Growing up, I don’t remember my parents swearing very often.
But when I was 3, my parents took in a bunch of foster kids with rather colorful mouths.
My mom loved to tell me how one day, my Italian grandmother came over to a visit only to be horrified by hearing her precious grandbaby running around the house saying, “F*ck, f*ck, f*ck.”
I started full on swearing around age 9. I never cursed around my family, just friends. I thought it would make me sound cool.
As I got older, my mouth got dirtier. I’d say things that would make even the saltiest of sailors blush.
And then I had kids.
When my oldest was around 18 months old, I was a single mom living with friends. The teenagers thought it would be adorable to teach my sweet, innocent, cherub to say FU.
I’ll never forget the day she was sitting in her high chair when my friend’s husband told her no for something she wanted. She retorted with, “F*ck you.”
While hearing those nasty words come from the mouth of an innocent babe was cute and funny once, I put a stop to it immediately…and to them teaching her anything else.
I started teaching my girls that those were “darn” words. That only grownups could use them and that they [the girls] would have to use the word darn instead.
That actually worked.
I did my best to clean up my mouth though, and not swear around them as often.
As they got older, I told them that I knew they would be swearing, it’s normal and it’s OK around their friends. But they were not to use it around me or any other grownups.
As the two older kids became adults, their usage of swear words became a regular part of their vocabulary.
My grandbabies hear a lot of colorful languag1e from their parents and their parents’ friends. (And even me on occasion.)
They, like their mother, have been taught that those are words only grownups use and to use “darn” words instead.
In all reality, swear words are just words. They have no true meaning unless someone gives them one.
There is nothing wrong with using a salty word or two here and there, and there’s nothing wrong with dropping an F-bomb in the right setting.
As for swearing in front of your kids…look, they’re going to start doing it around their friends long before you even think your sweet, precious baby angel is using that kind of language.
It all boils down to how you educate them, and empower them to make their own choices.
Originally published at www.daringwomanmagazine.com