"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> urbanMamas

I say "$h*t", you say "Sugar"

I was doing nothing but law-abiding the other day when the car behind me pulled up next to me.  The woman driving rolled down the window and said, "Don't be such a bitch," referring to how I could have nudged up and over so she could sneak past me and make a right turn on red.  I looked into the back seat, where her toddler was sitting, watching, and listening.  I thought about how much we may or may not use "swear" words in front of the kids.

"Bitch" isn't the worst of the swear words.  It's really not.  Growing up, my parents let me know that words like "stupid" and "dumb" were inappropriate.  So, to this day, I don't really use those words.  I'll probably use the word "bitch" more that I'd use "stupid" or "dumb".  I did let a "shit" slip this morning with the kids right behind me.  As for the other big cuss words, I really don't like to use the "f-" word in the kids' presence.

I was recently talking to another urbanMama who says she talks like a sailor.  Using bad words in front of the kids isn't the worst thing we could expose our kids to.  What about in your household?  Do you make the concerted effort to make the language rated-G?  Do you use your normal everyday adult language, even if the kids are within earshot?


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This is pretty relevant to our lives right now as our son is like a dictaphone. My husband happens to be a former sailor, (not that I am laying the blame squarely on his back)and our son is a genius of mammoth proportions in the expletive department. I thought we were doing really well and then I stub my toe and started to say "goddammit" before it even comes out of my mouth, it comes right out of his 19 month old adorable little mouth. "Goddammit" Goddammit" "Gahhhhhddammit", like the baby beebee bird.
My husband drops something in the kitchen and "Jeezus..."he whispers ..."Christ" answers our son. We are working on building up tremendous enthusiasm for the tamer expletive" Holy Smokes!!!!!" and "Oh Goodness". It works some times but I really feel awful about the fact that our gentle bright son might offend someone horribly one day by finishing their sentence in an unfortunate fashion.

My husband and I are considering those zapping bark collars for ourselves, but for now we put each other in "Time out" when we goof in front of the little guy. What a circus we must present to him. It is working a bit though I think.

Hoo boy. I could write a whole essay on this topic. Oh wait - I did.


I'm guilty of being a long-time potty mouth. Which is weird, because my vocabulary certainly isn't otherwise lacking and there wasn't a whole lot of cursing in the home I grew up in. So I'm working on it.

I have a mama friend who could make a sailor blush, what with all of the f-bombs and very creative cursing combinations; she doesn't care WHO hears her--her kid, your 90 year old grandmother, her mother's rabbi, total strangers, whomever. She doesn't have to be angry or impassioned about something; she's a smart lady with an obscene vocabulary. Hearing her, and seeing the looks and reactions she gets when she (frequently) lets fly, has made me want to clean up my act.

Anyway, my kid, with a very few one-off incidents over the past 11 years, doesn't curse. A few slips, a few trying-to-shock-me occasions that I could count on one had--but her language and the way she speaks to people is respectful. The shock didn't work, to her they are just words, whatever, meh.

As a older grade schooler, I remember it being a very BIG DEAL, very taboo, to curse. Very forbidden fruit-like. So, of course, we cursed anytime we could get away with it; out-of-context, whatever--it didn't matter.

I'm more worried about sending a message that gossip, or unkindness, or duplicity, or lying are okay. I've known mamas who would NEVER allow a curse word to pass their lips, who have banned the word "stupid" from their homes, but will trash others behind their backs, then turn on the sticky sweetness in person. That is far worse than any curse you could utter.

My husband and I are definitely guilty of swearing around the kids. When my son was 4 and his teacher asked him, can you think of any words that start with the "ffff" sound? His first response was the f-bomb. Now that he's six, he knows very clearly what not to say at school. We've also talking about swear words in general. If you say something like "sugar", it's really just a replacement for a swear word, so is it really okay to say that? We haven't resolved this one yet, but I'm sure we'll continue to talk about it.

Kids are going to hear curse words, personally I do have a potty-mouth and my two year old occasionally says "bad" words. I do try not to curse in front of him and if he curses I ignore it. When he gets no attention for it he is very uninterested in the word, now my mother will FLIP out but she is old school. Im sure the fact that she was so anti cursing is why I curse and the fact that I don't really care that my son occassionally says "shit" will make him less likely to curse, its not fun if its allowed. Plus he is learning whats appropriate and not and what things you can do with different people. In the grand scheme of things cursingis not high on my list, not saying please and thank you drives me nuts!

My reality check was when my daughter, at 18 months, started yelling,"Pucker!" to passing cars , while thrusting her pointer finger into the air!.....So now, my roadrage is totally 'G-Rated'..
I don't mind if she uses colorful expletives, as long as she's old enough to understand if it's appropriate company. Until then, I'm gonna try my gollygoshdarnedest!

We are strictly G-rated, around the kids or not. :) There is a tradition in Judaism that words are extremely powerful and should not be misused. But last night... we use youtube sometimes in an educational context. There are some *great* videos from National Geographic, for example. Well, last night we were watching videos of thunder and lightning. One video was of a man filming a storm when a thunderbolt came down in his backyard. "Holy S---!!!!" he exclaimed, and right afterwards my daughter exclaimed just as loudly, "Holy S---!!!!!" I tried to stifle my laughter and then explained that that was rough language and we don't speak like that. What a moment, though. On those occasions when I do need an expletive, it generally amounts to, "Oh, crumb!" :) :) :)

Calling someone a bitch is in totally bad taste, and makes everyone feel angry. (though I want to call people bitches a lot!) I think using the occasional explicative is just unavoidable, but when it's actually directed at another person we're sending a totally different message to our kids.

I'm a big fan of "dag-nabbit"! No matter what I'm exclaiming about, it always makes me feel a little better.

I'd much rather hear a child use a real curse than "poop" or "poopy," which both seriously turn my stomach. Cursing is one thing. Infantile cursing is another.

I told my daughter that words are like rocks; there's no such thing as a bad rock, but if you throw one at someone, it can hurt them. Likewise, there's no such thing as a bad word. In our house, we have far more issues with tone of voice than words anyway...

My daughter's daycare has apparently been trying to redirect her from the word shoot, which I say. Recently in the car, my husband said it, and she began yelling "no! No shoot daddy!" from the back seat. I explained the daycare thing and he said, "what's wrong with shoot?" I have trouble sometimes figuring out what our personal line is:

I am the only parent in the house with the occasional "bad word", so any imitiation from the children, the finger can be pointed at me. And unfortunately the f-bomb comes out more often than I would like. And having heard my older daughter say it three times, I have now made a concerted effort to G rate my mouth.

Personally, I find it MUCH worse for a child to see their parent roll down a window and directly call someone a bitch to their face. How tasteless and disrepectful.

My 5 1/2 yo is in the habit lately of saying, "I am so 'angry' right now I am going to have to say the f-word". And then doesn't say it, but we get it.

Uh, longshorewoman here. When I was *pregnant* with my first, I started saying "carp" instead of crap. Somehow, I stuck with the euphemisms and kept the real live cussing in front of my precious thing to a minimum until sometime after her little brother was born. Like Zinemama notes in her post on the cursed issue, something about two kids just made me snap. I've come up with utterly new phrases that I never once used pre-kid. Fortunately, we don't get a lot of parroting from the peanut gallery. When we do, we ignore it or just gently remind peanuts that many people don't like those words. And when my little sugarplums call me out for cussing, I readily admit that Mommy should find better ways to express herself.

My children happily chant "crappity crap crap crap" when they hear me say it...but it's my husband who had the wake up moment when he heard our 2 year old say "no, sive, chingamade" (no sirve, chingadamadre or it doesn't work mo---f--er). That was when he believed me that we really do have to be careful what we say in front of the children!

I'm more bothered by "name-calling" than swearing. Shouting "shit!!" when we stub our toe or burn ourselves is understandable.

Calling people stupid, or idiot, or stinky (or bitch!) is something I'm working on banishing from our house.

A funny - when our son was 2 I muttered something under my breath about another driver in traffic, and our sweet babe yelled out, "FUCKER!!!" Oops.

Lately, I noticed that I am starting get a bit vain, saying "Jeeezus" or even "Jeeeesus Christ." As a Catholic raising Catholic children, I feel pretty bad (I mean, guilty) about this behavior. I'm also saying "dammit" or "goddammit" a lot more.

I try to be mindful about what I say around the kids. I would prefer that they don't pick up a potty mouth. I can be pretty foul when they aren't around.

Their dad is fond of the expression: "What the hell?" (Yes, he too is a Catholic). He altered it to "What the heck?" and now to "What the ....." One of our girls now says "What the ...." and has once slipped and said "What the heck?" All eyes turned to her.

I use "shit" a lot and they hear me. I think it's one of the more harmless of the swear words we can choose from.

Our DD thinks the word bitches refers to the Disney princesses. LOVE that!

Being parents has made us speak much more respectfully to each other. I think it's great!

& people that swear at you in front of your kid? They suck!

nancy, your story made me shake with laughter. of course in my household, with our 2 year old daughter, we are in the midst of the same issue. cursing in pain after kicking the chair leg or at my own mess ups slip out way more often than i'd like. and our daughter is quite the parrot. we are kind of impressed with her totally appropriate usage of "dammit!"--she can really nail it. i guess that speaks to how often she must hear it, yikes. i agree with many posts, that while curse words are not the worst thing, directly hurling curse words at others in anger in front of your child is plain wrong. anyway, glad to read that i am not the only one out there!

I have to say, I think "swear words" are arbitrary. There is nothing inherantly wrong in those words... words are random of course. I'm much more concerned with manner my daughter uses with people, and the kindness (or lack thereof!) she uses. I don't really care if she were to scream "shit!" (which she doesn't) or shoot if something breaks...

Isn't the real issue here showing your child how to lose your temper over something stupid and behave rudely and inappropriately to other people? If that mom treats a stranger like that in public, I'm concerned how she treats that child at home.
Yes I have to re-train my mouth, like "fudge" instead of ...

One of my most vivid childhood memories is at age six, jumping on the bed with my little brother, saying every curse word we knew. My mom (who overheard) called us into the kitchen, told us to close our eyes and stick out our tongues—which we eagerly did...and she washed out our mouths with a soapy dish rag! I still remember the taste of green Palmolive...sadly, it didn't work for the long term. I still have quite a large curse word vocabulary, and they escape more often than I'd like.

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