Do you cuss around your kids?

Guest post by Emi
By: Lord JimCC BY 2.0

I’ve always thought that if I ever have a child, I will inevitably cuss around my kid(s) — I kind of cuss like a sailor. Whenever I am near other people’s children, I try my best not to cuss just because I know a lot of people don’t like it. But I don’t personally mind it, as long as it is not used in a hateful or violent manner.

I’ve been thinking lately that I’m not sure how I would handle the situation of cussing and my own kids. On the one hand I would not want to censor myself or my child, but on the other hand I don’t want to needlessly offend others around us. I know that if I or my child cussed in earshot of others, we may be judged incredibly harshly because of that.

I don’t have children yet, but I want to ask how Offbeat parents how they handle cussing/cursing around their children.

Have you chosen not to cuss around your children, or to just let it all flow? If you have chosen not to cuss around your children, how do you handle it when other people do? How do you approach those people and/or how do you talk to your children about these words?

If you have chosen to cuss around your kids, how do you keep it from being an issue when they are out of the home?

Comments on Do you cuss around your kids?

  1. I swear. A lot. Alice isn’t talking yet, but she is pretty close so i’ve been trying to do it less around her. I think my stragity is going to be age based. When she is really young she doesn’t need to pick up the words I use, but as she gets older I will try less and less to keep my vocab clean. I mean, if she doesn’t hear them from me the moment she steps on a public school bus she will learn ones that I don’t even know.

  2. Even before I was pregnant my husband and I knew we wouldn’t curb our cussing. We now have an 11 month old daughter and we curse just as much as we always have. Our opinion is that they’re just words and with everything else we’ll teach when she should and shouldn’t say them. My dad used to curse all the time around me. According to my mom my first word was “F**K”. I think that’s hilarious. However, I was taught not to curse and I didn’t. I think it can be done!

  3. I seem to recall in highschool (super uptight Baptist), our kick ass english teacher spent an entire class discussing the origin of vulgarity, and why it was frowned upon. It’s nothing more than a caste distinction (If you look it up, the first definition is “characterized by ignorance of or lack of good breeding or taste”) So while the upper crust might refer to “leavings” the workers in the muck called it shit.

    God forbid if you were to use that language and someone thought that you associated with those of such ill breeding! The words you used, denoted where you were from, what class you were, and that’s why they spent so much effort on diction classes. Think Pygmalion.

    The people in the church were usually pretty high up the social ladder, and wanting to distance themselves from the common folk, twisted profanity (characterized by irreverence or contempt for God or sacred principles or things) to include vulgarity. To swear in the Biblical context meant giving of an oath under false pretenses, to swear loyalty and worship to a false God, or to do something in the name of God that he wouldn’t approve of. It had nothing to do with common language.

    As for me, I grew up not swearing (Shut Up was the S word, and Fart was the F word. I also got a detention for accidentally flipping someone off because they didn’t believe I didn’t know what it meant.) Now my husband swears like a truck driver and I’m making up for lost time. We also live in the Boston area where “fuck” is a replacement for “um”. The infamous “diversity of the word” scene from Boondock Saints is pretty accurate.

    I do have a mental filter though, when at my parents’ or when working in a business capacity, I don’t swear, it doesn’t even enter my mind. But I don’t see myself doing that when we have kids. Our emphasis is going to be on teaching respect for people and situations, and knowing when things are and aren’t appropriate. Meeting a new person is “Hello, nice to meet you.” not “‘Sup bitch?”

    • I have to “like” this because you mentioned the Boondock Saints. Even if I thought your comment was ludicrous (Which I didn’t lol), I would have still “Thised!” it!

  4. Hm. This will probably not be a popular opinion, but we’re trying to curb the swearing in our house around our baby girl. I don’t swear much, but my partner has been known to.

    I guess I feel like most often, when I DO curse, it’s out of frustration and because I lack the words to express how I’m feeling about something (confused, mad, frustrated, etc.). Ideally, I’d want my child to develop the vocabulary to talk to me about how she’s feeling (especially if the feelings are negative) and not default to a curse because “that’s what my moms do.”

    I dunno, I’ll probably change my tune when she gets to talking age, but for now, that’s where I stand. 🙂

  5. Growing up I wasnt allowed to say pregnant, I had to say “with child” that was how over the top my parents were about “bad” words lol and once i even got a spanking at my christain school in the 5th grade for saying pissed off. Word are words, it’s the emotion behind them that can make them hurtful, which is the only reason for something to be considered bad. We teach our kids to say how they feel however they need to wether they scream or swear or whatever, rather than showing it through violence or being mean to others. I’d rather get a call from his teaher about him saying shit than one where he hurt someone or broke something out of anger or frustration.

  6. I went with the ‘swearing is a grownup thing’ method when my daughter was small. Later explaining that I didn’t have any issues with the words themselves, personally, but that a lot of people did and that’s why it’s not appropriate for anybody to swear around the general public.

    Daughter ‘accidentally’ dropped an f-bomb in front of me a couple of years ago. I told her that I remember being a teenager and that it would be unrealistic to tell her not to ever swear, but that it was still socially expected of me, as her mother, to do so. And then I made her a deal: If she would pretend around me that she didn’t swear, then I would pretend to believe her.
    So far it’s working.

  7. When I was young my grandmother told me that people who cuss do so because they don’t have a large enough vocabulary to express themselves otherwise. As an adult, I do consider myself to have enough words to express myself in any circumstance, and sometimes that involves cursing. For my daughter, I don’t want to cuss around her. Not because I think it’s never appropriate to cuss, but because I’d like her to choose words that really express what she’s feeling vs. using a curse word for show. Hit herself with a hammer? Curse away. Have her feelings hurt? I hope she’ll have more words to use beyond curse words.

    • In my family this was said as “Profanity is the refuge of the small minded mother fucker.” or “futher mucker”, depending on who was around at the time.

  8. It’s a respect thing, really. Avoid cursing around people who are offended by it. When it comes to kids, however, you have the issue of mimicry. My mom stopped cursing when one day at church, one of us kids said a not so church-friendly word, and my mom was mortified.

    I think that when I have kids, I will avoid cursing around them when they are very young, and gradually remove that censor as they are old enough to understand that there are some times when cursing is simply not appropriate, and that there are some times when it’s okay.

  9. I swear kind of a lot, and I never even considered trying to stop when my son was born. Aside from it being futile anyway, I don’t really see the big deal in swearing around a kid and at the same time, asking them not to until they are older. I mean, my son sees me drinking wine and he knows he can’t until he’s older… how is that any different? I get to drive because I’m an adult, he doesn’t. He gets these concepts. My guy is still a little one, so time will tell if I’m horribly wrong, but I doubt he’ll be ruined for life.

    • That was almost exactly my philosophy while my daughter was younger. Even comparing swearing to alcohol and driving when explaining it to her. She’s fifteen now, and it seems to have worked as far as I can tell.

  10. I don’t have kids yet, but I do not plan on swearing around them. I always teach my students that if you have to use a swear word in a situation other than stubbing your toe (cuz that hurts lol!) then you aren’t using your brains or you need to expand your vocabulary.

    I don’t plan on being prudish about it though. I will let my kids watch stuff with swears in it I am sure, and I am sure I will accidentally swear around my kid. I just don’t plan on making it a habit.

  11. In general, I don’t have a big problem with adults swearing, but I try to limit it to situations that actually call for it, rather than letting a ‘fuck’ fly for, I don’t know, dropping something. I try to watch what I say in front of my son, because I really dislike hearing children swear; I live in a town that is, ahem, quite rough, and a lot of the inhabitants make me grimace, not least of all because of the constant swearing. I often leave playgrounds because there are four year olds running wild, fighting and calling each other ‘fucking cunt’. I guess because of that I tend to associate excessive cussing with uncouth, uneducated and socially disruptive people, and you can understand why I don’t want my son to be picking it up at a young age.
    That said, it’s not as if I try to make sure he doesn’t hear any swearing. Like others have said, if he starts to repeat things, I’ll just try to make it clear that those are adult words.

  12. I hardly ever swear and I know I will make a conscious effort to never swear around children, mine or otherwise. I remember hearing a mother say “Get the fuck over here” and it really bothered me.

    Plus, if you swear all the time you make the words lose their meaning. What are you going to say when something really warrants swearing?

    Growing up we never swore at all. I wasn’t even allowed to say ‘pissed’ for a while. I remember in high school I was really pissed at the marching band for not being respectful to the other bands at the competition (I was a section leader) and I turned around and told everyone to “Shut the hell up!”

    All I said was Hell and everyone listened. That word had power because I never used it. I burnt myself quite badly once and everyone realized how serious it was because I actually said “shit”.

    I swear a bit more now, but I still use substitutions (usually found in books or on TV) like “cow pox” and “frak”. Plus, saying “Fudge Monkeys!” (which really is my go-to phrase – I’m kinda a prude) reminds me that nothing’s too serious.

    And if any child ever repeats “Cruddy McCrud face!” I won’t have to worry 🙂

  13. I fully intended not to censor myself at all but when my baby was born I realized that some language I am not comfortable with. In theory, I would like to allow all words but focus on no name calling. The thing about the curse words that gets tricky is school – Having separate rules for home and school seems sort of confusing. Then again, I suppose there are plenty of other non-language rules that differ between home and public. I guess we will see what feels right. With friends’ kids we do a lot of “shut the truck up” and things of that nature and I will admit that it is addicting and fun!

    • It may seem sort of confusing, but it’s actually something that everyone needs to learn quite early on. For example, it ok to run around naked at home, but at the shops you need to keep clothes on. When you’re on a holiday, you can slack off and do what you want, but not at work. At school, you need to respect the teacher and classmates and do your work, at home you treat your parents however they want and can play games, etc. It’s about learning to code switch behaviours, the same way some children grow up bilingually.

      On topic: I personally hardly ever swear and actually flinch whenever I hear obscenities in ordinary conversation (though I’m more than understand when someone stubs their toe). I think those words have meaning and power. So as a primary school teacher (or soon to be), I don’t tolerate with my students.

  14. I swear in front of my 7 year old. She understands that there are certain words that are ok in certain contexts, and that she’s not allowed to use them at school or her dad’s house (we aren’t together). I will admit that one of her first words was “shit” and she used it properly and in front of a crowd. It was hilarious but we still had a conversation (even at the age of 1, I believed firmly in talking to my daughter like she understood me). Now she often reminds me that certain words aren’t to be used in certain company (around my mother, for example) and that using them as descriptions of people is rude.

  15. I swear a helluva lot. I tell him that we say those naughty words at home, but not at church or school. And yes, sometimes I swear in anger. *hangs head in shame* Actually, I often swear in anger. In those cases, I make a point to apologize to my son every time and say that it’s not right for me to swear at him.

    To be honest, it’s a miracle that he rarely swears, considering how often he hears the foulest language in the world spewing from my mouth.

    I’m not saying that this is ideal, or that I’d recommend it to anyone. But it’s the way I deal with it, because I have been unable to clean up my language. An imperfect mama in an imperfect world!

  16. I cuss like a sailor, though not as an angry thing – just for flavor. Have always told my daughter that swear words are just words, though since they offend some people, she may only use them at home with me. This has resulted in a number of amusing anecdotes, including the time when she was four and told me over breakfast, “Mama, these pancakes are really fucking good!”

    My intention has been for her to see swear words as akin to most other words – I didn’t want her to think of them as “magic” words that she could use to get a reaction.

  17. For me, the deal is that adults (generally) can limit their swearing to appropriate places. I don’t swear in workplaces, at servers, or around my mother in law. I do swear with friends & with partners. I therefore limit my swearing around my 3 year old until she is able to judge for herself appropriate situations. She hears the words occasionally though.

  18. I never do it, and it annoys me when people do it in front of children. It really bothers for me to hear children cuss. But at the same time, I can understand some people do not want to censor themselves, so to each his own I guess?

  19. Hi, I am Lace, I am addictive to profanity. LOL I cuss on an hourly basis to the point I have trained my co-workers to cuss with me. Pretty sad/bad huh.

    Well, I have a 17yo, 5yo, and a 3yo. We have had to educate the kids that there are “adult” words, just like adult drinks. This seems to help but they still do pick things up. It is hard not to cuss at a 17yo when they are … well acting like a 17yo. So we do word substitution, which is now a dinner time game. A while ago the 3yo used WTF properly in her anger towards her art project that was ruined by spilled milk. We played our game and it went as followed:
    WTF to What the Funk to What the FlipFlop to What the Flagnog to What the dog.

    …still waiting for the 3yo to tell us what a Flagnog is.

    These word games are helping me at work to not cuss. I get irritated with someone and they are a “peanut”. The 5yo came up with that one. The kids do call us out on it and tell us to use words like “What the Flagnog”

  20. Our bebe is only 3 months old but I don’t want to swear around her. Maybe the occasional damnit but I don’t want her to be slinging around the F word.

  21. Jumping into the category of “I have a mouth like a sailor”…

    Although I have made many vain attempts to censor myself, I have always had a foul mouth around my kids. The rules I kind of fell into are: 1) No violent talk 2) Never in anger (at a person) 3) “Stupid” “Idiot” and the like and “Shut up” are NOT allowed in my house.

    My 8 year old, although I don’t know where she gets this from, is usually pretty offended at foul language. We taught her pretty early on that there are some words it’s just not ok for kids to say. I daresay she has never used a bad word, and she has, in the last year or so, begun to admonish me when I use them.

    The little one (19 mos) has apparently started to say “Oh shit.” I haven’t heard it, but my mother-in-law “says” she has. But then, we know how in-laws are. I take it with a grain of salt. Hopefully, the baby will follow in her sister’s footsteps when she gets old enough to understand the concept of tact.

    • Just remembered a funny story.. I have a bumper sticker that says “What kind of asshole would eat a lamb?” My 8 year old and I had a discussion about it and she decided that yes, in fact, people who eat cute little lambies are assholes. But she won’t say it, of course. So whenever we encounter an asshole, she now says “That person eats LAMB.” I think it’s pretty effing special 🙂

  22. My partner and I’s general view on parenting is we do not censor ourselves, and will explain anything and everything our boys ask us to the best of our abilities. We also have the view that kids pick their parents, if you will, so why would you change who you are just because someone else is joining your life? To clarify: some changes are neccesary (baby proofing!) but you don’t need to do a complete overhaul on your habits.
    Because of this, our 2 year old speaks with the vocaubalry of a 4 year old. He also uses ‘curse’ words (in our home every word is acceptable as long as its used appropriately but being mean is not acceptable) but appropriately: He says ‘o shit!’ when he drops something, or can’t find it. He’ll say ‘where’s my fucking ___!?’ when he can’t find something. And sometimes he pretends he’s driving and he’ll say ‘move bitch!’ Which admittedly is my fault and not my favorite, so we are working on not using that word as much (ALL of us!).
    The funniest part is when one of our friends will curse and then realize it and apologize all quick. Everytime they do I just laugh and say ‘dont worry we don’t censor ourselves. And he (my son) will probably use the f-word more than you!’ In fact, my 11 year old brother has just come to this understanding that any word can be a ‘bad word’ depending on its intention, so curse words really aren’t that bad…..which is odd firstly because I remember being that age and reaching the same conclusion. But it was hilarious when he told me sorry in advance incase Herb (son) picks up some ‘bad words’. I laughed and told him Herb’s been sayinf ‘aw fuck!’ For months. One of my other friends was there and said ‘i thought that’s what he said I just couldn’t quite understand him!’
    However, he does know that some people don’t particulalrly like those words for one reason or another so some places its respectful to not say them. At grandmas he says ‘o dang!’ Or darn it.
    But he is 2. Sometimes people won’t understand him, and sometimes he’s just gonna say stuff no matter what. That’s the beauty of kids–you have NO excuse to be bored ever again! 🙂

  23. Wow- There’s a lot of responses on here. Like a few others, I taught my oldest that these are “adult words” and when she was an adult, she was welcome to use them freely. She’s 16 now and occasionally drops an F bomb in front of me… and then turns beet red and apologizes. I know she cusses, I just ask that anything beyond damn, hell, and bitch she keep to herself out of respect.

    I was also big on explaining the origins of cuss words to her. Or dirty expressions. My husband and I have… immature, often inappropriate humor. (One of our friends was lovingly dubbed Sticky Belly Kelley 10 years ago and it has not gone away). SO there were a lot of, “When you’re older” moments with her. (Imagine trying to explain what a Dirty Sanchez is to an 11 yr old… and then finally explaining it when she’s 14 only to have her say, “God, Mom! You’re so Gross! That’s not funny, it’s just… gross!”)

    The younger girl… we’ll see how it goes. I have a feeling it’s not going to be as easy with her. I’m pretty sure her first phrase is going to be, “God damn it, dog!”

  24. Well. My husband and I do not hold back our cussing. When I notice that he is doing it more often than I’d like to hear, then I say something. We are fairly good about not doing it around our child, although, we are not perfect and we were sailors in our past lives. I guess it’s just a matter of balance. My parents never swore around me until I got a little older. And if they did, I never noticed. I guess if my two year old starts saying the F bomb, we may regret our choices we’re making now. . . . .

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