Or maybe the first question ought to be, as a parent, what is your stand on your kids using swear words?
I promise this won’t be preachy – but let me first share where the inspiration for this blog came about. Two instances stand out. When Jayvon first started Kindy (this was 3 years ago, and we’d just arrived in Australia, all bright-eyed and maybe a little naive), and when I was picking him up after school, and as we were walking across the school grounds to head home, I saw one of his classmates having an angry conversation with his mother, and calling her a “f***ing b****”. And this classmate would be 6 years old – tops. But that was 3 years ago. Why bring it up now? Well, Xavier, who’s now the one in Kindy, was invited to a classmate’s birthday party, and it was a pretty informal one, held at the nearby playground. So all the kids were being their usually rowdy behaviour, all running amok at the playground. I thought I heard someone saying “f***ing b****” but quickly dismissed it. Till the hubby brought it up. It was spoken by one of Xavier’s classmates, again, 6 years old tops, and it was directed to another classmate who “dared” to invade the boys’ space. AKA a play structure that they declared to be the “boys”.
I am disturbed. Perplexed. Worried. Concerned.
Not trying to be holier-than-thou. I know of friends who can swear and cuss, and I’m a big enough girl to be able to handle swear words thrown at or around me. But while I can accept an adult using this kind of language to let off steam, hearing it from a 6-year-old is disconcerting to say the least. And since I was a distance from the particular boy (and the hubby being nearer cos he was keeping an eye on our boys who were at the structure), I could barely make out the words, but he wasn’t saying them under his breath as well!
I don’t use swear words. I would like to say I NEVER SWEAR… but I also can’t lie, and my slip-ups come especially when I am driving and particularly when someone else does something dangerously stupid. But I have a love for the English language, and a teaching instilled in me, from my pastors and leaders in church, that we should watch the words that come out of our mouths. So yes, I make the concerted effort to keep the swear words out.
It’s a tough battle, what with the Youtube and even the seemingly innocuous “Cartoon Network” which is code for cartoons that derive pleasure and laughter in being mean and obnoxious.
And my boys love it. They love these cartoons. My 8 year old enjoys watching these cartoons, he enjoys watching Youtube videos of other people playing Minecraft and all. He uses phrases like “What The!” (Which grates me), and his latest pet phrase – “idiot”. Oh and he picked up the words “shit”, and understand that “F***” is a rude word, so he spells it out to me, in the context of telling me his classmate said that in class. We make it clear to the boys that when they pick up nonsensical words and use them with glee, then it’s high time for a screen time break. But of course, they also pick it up in school. And it’s a constant tug of war.
Their friends use these words. The words sound funny and cool. But they are slowly understanding I have a low tolerance for such swear words.
“If you can’t speak in proper sentences, without using such words, then instead of watching your iPad, read the dictionary and find new words to use.” Yup, I told my 8-year-old this. I also explain what the words mean, and why the words are offensive (especially to me). It is kind of like a repeat of when they were much younger, and the words “poo poo” caused them to roll over in laughter – but I told them that words should also be used in context, and using this word to talk about something unrelated is unacceptable and silly behaviour. So it is quite the extension of what we’ve always tried to teach them.
It is an uphill battle.
I personally think it’s a lazy way to speak. And yes, I can see eyes rolling already. But that’s what I think. Rather than using words like “very”, “extremely”, “so” or other words, a simple swear word replaces it. Rather than sharing what gets you irritated, you can just spurt out little nuggets of disgust.
Simply using these words gets you in a frame of mind that is angry, frustrated, and often at a loss for words, so more such “nuggets of disgust” come rolling out.
I know of people who can’t even talk normally without peppering their speech with swear words. I may not do it, but I can take it.
But when a 6-year-old does it?
That is just so wrong. I am not judging the parents, but it is a sad thing to see.