...my child sold your honor student the answers to the test...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Well Fuck

I was perusing the news the other day when I came across this article regarding children swearing.  I had to laugh at the group grumbling, anti-indecency Parents Television Council, because first off, I don’t think most parents would be watching the show with their toddlers on hand.  Then again, I don’t know the show and could be totally off base. Since we don’t have cable I watch things of interest on Hulu or Netflix, and usually when the kids are passed out in bed.

But I found this article interesting for a few reasons. The first being that I immediately thought “DUH” when researchers claimed that by age two, kids are starting to learn adult language. Hell, all three of my kids were saying fuck by the age of two. And if you’re a parent and had this happen in your household, you know how both shocking and amusing it is. Of course we parents need to teach our kids that it’s not fucking ok for them to swear. I learned how to circumvent the “Do as I say, not as I do” without looking hypocritical and it has worked very well so far (knock on fucking wood.) My kids have been raised to understand that some things kids get to do and some things only adults get to do. It’s a right you EARN when you hit the age of majority. I’ve told my kids that I have earned the right to use “Adult Words” as I am a grown up. When they turn 18 they can swear all the fuck they want and I won’t bat an eye. But they cannot use adult words until they are an adult. Fair? They seem to think so.

But another reason I found this article interesting helps to argue against those who feel that parents shouldn’t swear at all in front of their kids. Now, I’m not condoning all parents start swearing up and down on a daily basis in front of their kids. That’s for after they’ve gone to bed. But in the average world, it is ridiculous to hold the parent to a standard where swearing at all is awful.Why? Because of this nifty note:

Swearing also makes it easier to bear pain, according to a 2009 study in which volunteers submerged their hands in a tub of ice water, a common laboratory method for inducing pain. Some were told to repeat a swear word of their choice as they submerged their hands, while others were told to repeat a boring, nonobscene adjective.

The volunteers who were swearing a blue streak kept their hands submerged longer than the other participants, suggesting the profanity helped them cope with pain. It's possible that swearing increases aggression and thus pain tolerance, study researcher Richard Stephens of Keele University told LiveScience at the time.

Swearing also serves a purpose of expressing emotion more deeply, succinctly and cathartically than any other type of speech, Jay said. But this positive side of swearing gets little attention, he said.

"A lot of people don't realize that swearing represents an evolutionary leap, in that it allows us to be verbally aggressive without being physically aggressive," Jay said. [10 Most Destructive Human Behaviors]

Two things stand out here. The first is pain. Pain is part and parcel of being a parent. I’ve had more toys thrown at my head than I can count, and I’ve stepped on countless amount of fucking Legos left on the floor that hurt like hell. How about when you’re dealing with a tantruming child and they wallop you hard with their kicking feet?

The other one is more common and less thought off. Swearing serves a purpose of letting us vent frustration without being physically aggressive. How many times have your kids done something to royally piss you off? How many times have you felt your adrenaline kick in and you stand there shaking, trying to calm down so you don’t lose it? Wouldn’t swearing under your breath be far better than to grab your kid in a moment of anger and do something you would sooo regret later? Yeah, me too. I would rather cuss up a storm in front of my kids when I see a trail of chocolate milk spilled over the entirety of my (almost white) carpets than to focus that anger in any other way.

So parents, I say to you, go ahead and swear without feeling guilt. We as a society put too much negativity on these words. They are, after all, just a combination of sounds we piece together, and they don’t hurt our children. And if it makes you feel better when you step on a damn Lego, isn’t that better than holding it in and seething for much longer than is needed? Just remember to teach your kids that they are not for kids. They have to earn the right to use them. Just like you earn the right to a glass of wine at 5pm. But if they do swear, don't panic. Just stay calm and give them an alternate kid friendly phrase to use. Just don't forget to video tape it for future blackmail purposes ;)


Big Fat Gini said...

The more we react to swearing, the more our kids do it. Seriously. Just to get to us. I always laugh at people who get bent out of shape about cursing on television. If you're that worried about your kids seeing it, then be more careful about what you watch and when you watch it.

I don't feel guilty about swearing, but I do try to direct it at inanimate objects and not my family. Not everyone does that and I think that's where my problem lies.

Rhaven said...

"I don't feel guilty about swearing, but I do try to direct it at inanimate objects and not my family. Not everyone does that and I think that's where my problem lies."

This is a great point, and one I missed in my blog. There is a difference between swearing at something inanimate (like those damn legos) and AT your kids.

Cat said...

While it can be hilarious, as my husband found out, do not try to recover a word to make it something else. Hubby hurt himself and said Damnit quite loud. Our almost 2 yr old at the time repeated it. Hubby turned the word into Sandwich thinking I wouldn't notice. Our son spent 2 months politely asking for a peanut-butter damnit. He is not the only person to try the recovery of words. I have seen a few entertaining ones.