Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Teaching kids how to cuss

Whether you like it or not, at some point in your child’s life, s/he is going to learn how to use profanity, whether it comes from other sources, or like Ralphie in “A Christmas Story”, you, the parent, will be providing a front-seat show every time you have an uncontrolled rant. The embarrassing thing to me is that while my kids as toddlers may not have understood the meaning of the words, they were contextually correct when they were yelling at other drivers in heavy traffic. Fortunately for me, the windows were closed and I was the only one in the front seat, which made it easy for me to hold back any impression that I thought it was amusing or spot on in its assessment. Thankfully, profanity is still not “SOP” in their vocabulary and routine conversation, and I imagine it’s every parent’s wish that their children don’t end up working on a loading dock for the military or UPS. The pay was fantastic for the time, but the education was, well…wow. I never thought anyone could say something quite like that in a protracted fit of rage. Until then, I didn’t know that people could go from zero to thermonuclear in the blink of an eye. While I shouldn’t find it acceptable, I’m grateful that my childrens’ profanity has slipped out only when a situation seems profoundly ridiculous, and at that, those times are extremely rare. My father taught his kids that swearing is the mark of a small and unimaginative mind incapable of adequately describing a situation, which is also what I have tried to teach my kids, and if they felt the need to use such language, that they would substitute “cleaner” words such as “asparagus” or “sugar” or “shiitake”. Considering my experience, I believe my father was blessed not to hear the “colorful” remarks I’ve heard over the years.

In a sense, though, it’s kind of important that kids understand cussing. Better that they don’t actually use it, but I think people in general should be aware of when anger, confusion, and/or frustration are directed at them, as the situation could escalate to unnecessary violence. Cussing can be cathartic, then silly, then leading to a better mood and outlook, as long as you are the giver and not the receiver. I think most would agree that cussing is best served in the privacy of one’s own mind. That way, even if your kids do cuss (privately), their image in the eyes of others will remain intact.

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