14/08/2014 16:47 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Is It So Bad To Be A Gutter Mouthed Mum?

Is it so bad to be a gutter mouthed mum?

I really, really wish I was a parent in control. One of those types that commands respect and obedience with a single eye movement. But that's not me and sometimes the only way I can get my teenagers into line is when I lose it - big time.

Problem is when I do a stream of expletives come flying out of my mouth. I don't choose the words: they appear of their own volition and for at least a minute (I've been timed and recorded on a mobile, though hopefully it never made it to Facebook) I'm utterly unable to stop the shrieking.

"For f...'s sake will you all stop shouting?" Hmm pot, kettle, black. Or another contender "Will you pick those, shi...y clothes off the bathroom floor now!"


Regrettably it seems the only hope I have of getting my children to do what I ask is to get mad. And when mummy gets mad she swears. In my defence I would like to point out that I was never driven to these outbursts before three teenagers morphed into being - with bottoms too large for the naughty step.


When I calm down - usually quite swiftly - I am ashamed, just not too deeply. I recognise that swearing in front of your kids is not ideal - I'm a writer and if I can't come up with something more linguistically appropriate then how the f...k can I expect my kids to?

But to be honest I don't feel that occasionally letting off steam with a blast of rude words will damage them too much.

They've heard them before: the f word and others far worse are bandied about at school as regularly as Ring a Ring a Roses was in my grandparents day.

But what do the experts say? Should I be washing my mouth out with soap and putting myself on the naughty step? "There are certainly worse things a parent can do than swear occasionally, however remember that children do copy their parents particularly when they're younger," says psychologist Dr Rachel Andrews.

"And of course if they repeat bad language they've heard from you it will be quite difficult to take the moral high ground and reprimand them."

Hmm, not even 'do as I say, not what I do' quite cuts it. Well, I don't think I spend too much time perched on the moral high ground so that shouldn't be an issue but I do draw the line at the current trend of using such words as gay, retard, downie or even the lowest, referring to someone as 'special' as a form of insult.

Nicky, mother to teenagers Mattie and Bella, agrees. Like me, she can live with the occasional f. word but not language she considers cruel and offensive to other people.

"If I hear my children using words such as retard they get instantly grounded. They need to learn to be conscious of other people's feelings. In my view using those words is just as offensive as any form of racial abuse."

"Often young people won't appreciate how offensive some words can be unless you sit down, have a proper conversation and actually spell out why," says Dr Andrews. "At their age they don't realise the offence they can cause, using this form of language can be a way for adolescents to feel that they fit in with their peers.

"When a word becomes a popular weapon of offence its meaning can become almost irrelevant. And of course the context and the vehemence of the language are also significant."

"I don't like swearing, full stop," says Sharon, mother of 15-year-old twins Olivia and Adam. "I've heard my son telling his friends to f. off almost in affection but when a word becomes so commonplace I worry that he'll use it in some utterly inappropriate circumstance. Just about everything he dislikes is 'crap'. I can just about deal with it but his grandmother certainly couldn't."

Who was it who said don't sweat the small stuff? Personally, I think using the occasional swear word fits into that category nicely. Drop a hammer on your foot and I don't think there are many of us that would manage a mere 'gosh that hurts' so maybe we should concentrate on getting the message across that there is a time and a place?

Personally I'm cheered by Dr Andrews view that if you don't make too frequent a habit of swearing then when you do it will have maximum effect. That's the strategy I'm going for!

What do you think about swearing in front of children and setting an example?