We Don't Say 'Fat': 15 Moms Share the Words That Are Off-Limits in Their Family

Wendy Robinson | Mar 18, 2016 Being a Mom
We Don't Say 'Fat': 15 Moms Share the Words That Are Off-Limits in Their Family

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By the age of 4, many children will know close to 1,100 words. By first grade, that number can skyrocket to close to 20,000 words. Annoyingly for parents, there are likely at least a handful of words in that mix that we wish our kids didn't know -- and I am not just talking about swear words!

Most of us can probably agree that we don't want to hear our kid dropping the f-bomb, but what about words like "stupid," "shut up," and even "fat"?

We talked to moms from across the country and got the scoop on the non-swear words that are forbidden in their families and why. Read on for some surprising answers and thought-provoking reasons.


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  • "Baby"


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    "We had to make a rule that our 3- and 5-year-olds are not allowed to use the word 'baby' unless they are talking about a doll or an actual human infant. We were having way too many fights about one of them using the word baby as an insult to the other one." -- Remi W., Reno, Nevada

  • "Easy" and "Hard"


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    "This one came directly from school (so I don't take credit for it!) and I'm totally on board. I ask the kids not to say that something is 'easy' or 'hard.' As in, 'That math homework is so easy!' in the context of being around friends who may not find something as easy or difficult. Instead, we ask them to say something more directly about their own personal ability rather than a blanket statement about the relative difficulty of the task. And [it's] a good reminder that what is easy for one kid may be super hard for someone else, and to try to be mindful of these differences." -- Christine S., Saint Paul, Minnesota

  • "Always"


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    "I am on a crusade to end the use of the words 'always' and 'never' by my strong-willed 4-year-old. We get a lot of 'You are always mean to me' or 'You never let me have fun,' so we are working on teaching him to avoid absolutes. So far it is never working because he still says them." -- Kathie H., Sacramento, California

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  • "OMG," "I'm Bored," and "I Can't"


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    "We don't allow 'OMG' -- or any form of it. Also no 'I can't' or 'I'm bored.' Well, they can say 'I'm bored,' but it will lead to child labor." -- Sara W., Dorr, Michigan

  • "Fat"


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    "We don't use the word 'fat' to describe people. My son saw an overweight woman jogging and said 'Look at that fat lady running,' which prompted a long discussion about how that word can be hurtful to some people and that we don't talk about people's bodies. This conversation will have to get more nuanced as he gets older, but for right now, 'fat' is forbidden." -- Ashley P., Hopkins, Kansas

  • "Yuck!"


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    "We don't allow kids to use words like 'yuck,' 'ick,' or 'gross' to describe food. We feel like that is rude to the person who made it, and [we] tell the kids they can just say 'no thank you' instead. We have this conversation every single time we serve broccoli, peas, or carrots." -- Jenny T., Olympia, Washington

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  • "Stupid" and "Boring"


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    "In our house, 'boring,' 'shut up,' 'stupid,' and 'hate' are not allowed. We added 'boring' to the list [when my son] came home from school calling everything 'boring' but could never explain why. Now instead of calling something boring, he needs to tell us in sentence form why something does not interest him. This keeps him from using that word as a crutch to not do anything." -- Mariah W., Saint Paul, Minnesota

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  • Text Speak


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    "No text speak. I can't stand when people, including my kids, actually say, out loud, things like "WTF' or 'LOL.' I tell my kids they are smart enough to be able to use actual real words in conversation." -- Laurie N., Tubac, Arizona

  • "What the..."


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    "I don't like 'What the...' as a lead in to anything in either our home or my classroom. It's a gateway phrase. It doesn't lead to anything good." -- Jackie L., Saint Paul, Minnesota

  • "Hate"


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    "Our forbidden words are 'stupid,' 'hate,' and 'shut up.' I think they're so ugly and can be damaging when used without consideration, or at a child's level of empathy (or lack thereof). Eventually slur terms for other people will be added to the list when they inevitably hear them somewhere. I'm actually less upset about their using swear words when it (still rarely) happens. We just tell them those are grown-up words that they aren't old enough to use yet." -- Gena G., Evansville, Indiana

  • "Kill"


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    "We don't allow any talk of killing others. I feel like they are too young to understand the significance of it. It mostly comes up in play (not when mad), but 'kill' is the one buzz word in our house that requires a conversation." -- Amber W., Saint Paul, Minnesota

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  • Subsitute Swears


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    "We've had to ban 'secondary' curse words in addition to the 'real' ones. My 11-year-old hears a ton of stuff at school, and that ship has sailed. We can't control how the kids talk at school, but we don't allow those things at home. So, secondary words are things like, 'This fudging homework doesn't make sense!' or 'That sucks' or 'You piss me off.' So. Many. Banned. Words." -- Tricia N., Saint Paul, Minnesota

  • "I'm Stupid!"


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    "My daughter is an easily frustrated perfectionist, so we've had to ban her saying mean things about herself. So we don't allow things like 'I'm so stupid' or 'I'm so dumb.' We don't say mean things about other people or ourselves in this house." -- Jessie M., Naples, Florida

  • "Shut Up"


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    "'Shut up' is a definite no-no. We think it is disrespectful." -- Leslie B., Saint Paul, Minnesota

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  • The Long List


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    "'Stupid,' 'idiot,' 'moron,' 'dumb,' 'hate,' 'dang,' 'darn,' 'crap,' 'fart,' and 'oh my God' are all 'no' words for us. While I regret lumping 'dumb,' 'dang,' and 'darn' in the mix -- because it means I can't use it and they are constantly calling me on it -- I think the words are mean-spirited and/or too close to the actual curse. As they get older, it will be fine to use some of them, but while they are little, I say no. I also restrict their use of the word 'fat' when describing people."-- Melissa H., Saint Paul, Minnesota

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