No one swears at a baby, it’s just frowned upon. But a teenager on the other hand, they’re practically asking for it. So, how do parents know when it’s OK to start cursing in earnest? Swearing in front of your children is normal and to be expected. It can even be fun! Usually your language will evolve through three distinct phases.
Phase 1: No potty talk!
This phase begins inexplicably during the 2nd trimester of pregnancy. An innocent life is coming into the world and, darn it, you won’t be the one to tarnish its developing ears with blue language. You begin to use substitute words like “fiddlesticks” and “fudge.” Who are you? Then there’s that uncle who came to visit, dropping f-bombs in the maternity ward. “Sorry,” he shrugged. Idiot. This newborn’s innocence is so profound it demands innocent language in kind. Ironically, you will deny yourself the right to use any of the most effective stress reducing words during this, the most stressful time in your life.
Phase 2: It just slipped out
Probably you were behind the wheel. You’ve been so careful to watch your tongue, especially since your child is now actually verbal and repeating some of the things you say. But when that tinted Dodge Neon cut you off, it just slipped out. “Does your $%&#% blinker work?!” you probably said. Horrified, you looked in the rear view mirror to see if he was sleeping. Nope, awake. He starts laughing and shouting “blinker! blinker! blinker!” Thank God. You really dodged a bullet on that one. But you know what? It was kind of liberating.
Phase 3: Eff it
Your children are much older now, and their innocence has been replaced by an awkward unspoken agreement: hear no swears, say no swears. But let’s be real, they’ve heard all the words by now, from movies, television, other kids on the bus, and that uncle is still at it. The gig is up. However, you’re still pretending that those words are for some reason not in your lexicon. You spent a lifetime honing and perfecting your profanity laden rants, and this knowledge should be passed on. Besides, there’s something disingenuous about these G-rated exchanges. Suddenly the flood gates open, and while you may feel like Andy Dufresne basking in a downpour outside Shawshank prison, the dialogue is strictly Tarantino. Did you just evoke Dr. Dre while telling your kids to clean their rooms? Their rooms are spotless so it seems to be working. And when that bittersweet moment comes that you hear your child’s first really good swear, you’ll still throw out a halfhearted “You watch your language, young man!” and then turn away so they won’t see you beaming with pride. As a parent, moments like these are rare, unexpected, and above all else, $%#&$# awesome.