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Tuesday
Nov012011

Why are adults allowed to say "shit" but kids aren't? 

At dinner the other night, Julian had a burning question:

Why are adults allowed to say "shit", but kids aren't?


This is the child who had to reflect on his use of the word "poo" at school last year, so I thought perhaps he was just searching for reasonable alternatives.

I didn't have a good answer to his question. The problem with questions like these is that I'm not very good at hiding my own opinions while upholding some sort of correct worldview. You see, I don't think there is anything wrong with the word "shit". At least, I don't think that "shit" is any worse than "crap" or "poo" or "doggie doodoo" or "woo woo" or any other word one might use to describe feces. I also don't think that "shit" is any worse than "shoot" or "ouch" or "oh no" or any other word one might use to express how it feels to stub your big toe.

I read through the wikipedia entry on "shit" to see if there was something about the word that maybe I didn't know. Was there some deeper meaning that made it less appropriate than other terms that are used interchangeably but considered acceptable? I didn't find one. I read about the seven words you can never say on (public) television, and while I agree that children don't need to be exposed to vulgar sexual language, I really couldn't find any reason why "shit" and "piss" are on that list.

A while back, Mrs. Flinger tackled this topic on her blog. Her words have stuck with me and defined how I approach the words that sometimes come out of kids mouths:

I taught four year olds for a few years back before I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I learned that words get tossed around as a way to “test” their power. If you give the word power, the kids will run with it. My husband and I always said cussing is just that.. cussing. Meh. I do it all the time.

 

Ultimately, I couldn't come up with a good reason why Julian shouldn't use the word "shit". Not at the time. Not after the fact.

So my answer to his question was:

I don't know. (incidentally, he is used to me saying "I don't know" by now).

You can say "shit" at home if you want, just don't say it at school.

 

My partner added something along the lines of some people thinking that it is rude. We left it at that.

This was just a test run, I imagine, for the day when we have to explain to him why he cannot say random religious words in French, like "Mon ostie de saint-sacrament de câlice de crisse!"

Image credit: Silly Little Man on flickr

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Reader Comments (73)

This is an ostie de bon post ;)

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterClaudia

I know, this is tricky. I personally can tolerate words at certain ages and not others. 'Suck' was a word at 8 I couldn't tolerate but from an 11yo, I'm willing to live with, at least, depending on the context and as long as it doesn't crop up too often.

Thank you for this. I took me years to understand that 'shit' should not be used in polite company. I blamed my not getting it on the fact that English is a second language for me.
It's good to read that some anglophones also don't have a problem with it.

I swear in French too, sometimes, but the French swear words at the end of your post I found a bit more shocking than 'shit.' Call it a double standard. Or maybe it's because you didn't stub your big toe before you used them. :)

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter'Away from your crazy mom'

We decided not to edit our language around our toddler, but a friend pointed out that some people might not let their kids play with ours if she uses language the parents don't like. So now, we're not sure what to do. So far, I don't think Shit is in her vocabulary (although "cheese" sounds like it right now). And eventually we can teach her to edit, but what about in between?

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmie Hood

"I don't know" is often uttered around here, too, usually followed by "let's find out" or "what do you think?" :o)

My now-8-y/o son had a love affair with "damn" and "damnit" for a while, starting around the time he turned 6. Before I jumped down his throat, I thought about why it bothered me for him to say it. I still can't quite explain why I don't like hearing kids say cuss words that don't bother me coming from adults. I'm sure it's just plain societal conditioning.

What I said to him then (and have reiterated sometimes): "I need you to know that some people think certain words are 'bad' and that people, especially children, shouldn't say them. It's ok with me if you use that word. I know sometimes a certain word just feels like the right one to express what you're feeling. But I need you to know that if you say that word at school, your teacher will not like it, and she will probably punish you. It's up to you to choose how and where you use that word." (Schools/teachers may differ, of course - this teacher/school was definitely a no-go for "damn".)

I also explained what "damn" can mean to many people, in the hellfire and damnation sense. He never used it at school, that I know of. He eventually used it less and less at home. I feel like he got to experiment with this new bit of language in a safe environment, and I gave him important information about the meaning of the word and the social norms surrounding it.

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJess

Jess:

I agree that most of the time, "let's find out" is a good idea. However, sometimes it isn't appropriate at all. I'm not sure if you clicked on the "I don't know" link or had read that post in the past, but sometimes kids need to learn that it is none of their business. :)

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

'Away from your crazy mom:

If I yelled out "my host of the holy sacrament of the chalice of Christ" in English, I think people would be shocked but not in a "that's so offensive" way, but more in an "what on earth is she talking about?" way.

Incidentally, my husband is half French (from France) and they think it is amusing that the Quebecois use religious terms as profanity.

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I'm going to be the prude and say I don't agree with allowing it or encouraging it. I have been know to cuss. It's not something I do often but I can say some pretty bad things so I'm not getting on my high horse here and saying I'm perfect. That being said, I do not swear in front of anyone's kids. One, I think swearing makes people sound uneducated. No offense to anyone, it's just my opinion. I want my kids to sound as smart and eloquent on the outside as they are on the inside. Two, I grew up around serious swearers. Like "pass the f'ing milk" kind of swearing. Adults who swore non stop, every sentence, all the time. Did it scar me for life and make me a bad kid? No. But even at a young age it disturbed and disgusted me. Three, my MIL (who is a big swearer) always says "well the kids are going to learn it at school anyway." Yes, they are, from kids who learn at home that it's okay! I am one of those parents that would not let my kids go over to someone's house if I knew their parents talked that way. There is a time and a place for everything, even profanity. In front of kids is not that time or place.

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterElaine

We don't really cuss at all so I thought we wouldn't have to deal with this, but I found out from my SIL who's a teacher that kids aren't allowed to say "butt" around here!! My 2 year old says butt all the time-he knows that's what he sits on. But I suppose we'll have to teach him to call it his "behind" before school. We'll probably appeal to authority by telling him those are simply the rules and not necessarily logical but completely necessary to follow while at school.

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCrunchy Con Mommy

I have 2 boys (2 and 4). I don't necessarily go out of my way to curse or use so-called "bad" words, but when I do it isn't a big deal. My son also knows that there are words that adults use and that children shouldn't, because they aren't kind or nice to hear.
Luckily he hasn't yet asked me why he can't use them. But we don't make a huge deal about those words either. He's heard me curse when I had an especially bad day and it doesn't seem to phase him. I agree that it's best not to give the words power.

Like when we downloaded a song from iTunes and I didn't realise the singer says "Bitch". I had bever used that word around my son, but somehow he picked up on it and then repeated it every chance he got. We didn't chastize him or even make a fuss except to say that it isn't a nice word. Eventually he lost interest and hasn't said it since.

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNadia

Hadn't seen the link! I absolutely agree, there are times when it's not their business, or not something I think we should find out, or it wouldn't be polite to ask. And sometimes I really don't know, and there isn't an answer. Sometimes we're never going to know.

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJess

Elaine, as a parent who already commented here about allowing my own child to explore language a bit, I'd like to share that as far as kids learning curse words from kids whose families swear, that's not always true.

Kids hear words in many different contexts. Even with parents supervising media and minding their own language, at some point it's likely that a kid is going to overhear an adult slipping, or something in public, or a snippet on the radio. How each family handles that will differ, of course, but please don't think that a child from whom your child heard a curse word swears all the time, or has parents that swear all the time. They might actually be a fantastic family to spend time with!

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJess

So funny - "butt" was a bad word in my family when I was growing up. I think whatever word you call it, somebody out there is going to be offended!

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJess

I wasn't allowed to say "butt" either when I was a kid. I was supposed to same "bum" instead. :S

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Oh man, are we ever at the "testing it out" place in my house with "caca" and "pipi" (we're Francophones), so this feels timely. My issue is different in that it's my 3yo testing out the words to see what happens... mostly we ignore it, but when he answers a question with "caca" for the third time in a row (as in: do you want to wear this shirt or that one?)... ca me chavire! (makes me crazy) I just try telling him that's not an answer to the question I asked, or else I say I don't know what he means. Sigh.

We also use some profanity, quite casually, though we try not to around kids. Friends of mine explained to their 6yo that some words are ok in the appropriate context (like missing a putt at mini-putt, which is where this kid muttered the f-word). I think I'll do the same when the time comes.

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline

forgot to add that these friends also explained situations and contexts where such words were unacceptable, such as school or in front of grand-maman.

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline

As parent to a child who may never understand that it's not their business (autism spectrum disorder will often do that to a person), I think we as parents have to come up with a better response than just "I don't know" and can't really expect all kids to stop asking at that. We do use "Let's find out" when appropriate and feasible. Other times, we use "Why do you think (that happened, she did that...)." Since one of the things we are needing to teach our child is to figure out some motivations of others that might be obvious to most of us, this gives us a way to get in some practice while keeping the continuing questioning and increasing volume to a minimum. Of course, the answer often ends up being "Because they're stupid (or idiots or stupid idiots)", but we'll fight that fight some other time.

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

I think a lot of it comes down to respecting others who may not want to hear that word. It's not that the word itself is offensive, it's just that there generally needs to be a level of appropriateness in society. I'm amazed at how many people use completely inappropriate language at family restaurants, on the bus, at the park... Etc, and children and youth are the worst offenders, because they dont seem to understand that others may not want their children (especially young ones), exposed to that.
Ialso find that a lot of "inappropriate" words are used far too often to describe all sorts of situations and emotions. The F word is a great example of how people use it to describe everything good, bad and in between that they are feeling when there are far better words. Honestly, a lot of times, it kind of makes people appear dumb.
Long story short, I'm not offended by swearing, I swear when I drive regularly. I think there is a time and place that swearing is acceptable and not acceptable, and there is a lot of gray area in between where I think people should err on the side of respect for others and they typically do, unfortunately a lot of children don't understand how to censor their language.

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

With regard to thinking it sounds uneducated, I know that is a somewhat prevalent social bias, but I think it has very little to do with actuality. As many of my fellow PhD candidate friends and I have discussed, swear words exist for a reason -- because there isn't any other word in the language that expresses the unique meaning that they express. There are things that are close or might be OK approximations, but they aren't the same. I swear a good bit at home. My husband swears a good bit at home. My daughter swears at home when she feels it is appropriate. All of us opt to use more "socially acceptable" language in public (though I could write a dissertation on the social construction of socially acceptable language and the thought police). That said, the people studying for and having earned their doctorates who I spend most of my time with swear far more often (and, frankly, with much greater aplomb) than does anyone I've encountered who might be "uneducated" (whatever that means).

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Sarah:

I agree that "let's find out" or "why do you think..." are appropriate in a lot of circumstances, but in others they may not be unless you can put that conversation off until later.

I'm not going to have a conversation about another person right in front of them. Hypothesizing with my child on public transportation in a large diverse city about the choices people have made or about circumstances/features they perhaps cannot change at all can range from rude to dangerous.

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

My son is a little young to be here yet, but I've talked about this with my husband, and its my feeling that there are words that convey a really strong feeling in our culture for a reason- anger or frustration are legitimate reasons to use an extreme word and so its kind of good that some words are seen as extreme, offensive, rude etc. to be used when you're feeling extreme, offensive or rude as a satisfying outlet. We don't like to think of children needing these outlets, especially small children.
The words that are seen as extreme in our culture- body functions mostly, are kind of sad in that I wish a word for procreation was not also a major put-down, so I'd rather have words that actually seemed awful to me to use for swears, but that's just not how English is set up at the moment.
I often tell my son I don't know as well, and often ask him what he thinks. I wonder what he'll say when we have this conversation.

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnnie

'Bad' language sort of falls into the same arena as 'I'm not sure how to define offensive but I know it when I see it' for me. My father - a literate and intelligent man - swears pretty freely when he feels it is warranted, and this never bothered me (in fact, to this day I have a warm spot in my heart for any man who uses the word 'horseshit'). I like what my friend told her son, which is that she realized he was going to use use certain words while talking with his friends, but he should be aware that a lot of people at school and out in the world would find these words disrespectful and rude, so he should bear that in mind. I do find it annoying when I'm walking my kids into the library and there are teenagers (from the attached high school) standing outside the door swearing every second word, but I can't quite articulate why. I do agree that a lot of what is deemed 'bad language' is bewilderingly arbitrary.

Had never seen the 'I don't know' post before and adore it.

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterallison

I don't swear and don't like to hear swearing, so that issue is pretty clear-cut for me. But issues of how we teach children to use language go beyond swear words. For example, my five year old just discovered the word "hate" - his friend who came over a few days ago used it liberally (I hate this house! I hate spaghetti! I hate puzzles! etc) so maybe he got it from her. When he tried it out at home last night, I discussed it with him and tried to convey to him how strong it was and thus potentially hurtful and/or could blunt its meaning if overused (obviously in simpler terms, though I'm not sure if he got all of it). In the end I suggested that it was not the kind of word to be used every day, but it might be appropriate once every few weeks or so. I'm not sure if that was the best guideline but it was all I could think of on the spot.

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChanna

I'm with Channa and Elaine. i think that a lot of people use curse words as punctuation, which is completely unnecessary. If I drop something on my foot, I'll say "shoot" or "sugar", which work perfectly well for me to express my pain and surprise. I don't necessarily mind when people do swear, but I definitely think that there is a time and place for it, and those words are WAY overused. I suppose when my kids go to school they will probably learn some new words and want to talk about / use them - I hope that because no-one who is around them on a regular basis speaks like that that they will soon lose interest. Although my 3yo is currently in a "poopy" phase - I'm mostly trying to just ignore it and hope he gets tired of it.

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNico

Generally, the only words that "aren't allowed" in our house are those which are hurtful to others. Like: stupid, dumb, hate, and shut up. Not only are those words hurtful, but often there are far more descriptive words available; typically ALSO these are ones more comfortable for everyone to hear.

I feel that while the children are still developing their vocabulary, I'd much rather them really THINK about why they don't like something, to search for the right description, than offhandedly calling it dumb or saying, "I hate it". I censor my language while around them, with that goal in mind. Why say stupid when what you really mean is boring, frustrating, or uncooperative?

When it comes to "cusses"... while the kids are awake, my kid-friendly words of exasperation are: SHOOT! and DARN IT! Now, they've tested out some less-than-desirable explatives on us in the past. My strategy is to ignore unless it gets repeated, then I mention that it can be considered an offensive word to others, and that there is usually a more descriptive word available.

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkelly @kellynaturally

Thanks. Maybe you want to explain the social contract to him. :-) My answer might also include something about kids--as a group--not yet having the judgment to discern when it is and isn't appropriate to use the word. It's a word that offends many people in our society and it isn't appropriate in all venues. Until you have the ability to accurately assess the appropriateness before using the word you're better off not using it at all.

By the way, I'm interested in your thoughts on "I don't know." I want my (almost 3-year old) to learn it's okay not to always know the answer. Instead she seems to be drawing the conclusion that *girls* don't know and boys do. I've noticed that when not 100% sure of an answer most women preface their answer with "I don't know" while men simply answer. Both may couch the answer with a "maybe," "it coukd be," or "I think." So I'm trying to stop prefacing my answers with "I don't know." But then I lose modeling that it's okay not to know. Thoughts?

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCorinne

If the parents say it then they shouldn't restrict the kids from saying it. Doesn't make an ounce of sense. You partner was right to add that some people don't like it and it's not polite.

But, if the parent really values high language and doesn't cuss themselves, then no reason the child can't grow up that polite too.

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlex | Perfecting Dad

I know you asked someone else, but I'm someone who really values the "I Don't Know". I really dislike it when people speak as though they know something but really only have an opinion or an assessment of likelihood. I don't think there is a gender bias here. In fact, my experience is that my wife often speaks with equal authority about things she is a great authority on and things that only have a slightly better-than-even chance of being true. At work, many people, man and women, do the same. In fact, the ones who get ahead are possibly even more likely to speak that way.

If someone really doesn't know they should say it. On the other hand, many people say "I don't know" as though they know nothing but really they have information if only they would think about it. Maybe they can deduce something or give an opinion on likelihood or provide facts that, combined with other fact, might lead to an answer.

People who are unsuccessful say "I don't know" a lot more even when they do know or could know. I believe it's some kind of instinct for them to simply say those words instead of trying to develop a reasoned opinion. Perhaps their own parents or teachers or spouses trained them that it was easier not to know.

So, yes, it's ok not to know if you really don't know. However, if you have information and a reasoning mind then it might be more helpful to go part way instead of stopping with "I don't know".

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlex | Perfecting Dad

I think a good lesson to teach kids is that they get to decide what offends or hurts them, but they don't get to decide what offends or hurts others. I'm honestly not bothered by many swear words, but I realize that others are, and it's important to respect that. If you want to continue to have a lasting, friendly and functional relationship with someone, then you need to be respectful of their feelings. Kids may have difficulty understanding who would be offended by what, which is why it may be wise to ban certain vocabulary until they can self censor in various contexts. I know that my mother wouldn't be bothered if I swear, but my mother-in-law would be shocked. I doubt that my daughter would be able to tell that a word was appropriate to use in front of one grandma but not the other. It's not hypocritical to swear yourself but not allow a child to swear. They're not ready for the consequences of the wrong behavior at the wrong time.

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie

The really bad word in my family (natal and current) - stupid. Say whatever you want, but stupid is grounds for a talking to!

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterscholasticamama

Totally random, but I couldn't pass this up. I'm a medievalist and read lots of medieval swearing and it is _all_ religious terms. My favorite, used by a French crusader, is "By the Holy Face of St Lucca!" In fact, I mostly read it from the French sources, so maybe the Quebecois are just closer to the old French :) (yes, I do know how bad that will sound to the French)

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterscholasticamama

In our lives there is a definite gender trend and it meshes with what I've read about women's tendencies in the workplace more generally. Also, I'm not talking about just saying "I don't know" and leaving it at that, but about prefecing an answer one isn't confident is complete/accurate with "I don't know."

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCorinne

Personally I prefer scheisse. It's just so much more satisfying, somehow.

Anyway, regardless of time timeless authority that is Wikipedia, shit is a more vulgar term than "poo" in our culture. And most adults prefer that children not use vulgar words - actually most adults prefer that anyone not use vulgar words, for that matter. You can reassure your son that your teacher is also not allowed to say "shit" in class. Adults sometimes excuse the use of vulgar words by other adults, but rarely by children. Juicy topic - you can get into power and control issues, double standards, cultural relativity, etc. etc. Or you can all start saying scheisse and most teachers won't know what that means anyway. ;)

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichele

My favourite "swear" phrase is one from Newfoundland:

"Joseph and Mary in the garden!"

Just let your mind go there - it is totally wicked!

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkelli

yep, we couldn't say suck or balls or shut up or hell or damn...then I went to my friends house...they said hell and damn all the time - and her mom used to be a nun! Took me years to wrap my head around it!

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkelli

My feeling is that "piss" and "shit" sound so aggressive, due to the way the letters sound, and that with the association with something negative (i.e. swearing, not going to the loo) kind of adds together to make me flinch.

I feel like I would apply the same rule to words like "stupid" or "shut up".

I can't stand flowery names for things, but "poo" and "wee" will do just fine. I just figure that there's no point making people feel uncomfortable unless you really, really want your kids to say those words.

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBecca

That's pretty much my attitude about cussing, and I imagine I'll teach my children they can say it at home, but not out in public thing, too. I already try to practice that myself, so hopefully modeling the behavior will help. As they get older I'll probably also try to explain that using those words in excess actually makes them lose impact (particularly for a word like f@ck). If you say it all the time, then no one knows when you are really angry. It can also indicate a lack of vocabulary.

I'm actually the one in our household who most often lets curse words slip. The other day I let one fly and within a couple minutes my daughter repeated it. "G@ddamnit, where's my sandwich." So hard for me not to laugh, but I think I did a good job of keeping a neutral expression and so far she hasn't repeated it again. ;-)

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterOlivia

You and I have a similar take on this.

Words are just words. And we are at the age (I think we are similar in age, maybe?) where we have seen many words come in and out of fashion. We have seen words go from innocuous to offensive.

I teach my kids about audience. I don't let them drop F-bombs and they know that is a really bad word that only adults can use. And they know that even adults should probably not use the word either (including their own parents. GULP.)

In the end, I am far less concerned about what comes out of my kid's mouths as I am their actions. I've far many folks with "clean" mouths, but their actions were cruel and selfish.

I totally agree with you. It actually bothers me when people apologize for swearing around my son. But I haven't had to deal with him actually using the words yet. (We're still at most words sounding like "ba").
I figure that we will go the route of some people think it's rude, so don't use these words at school, to your grandma, etc.
I think too that considering what the words actually mean determines whether they are appropriate to be saying. Sure it's appropriate for my kid to talk about shit (within reason), sexual acts, maybe not so much, context-depending, degrading terms for women or anyone else, no!, weird religious terms, hmmm. . .

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterErin OK

My child even uses the "F" word...at 5. It's fine with me. She uses it judiciously and humorously and not directed at people. The rule is you can say what you want at home (as long as it is not hurtful or disrespectful and directed at PERSON) but you can't say these words at school. It's kind of like what adults can do in an more formal office/business setting vs what they can do when they are among friends, IMO.

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMrs Rochester

I'm like you..."meh." Who cares? But I know lots of other parents care, and my husband cares too (for some reason...) So I'll probably say something along the same lines as you did when she's old enough.

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

I'd like to ad, that when people substitute other words for curse words like "sugar, cheese & crackers, or effing" it sounds silly to me. We all know what you really want to say or are avoiding saying, so what's the point? It's all very "don't look behind the curtain." Just go ahead and say it and be done.

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterOlivia

On the one hand I don't care much about swearing. But some people do and in certain contexts (eulogy say) it is not appropriate. The reason I limit (but do not ban) my kids swearing is that adults have a better a ability to judge what an appropriate context is ( drop hammer on your foot- yes, answer to job interview question, no). And they have a little better self control to not swear in what they know is an inappropriate context. I know this from experience. When I was 13 I dropped my notes at speech contest and said "o shit" loudly in the mike. Not an appropriate context. Judges were not amused.

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAurora

scholasticamama:

Actually, the French say that to the Quebecois all the time and the Quebecois don't really appreciate it.

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Denise:

I agree that there is a time and a place and I think that kids deserve the opportunity to figure that out by observing and testing. I don't think that banning the words is a good way to teach. I think it gives the words that much more power and they are more likely to use them when out of earshot.

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Thanks Allison.

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Not sure. I don't say "I don't know" unless I really don't know. If I do know, I'll state my answer in certain terms. If I think I know or I believe something, I'll make that clear too (i.e., I think that..., but I'm not sure. I believe XYZ, but other people believe ABC).

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

This is our exact thoughts on cussing. We've taught the girls that there are some words society doesn't approve of so you shouldn't use them in public. They can say whatever they want at home, as long as it isn't derogatory to others. You'll get in far more trouble for calling your sister a doody head than dropping an f-bomb when you stub you toe.

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJust Heather

This is something we have struggled with in our house too, since we are a bit potty-mouthed. What we stress is that it is not the words themselves that are important but knowing when to use them; context is everything.
Calling someone an offensive name is guaranteed trouble in our house. Even his friends know that they can say shit but if they say Gay, they are not welcome here.
I see that most people here agree, the interesting thing is that when I posted something similar on my blog -- people told me I was a bad parent for allowing swearing. Which was a good reminder that not everybody is as liberal as me (or us). Swearing is still very offensive to may people. And we told our kids that they risk people making negative assumptions about them if they swear. Because life is unfair to kids, which is kind of shitty.

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEmma Waverman

Emma:

The situation is a a bit different in the comments on my facebook page. There are some rather polarizing viewpoints over there.
http://www.facebook.com/phdinparenting/posts/171437562948157

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

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