Being Dad Parenting

Is swearing in front of your kids acceptable?

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Do you use the ‘s’ and ‘f’ words in front of your kids and instantly regret it?

If that’s a daily occurrence for you, join the club. Most parents, including myself, try their best to shield our kids ears from our colourful vocabulary. But as hard as we try, we often end up slipping. How we parent is deeply personal. Swearing is a different ball game. Kids learn from one another. If your child is the one teaching others curse words, you might have an upset parent or two.

Channel Mum recently conducted research on over 2,000 parents of kids aged 0-16. It shows us that 64 per cent admit to being worried about the language their child uses. (FYI ‘sh*t’ is the most commonly uttered word.) Interestingly, 52 per cent of parents are happy to use bad language in the presence of their children. They feel that their too young to understand. It also emerged one third will continue to use expletives even if children know what they mean. As long as they know they aren’t allowed to repeat them themselves. Personally speaking, it would take me years upon years to explain to my two-year-old daughter why I can use a word and she can’t.

Founder of Netmums Siobhan Freegard said: “The topic of swearing in front of children is definitely something of a taboo among many parents. Before kids learn to talk, parents often feel they can continue speaking the same way they always have. But it’s not long before children are picking up bits of language from their parents. By age two are very adept at parroting words back they’ve heard mum or dad use.”

How do we stop the the madness?

Parents are realising that the ‘bad’ words used by their kids are mainly because of what they hear from their parents. They see it as cool or funny. To change their behaviour, we as parents have to change our own actions. Yes – one more sacrifice for our kids!

Many parents have started using ‘Swear Swops.’ This is the art of substituting your commonly used profanities with child friendly versions. It helps get the frustrations out, while protecting the little ears. Some of the most popular include ‘what the frog’, ‘shitake mushrooms,’ ‘fire truck’ and my favourite, ‘fudge.’ Kids won’t be branded potty mouths if they use these versions. Substituting your words, will make disciplining your children easier and more importantly, help you avoid those publicly awkward situations.