Why I Swear in Front of My Kids

 As far as vices go, I don't have any major ones.  I don't smoke crack, for instance. And I'm not hiding a secret Keno addiction. I've overslept exactly once in the past two years, in case that tells you something about my personality. But here's what I do as a mom that others -- maybe even you -- may find inexcusable: I swear in front of my kids.

Let me clarify: I'm not swearing at them. It's just that sometimes -- say, when your bag of groceries breaks in the middle of the street while a car is coming and you're holding the leash of your (barking) dog and you've also made the grave mistake of trying to take an urgent work phone call -- there is no other solution but to drop the f-bomb.

At least not that I know of.


I still remember the first time I cursed. I was in eighth grade and coming home from school with my mother and older sister. Another car had just cut us off in traffic, and when my mom gasped and slammed on her brakes, I calmly suggested, "Why didn't you roll down the window and tell them to f@#% off?"

My mother (a teacher) and my responsible older sister were horrified. I, on the other hand, felt quite pleased with myself. I might make good grades at school and have a sensible hair cut (don't f&*$ing ask) but people better not underestimate what was going to come out of my mouth.

It's not like every word I say is a "bad" one and I don't curse in public. (Now, that would be rude!) But I've never bought the argument that there are "better" words to choose from. Really? I'm pretty sure I could spend hours poring through a dictionary and never find a satisfying alternative to any swear word.

"Dang," for instance, is nowhere near as forceful and meaningful as "damn." (And somehow sounds like you should be chewing a tall blade of prairie grass when you say it.) And although my husband tries valiantly to censor himself for the sake of our kids, saying "Sugar!" just doesn't convey that he's in a serious mess as well as if he'd said -- well, you know.

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When I hear someone curse -- not a lot, mind you, just when they really mean it -- I can't help but feel some respect. Here's a person who's saying what they honestly feel, and isn't authenticity what we all strive for?

But of course, because I'm a mom, a valid question is: How does my "bad" habit affect my kids?

Four years ago, I found out. While visiting relatives during a sweltering Houston heatwave, we walked out of an air-conditioned home and into a car that was easily over 100 degrees. As we struggled (unsuccessfully) to buckle up without burning our fingers, I heard my son, then 6, pipe up in his sweet little voice, "Man, it is f#*&ing hot in here."

I know some moms would be horrified and lunge for a bar of soap to wash out their child's mouth. When I finally stopped laughing, I turned to my mother (who was also cracking up) and proudly pointed out: "And he even used it correctly!"

Eventually, I did explain to my son that many people find that word (among others) offensive, and that he was never to use it in school or in public or even that often.

But if he, or my daughter, curse when they really, really need to express their emotions and absolutely no other G-rated, or even PG-rated, word will do? Then they're finding their voice and that's f&$%ng fine with me.


Do you ever swear in front of your kids?

Image © iStock.com/Lloret

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