Do/would you let your kids cuss?

I’m of the opinion that cuss/swear/curse/whatever words are just words, and wouldn’t have any particular problem with my kids using them (not that I’d encourage it, I would just be indifferent). Obviously they’d have to learn when it’s appropriate, and when it’s not so they don’t get in trouble at school, but other than that, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. What are your thoughts on children cussing? Or just cussing in general?

And before everyone starts getting worried about my children going around yelling “Hell! Damn! Fart!” at everyone, I’m not planning on having any kids. At least not anytime soon.

We didn’t when WhyKid was small, but mostly out of concern for him getting in trouble at school or at Grandma’s. It was calmly explained to him that there are some activities children are not allowed to do, and adults may make the choice to do; there are kid drinks and grown-up drinks, there are kid movies and grown-up movies, there are kid words and grown-up words.

We didn’t NOT swear around him though, nor did we get all shocked when our friends did. We’re grown-ups, we can choose to use grown-up words. He can’t, any more than he can choose to have a beer.

With age and school influences, of course, our influence has waned. At 12, I’m sure when he’s at school or around his friends, he’d put a sailor in shock. Now it’s become a matter of “I don’t want to hear that kind of language from you until you’re never!” (Buffy reference, which tickles him enormously.) So he keeps it away from my ears, his grandmother’s ears and his teacher’s ears and we’re all happy. Frankly, the reason I don’t want to hear it is because I think if it were allowed, his vocabulary would shrink to “fuck” “food” and some obscure gaming terms. I want him to stretch his vocabulary and not rely on “Fuck that fucking fucktard” to express himself all the time. Some of the time, sure - that time is around his friends. Around me, he will use actual words for practice, lest he return to a grunting neolithic state.

He does employ a lot of sci-fi cusses around the house, as we all do. Frack, dren, hezzmana, etc. They go a long way to relieve stress without making anyone feel uncomfortable.

Oh, an interesting side question would be: What words do you and your kids consider “cuss words”? I was shocked when he came home from kindergarten saying “screw” as in “We screwed that up!”, but *he *was shocked when I used the word “stupid” as is “Wow, that stupid lady just cut me off!”

With my students (HS juniors), I have a three tier system: there’s in class, in my classroom before and after school, and at my house. In class, nothing worse than “crap” --though I will ignore “damn”. In my room after school, “ass” and “shit” and “bitch” are allowed, as long as it isn’t excessive. I won’t say anything. At my house (my academic decathlon team comes over from practices), pretty much anything goes.

On the other hand, they learn the first week not to use any racist terms or to use ‘gay’ as a pejoritive. That isn’t tolerated anywhere, ever. Nor is name calling of any sort: “Crap, I forgot my homework”, I am not going to say anything. “She’s a piece of crap” will get your ass hauled out into the hall for a lecture, and it best not be repeated.

I don’t object to a small amount of colorful language in a casual setting. Kids learn that word have the power to shock, surprise, and annoy at a pretty early age. I use those kinds of situations as learning/teaching opportunities and talk about casual v. formal language, appropriate situational use…stuff like that. As a fun game, we also charge each other a quarter for cuss or ‘bad’ words. (I expect them get wealthy on that alone as they consider very many words to be ‘bad’.)

I will not allow my kids to cuss in front of me. Although I must admit, I’ve been known to use them on occasion. However it sounds rather lacking in class, so I wouldn’t let my kids do it.

My father was ‘an Officer and a Gentleman, by Act of Congress’, and I was raised accordingly. I do swear. But usually it’s for dramatic/comedic effect, and I like to use ‘different’ swear words. But I would strive to raise my (never to be existent) kids in the same way my father raised me.

In our house, our parents didn’t refrain from cursing in front of my brother and I (or AT us), and we were given some leeway to do the same, as long as we didn’t shame the family in public settings. But most importantly, we learned there was a big difference between using “Oh, fuck!” as an exclamation, and “Fuck you!” as an insult. Cursing was acceptable on a general level, for emphasis or description or even when quoting someone, but not cool when targeting an individual to be mean or rude.

I don’t think it’s a real big deal as long as it’s not used to hurt other people and they don’t use it in inappropriate places. I think you need to balance it a good vocabulary so they have other colorful words to choose from when they’re trying to express themselves.

Couldn’t have said it any better than that.

I think the BEST time for kids to swear is when they are very young. Nothing funnier than a 4 year old using obscenities in proper context. Unless it’s three year olds using them out of context. “Where hell is mommy?” from my 4 year old nephew made me giggle.

(We have informed them as they got older that some people are uptight and don’t like to hear certain words, and it is polite to not use those words where people might be offended. And we don’t really swear that much.)

I’ve had a terrible mouth on me since the early '80s, when I was in the Navy. So my kids were always exposed to varied bad language, cussing and swearing. From me, anyway, my husband (also a sailor) very rarely swears. When the kids were small, I didn’t allow them to swear in front of me – I used the good old “Those are grown-up words” dodge. By the time they were in High School I didn’t say anthing if they swore around me – by that time they had a good understanding of where and in front of whom it’s OK to cuss.

To me, the issue isn’t exactly what sort of words kids use. It’s the context in which they use the words, and the social import of the expression. I don’t much care to hear youngsters tossing around vulgar language, but it disturbs me more when parents don’t crack down on extreme rudeness and disrespect. If my kid says to someone “Fuck off, bitch,” my concern would not be the use of the words “fuck” and “bitch.” I’d be mightily troubled by the fact that my kid thought it was OK to fling casual, arrogant insults at others.

So you really do curse like a sailor? :wink:

If I ever have kids, I would not let them cuss in front of me. I won’t mind when they cuss in front of their friends, but I firmly believe that kids should speak to and around adults in a certain respectful manner.

I don’t go cussing in front of my boss, but amongst my coworkers I let loose with no problem. I cuss in front of my siblings, but amongst my parents I use totally different language (my mother perpetuates this…she won’t let me even say “B.S”). In front of strangers, I refrain from profanity, but I will engage in it when I’m around friends. I don’t cuss in front of children but I do in front of adults.

I would encourage my children to get in the habit of self-censoring by requesting they not cuss around me and other adults.

Absolutely not, my definition of cussing being anything you can’t say on the radio. I agree that curse words are more or less arbitrarily judged naughty, but so is just about every other cultural taboo. Dyeing your hair black is not fundamentally different from dyeing it purple, but I wouldn’t let my kid dye his hair purple either, at least not until he’s 16 or so, and even then I’d hassle him about it all the time.

Sometimes you hear the argument that it’s not the words themselves that are bad, but rather the unbridled expression of strong emotion. That argument makes some sense to me. I used to know some very straight-laced, Sunday-school-type guys who would always be saying things like “Jiminy Christmas” and “spuck”. That’s just silly - if you insist on expressing extreme displeasure, at least do it like a grown man. Sometimes I “fake curse” like that just to be ridiculous.

Fuck no.

This lesson in Parental Hypocrisy is brought to you by Generations of My Family.

I allow “crap” and “sucks”, which I was not allowed to use as a kid. I also don’t much care if they curse when they’re with their friends, as long as they know it’s not to be used in the presence of adults.
Sometimes when we’re joking around at home, one of them will laughingly tell me to shut up, or say, “You’re so dumb!” and as long as we’re being playful, I let that slide too.

I felt pretty unfettered cussing in front of my mom, but I didn’t dream of doing it around my dad. And, if you think about it, it accomplished the goal of teaching me that cussing really wasn’t something you were supposed to do while also allowing me to think I was getting away with something really terrible, thus letting me feel like a bit of a rebel.

No. I will rarely curse anymore, even more rare in front of my children, and approaching never in the presence of my parents and in-laws. And I’m the most likely of any in my household to swear.

I believe that by having “No Swearing” zones, it (hopefully) teaches children that there are places such language is appropriate, and places it is not. It also (hopefully) teaches them that the presence of certain people (doesn’t matter if everyone else is cursing, you do not curse in front of your Grandmother…ever).

My son lives with his mother. I don’t know their cursing rules, but they probably aren’t as strict (as she used to curse more than I did). My son knows better, but he’ll often push his luck. He’ll say something, and I’ll let it slide…once. He knows this, he even knows that in my parents’ and in-laws’ company, our language is strictly ‘G’-rated. He is purposefully looking for a reaction; trying to figure out what he can get away with. Rather than accept my graciousness, allowing it to be a simple slip of the tongue, he’ll try again, usually within a couple of minutes. And we’ll have the same conversation we’ve had each time he’s tried this. sigh Teenagers, anything worth telling them once is worth repeating a dozen times.

Had another nice one. My daughter’s friend called. The answering machine picked up, but they, for some reason, weren’t aware. Friend’s parents must not have been around, as she was swearing a blue streak. Daughter, being home (also not knowing I could hear the conversation over the answering machine*), was smart enough not to “return fire”. Had a little talk with her later (I’m getting good at this talk): “There’s a time and a place for everything, and anytime adults my overhear you is neither the time nor place. I’m not so old I don’t remember what it is like to be 12 and think it’s cool to swear, but you were busted. This is your free pass, next time I need to tell your mother. Be smarter than that.” It’s worked so far.

*Yes, I could have been nice and given them some privacy, but that would have meant getting off of my buttocks and walking over to the answering machine, and durnit, I was comfortable!