My four-year-old was playing with a truck in the hallway this morning. It was 7 a.m., and though everyone else was still in bed, his imagination was wide awake as he narrated the make-believe story unfolding just outside my bedroom door. A villain from a Happy Meal box attempted to board his Paw Patrol boat and kidnap the pups.
“Oh shit!” I heard him say as the abduction unfolded.
I laughed. “Don’t say shit!” I yelled from my bed.
“OK, Mommy!” he yelled back.
I know there are parents who would have reacted much differently, but the truth is, I don’t really care about traditional curse words. I know I’m not the norm when it comes to parenting (even aside from my stance on cursing) and while I agree it’s not ideal that my four-year-old was swearing, in the grand scheme of things is shit really that offensive?
That’s a question we all have to answer for ourselves, I suppose, but for me it’s just not. None of the traditional curse words are, in my opinion. Yes, I swear, much to my grandmother’s chagrin. It’s one of my favorite pastimes. I know some might say swearing is un-ladylike, but my lexicon and choice of words isn’t what makes me a lady. Sorry, 1953.
While I have been known to curse like a sailor, I do still correct my kids when they swear, only because they aren’t yet old enough to know their audience—which is an important piece of the swearing pie. You can’t just drop an eff-bomb at church or preschool. So, for now, I’m trying to teach them that there is a certain time and place for certain words and conversations.
That being said, there are certain words that are a no-go no matter how old they get. It may seem like sweary people are extremely liberal with our colorful language, and for the most part, that’s true. However, certain things are off-limits no matter the circumstances, because words should never be used as weapons to hurt others. So, in my family, we follow these three guiding rules:
1. No offending higher powers.
If you’re not into God, that’s cool, but I am, and I respect all religions so all higher powers are off limits. I have enough problems, I’m not trying to offend any higher powers with my colorful vernacular.
2. Don’t be an racist, sexist, or prejudiced asshole.
Lord help me if I hear anyone utter a slur of any kind. Race, religion, gender, or sexuality—don’t you fucking dare. I don’t care who you love, or what you believe, every single word that can be used to degrade or dehumanize another person is off limits.
Side bar: Isn’t it ridiculous that I even have to say that? Yay, 2019!
I’m not even including my thoughts on my children using slurs, because they don’t even know they exist. I wish it was possible that they’d never know, but it’s far more likely that they will hear them from some asshole in the future. We’ll put a pin in that conversation for now.
3. Don’t use words that belittle others or perpetuate hatefulness.
Speaking of hate, that’s also on the do-not-use list, along with dumb, stupid, and fat. There is zero reason to use any of those words to describe another person. I would much rather my kids drop the eff-bomb when they stub their toe than call another human stupid. I cringe when I hear them call each other stupid. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it generally only takes a pissed-off mom-stare from across the room to prompt an immediate apology.
Maybe this is against the grain, but I don’t really give a shit. There’s a big world of words out there and if cursing adds a little color to your life, then paint the town, kid. As long you’re respectful of others, I don’t give a shit if you cuss a little.
Hear what our real-life Scary Mommies, Keri and Ashley, have to say about this when they give their (always real) thoughts in this episode of our Scary Mommy Speaks podcast.
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