Liam the other day had built his Thomas track on our couch having one half of the side hanging off (this was to reenact a Thomas episode he saw where the train was hanging off a cliff). As he pushed Thomas along the track, the track broke, and Thomas fell to the ground. Liam’s first reaction was to say, “What the heck happened.” I was taken back by him saying that and then immediately knew where he got it from. Me. Although there is nothing terrible about him saying that, it made me slightly uneasy and was a quick reminder how much he is always listening and remembering.
I remember several years ago a person retelling a “funny” story to me in which it ended with her child’s first word being sh*t. At the time I didn’t think this story was too funny and today I still don’t. I never found it amusing, but more appalling for little children to use curse words (and sometimes with hand gestures). Here is my problem with it. Most likely a three year old who is cursing, is only imitating what he/she has heard. However a three year old does not grasp (1) what it means, and (2) when it is an appropriate time to use it. The other problem is I find expletives to be rude. A lot of times using those words have strong connotations and if not used in front of an appropriate audience you can come across as being impolite.
I in general do not swear a lot however a year ago I was cutting potato on a mandolin. One of the slices got stuck and as I was trying to pull it out, my one finger ran across the blade and took off the tip of it. In sheer pain I said, “Oh Sh*t!” All the way to the emergency room while my husband was driving and I was trying not to pass out, I could hear Liam repeating that over and over again. Thankful by the time grandma and grandpa got there he had forgotten about it and has not said it since then (nor has he heard it).
Young children who curse and do not realize what they are saying or the impact of their words could unintentionally offend someone. A simple statement of expression that one might think is harmless and use in the privacy of their home (What the f**k?) could be quite offensive to someone else. With children not understanding the effect of their words, feelings could be hurt. On the other hand, how a child behaves and how they speak is considered a direct reflection on the parents. When someone hears a young child swearing besides finding it jarring, many tend to look at the parents as immature and not at all classy. With the parents not creating the proper impression for their children they are unintentionally creating the implication that the children have poor behavior. Excessive swearing can come across as a lack of vocabulary and uneducated. If the parent had more of an extensive vocabulary he/she could better express themselves instead of using four -five lettered words.
With all this being said, what does it boil down to? Think before you speak. Children are listening and ready to repeat. If you are not comfortable with your children using expletives in the company of others, you shouldn’t be either.