There Are Worse Things Than Swearing In Front Of Your Children

15/05/2011 14:17 | Updated 22 May 2015
There are worse things than swearing in front of your childrenGetty

The day a friend banned her three-year-old son from coming to my house wasn't my finest parenting hour.

She'd have preferred him not to have exclaimed "for f*ck's sake" minutes after coming home, she said.

I thought it was funny. She found it disgusting.She should have chilled out. There are much worse things children can do than swear.

She'd got me bang to rights. I swear a lot and too often in front of my children. It's inevitable they pick up the foul-mouthed habit too.

Once I told my daughter, then 10, I'd been asked what my most over used expression was.

She said: 'Is it dickhead?'

Faced with the consequences of my actions, I did what many a self-respecting parent would do, and lied. I protested that I never said such a thing. 'You do when you are driving,' she answered, laughing.

I couldn't help but smile. The car seems to be a place for some choice language – especially as my girls used to love Scissor Sisters' 'There aint no tits on the radio' blaring out between my road rage outbursts.

Once when another little girl joined us in Mum's taxi, I accidentally told her to "shit the door."

Instead of glossing over this most regrettable of episodes, we spent the rest of the journey creased up at the possibilities for mental images conjured up. This is evidently pretty entertaining when you are 11.

Mums are supposed to say 'there, there' and 'goodness me' not unleash an expletive-filled road rage rant or widen the vocabulary of friends' children with corkers they'd rather they never heard. Aren't they?

I know swearing is not big and it's not clever. If I hear my girls letting rip with a rude word or two, I will always point out the error of their ways. But on a scale of childhood wrong-doings, swearing for me comes a smidgen above not tidying your room and a long way before hurting someone.

The two don't necessarily go together.

If my girls swear, they aren't being mean, unkind, arrogant or uncaring. They are just saying words they've learned out loud. You'd think their elders would help them see the errors of their ways but my mum is worse than me.

So when they return from a day at their Nan's, my daughters' sense of humour seems particularly ripe. At least they aren't alone.

Laura, mum to Lily, six and Charlie four, who blogs at, says the time her daughter uttered the f-word in the car could be traced directly back to some insults thrown at another driver as they headed for swimming.

She says: 'On hearing the offending word, my life flashed before me and a memory of a road rage incident came back. An elderly man had stepped out, so I had to stop suddenly and I couldn't help but swear. I ignored my daughter's outburst as I didn't want to make too much of it.

'But we also then had a repeat of the f-word outside pre-school in the presence of parents and a play leader, one in front of the neighbours and two more in the supermarket. Every time people looked at my daughter then back at me, puzzled. As if they weren't quite sure if they'd heard right.

'I remember, in the end I felt a little proud that at least she was using her new phrase in context and not just punctuating her sentences willy nilly with it. It lasted two weeks before she moved onto something easier on the ear.'

I guess, in the scheme of things, I can't believe it matters all that much. I want my daughters to enjoy language, to experiment with it; express themselves well and think about the impact of what they are saying.

I don't think swearing is necessarily lazy or disrespectful, but can be an effective way of letting off steam. It can also help you think very much about what you are saying and why. Determining if a swear word is needed and when may just teach us a thing or two about language.

So long as my children's swearing isn't meant to demean or insult anyone else, it's going to have to be okay by me. Especially as I'm the one who needs to wash her mouth out with soap.

What do you think?

Do you think Linda's full and frank approach is right and that children learn 'appropriate' swearing?

Or do you think children copying adults and being allowed to swear is just, well, unpleasant?

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