My kids have the freedom to use whatever words that they choose to use everyday. The truth is, my kids swear sometimes and they are not punished or reprimanded for it. Yet, they are very loving, kind people who just happen to have the freedom that most children in our culture do not have.
When we feel the need, I admit, Joe and I swear too. We choose words that our culture labels as bad or sinful and use them as adjectives, nouns and verbs every once in a while. Words are only words in our family. We do not choose to live by the old school mindset of, “Do as I say, not as I do.” I find they authoritarian paradigm disturbing and disrespectful to children. Instead, I know that if I choose to swear my kids will swear too. I take full responsibility for this fact. My kids have the freedom to swear, just as I do.
It’s interesting to note that we do talk about swearing and how it offends a lot of people. Before new friends come over, Devin and Tiff ask me if it is okay to swear around them. Some families have kids who also have this freedom and some do not. We share openly about it and the kids always respect it. Sometimes a swear will come out and there will be a kind of “Ooops” look on my kids face if they forget around certain people. It doesn’t happen very often though. I never correct them in front of people who don’t like swearing, nor do I put any focus on it at all.
It seems so hypocritical to punish a child for swearing if you do it yourself. Shouldn’t we all have the freedom to choose the words we use? Isn’t it a basic human right? It is a double standard that adults are allowed to swear and children are not. I do see more and more parents relaxing around the issue of children and swearing. The list of “bad words” isn’t quite as long as it was in my mother’s day.
When researching before writing this blog entry, I came across this in Wikipedia about swearing:
“Tape-recorded conversations find that roughly 80–90 spoken words each day — 0.5% to 0.7% of all words — are swear words, with usage varying from between 0% to 3.4%. In comparison, first-person plural pronouns (we, us, our) make up 1% of spoken words.
hell, damn, goddamn, bitch, boner, and sucks. These eight made up roughly 80% of all profanities. Two words, fuck and shit, accounted for one-third to one-half of them. The phrase “Oh my God” accounts for 24% of American women’s swearing.“
Children are historically punished for swearing. I know a few people who swear with every other word that comes out of their mouths. I feel it is result of being severely punished as a child for swearing. When this happens, and a person finally has freedom of speech as an adult, they make up for all of that past control and swear so much more than a person normally would (which, on average, isn’t very often).
My children do not swear any more than I do, actually. Sometimes Ivy will get stuck on a certain swear and try it out for a while, and combine it with other swears in a creative way. “Assbitch” is one of her newest creative expressions. However, our children do have a clear understanding of when it is okay for them to do so, and when it is inappropriate. They have a respect for others who are uncomfortable with swearing, like family and when out in public.
At a recent visit to my friends house, she pulled out some organic alphabet cookies. The kids all sat together combining letter to make their names, and they also spelled out some swears. We laughed and joked with our kids as they explored some words that our grandparents would have had soap put in their mouths for spelling out. It didn’t feel wrong. It felt natural and light and just another way to connect with our kids.
It is liberating and freeing to know that when it comes to children and swearing, we do not have to do what was done to the generations before us. I think that most parents today would be so much happier if they could just lighten up about the whole swearing issue. I think that if they gave their children the freedom to swear, they would realize that they would be receptive and respectful at times when we share that it is inappropriate to do so. It would also mean that through less punishment and control of another human being, more joy and peace would naturally flow into the family. Now…. ain’t that damn beautiful?
Nature knows no indecencies; man invents them . ~Mark Twain