Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of listening to Jessica Mills read from her parenting manifesto, “My Mother Wears Combat Boots,” at Broad Vocabulary. Aside from being a writer, Mills is a 37-year-old mother to two daughters and political activist. She is also a smart and likable person.
I went to this reading because Mills writes about some of the issues I feel strongly about, and I thought the event would be a feel-good reinforcement of what I already knew and thought. What I didn’t expect was to radically change my stance on the issue of kids and swearing.
Prior to her reading, I was struggling with my son’s experimentation with the seedy underbelly of the English language, but after hearing Mills’ thoughts on kids cussing -- and then thinking about it for a few days -- I came to the conclusion that I don't care if my kid swears. As long as he’s not using the words to name call or hurt someone’s feelings.
During the reading, Mills read one of her chapters titled “Who gives a sh*t about kids swearing.” In short, she believes that bad words are those that hurt or attack other people. Name-calling is not acceptable, but if a kid stubs his toe, it’s not a big deal if the F-word slips out.
“What’s the difference, really, between ‘fudge’ and ‘(expletive)’?” she asks.
The truth is, even though I try not to, I swear. My husband is much better than I am at yelling “nuts and bolts!” or “mac ‘n’ cheeses!” when the bottom drops out on a bag of groceries. However, I put my kid in a “time out” when he uttered a word that I knew he mined directly from my vocabulary. That doesn’t seem fair, rather the old “do as I say, not as I do,” and I don’t want to be that kind of parent.
That’s not to say I feel this way about everything. For example, just
because I drink beer doesn’t mean I’m going to serve it to my son with
his pizza bagel.
Also, I think that kids should know that…Read more...