Swearing with intent, the generation of obscenity users

Well, it’s done. Annika is a swearer. A curser. An obscenity user.

Monday morning, as we were getting ready to leave for our new pre-school, she swore at me. Defiantly. With intent. With, shall, I go so far as to say, with malice.

She’s mimicked me plenty of times. She’s even sighed a breathy “damn it” under her breath when she dropped something on the floor. But until the other morning, I was certain that she did not fully understand what the words really meant.

Now I know for sure that she does know. They are bad. They are meant, in some cases, to invoke a reaction, and not a happy reaction.

Here’s what happened:

I was combing her hair, the final thing I wanted to do before we headed out the door to our new pre-school co-op. I was in a bit of a hurry. I wasn’t trying to make her hair look perfect, but I wanted to get a few of the major knots out. And as usual, when I think I can just quickly run the comb through her hair, instead of taking time, and holding the roots with my fingers so it doesn’t pull, she screamed at me while I was doing it.

“No Mama! Stop! That huuuurts!”

Then she looked up at me, cocked her head, smiled devilishly and said, “FUCK!”

I stopped combing her hair and squinted down at my daughter with a new respect. Yes. Respect. Not like the kind of respect you gain for mentors or idols, but in the sense, of, “Well, wow. I certainly didn’t see that coming. You’ve got me backed into a corner.” I fully admit that I didn’t really know what to do. In the past, I’ve just ignored her moments of swearing. And then laughed about it later.

This time I didn’t say anything. I just smiled briefly, and backed slowly away from her, comb out in front like a weapon, showing her that I would not be finishing up the job of hair combing.

One of my mama friends told me that she would have said, “Well, that’s an appropriate use of the word fuck.” And left it at that. I kind of like that approach. So far I’ve just heard that the best way to deal with swearing is to not give it any attention.

Frankly, and I’m sure most of you won’t be surprised to read this, I really don’t care if she swears. She’ll never get in trouble for swearing at me or in front of me. It’s just not that important to me. I swear. Why the hell do I care if she drops a bomb in an appropriate manner and setting?

So I like this advice from my friend. I’d rather teach her the appropriate and inappropriate times and places for swearing.

What do you think? What do you do about swearing with your kids? What’s worked? What hasn’t worked?


  1. says:

    January 26, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Fuck. My husband is so against cursing in kids that I would freak the fuck out if Olivia said fuck. Don’t misunderstand – he cusses like a sailor but he NEVER does it around the kids. We do a lot of spelling, but that is about to come to an end. The other day, Olivia spelled back the word pussy with just one small mistake. My older boys and I live a secret life in which we curse to and around each other behind Randy’s back. Maybe the word should be “private” rather than “secret” since Randy is aware but not included. My take on cursing has always been that there’s a time and place for everything. My boys know that they need to control it around Randy, and they do. Proof enough for me that they know how to manage it. Fuck, yeah!

  2. says:

    January 26, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Absofuckinlutely agreed! And am so happy to find other mothers who feel the same.
    I wrote a post about this recently and amazingly got some great support and then some behind the scenes “You’re kidding, right?” type responses. I hate the shame that comes with the “good word/bad word” labels and agree that teaching the kids when & where it’s appropriate to use certain words is better than teaching them to censor themselves.
    I’ve got bigger fucking fish to fry as a mother: you know, like teaching them how to be open-minded, empathetic individuals who treat other human beings with respect and making sure they don’t grow up to blood sucking, emotionally vampiric assholes.
    But that’s just me. 😀
    So glad I stopped by!

    • Martha says:

      January 26, 2011 at 4:27 pm

      Hey Brandi! Glad you stopped by too. 🙂 I agree, my biggest concerns have more to do with what good I can instill in her. I’ll check your blog out. Thanks for the comment!

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