Protecting Kids From the F-Word Is Absolutely &^%$#@! Ridiculous

Rant 43

cursingI've got a question for your parents: would you rather your kid learned a euphemism for the f-word or read about rape and murder? Go ahead, I'll give you a few seconds. It shouldn't take long. In the meantime, you might want to steer clear of the New York Times.

In a disagreement with website STFU Parents this week, the Grey Lady, she who has long proclaimed herself the place to find "all the news that's fit to print" has revealed its decision that it's not "fitting" to print even the vaguest references to curse words lest they "offend" the venerable newspaper's "younger readers."

Essentially the New York Times has just informed the parents of America that it is far scarier that our kids learn a euphemism for f--k than that they read that three American soldiers were murdered for no reason (on the front page of the website yesterday) or about the man who chopped an 8-year-old boy up into little pieces and stuck him in the freezer (child killer Levi Aron made the NY section yesterday).

Excuse me, parents, if you think the latter is better, please do not send your child to play with mine. I'm not ready to tell my 7-year-old why evil men kill 8-year-old children.

I am OK with a conversation about why certain words are not appropriate in polite company. In fact, we had it just this week. She said "hell" and when I told her it was not a nice word, she mentioned the TV show Hell's Kitchen which her father and I both watch. It developed into an interesting discussion, and we both came out enlightened.

These conversations are what euphemisms were made for ... because we do have to sanitize certain adult things for children, but we can't make them all go away. I find it rather insulting to my intelligence that the Times -- of all places -- is telling parents they can't handle a conversation about the term STFU.

The paper's "policy" came to light this week only because of a story that made reference to STFU Parents' tagline without credit to its source. Blogger B was understandbly upset and wrote to the paper asking for credit for her words. As a writer, I was annoyed on her behalf. As a parent, I'm incensed by the response that they blatantly refuse to use a euphemism for the f-bomb in an effort to protect kids ... even while they told B "Granted, we aren't the parents of young readers."

That's right, newspaper editors are not the parents of our children. Their jobs are to convey the news in a relatively classy way -- hence the use of a euphemism rather than the actual expletive. Our job is to police what our kids read, hear, and see. 

So, I don't let my 7-year-old read The New York Times. She isn't ready to learn what happened to poor little Leiby Kletzy at the hands of Levi Aron. But if she hears the name LMFAO on the radio, I'm not going to scream and cry and call the FCC. I'm going to tell her we don't say f--k ... at least not in front of Grandma.

What do you think of the Times' extreme take on protecting our kids from curse words?


Image via GranniesKitchen/Flickr

discipline, family


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Zamaria Zamaria

I'm glad they don't print cuss words. I don't let my kids watch movies with too much cussing, I don't talk like that, we don't listen to music like that, why would I want them reading things like that? On the other hand, they don't read adult newspapers or watch the news. We do discuss current events, but I don't tell them everything. They should be allowed to be kids as long as they can. They don't need to know how bad the world can be until they are older. I don't want them living in fear every time we walk out the door. They are children. Treat them like children.

Ginny Shears-Sutton

I would rather my child know what LMFAO and STFU and WTF is more than them reading about serial killer and things like that. they are gonna hear about them all eventually but its a parents right to teach their child right from wrong. Most kids know what they mean already they txt and are on facebook and are at school

Tiffa... TiffanyMarie80

I can appreciate the sentiment from the newspaper - and while I wouldn't give my young kids an entire newspaper to browse through, there are times when reading up on current events for educational purposes is going to happen. Our house rule is no swearing, period. That includes using substitutes, because if you say "fudge" but mean "f**k", fudge takes on the negative meaning and connotations intended. As for explaining what things like lmfao and wtf mean, I'll be honest, and also mention we don't use language like that- there's no reason for it :)

MeowLove MeowLove

on swearing: i think its right to tell children what these words mean, but teach them how its wrong to use them in social settings. swearing has been proven to relieve stress, so id let my kids say fudge instead of fuck. as for swears like hell, i think its what its in reference too. hells kitchen, hell the hot place, ok to say. go to hell- NOT ok to say. but for swears like crap, as long as they didnt say it around school or to other poeple where it could be rude i wouldnt mind if my child said it. their going to anyway lol

Jespren Jespren

How about not printing curse words because proper ADULTS don't use obsenities? Newspapers are supposed to print the news, including serial killers and child rapists, but there isn't a single excuse or reason to print obsenities. There isn't any reason for a newspaper to have the 'F word' in it, nor any number of other curses. Now refusing to mention the name of a sited blog (stfu parents) because it's an acroyn for an offensive word that proper people don't use in polite company, is rather obsurd.

momto... momtolittleg

 "I'm going to tell her we don't say f--k ... at least not in front of Grandma."

THIS. Words are just words.  The motives behind the sickening things that go on in this world are FAR more worrisome than some words.  We curse some around our daughter.  When she was 2, she made up a song called, "The Dammit Song" (every lyric was the word dammit).  We laughed, then told her that dammit is a word we can only use around our house or each other- not at school or in public.  Kids are far smarter than we give them credit for, and if my daughter wants to use a curse word appropriately at home, we have no problems with that.  Just like everything else, we will teach her that there is a time and place for everything, and there will be consequences if those rules are broken.  Just like you teach your child not to holler out in church and she will be in trouble if that happens.  But the child knows she will not be punished for hollering on a playground.  Cussing has a time and a place and instead of banning words and making them more appealing, we will teach her when to use them.

pitti... pittiesmom

I know I cannot protect my children from cussing but I still won't allow people to swear in front of my kids. If the person wants to continue with it, we simply walk away

PonyC... PonyChaser

I agree with their sentiment, but think that they went about it in a cowardly way. As Jesperen pointed out, some adults do not swear. Frankly, I find myself ignoring comments that have too much swearing in them. When I read a blog, book, etc., and it's full of swear words, I will put it down. It is too distracting.

The Times should simply have said "we don't use swear words on this site. Find an alternative and give your brain some exercise", or something similar.

And Charles... your comment might have gone over better if you had spelled the words correctly. It's "absurD". And "fuckING". Or, if you prefer the contracted word, place an apostrophe where the dropped G would be: Fuckin'

Rebecca Peterson

Where my husband works profainity ws everywhere. Once our daughter and I moved in with him we have a swearing cup. It really shows the intelligence level of some people when teh only adjective they know is the f word, or noun is the b word. It's a shame that we can't think of "smart" insults anymore because as a collective, the vocabulary level of the nation has gone down.

nonmember avatar Elizabeth

They are just words, and at some point your child will learn what they are. I wasn't allowed to cuss at home, but guess what? When I was at school or hanging out with my friends I cussed all the time. I'm pretty sure your kids will too. There is nothing better than doing something that your parents wont let you do.

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