These [email protected]#kin’ Kids Have Potty Mouths (And They Learned It From Their Parents)

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The first time my oldest son inadvertently said the F-word, we thought it was hilarious. And when my middle son came home from camp asking about the various terms for “penis,” my husband and I exchanged looks and stifled our smiles. Now, when our youngest, who’s three, accidentally says “shit” instead of sit, the whole family howls with laughter. We know it’s ridiculous, but we can’t help it. Swear words can be funny. And appropriate. And the perfect use of expression. Except when they aren’t.

I was raised up in a house where the three bad words or phrases were “piss,” “liar” and “shut up.” Saying any of them would land us in our room instantly. The “shits” and “fucks” weren’t even part of the equation. My mom rarely used profanities in front of us. And when she did, it meant something was seriously wrong. The entire house shut down when she swore during a heated argument with my brother. To this day it’s become part of our family lore.  Turns out she could swear like a soldier, but chose to kept it hidden from her kids.

And now I do the same with mine. While I confess to having a gutter mouth, I try to temper it when my children are around. Of course the odd “fuck” slips out on occasion, but it’s usually connected to a mishap of some sort and never directed at them.  Instead, we seem to have created a whole slew of replacement words. Shlitz, sugar, fricken, friggin, fargen. What-the-heck, what-the-pinsky and what-the-minsky are family faves, the origins of which continue to elude us.

Sometimes my kids will ask me if they can swear. We talk about how swearing AT someone is different than using the words to express frustration, or shock, or pain, but that it’s inappropriate. Then I’ll give them a minute to run through their litany of swear words, cursing to their hearts’ delight. I figure it gives them a chance to get the forbidden words out of their system. And, so far, the faux-fanities and minute-rants have kept my children’s swearing to a minimum. [tagbox tag=”swearing”]

One of my friends always swears in front of her kids. She figures it’s like having candies or pop lying around: when it’s accessible it’s less tempting. Needless to say, my 6-year old loves driving home in her car – between her and her pre-teen kids, it’s a bleeping good time.  Another friend of mine confessed that her daughter had started swearing at everyone: her friends, her sister, even her parents. At her wit’s end, my friend actually squirted some liquid soap on a washcloth – she claims it was organic – and washed her daughter’s mouth with it. She felt horrible, but confessed that it seemed to work.

A couple of weeks ago my 8-year-old called me an “f-word.” According to him, it didn’t count as swearing because he didn’t say the actual word. Then he called his younger brother an asshole. And now our 3-year-old is calling people assholes. While I haven’t reached for the soap – yet – it has made me re-evaluate how much swearing I actually do. I guess it really does start with the elders. Shit!

(Photo: iStockphoto)