Why I Stopped Punishing My Kid For Saying F*ck

by Allison Langer
Angry-looking brown-haired boy in a grey sweatshirt looking directly into the camera with a dark bac...
Matteo Colombo / Getty

Saying fucker in front of your mother feels really inappropriate. Especially when you’re 7, like my son, Sloan. He began blurting out the word last year when he lost his temper.

The first time was at the dinner table. My dad was sitting with the kids, like always. I was plating spaghetti and meatballs when my 10-year-old daughter, Blake, said to her 12-year-old brother, Jackson, “Sloan got his card flipped today.” I know that getting your card flipped in school is a big deal, because it happens often with Sloan and then I get a call from the teacher.

“You fucker, Tattletale.”

My dad yelled, “Whooooooah.” And Jackson and Blake start laughing.

“What did you just say?” I yelled from the kitchen. Sloan said nothing. He just stared at me, his face turning red, his teeth clenched together and his eyes filled with tears.

I pointed to his room and said, “Don’t come out until you are ready to apologize.” There was a loud slam of his door, and an even louder scream. “Fuckers. You are all fuckers.”

The next time was after school when Blake rushed through the door and ate the last donut. I was in my office and heard Sloan say, “You fucker.”

“Excuse me?” I yelled. I sent Sloan to his room. This time, I followed behind. I said, “Using that language in this house is against the rules.”

“Jackson uses it. Blake uses it.”

I told him I had not heard them use that language before.

Then he said it….“Mommy, you use it.”

I stared at my son. What could I say? He’s right. I love the word “fucker.” I say it all the time, but not around my kids, at least not on purpose.

When I lose my temper, it comes flying out, “Are you fucking kidding me?” When I drop a carton of milk, “Fuck.” And when I’m in traffic, forget it. I yell at the other drivers like a mad woman, “You are blocking the fucking intersection. What the fuck are you thinking?!”

Lately, I don’t send Sloan to his room when he drops the f-bomb. I just look at him, raise my eyebrows, and shake my head.

The same thing he does to me.