Foul language is everywhere. It is on network television, you hear it when walking the streets, and one of the most surprising places: in the hallways at school. Just the other day, in fact, I was taking lunch to my husband, who works at a junior high, and quickly found myself humming a church hymn to drown out all the cuss words.
Having fairly young children, with our oldest almost 10 years old, we are still at the influential stages, and I'll be (darned) if I ever have a foul-mouthed child. Not only is it disrespectful and inappropriate, but … well, it doesn't make you sound very intelligent.
As a child, bad words were not allowed in our home, and this did not only include four-letter words; those were absolutely out of the question. We had what were called “family swear words.” These were words like “dumb,” “stupid” or “idiot.” My mom's theory behind this was, if we weren't allowed to say the family swear words, then saying those “real” swear words was just not going to happen.
And it worked.
Now, in my thirties, I can count how many times I have let one slip, and out of those (countable) times, most of them have been referring to “H-E-double hockey sticks” as a place. Swearing is not in my vocabulary and never will be. I have my parents to thank for this, and it wasn't nearly as difficult as it may seem.
Here are three simple steps to raising “clean-mouthed” kids, and none includes the use of a tangible cleaning agent (soap):
The first and most obvious step is to do what I call “talking the talk.” If you don't want your children saying bad words, you better not be saying them either. I can honestly say that I have never heard either of my parents swear. Furthermore, because this type of language wasn't used in my home, it didn't become part of my vocabulary.
The next step is to point out the words that we don't say. The truth is, even though you don't say bad words, it doesn't mean your child isn't hearing them elsewhere. Growing up, if there was a swear word on TV, my mom would say, “don't say that.” To this day, I can't hear a bad word on TV without saying, “don't say that!”
Along those same lines, I remember one of my younger brothers coming home from school and saying a new word he had heard at school. Rather than spanking him or punishing him for saying the word, my mom kindly explained to him what the word meant, and that this was a word we didn't say. She then went on to help him find a better word, which brings me to my final step:
Help your child replace the bad word with a better word. Swear words are words that mean something, and the great thing about language is that there are many words known as synonyms that mean the same thing as that word. For instance, if I said, “I 'hate' wearing corduroy pants” (true story), I would need to change the sentence to say, “I don't like wearing corduroy pants because they are stiff and they whistle while I walk.”
I was forced to not only replace the bad word, but to use better, more descriptive words to show what I meant. I have my parents to thank for my repertoire full of expressive terms.
Arianne Brown is a mother of six who loves running the beautiful trails around Utah. For more articles by her, “like” her Facebook page by searching “A mother’s Write” or visit her blog, timetofititin.com or Twitter @arimom6