Parenting dilemma: Do you swear in front of your kids?

Dilemma: Do you swear in front of your kids? My SO swears a lot and our twins are starting school this year. Should I be concerned if they bring that language to school? 

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“I swear in front of my kids, but have also taught them that it is not acceptable for them to use those words until they are adults. We have not had any issues at school or anywhere else.” —Nancy D.

“Honestly, I was worried at first. My SO used to swear like a sailor. He does so considerably less, but he still does on a daily basis. So we sat our youngest down and had a talk with her. We told her about the bad words and that they were “bad daddy” words that she shouldn’t use unless she’s an adult. It worked for the longest, since I myself swear very rarely, and she knows that while she can, it’s very frowned upon. She might slip up every now and then, but she does understand now that they’re not nice or friendly words to say, especially if she wants friends. So I think education and being a good role model is more key than just telling them no. You have to get them to understand why it is not a good idea.” — Jennifer L.

“Sometimes words can be offensive. I have told my daughter this so she knows she should choose words that won’t upset others when she can. Kids hear these words whether we say them as parents or not and they are sponges so a “bad” word is just the same as any other. So sometimes it’s good to just point out that a different word would work better and not upset anyone.” — Emily P.

“Parent(s) must be a role model of behavior for their children. That’s it. It’s pretty simple.” — Peggy R.

“I swear in front of them. I even let them swear at home if they feel the need. The rule in our house is, “don’t swear at school.” — April F.

“Though I have warned my kids by saying “You are making me mad enough to swear,” but I still try to refrain. I grew up in a family that didn’t swear and I was a teacher for many years in which swearing is not acceptable either. As a sub, I will hear kids swearing at school, especially during PE games, and I always address it with them that it is not acceptable at school.” — Lori S.

“I do slip up sometimes but some parents have no filter at all and if your kid goes to school, they will be exposed to that. I wouldn’t be shocked if they came home and swore.” — Nicole S.

“If I slip (or someone else swears a lot) I just tell my kid that only grownups are allowed to say those words, like driving, or drinking beer. But tell your SO to chill on the swearing a bit. I used to swear like a sailor. It can be done.” — Jessica D.

“I swear in front of my kid. He knows not to use the language at school or in public. I don’t feel that swearing is bad as smoking or using drugs. Swearing doesn’t make me a bad parent. It is just who I am.” — Andrea K.

“It’s classless to do purposely in front of kids. If you insist, be sure you’re willing to take the blame when they get in trouble. Don’t blame the kids for the parent’s bad behavior.” — Kendra S.

This article originally appeared in the August 2019 issue of Chicago Parent. Read the rest of the issue.

Chicago Parent Editorial Team
Chicago Parent Editorial Team
Since 1984, the Chicago Parent editorial team is trained to be the go-to source for Chicagoland families, offering a rich blend of expert advice, compelling stories, and the top local activities for kids. Renowned for their award-winning content, the team of editors and writers are dedicated to enriching family life by connecting parents with the finest resources and experiences our community has to offer.
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