Long before having kids, I was known for having a potty mouth. I'm not sure why (OK, I guess I know why), but I developed a reputation for it among friends. This was never a big deal to me until, of course, I had kids. Turns out, cursing in front of your kids is not generally smiled upon, so I found myself desperately trying to edit what came out of my mouth and with varying degrees of success.
Personally, I hobble back and forth between caring and not caring if and when my kids hear me swear. I tend to use certain curse words as a means of letting out anger and frustration, and it's generally not directed at people. In this regard, it doesn't seem like a terrible thing, relatively speaking. If I were walking around calling horrible names that are meant to degrade them or hurt them in some way, I could see being criticized for doing so in front of my kids (or, you know, at all). I don't want my kids to learn that calling people names is acceptable, but using a swear word to express frustration? That doesn't bother me, really.
The problem, of course, is caring about what other people think. If we lived in a bubble, where no one's opinion mattered (meaning, your kid's teacher or family members or other mom friends or strangers at the park within hearing distance), I wouldn't think twice about my kids learning a few swear words. But judgment is everywhere so, for now, I'm trying to keep it to a minimum at my house. That's why, of course, I am usually bombarded with some variety of these 10 thoughts I'm sure most moms have when they accidentally f*cking curse in front of their kids:
This is the beginning of the end. My kids' minds will be in the gutter before they're even five years old, and it's going to be all my fault. My partner is going to kill me.
"Please Tell Me You Didn't Hear That"
Maybe you were just paying really close attention to those trucks you've been playing with. Maybe the sound of the TV playing totally drowned out my voice. Maybe you were just ignoring me entirely, because you tend to do that on occasion. Yep, that's it.
"Eh, It's Not That Big A Deal"
I mean, come on. They're just words, right? It's really not a big deal for a kid to swear, since adults (and older kids) do it all the time. Honestly, they probably won't even remember, in a day or two. They totally won't remember. They won't remember. Please don't remember.
"Thank God You Can't Talk Yet"
I used to say this every single day when my son was still a baby. I still say it now, even though he actually can talk, so I'm not sure what's going on there. Denial, I guess.
"I'm A Terrible Parent"
Other parents influence their kids by loving their bodies and being active and kind, and then there's me. I influence my kids by swearing in front of them. I am being judged right now, somewhere out there in parent land.
"If You Get In Trouble At School For Swearing, I'm Blaming It On My Partner"
No, seriously. If I get called in to have a talk with your teacher, this is not on me. I know dad says bad words, too, so it's totally going to be on him. He doesn't have to do pick up and drop off every day, so he can handle it.
"I Mean, It's Just A Word, Right?"
It really is. People overreact to these words, but they're really just a way to blow off steam. Better that it's words and not, you know, punching a wall, right?
"I Wonder What Kind Of Bribe They Need In Order To Not Repeat That Word Ever Again?"
Maybe an extra hour of TV today? Or, perhaps and depending on the severity of the word, all week? An ice cream? A new Lego set? Seriously, there has to be something I can use to minimize the damage here.
"Oh Let's Be Real, That Will Just Make Them Want To Say It More"
Kids cannot be trusted. It's crazy to think that plan will work, so I just need to work with what I've got. Which is a kid who now knows how to swear. Gulp.
You know what? F*ck that sh*t. If my kid is going to know a few swear words because of me, they might as well know how to use them properly. Furthermore, the world definitely won't be censoring itself for my child. Eventually, everyone is going to hear a curse word, so I think it's better my kid know what is acceptable to say, and what isn't, than believe these words simply don't exist.
Time to talk swearing grammar, kid.