This might surprise you but I think George Carlin may've been the greatest parent who ever lived. It's all because he taught us one of life's most valuable lessons: The Seven Dirty Words.
Fine, so Carlin was a comedian and his list of seven dirty words you can never say on television may've helped rocket him to stardom, but it did much more. It gave us all a reference point of what was and wasn't acceptable. And that's a real important lesson to teach kids today.
Recently, my wife called our two boys into the bedroom and proceeded to teach them about curse words. She wanted them to know that bad words like this exist and that they shouldn't use them at all. They're getting to the age where they're going to start hearing them anyway (most likely from me any time I start a home-improvement project), so it's better they learn them from us intentionally rather than someone else.
We didn't go as extreme as Carlin but we taught them "ass" and "shit," probably the two tamest curses. How did my kids react? My 9-year-old kept covering his ears and screaming he didn't want to know. They were bad words and he didn't want to hear them.
My 7-year-old? He must've asked about a dozen times for us to repeat the words just to make sure he heard them correctly. Then he mouthed them to us, making sure not to say them but to show he knew them. He even snuck back into our bedroom an hour later to see if he still had them right. Yeah, we may've created a monster with that one.
Kids curse. Popular music features tons of swearing. And if you have HBO or Showtime in your house, there's a good chance little Billy's going to overhear a random F-bomb or two. If we don't start teaching our kids that these words are bad, they'll have no reference point and just treat them like any other word.
If someone calls my kid a shithead, I don't want him oblivious. I want him to know that it's a bad word and that someone's saying something very mean to him.
Listen, you have the awkward Sex Talk with your kids because you'd rather they get the correct information from you than semi-learn it somewhere else. It's not much different with curses. You almost diminish the power of the words a bit by openly discussing them and just telling your kids not to use them.
Now, every kid is different. I know my boys, so I'm not too afraid that Ryan's going to take a bite of turkey this Thanksgiving and say, "Grandma, this turkey tastes like ass." But if you think your kid might, you're probably better off waiting a few more years before starting up Swearing School.
What do you think? Would you teach your kids curse words?
Image via Horia Varlan/Flickr