WBUR (Boston) blogger Lindsay Goodwin is probably going to cause a dust-up in Puritan country (and elsewhere) with her blog post this morning on how to keep your kids from swearing in public. Let them swear around the house, she says.
She says she recently made the decision to let them swear. Her oldest kid is in kindergarten.
One big reason I’m confident that my children will not be dropping F-bombs at school is the way I was brought up. I was raised in an unusual family where swearing was an accepted, even encouraged part of how we related to one another. My mother, a petite, freethinking Midwesterner, swore frequently and gratuitously, although rarely in anger. With my father’s tacit consent, we three siblings followed suit, and at a young age we were able to discern that the language of home differed markedly from that of the outer world. Swearing in the wrong context — whether at school, at a friend’s house, or, God forbid, when my grandmother came to stay — would have been mortifying; it never happened.
And she reports that kids in the kindergarten are already dropping “F bombs.” Where would they learn such a thing?
Admittedly, there are some disadvantages to parenting this way. We’ve been hearing a lot from my youngest, for example, about how “Jeffrey,” a 3-year-old still in pull-ups, said “f—” at preschool. Our daughter insists that she didn’t introduce the word to him — but the frequency with which she brings it up and her poker face when she does so suggests otherwise. Interestingly, she refuses to repeat the swear when telling me the story out in public even if it’s just the two of us, already demonstrating an eagerness to master the “rules” about language. My mother shared a similar anecdote about my brother, struggling as a 4-year-old to navigate the context-driven terrain of swearing appropriately. Out shopping together, he loudly congratulated himself on his progress: “See, Mom?” he declared proudly. “I didn’t call that lady over there a f—ing ass—-.”
“By letting them choose their words freely, I trust that I’m helping them learn to shape, rather than be shaped by, their language,” she writes.
I love parents when they’re young.