Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Bad language and children

I heart swearing. Positively love it.

If used in the right fucking context, swearing can add great emphasis and colour to conversation.

I've heard the argument that it masks a poor vocabulary, and that it is vulgar and offensive. And although there is some swearing that I do find offensive, or perhaps more so, uninteresting, I don't agree with that as a blanket statement.

I swear well.

Well when you curse as much as I do, occasionally you are going to get it right.

However when my son was born, or not long after, I took a vow to curtail the colour in my language for fear of his first word being arsehole, or bollocks.

This was tough as previously I would swear in front of anyone, all the live long day. My mother, mother-in-law, the vicar, I'm struggling to think of who I wouldn't swear in the company of.

But I did really, really well. Switching off the swearing when my son was in earshot.

My philosophy has changed a bit of late, and here's why I know:

Me (ironing what looked like a barely used school tracksuit): “Son, do you even wear this tracksuit at school?”

Max, nonchalantly: “Only when it's pissing down dad.”


I didn't even bother asking where he had learnt that word, I knew.

More importantly though, my son seemed to understand that he'd used a 'naughty' word, but in my sole company it was no big deal. In fact when I asked him to repeat it, when I was regaling the story to family, he wouldn't.

And that's why I think it is good to swear in front of children, and then explain why people find it offensive, and in what type of situation it really isn't appropriate, like the classroom.

Letting him watch Family Guy with me over Christmas may have been a little too far though.

But again, this was a good opportunity to explain the gravitas of that type of swear word, and how in many, many different situations it is offensive, and that as a parent I wouldn't tolerate that 'strength' of swear word in conversation from my child, unless in exceptional circumstances I suppose.

I also side on the autocratic parenting side. There are occasions where simply telling a child they can't do something, that you do at will, sends a positive message.

Reminding my child who is boss, is not something I like to do with regularity, but it is definitely something I do when deemed necessary, and this could also be a chance to do that.

He has also come home from school and asked me what the words wanker and gay mean, so I guess by being the one who actually introduces him to vulgarity, then I am in control of the situation, rather than at the mercy of the foul mouthed herd of the playground.

But what about you lot? What do you think? Have you ever called your child a prick? Or took your darlings to task over their language?