Parental Swearing

Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

For a long time I’ve done my best to keep the swearing under control. My wife has a little bit more of the sailor mouth than I do but we’ve both done our best to keep the dirty words out of our son’s hearing. For a while it was a source of pride for us that he would tell us that the ‘S’ word was ‘Stupid’ and the ‘Sh’ word was ‘Shut Up’. I had adopted the use of the term “Curses” as a replacement for my swearing so well that my Mother in Law complained that my son was picking up on its usage. That was kind of the point. But he’s in second grade now and youth and innocence can’t last for ever. Back in my own 3rd grade, a number of my classmates had gone to see Nightmare on Elm St. with their parents.

Yesterday, I found myself home with the two kids while my wife caught up on her sanity with some fabric. While the little girl was napping, I popped some popcorn (giving my son the chance to sing his favorite Barenaked Ladies song) and put on a movie. The movie was Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I figured it was something of a light hearted comedy. What I forgot in the light of nostalgia was just how much swearing there was. There was a log of ‘God Damn It’, ‘Shit’ and of course ‘If you put a piece of coal up Cameron’s ass’. I opted not to stop the movie and instead had a brief conversation with my son about how the character’s in the film had dirty mouths.

The little girl woke up about half way through the movie. There was some hints that there was going to be a thunderstorm but I decided to brave a trip to the playground. The worst that would happen is we got a little wet. No sign of rain and we had a fabulous time playing at the playground. It was late enough that I figured we could get some dinner out. It was just a quick walk over to the grocery store form the playground BUT is past a busy road with a wide shoulder by no sidewalks. In preparation for this walk, I had a talk with my son about the importance of holding hands and assured him that he would be safe as long as we stuck together. All well and good.

It should be noted here that my son has ADHD.. or at least a drastically short attention span that is alleviated by the low dose of ADHD meds we give him. We don’t medicate him on weekends. So there we are, walking along the shoulder of busy road and he keeps pulling his hand away to pick up sticks along the road to which I keep reminding him we need to hold hands. THEN he gets something in his shoe and his first response is to pull his hand away and sit down in the middle of the road to take his shoe off! Please remember that I’m also pushing a stroller at the time. I don’t think I actually yelled “What the actual FUCK!??!” at him but the sentiment was the same and the emphasis was still on the word ‘Fuck’.

It was not a good weekend for parenting.

Photo by theNerdPatrol

One comment

  1. Let me start this off by saying that it is not my intent to tell you how to raise your children. Simply stating an opinion. =)

    I have two sons (7 and 5) and a daughter (just 4). My oldest is just about to turn 8, and I think the real trick is not to get overly upset about swearing. I live in Japan and swear words are treated much differently. There are a few words you cannot say on TV, but even those are not even close to how many Americans feel about the “F-word” (which can be said without impunity here). My sons run around saying the equivalent to “sh**” in Japanese (not all the time, granted), but they say it in play (it’s not a curse word yelled in anger a lot by anyone). No one bats an eye. No one admonishes them. No one gets angry. Does my wife or my in-laws (with whom we live with) have “sailor” mouths? Nope. It’s just not something to be worried about. This really got me to thinking about how we Americans think and feel about our own swear words.

    Since moving to Japan 16 years ago, I have come to realize how “uptight” America can be about the smallest things and overly cavalier about others. Like breasts. It’s incredible the way Americans get uptight about nipples. NIPPLES… we all have them. Should we run around showing them off? No, it would be a little distracting, because, hey, who doesn’t love them? But there’s no need to get upset over them. (Don’t even get me started on America’s war on public breastfeeding.) Words and actions only have the power we give them — for better or worse.

    You have the right idea about substituting words you don’t want the kids to say for words that are “safe”. So maybe try using nonsensical words. Try yelling “POPSICLES!” next time you stub your toe. You may even find yourself diffusing the situation by laughing at yourself. Hey, you might even try Japanese! Now wouldn’t that be interesting? =)

    I don’t think you had a bad parenting weekend, I think you had a very normal, human parenting weekend. Try not to be so hard on yourself. BTW, thanks a ton for commenting on my blog. All the best!

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