Swearing

Swearing

Brad, the “dad”

So our two loving and lovely daughters had a knock-down, drag-out fight yesterday. Foundations were shaking. The paint was blistering. Of course, all is resolved now – it was a passing summer squall, not the storm of the century – but at the height of the conflict I did notice something a little…disturbing.

The Elf, with all of her snappish and acidic 14-year-old attitude in full force, has a heck of a mouth on her. When she gets cranked up (and, I’m guessing, when she’s just shooting the…breeze…with her compatriots), she curses like a merchant marine. Worse even than me at my worst. I think. No, I’m sure of it: she’s surpassed me in every letter of the alphabet, with a strong preference for the f’s, s’s, and m’s.

I guess my feeling is that as long as she’s got it under control – as long as she’s aware when that language will hurt her rather than help her – there’s not much I can or should do about it. But I’m curious: how are other mums and dads dealing with slang and profanity amongst the Kids Nowadays? Is it really worse, or just more noticeable to old folks like me? And given the loose talk on the TV, over the net, and in the movies…does it even really matter anymore? Or am I just being a Victorian…um…anal retentive personality?

Rach, the “teen”

When my dad hears me swear he makes a rather big deal about how “ladies shouldn’t swear.” When he hears my mom or my brother swear he doesn’t even bat an eye. Does this bother me? Hell yes.

My mom is rather famous for one question she likes to ask: “Are you shitting me?” And my brother is a fan of using insults that only Shakespeare would fully understand. So, when it comes to swearing I take after my dad – there are some words that are a little taboo, things you don’t say in public. And there are some words that are barely even considered curses. Example: Damn, I left my lunch at home.

So, why does he make such a huge #%$&ing deal about me swearing? Maybe because my dad made a huge effort not to swear around me when I was a kid. And so when he hears (or in this case reads) me swearing, he sees a failure.

Personally, I’m ok with swearing. There is, of course, a limit, people who swear without noticing it, or who swear constantly sound desensitized or out of touch. And people who never swear (even in terrible situations) sound puritan. There might be a happy medium, but swearing and happiness don’t really fit together in my mind.

Mary, the “mom”

Truth be told, I’ve been known to toss around a few expletives now and again. For the most part, I’ve managed to restrain myself in front of the children.

I know my son uses colorful language around his pals, but he usually keeps it in check at home. Once in a while, when his sisters are on his last nerve, he lets his guard down and speaks to them inappropriately. Then he gets a lecture about appropriate language. It doesn’t bother me to know that he wears around his friends, precisely because he’s conscious of his audience and generally refrains from it when he should.

I’ve always told my kids that while they might hear adults use certain words if adults heard them use those words they wouldn’t think they were the nice young people that they are. Yada, yadda… I guess the message was, as long as adults don’t hear you, it’s ok.

In thinking about my response to this blog post, I asked myself how I would feel about my thirteen-year-old daughter swearing. Now, despite the fact that I’ve been known to have “potty mouth” on occasion, the thought bothered me. And, the fact that her swearing bothers me, but my son swearing doesn’t bother me, bothers me even more!

Oh my god! I have a double standard!

pickling