Much to my mother’s chagrin, I’m a sweary mom. I love to weave assholery and bitchtastic into conversations whenever possible, and few things are as cathartic at the end of a long, tiring day as venting with a long string of F-bombs. I’m a nice person, but I’m also sweary AF and that just ain’t gonna change.
Given my propensity for swearing (combined with my lack of patience and the general shitstorm that is parenting), my kids are privy to a lot of colorful language. A. Lot. And being the sponges that kids are, they soak it all in — and then spit it back out.
That’s right, my kids swear. They know all the bad words and they use them, usually in context with proper enunciation. My kids have been known to shout a few dammits and this-is-effing-bullshits in moments of frustration. They also giggle while tossing each of their middle fingers up in the air while they flip each other off.
Sure, it can get annoying in the way that kids are generally kind of annoying, but mostly I don’t mind. Swearing isn’t forbidden in our home, and I generally don’t give a shit if they curse under their breath or shout out expletives when they step on a Lego. I mean, doesn’t everybody?
Now, this might be the part where the pearl clutchers gasp and the keyboard warriors tell my why I’m the world’s worst parent and how my kids are little assholes, but hold up. Hear me out.
Above all, I expect my kids to obey the first rule of swearing: Know your audience and be respectful. My kids know that there is a time and place for swearing. They know that our home is a safe place where they are granted certain freedoms to be the wild, heathen children that they are, but if they starting tossing around four-letter words at school, they will be in a shitload of trouble.
I’ve told them repeatedly that if I get a call from school because they are swearing, they will experience a wrath like none other. Because just like I wouldn’t say fuckety fuck in church (okay, so maybe I would), kids need to learn that there are different standards for different places. For instance, they can’t swear at school. Or in front of their 2-year-old cousin. Or their grandma.
I also make sure my kids know that words have power, largely because of the intention behind them. There isn’t anything inherently mean about the word fuck or asstastic. Actually, they’re pretty damn fun to say. But if you call someone a name or use mean language, now that will get you in a heap of trouble.
In fact, there are a bunch of other words that I find far more offensive than “swear words.” Words like stupid and shut up are off-limits in our house. We prefer oh my gosh to oh my god, since we never want to offend someone’s religious beliefs, and it should go without saying that slurs of any kind are an absolute no-no. Obviously.
We avoid sexist jokes — even seemingly “benign” ones — and they will get a death stare and a long-ass lecture from me if they ever laugh at someone who is different in some way. We don’t comment negatively on people’s looks, body size, or fashion choices. We avoid gossip (or try to anyway), and we definitely don’t say mean things behind someone’s back. Basically, the standard is: Don’t be a dick.
I might seem like a pushover parent because I let my kids drop F-bombs all the livelong day and don’t get my undies in a bunch about words like shit, crap, and asshole. But I’m an absolute hard-ass about things like kindness and have no patience for meanness of any kind. So while I don’t mind if they say the word asshole, I absolutely will not tolerate them acting like little assholes. Full stop.
It generally boils down to this: I expect them to be kind, always, and that has little to do with whether someone cusses like a sailor or talks like Mother Teresa herself. Hell, even Mother Teresa probably dropped a few F-bombs now and then.