After watching the wonderful Harriet from Toby and Roo on Good Morning Britain last week it really got me thinking about the whole swearing around children thing. I mean, it’s pretty inevitable that our kids will pick up a swear word or 50 at some point whether that be directly from ourselves or from other people.
Labelling someone a bad parent because they swear? Not cool and probably more offensive than calling someone a twat. I personally think people need to get off their high horses because while 60+ odd percent of people think the answer is no, it’s not okay, I’m pretty sure that 97% of those people have sworn around their kids at some point. So come on, feet out the stirrups, reins in one hand and swing your left leg over the saddle. Do make sure you untwist your knickers on the way down.
Eloise let slip a few fucks and bitches when she was around 2 or 3 years old and told her she mustn’t EVER say them just as I had been told off for using swear words myself growing up. I told her she must not use words like that ever and she said sorry, we had a cuddle and that was that. Until she did it again and I thought, why am I telling her off? Am I really that disgusted that she repeated a word she’s heard? Normally I’m praising her for learning new words so she’s probably going to be incredibly confused as to why this particular word is so different. Kids don’t know the word cunt from cake, they’re all just exciting new words to them so should we be telling our children off for swearing or teaching them to recognise swear words and use them in the correct context? Not forgetting that there are also words that aren’t considered swears but are considerably more offensive.
I hold my hands high up in the air and admit that I swear. Whilst saying that, I would also like to point out that in real life I don’t have a set goal of fucks to dish out during one conversation or go out of my way to include a shit or a twat in every sentence, but I do swear. A lot. When Eloise was learning to talk I did limit my swearing but of course there were the accidental fucks and shits peppered around. Most of my family swore, as did my friends along with most people these days and it’s pretty much inevitable that kids are going to pick them up somewhere, at some point aren’t they? I am yet to meet a teenager who had never so much as uttered a swear word before or an adult for that matter. Does that mean I swear in front of my Grandma (who doesn’t swear)? No I don’t. Do I swear in public around people I don’t know who might not swear? No. Do I swear around other peoples kids? No. There is a time and a place for bad language and I think that is more important to realise. It’s our responsibility to teach our children to respect other peoples views whilst also taking our own into account. One person may be totally okay with swearing and that’s fine, someone else may never swear and that’s also fine. But what isn’t fine is judging someone based on how many times they’ve said the word fuck today. There are certain situations swearing is not acceptable in and should we be teaching our children that rather than point blank not to swear EVER EVER EVER.
I’m not really that bothered by swearing, if I heard a child scream fuck in public I wouldn’t look at the mother in grave disgust and presume she is the shittest of all shit mothers, we have all been there, in public or not so suck it up and don’t be a dick. Would I look the same way if the parent was effing and blinding at the child…Yes. Although we have all probably muttered the odd nobhead under our breaths when our kids are acting up there remains one hell of a difference between swearing in front of children and swearing maliciously at children although you don’t need to use swear words to be a dick.
Age is another factor to be considered. Younger children lack the social skills to judge the situations where swearing is not okay and wouldn’t think twice about shouting “MUMMY WHERE ARE THE FUCKING GRAPES” in the middle of Tesco which I guess is why I was more cautious about swearing when Eloise was under the age of about 5. She is 7 now despite the fact she is surrounded by a society who swears she doesn’t use them and that’s definitely not because she doesn’t know them. I would hazard a guess and say she knows most popular ones. She quite frequently learns new words either from kids at school or just hearing people around her in general and she will come to me and ask if ____ is a swear word. We have had a few incidences where she has thought a regular word was a swear and I was glad that she is able to come to me and asked rather than spending years thinking something as innocent as “butt” is a swear word.
I have explained to her that these words are adult words and she is quite welcome to use them appropriately when she is a teenager because lets face it, by high school they’re doing much worse than throwing the odd fuck, shit and bollocks around. She knows when swearing isn’t acceptable she chooses not to use these words based on what I’ve taught her and she seems perfectly happy and has accepted that swearing is okay for teenagers and adults but not for children. I’m okay with that and if she slipped out a few fucks I wouldn’t be that bothered to be honest, they’re only words. Saying that, it’s not like I would be shouting from the rooftops and celebrating if one of my kids swore.
It’s one hell of a difficult one really, I mean, I would much rather be called a fucking twat headed cockwomble than a big smelly ugly cow. The latter aren’t considered swear words yet to me at least, they are far more hurtful and I would be considerably more upset if Eloise said that to someone than if she told them to fuck off. I’ve been bullied before and I think for the most part, the worst thing’s I’ve been called don’t include swear words at all. Swear words can obviously be used offensively and I think that is very important to differentiate between simply using a swear word and using a swear word offensively. You can be a rude asshole and not have so much as uttered a “bitch” in your lifetime.
What do you think? Do you think it’s okay to swear in front of children?