So, the other day I was in the grocery store with my three-year-old daughter, and she dropped something on the floor and said “Oh shit.” And this lady gave me the filthiest look, and I was like “What’s your fucking problem?” (But not out loud and only in my head, because I’m civilized.)
So, my kid swore. Big deal.
It’s hardly the first time she’s used an expletive. One notable time she fell out of bed at the age of two, and cried that she “fell on the fucking floor!” I would have laughed but I was too worried that she might be hurt. (She wasn’t.)
Yeah. I swear a lot…so my daughter is kind of picking up the habit.
But I know the fact that I let her swear is going to be controversial, and the reality is that she actually did break a rule when she swore in public. Because we do have three rules for swearing (so far). These are them:
You can only swear at home and not when other people are around. For now, anyway. When she’s older and has a better grasp of the nuances of language, she can make up her own mind. Personally, I find societal rules around swearing to be bizarre. Designating some euphemisms as acceptable and others as unacceptable is just too arbitrary a ruling system for me to take seriously. It’s illogical.
Also, why is “shoot” OK? “Shoot” is violent. Did you ever think about that?
And OK, I KNOW my argument is somewhat disingenuous, because if the words mean nothing and are so powerless, why use them at all? But, I’m not a psychologist am I?
Nobody can be expected to make 100% sense all the time.
But my daughter has to function in a society where people think “poop” is a good word and “shit” is a bad word, and where “damn” was once considered offensive and is now not, for some reason. So, I have to prepare her for that. Not to do so would make me irresponsible.
After the grocery store incident, we had the talk where I remind her that she is only allowed to swear at home.
You can’t swear at people. And you can’t use words to be cruel. It’s not acceptable to call someone a “fucking asshole” or tell them to “fuck off.” Again, at least not until you’re old enough to make your own decisions and understand the implications of your words. You can otherwise use swear words in context. That’s fine with me.
A study led by Dr. Richard Stephens, a researcher and senior lecturer in psychology at Keele University in the UK, found that swearing is a constructive way to deal with pain and frustration.
“Swearing is not necessarily a negative thing,” he told the Toronto Star. “It can be a linguistic tool when dealing with frustrating events.”
And life as a three year old, as we all know, can be incredibly frustrating.
Do it judiciously. Not all the time, OK? Don’t be peppering entire sentence with fucks and shits. Yes, I know mommy swears all the time. But children (or in this case my one child) are our opportunities to shape beings that are better than ourselves. So, she has to try to be judicious about it, which is admittedly hard at three. Like the time she sauntered up to the nanny and shouted “Shit shit shit shit shit!” for no apparent reason. That was probably overkill. But whatever.
I’m sure more rules will pop up as she gets older. And we’ll get to the point where I have to explain why some words are really bad and you can’t ever say them – racist or derogatory terms, for example.
But for now, we’re good.
I know not everyone agrees with me – and that’s OK. Differences of opinion are what make the fucking world go ‘round. Or maybe that’s love. I’m not a physicist am I?
I gotta go. My kid wants to watch “fucking Frozen.”
I have to tell her to say “please.”