Swearing in your family

This thread got me to thinking about how swearing is or was handled in your family. What words were considered verboten (the linked thread mentioned saying “shut up” and the rolling of one’s eyes as grounds for punishment for some.) Did you have a “swearing jar” in which one deposits a quarter or some other incentive to discourage profanity in your household? (who got the money and what did it get spent on if you did?) What were the punishments doled out for saying certain words? At what age did your parents relax the rules and how often did your parents themselves swear in your presence?

The only person who openly swears in the presence of others is my dad, and most of the time it’s a quietly muttered “dammit” or “hell”. He rarely says “shit” and I’ve never once heard him say “fuck”. My mother hardly ever swears. As for us kids, my sisters only did it when my parents weren’t around. I was afraid to swear in their presence for fear of being tattled on. In fact, I didn’t swear at all until I got to junior high. I realized that not swearing was making me look like a goody-two-shoes dork. Since then I’ve had some frustrating days where I’ve put a sailor to shame with the amount of profanity I’ve spewed. At age 37, to this day, however, I’ve never sworn in the presence of any family members. There never seemed to come a time when it became permissible or acceptable to let a four-letter word fly, and at this point it would seem highly uncharacteristic of me to do so. They probably know that I do swear, given my short temper and lack of patience.

If you have a family of your own what are your rules regarding profanity, including yourself and your spouse? How did you deal with it when your children were young and first picking up such words? Have you relaxed the rules for older children?

Shut-up could bring punishment when we were kids, so swear words were forbidden. I do recall one instance where I said the F-word in front of my mother. It was at a time when I was in a lot of pain and complaining about it. She paused, then moved on without saying anything. I was SO embarrassed.

As an adult, I say ‘pissed off’, but if I use any other swear word, such as sh*t, usually in describing a conversation or something of that sort, I sort of pause and whisper the word rather then continue the flow of my speech.

I never, ever swear in front of the older generation, like my grandmother or Great Aunt. It’s a respect thing.

Dad: Would say “damn” under stress, and occasionally said “bullshit” or “shit,” but not until my younger brother was somewhere in his teens.

Mom: Says “damn” when extremely angry, but otherwise does not swear at all. She’ll quote swear words, or use them if she must when telling a joke that involves swearing (but again, not until we were grown).

Growing up, I got my mouth washed out with soap for calling my brother a butt.

My father had a very bad temper and would use the work ‘fuck’ in every sense: noun, verb, adjective, whathaveyou. It didn’t matter how old we were, he’d say it in our presence and directly to us, as the situation (in his eyes) warranted.

My mother says that she never even said ‘shit’ until she met my father.

I never swore in front of my parents because of the whole “do as I say, not as I do” cliche. I DID start swearing on the playground at about age 7 and I didn’t just say things like ‘hell’ or ‘damn’. I said “motherfucker”, etc. I also gave my parents the finger behind their backs when they yelled at me.

A common threat between my brother and I were “I’m gonna tell dad that you swore!” As an adult, starting in my early 20s, I was swearing mildly in front of my mother only. I rarely say ‘fuck’ in front of her and my father never heard me say that word even before he died 3 years ago…and I was 34 at the time!

I still swear like a sailor and I know it’s not attractive, but I have cut back considerably in front of my daughter (17 months). She has only said “balls”, “crap” and “uck” (thankfully without the ‘f’!) so far and I’d like to keep it that way.

Oh, and I never swear at work and bristle when I hear others do, for some reason.

Raising my eyes to my mother in an angry or unhappy manner was forbidden. I said “go to hell” to my father once and I am not kidding you, I ended up sleeping in the car that night.

All of my swearing I learned from my father, the man was a genius at it. Granted it was in Spanish which is, in my opinion, a superior language for swearing, but I have been able to use translations of his classics with minor tweaks to great effect in many occasions. So yes, in my family we had lots and lots of swearing.

On edit I have to add that I am using ‘swearing’ in the sense of using foul language, not necesarily angry swearing as in cursing and ranting. Many of the best swearing in my family had to do with describing situations or people where no anger was involved, just descriptions that benefited from the colorful language.

When I was a kid, I never heard my mom say anything worse than “darn” or a variation of it. We couldn’t use the word “God” in the same way as “gosh” (“God mom, I’m sure!”) or we were busted.

My mom never used a swear word in my presence until I was an adult. Apparently, it’s because when I was two I heard her say “shit” and the next time I saw my grandma (her mother-in-law), I gleefully repeated “shit shit shit shit!” That was the end of that.

I curse like a proverbial sailor, but not around my kids. If my kids hear me say “dammit” they know it’s really bad. My brother swears too. My husband swears but not as much as me.

I know lots of people who see swearing as an inability to win your argument using better language, or as a sign of low birth or lack of breeding. For me, I think it was the shock value as a younger person, then it just became a habit. Truly there are few words as versatile as “fuck”- noun, verb, adjective, etc.

This isn’t the thread I thought it was going to be.

I thought this was about swearing-in your family, which is a great idea, and would make a better thread.

“Son, do you promise to close the door if you plan on gratifying yourself, get A’s in school, take the damn shot when the net is open, and to resist developing a New York accent with every fiber of your being, so help you God?”

I just remembered getting slapped for using the word pregnant when I was nine years old or so.

Yes, my mom was a control freak.

My parents didn’t swear - I can’t think of a time when I ever heard them do so. It’s certainly possible that they did and I’ve blocked it out of my memory since that would have been a pretty traumatic thing to have happened…

We couldn’t say “shut up”, “Jesus”, “God” - never even MIND any of the four letter words!

Keep in mind we went to church every Sunday (Lutheran), we said prayers before every meal and before we went to bed, I was in Jr. Choir, I was in bell choir, I played organ at the church - we were raised pretty strictly religious. Which probably explains where my really wild streak came from in high school… They would have been better off letting me swear! :wink:

Deleting the word “control” from that sentence might be closer to the mark…

I recall, a la a Simpsons episode, being able to slip in a “Hell” every now and then (because they say it in church!) but nothing much beyond that. We didn’t have anything like a swear jar and I honestly can’t remember swearing in front of my parents ever before I was in college. By that time as an adult I figure they decided I could say what I wanted. The only time they ever said anything was when I said “Jesus Christ” and they objected to the casual usage.

I came here to read about the conflict of interest that would be apparent if somebody had to swear in a family member. Oh well.

Heh. I asked her what word I was supposed to use. She never told me, but I figured out later that…

in Hindi there is a word for “pregnant” and a word for “about to become a mother”. Very very eensy subtle difference, but there you have it. She wanted me to use the second word, and the second phrase if I had to speak it in English.

I spent the next five years afraid to say pregnant!

Jeez, Anaamika, and I thought my Grandma was bad! She called me in from playing once and told me to sit in the corner for calling my brother a jerkoff.

She hissed, “Do you know what that means?”
I said, “Yeah, he’s a jerk!”
She said, “No, it means masturbation!”
Me: :confused:
Grandma: “Sit in the corner!”

Now, Mom cursed a blue streak. Now that I’m grown, I do the same…but not in front of Grandma, baby.

Or Mom.

When I was seven, I asked my Mom if I could swear when I was alone or in the company of my peers. She said she didn’t really care, but later said she thought I was joking.

My parents swore all the time, especially when they were angry. I was not permitted to swear in front of my parents. I was not permitted to roll my eyes or whine or even respectfully disagree, or that was ‘‘talking back’’ and grounds for punishment.

It was always assumed that once I was an adult I would be permitted to swear all I want. I swear occasionally around relatives, but it’s generally limited to ‘‘hell’’ or ‘‘damn.’’ I curse like a sailor in my own home and so does my husband, but I will never drop the ‘‘f-bomb’’ around my grandmother. She has no illusions about the sort of person I am and when and where I typically swear–but that’s my gramma, dammit.

My mother swore constantly. Every other word was *fuck * or goddamn. My father didn’t swear in everyday conversation, but he would go on long rampages and take out all his frustrations…swearing long and loud.
Like a poster in the original thread, I got smacked for innocently asking what ‘fuck’ meant. By my mother. The queen of “do as I say, not as I do.”

My grandmother hardly ever swears, and when she does, she apologizes for it! Her belief is that there are much more eloquent ways of getting your point across without resorting to foul language. It’s a true test of your wit that you can dress someone down without resorting to calling them an asshole.
I’ve followed her example and I rarely curse. Never around her.
When I do, you know I am mad.

It’s easier for me to write out curses, especially on this board. And I have to admit, I’ve seen some of the most inventive cursing come out in the Pit, so I realize there are adroit ways to cut someone down to size with nasty language…and I like it!

My parents swear, and that’s pretty much where we picked it up. We were and are allowed to swear around my parents. They taught us there was a time and a place for it, though. When I was a teenager, I had the habit of swearing every other word, and they would just roll their eyes and tell me how unintelligent I sounded. Basically, we swear quite a bit when it’s family only, and not much at all with other people.

Swearing was forbidden in my house, as was saying “Shut Up” or using a certain tone of voice with my mom. All of these were grounds for a slapping or a serious screaming match.

Consequently, I swore like a sailor whether I was not in my mom’s presence. Now I swear too much in front of my own child - I’m trying to rein it in and am being successful so far, but not always.

This was pretty much our policy too. We were told that there are some words that aren’t nice to use in casual conversation, or in front of other grownups, but sometimes you just have to say “Fuck”. Both my parents are artful cussers, however my mother can go probably weeks without doing so.

It’s even more relaxed around the folks now that two of my brothers have gone off to the Marine corps, since they tend to speak in “Fuckspeak” all the time now unless they stop and think about it.

I swear quite a bit and am constantly being caught on it in front of my nephews and I’ll feel like a total fuckin dipshit for doing it. :wink:

I had to toe a very respectful line around my parents. We weren’t allowed to say darn or gosh, much less anything harsher. (Oddly enough, “shut up” got a pass as long as we were only talking to another kid.) And like olivesmarch4th, I wasn’t allowed to even softly, quietly, and respectfully disagree with my parents at all.

Now, well, I don’t use the strongest words around my parents, but I will swear. They swear, and I’m a grown woman, so I’ll speak as I feel is appropriate given a situation.