Parenting on Purpose


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Depending on your frame of reference, swearing in front of your kids and allowing them to swear is generally ok or it’s definitely not ok. And this may depend on what age they are. What does it mean to swear? Most people would say it’s the use of offensive language, using words that our society has deemed rude, offensive or impolite to use in the presence of others. Many people are greatly put off by hearing words they find offensive.

It’s nearly impossible to shield your children from hearing offensive language. Our kids are inundated with swearing in just about every area of their lives. If they watch TV the most popular shows have certain degrees of swearing, and cable shows have no limits whatsoever. Have you noticed that over the years the level of swearing allowed on TV has escalated to new heights? Movies too?

There is also your child’s school, where swearing can be commonplace. Sometimes a frustrated coach may swear at the kids and occasionally a teacher too. Kids use swearing to express frustration, anger, when they want to be hurtful or to show off in front of their friends. Sometimes they may just find it fun to swear for the attention it evokes. Kids may also view using offensive language as a rite of passage, an activity that shows their maturity.

The reality is, you may never know to what degree your child swears when they are outside the home. Even very young children will pick up on swear words and mimic them. Sometimes you may wonder where on earth they heard such a word?

What is your reaction when your child swears in front of you? Is it a guaranteed attention getter by your extreme reaction, are you calmly explaining that perhaps a different word is more appropriate or are you ignoring the whole thing? Your attitude and example about swearing will influence how your child views this activity. If you swear, chances are your child will too. If you freak out when they swear, they will probably learn to use swearing to get a strong reaction.

In our home, we taught our kids that certain words were not ok to use in front us, even if they were saying such words around their friends. We also wanted them to learn that using swear words in public would not be viewed in a positive way by anyone who heard them. We wanted our kids to learn that words have power and it would serve them to be conscious and deliberate about how they wanted to use this power.

Ask your kids and think about this yourself. How do you feel when using such words? If you’re swearing in anger, you can’t be feeling very good and it won’t serve you. Can you ever swear and feel good? Maybe when it originates from a sense of fun and playfulness and is not directed at anyone or anything in a negative way.

Each of us gets to choose how we speak, and whom we surround ourselves with will ideally be whomever we feel the best in the company of. How we feel about other people is determined not only by how they are feeling, but also about what is coming out of theirs mouths, in the form of their speech.

Do others feel good around us? Are we making the effort to feel good around others, particularly our kids and are we being conscious of what we are saying in front of them?

Your kids will eventually choose who they want to be and how they want to speak. The best we can do for them while they are in our care is to teach them to pay attention to what they are communicating to others and if it’s the message they want to convey.

Please share your thoughts.

© 2014.  Sharon Ballantine.  All Rights Reserved.




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