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Moms Talk: What to Do When Kids Hear Bad Words?

Even grandparents can be bad influences.

It was just a few days ago that the cell phone of the teenage girl sitting nearby rang.

“Hi, where are you?  No [bleep]ing way …

That’s when she turned around.

“Oh, crap. There are little kids next to me. Gotta go …”

To be fair, the girl who blurted out the non-educational word for my kids to overhear did apologize profusely for teaching them a term that is a bit inappropriate for toddlers. I was actually quite impressed with her maturity in handling her faux pas. 

But the sad part is that this was not the first time something like this has happened.  My kids hear obscenities wherever we go … to the store, park, even Nana’s house!  So how does one teach their kids to ignore obscenities when they hear them?  Especially when they come from relatives and friends?  I’ve had numerous talks with my mother-in-law about her use of vulgarities, but it’s gotten to the point where I’ve come to realize that the adage “old habits are hard to break” is indeed true. 

I tell my kids that certain words are not to be used AT ALL.  To hear them uttered in this household means immediate time-out and privileges taken away.  Even using phrases such as “oh, fudge” is not allowed, because we don’t want our kids taking certain tones with other people.  Luckily, they seem to be learning the lesson. Although, granted, getting into trouble a few times has cured their inclination to repeat all the bad things they hear. 

I could go on with all the hilarious stories of my kids parroting obscenities without even realizing what they’re saying, but that would just take too much of your time.  So tell me: What stories do you have in dealing with obscenities and your kids? How have you handled these situations?  Especially when it’s friends and family who just simply refuse to change? 

Loves Lake Forest April 13, 2011 at 07:40 PM
I very calmly tell my younger kids that those are "grown up" words that they are not to use. As they get older, I talk to them about listening to the kids who cuss -- are they the ones who sound like they actually have something to say, or are smart? Or are they just trying -- too hard -- to be "cool?" So far, so good. They're either not cussing, or being smart enough not to cuss around me!
Sharlene Earnshaw April 13, 2011 at 08:00 PM
I have to admit that I cuss around my children. I know it isn't the right thing to do but I have a potty mouth at times. I never curse around other people's children because I want to make sure I respect the parents and how they raise their children. That being said, my kids never curse. They know they are not allowed to say those words and that that only grownups can use them. Just as they know to steer clear from my glass of wine because its a "Mommy drink". So far, it seems to be working. My mom cursed in front of me and I still won't curse in front of her, even as an adult. So i know a system like that can work. I am not saying it is a perfect system, but it is how things work in my house.
Kelly St. John April 14, 2011 at 12:15 AM
I will never forget when I dropped something that made a huge mess, and my 5-year-old standing behind me said "Oh Sh*@t!" in exactly the same tone I wanted to say. (And clearly must have said at some point, because I'm sure she learned it from me!) None of us are saints...
Heather Birdsell April 14, 2011 at 08:23 PM
Now that my 2 year old is a parrot, I try to curb my language, but I'm about to start charging my husband for every profanity that comes out of his mouth... We have the same problem with my in-laws, & like you said...Old habits die hard. I approach it as I would when we hear words like that while we're out & about. It's just an educational moment... It also helps to give the people at the table over a nice dirty look to let them know you can hear them...

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