CURSE WORDS! They’re fun to say! They make you sound cool! They enhance your angry internet rants!
Or maybe not, but it probably doesn’t stop you from dropping a “bad word” or two when you’re angry. Or if you’re from Ohio like me, most of your favorite words would probably be censored on television. In most situations, there’s nothing wrong with swearing when you’re an adult, but every parent fears getting a call from their child’s teacher or an angry parent down the road who learned some new colorful language from your kid.
My son is only seven months old so he hasn’t said his first words yet. He’s heard a lot of words… A LOT of words. Words he hopefully won’t be repeating for several years. But he is going to start imitating our words soon, which means our household needs to become a lot more PG before we say something we’re going to regret.
The Games We Play
One of the big things I’ve realized since my son started babbling and trying to imitate words, is that it’s not just me and the wife cursing like sailors. It comes from everywhere.
Movies, books, and shows are pretty easy to censor for my wife and me. OBVIOUSLY, we can’t have our kids watching or reading Game of Thrones for quite a while. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that it’s going to be at least a decade before I can share Deadpool or John Wick with him. But recently, I’ve come to realize that most of my favorite games are a little too grown-up for him as well.
Specifically, I’ve been playing a lot of Grand Theft Auto V lately. For the uninitiated, Grand Theft Auto is the series that gained massive notoriety in the early 2000’s for being the first game where you can buy a prostitute, then kill that prostitute to get your money back. There’s a lot more to it than that, especially these days, but that gives you an idea of the panic parents went into when this series rose to prominence.
Now to be fair, I played those games when I was 12-years-old, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to expose my own child to them that young.
And that’s the way a lot of my favorite games are. Lots of cursing. Lots of violence.
It’s Everywhere… Evverrryyyywhheeerrreee!
This weekend, we took Sam up to Michigan to meet his great-grandfather for the first time. It’s a long drive, and we don’t get to visit often, so we wanted to take the chance to visit while we could.
My wife’s young niece was there too, so I took it as a trial run of censoring my sailor mouth. My wife’s aunt however…
Let’s just say, ALMOST ALL adults struggle to censor themselves.
It’s not just family either. I have a small circle of guy friends that Sam is going to grow up around, and like most guy friends, we’re never more foul-mouthed than when we’re around each other.
Seriously, get a group of good guy friends together that have known each other for a while, remove their wives and children from the room, and every sentence will sound like it was written by Quentin Tarantino.
So What Do I Do About It?
I guess step one is just realizing that you’re not going to be able to censor the entire world. You probably won’t even successfully censor yourself a lot of the time. Your kids are going to hear things earlier than you want them to hear it, and they’re going to learn things earlier than you want them to learn it.
The important thing is YOU setting a good example for your child. When your kid hears a bad word, the first thing they’re going to do is look up at you to see what your reaction is. When they’re old enough to speak and understand, you just need to sit down with them and explain why they shouldn’t use it.
They may end up repeating something they hear in a movie, but it’s nearly 100% certainty that they’ll repeat something coming out of your mouth. You set the standard for behavior with your children, so if you continue to curse like… any group of guy friends ever, even around your kids, don’t be surprised when you get a call from the teacher.
On the other hand, if the teacher gets caught saying a bad word, then you get to call and shame them! Score!
Recently, I read a post from someone online who said that their mother used to tell him that certain words were “driving words,” and you were only allowed to use them when you turned 16 and got a Driver’s License.
Personally, I think this is brilliant. It isn’t just an outright ban on certain words, which your kids will inevitably break. It gives them a future time and date when they’ll be allowed to use the same words as mommy and daddy, and an understanding of why they aren’t allowed.
And if you think anything is going to keep your 16-year-old from swearing, you’re fooling yourself.