When my eldest son was 4, we were in the bathroom together and he started singing to the tune of “Five Little Ducks Went Out To Play”: “Five little shits went out to play, over the shit and far away…” The chorus was just “shit, shit, shit.” I should mention this was a public bathroom.
I was laughing too hard to get mad. My kids come by it honestly: They are being raised by potty mouths. You will hear my 9-year-old daughter admonishing her dad for swearing more often than you will hear me telling them to wash their mouths out with soap.
Since we are such bad role models when it comes to swearing, we do tolerate a little bit of bad language in our house. My son is now 15 and yes, he still says shit, and my other two have been known to throw some cuss words around as well.
Which, according to science, is apparently a good thing. Studies have shown that swearing has a lot of benefits—both to your psyche and social standing.
Swearing is good for pain relief.
Studies have shown that people were able to hold their hand in an ice bucket longer if they accompanied the task with some hearty swear words.
Swearing improves group dynamics.
Dropping a well-placed f-bomb at work used to be a no-no, but a study found that it is good for group solidarity.
Swearing makes you more resilient.
Researchers in England have been studying swearing for years (they should come to my home) and they have found that swearing lets off steam and can help you cope with stress.
People who swear are smart.
Dr. Richard Stephens, a senior lecturer from Leeds University and an expert in why people swear, debunks the myth that swearing makes you sound stupid: “The stereotype…that those who swear have a low IQ or are inarticulate is wrong. It is rich emotional language,” he said.
Swearing makes you attractive.
According to Elite Daily, a survey found that both men and women find the opposite sex more attractive when they swear. The caveat is that it must be in an appropriate circumstance.
Kids learn to swear from their parents, and also from their peer group and the culture around them. Developmental psychologists have found that kids usually pick up taboo words their parents, their peers and the culture around them. But just because they know them doesn’t mean they will use them in the same way that adults do. Even though my 9-year-old daughter hears f-bombs (usually when her father is driving), I’ve never heard her lay any down.
What we want to teach our kids is that words have power, and the context is important. So if Mommy swears it’s one thing, but if a grade schooler swears, it is something else. I would much rather hear them swear in an appropriate way then use a racial or homophobic slur. And they know that.
So even though my kids are destined to follow in my potty mouth footsteps, I am glad to know that I am actually setting them up well for life, and not hindering them.