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Two parents, two views: Cursing in front of the kids

There’s not just one way to raise kids and so we’ve found two parents to weigh in on either side of the great cursing conundrum


Original story published in Toronto Star on Sept. 29, 2015. View online here

Why I won’t swear in front of my kids – Kristen Thompson

I am probably going to eat my words because I have such a bad potty mouth, but this week I swear (without actually swearing) I’m going to stop cursing in front of my daughter.

I’ve been meaning to curb this bad habit since, well, since she passed her newborn hearing test. That was two years ago, and now that she can say, “No mama! Truck not a–hole!” as I road rage in the car, it’s time to stop.

It’s not going to be easy, since curse words tumble from my mouth with such ease, but it’s the right thing to do if I expect her not to swear herself. I believe in leading by example, and this shouldn’t be an exception.

The thing is, she is too young to understand the concept of “mommy says it, but you shouldn’t.” And while she knows what “naughty” is, I don’t think I could make her understand that certain words are naughty. Especially if she hears them coming from me, the person she looks to as an example of how she ought to behave.

Of course throughout her childhood there are going to be things I am allowed to do that she isn’t. I’m allowed to stand on a ladder, write with a marker, turn on the barbecue and go outside unsupervised. But there’s a difference between something that’s dangerous (turning on the barbecue), and wrong (swearing). And if the message during her childhood is going to be that swearing is inherently wrong, then I shouldn’t be doing it.

So today, I vow, to lead by example. Because — for now, anyway — she watches my every move, and listens to every word I say. And if I want her to be patient, kind and compassionate, I must be those things myself. If I expect her to be good, I must be good myself.


Why I will swear in front of my kids – Natalia Ritchie

Guess what — moms have flaws. And, once in a while, when she stubs her toe she should be allowed to swear like a sailor — and to do so in front of her child.

Mothers are expected to be perfect. Not only must we discipline the perfect way, but we also have to make the perfect meals for our perfectly behaved and perfectly groomed children while being in perfect physical, spiritual and emotional shape.

Magazines, television, and social media only perpetuate the perfect mother illusion.

Yet for all those moms out there who know that parenting and perfection just don’t go hand in hand, let’s be real.

While a swear word carries a powerful social message, it is good, not bad, for the child to hear something that they understand to be adult; to see the line between what is acceptable behaviour for an adult and what’s acceptable for a child.

Encouraging children to swear is insane, everyone would agree. But teaching a child that an adult is imperfect, and that an adult can sometimes use poor language to express a terrible moment is just fine. The imperfect mommy drinks wine after the kids are asleep, something I hope she would never encourage of her children until adulthood. She has sex. She indulges in guilty pleasures and sometimes even skips her workout so she can spread out on the couch as the kids watch Tree House.

So this amazing mom, who has dedicated her world and her life to the care of her precious babes, should not be scolded and made to feel imperfect when she lets out an unsavoury word once in a while. She should be allowed to be imperfect. And, in being so, perhaps she’ll help set realistic expectations for her child, who might be a future mom or dad.

Here is to all the moms that take the skin off their babies’ grapes, one by one, and let out a s&*% once in a while.

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