Why You Shouldn’t Swear In Front of Your Kids
Suppose you just brought your newborn baby home, you’re holding her, and something minor happens that sets you off.
Do you swear?
Let’s hope not. That deep, subconscious feeling nagging at your sense of right and wrong – listen to it. Those words not deemed socially acceptable for the public, the ones you never hear an elected official speak, the ones you don’t hear your pastor, teachers, game show hosts, or sports announcers say – well, there’s a reason for that.
They’re inappropriate and wrong. And it’s hardly setting a good example for your child.
I’ve heard all the naysayers who try to justify it. They say there’s no scientific proof that exposure to ordinary profanity causes any direct harm. That some words can help connote a sense of authority, or that it helps kids communicate their authentic emotions. And admittedly, there’s also a huge difference between swearing in front of kids – and at kids.
Of course, the latter is unequivocal verbal abuse; as adults, we know the difference.
But do kids?
A child can’t always distinguish when you curse at another person, or when directed at the slow driver in front of you, or even toward the inanimate milk you spilled on the kitchen floor. There’s nothing wrong with anger as an emotion. It’s human and a part of life. But like everything, it’s how we use it.
Do you really want your child getting confused over the “do as I say, not as I do” approach for some things in life but not others? Do you really want your child stating questionable words to other kids, or worse, to teachers at school? Is it right when those insults escalate in untimely settings or places? And what if the profane words continue into teen years, or into adulthood? Could it not affect how your child eventually treats his/her own spouse someday?
Any swear word can be a substitute or even potential instigator for physical aggression. And slurs are certainly profane – so what’s permissible and what isn’t?
All of this is too much grey area for me. As a father, I have a powerful stake in the upbringing of children, and I want them to respect my wife, themselves, and others. Verbal communication will be critical to their success in life.
Besides, whenever we hear children swear, we start to label. We begin to think their parents haven’t disciplined them well, or they’re bullies, or bad influences.
Context and expression also matter: “That was one he** of a game,” is far different than “You can go to he**!” But again, children don’t always understand the difference and it still leaves me wondering, why even go there? What example are we setting for our children when we can’t express ourselves using common, everyday vocabulary that’s appropriate in any situation, for anyone?
And what about the opening scenario? Would it really matter to an infant?
I’ll contend yes, because if you’re doing it while holding a sweet, innocent newborn, you’re probably likely to continue swearing as your child grows up. And then when will it stop? Chances are, you’ll pass it onto the next generation, and the next. That hardly seems like a respectable family trait.
Besides, we have rules and guidelines in life for a reason. We can’t drive however we want. We can’t walk onto a golf course and play that game however we want, with whatever equipment we want. We really shouldn’t even eat whatever we want. So why should we let our mouths run amok with no regard for discipline, self-control, or even others?
I realize that I can’t shield our kids from swear words entirely. They’ll hear them on the school bus, in music, and movies. But as a parent, I want to set a strong example for how I want my kids to become, and how I want them to treat others.
Keeping their language clean gives them their best shot at life in developing strong, healthy relationships with others and succeeding in all they do.