I’m out with my kids. I used to swear quite a bit, but have given it up for the most part since I had kids. Not to be overly moral. Just want them to be a bit more selectively articulate.

The woman saying to her child to “Shut the fuck up” bothers me more than the “fucking cold” because it just seems so heartless. Telling someone to shut up is just plain rude period, profanity or not. Plus, what if something had genuinely been wrong with her?

My kids are taught, from their first swear, that there are “grown-up words”, just like there are grown up drinks and grown up movies. I don’t curb how I speak around them*; while I don’t swear like a sailor, I’m not above the odd curse. If they hear it, they hear it. If they use it, they’re reminded it’s a grown-up word. A week or so ago, the little guy I babysit said one, and my daughter (3) just leaned over conspiratorially and stage whispered, “That’s a grown-up word.”

When my son was about 10, we had a discussion about whether or not “suck” was a swear. We eventually put it, along with his hole-ridden sweats and red flame bandana, in the “Okay at home, but not at Grandma’s” category, and never had a problem with the distinction.

About 12 or so, he started dropping f-bombs to test my reaction. I laughed at him, told him to watch his [expletives deleted] mouth around people who might actually [expletives deleted] and [expletives] his [expletive]. He was a bit stunned; apparently, I *can *swear like a sailor, I just don’t. He was pwned, and he knew it, and ever since he’s confined his swearing to his peer group, as God intended.

*I do try to curb my language around other people’s kids, but I don’t get too freaked out if I slip. I find the “OH! I’m so SORRY! I forgot your KID WAS HERE!” most people do to be more annoying and more attention grabbing than the actual swear.

My boyfriend and I both have potty mouths, and his three kids hear “bad” words pretty often. I am not saying that this is right, but it is what happens. We tame it around the two year old, who is the king of repeating things at a really bad times. The older ones (12 and 13) have heard it their entire lives from family members and such. Where I draw the line though, is cussing AT the kids. We don’t tell them to shut the fuck up, I don’t think we have ever told them to shut up at all, hush or be quiet maybe. The girls slip up and say “pissed off” or “shit” on occasion in front of me, never have I heard them say anything worse, though I am sure that they will as they get older. They both are great students, are well-behaved, and mind us decently enough for tween girls, even though they do hear our foul language.

Like Whynot, I put swearing in the same category as voting or drinking- something a grownup can do. I tell them that if, after they’re 18, they want to make every other word they say a curse word, I won’t stop them, but until then, it’s a big fat no. Suck is unavoidable these days, it seems, so I let that go.

Ditto – you can swear with (older kids) or around them, but not AT them. Fer fuck’s sake.

I swear pretty fluently myself and catch myself popping off like a sailor in front of my nephews from time to time, but I’ve explained to the older one that there are times and places that there isn’t any other word to use (Yes, Uncle Cluricaun can say “Motherfucker” when he drops a paving stone on his foot, and that’s kind of the appropriate time to use it too) but that over use of any word, be it a curse or the word “like” or even “Ok” makes you sound stupid, and like plenty of behaviors that not how I see you. Of course, Your Mother May Vary, so don’t tell her I said anything. :smiley:

I let my six year old swear all she wants at home, but have warned her that the rules are different at school and she would get in trouble if she said them there, and that cursing is a bad habit. I did it this way because I think banning the words gives them power, and so far it has worked. While she might ask me, “Mommy, why did you just say ‘shit’?” I’ve never ever heard her swear for herself.

Not that my way is any better than any other way, I did it like this as an experiment. If she actually did start swearing regularly I’d likely change the rules.

I don’t like to hear children swear, but then I don’t do it myself. I used to work as a yard teacher, and there was one 4th grader who had learned some serious pottymouth from his dad. Hearing him calling other kids mother****ers was not the my favorite experience.

Anyway, I don’t allow my children to swear or use language I don’t use myself. And I am very tame. I don’t like the word crap, though I will use hell very occasionally when I really want to make an impression. (I believe last time was when some prankster pounded on our door at 1am, waking us out of our peaceful slumber.)

I asked my 10 yo brother, while trick-or-treating, to give me his best shot at some good solid swearing. He asked 5 times if I was serious and was shy about it at first. He eventually came up with “Damnit, give me the fucking candy, you stupid bitch!” It was cute.

When the kids at work fight about whether the lame words (“suck”, “crap”, etc) are bad words, I tell them that it is if someone is offended by them. I tell them that different words mean different things in different places. “Runner” means something different on a track field than on a baseball field, f’rinstance. So if someone reacts negatively to the word, then they shouldn’t use it. I like this approach because I think it diffuses the words’ power and mysticism. It also helps teach them that language shouldn’t really be classified as anything beyond what the listener and speaker think it is.

When they ask why kids can’t say the words that adults use, I tell them it’s because people don’t like to think of kids as harsh. Bad words are used when angry and it’s the same thing as a kid throwing a tantrum. It shows that the kid is out of control and less than admirable. They seem to understand it then.

I started cussing when I was about 8 and the first time I cussed at home (I said fuck talk about not giving my parents time to get used to it) I got my mouth washed out with soap. This gave me the impression that there were only certain acceptable times to cuss, mainly not around my parents.

As I grew up occasionally my dad would tell me that I was cussing to much around the family and I would make an effort to dial it back through out my life. This seems like a good way to go because I have no problem with cussing but I don’t want my future kids to embarrass me or get into trouble so teaching them when is more important then anything else.

I taught my daughter that it is ok to ‘curse’. I taught her this after noting that her respect level and behavior is impeccable. Her vocabulary is awesome. She is mature and sweet and I know she was just dying to let a curse word cross those lips! Ha.

She knows the rules. She can’t say it around adults or anyone else that she figures would be offended. She can say it at home. She never does though…or so I thought.

One day, while dropping off my godson back to his mom after a visit, he said to me, “Hetep said she is tired of all the stuff that keeps slowing down her computer, but she didn’t say stuff, she said the S word.”

My daughter is 9.

Anecdote for you on the “S-word”:

Recently, my 10 year old started reading a book that was at an advanced reading level & my wife was concerned that there might be some foul language in there. My daughter said she knew “damn” was a bad word. My wife asked her if she saw the S-word in the book. My daughter replied with a quizzical look saying “You mean ‘stupid’?”

We think we have done well so far. :stuck_out_tongue:

I swore quite freely as a child, but only around other children.

I’m sure you’re doing fine, but in my book naivete does not equal good judgement, which is what we’re trying to cultivate when it comes to swearing, isn’t it?

In my experience, kids who are sheltered from things respond very differently as adults than kids who are exposed and introduced to the dynamics of things. Things like language, coarse and refined. Influential and impactful.

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How do most people introduce children to swearing? Is it becoming acceptable to just swear at/with them from a young age? Is there an age where it becomes acceptable?

I quit swearing in front of my kids when my older daughter was about 15-16 months old. I swore after dropping something. A few minutes later, my daughter dropped a toy, looked up at me, and repeated what I’d said earlier. I haven’t sworn since.

My kids grew up knowing not to swear around me. I can’t control what comes out of their mouths outside my hearing, but I have never allowed (& still don’t allow) swearing around me.

Other kids swearing? I work at Wally World, y’all know. If I hear kids swearing, I use my best “Mom” voice to let them know, “you do NOT use that language in this store.” Usually I get a meek “yes, maam” in response from the kids. The parents either ignore me, or glare at me (although in one case I was told by a rather huffy young mom, “well, you don’t have to be rude!”). I can’t say I always remember the kids, but the parents continue to shop where I work.

Love, Phil

Using ignorant language proves one thing, IMHO. The speaker is ignorant and cannot think of an intelligent way to express their feelings. People who swear around kids, or allow their own kids to use such language are to be pitied, because they are passing on their own lack of intelligence and manners to those kids. I’m no prude, but I cannot think of a situation that calls for such stupid behavior.

No, assuming swearing means one is ignorant or unintelligent is the stupid thing. I’ve never scored less than the 99th percentile on a vocabulary test in my life. I have a spectacular vocabulary. But the mark of intelligent speaking and writing is using precisely the *perfect *word from one’s extensive vocabulary. Sometimes, “aggravating” is the perfect word. Sometimes “motherfucker!” is.

Funny this should come up just now, but yesterday the three year old was frustrated because her “computer’s” mouse stopped working to the right. “Fucking computer!” she yelled at it, “Fuck!”

I laughed, told her she used the word perfectly, and then let her know it was a grown up word, and we should think of some other words to use instead. “Annoying”, “irritating”, “disobedient”, “broken”, “infuriating”…she chose “infwoowiating!” Terribly cute.

I do not swear around my children, but they have heard the words on occasion in movies, songs, and from others. This has come up from time to time, and I have always told them “There is no such thing as a ‘bad word’”. I tell them that certain words are innapropriate at their age level or in certain circumstances–and this always satisfies their curiosity.

I definitely don’t want them growing up with the idea that certain words in our language are totally taboo. I agree with WhyNot’s assertion that sometimes those “bad words” are perfect for the occasion.