So My Child Swore, What's The Big Deal?

03/10/2011 00:57 | Updated 22 May 2015
Shocked reaction to swearingGetty

Mark Twain: "When angry count to four; when very angry, swear."

Personally, I usually ignore the former and barge straight into the latter. As most people do, I have my preferred curses and those which I would never use, though I think my repertoire is quite extensive. I'm not ashamed of my employment of such idioms.

Actually, I suspect, in certain circumstances, were I not to let rip therefore repressing my feelings under a cloak of delicacy, the consequences could be more unpalatable than the curse itself. Sometimes delicacy just doesn't cut it.

I grew up in a practically profanity free household. You knew when my mother uttered the words "blood and sand" from between gritted teeth it was time to make yourself scarce. I can remember my dad trapping his hand under a cement mixer and yelling "SHIT!" I was so shocked at his use of the word I froze to the spot thus causing him to repeat it many times until I sought help, giggling in embarrassment.

Accustomed as I am to the many and varied expletives and no stranger to their employment, I am nonetheless careful when within earshot of my five year old daughter. Whilst it is advantageous to live in a foreign country where many of the, shall we say, more Northern English "naughties" would have little chance of being understood, I accept that it's probably not good parenting to encourage their use.

Mostly though, I tend to turn a blind eye, or ear. Just recently said daughter woke in the middle of the night and padded into our bedroom all sleepy-eyed, bed-headed and sweaty. "What's the matter darling?" I inquired, allowing her to crawl under our duvet. "I feel really shitty and a bit crap" she responded.

And in all honesty that described exactly how she looked. She had a fever and was burning up. Not the time to berate her for her choice of adjectives.

If we are honest, I think we all have a sliding scale of acceptable bad language. The words I would not tolerate coming from the innocent mouth of my little girl are generally the words I seldom use myself. Or the ones I try not to use in her presence (somewhat challenging when on a German Autobahn or in a German Administrative Office).

What's the big deal if she says "crappy" or "shitty"? They are, at the end of the day, just words and she will hear their German equivalents soon enough when she starts school I expect. Is it not more sensible, rather than berating our children over the occasional (and in this case appropriate) use of a rude word to encourage possible alternatives and explain why people may find them offensive?

Obviously I don't want my daughter to be f-ing and blinding at every opportunity but is it really that important compared to good manners, good morals and good education?

Quite frankly, on that evening with her fever accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea, I think her description of how she felt was succinct and more than accurate considering the circumstances.

All that said, if she drops the F-Bomb before her 18th birthday there will be trouble!

What do you think about children and swearing? Do you have a line that should not be passed?

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