Thursday, April 28, 2011

I swear...

I swear a lot. I swear profusely and creatively. I have since I was a kid. When I was pregnant, I heard friends with kids talk about having to stop swearing now that they have kids and I thought, "Not me."

For one, it's too big a part of my personality to give up now. For another, letting a curse-word or two (or ten) rip is like a steam valve. It releases a little bit of the pressure and stress we all feel. I always feel a little bit better after swearing, so I was not surprised when I saw this article on CafeMom this week, about swearing alleviating pain during labor.

You bet I swore during labor, having given birth to both my children completely naturally. Had I not sworn early and often, I don't think I would have made it through it either time. I imagine most women let one or two good naughty words go during labor whether they planned to or not. How could you possibly bear that kind of pain and discomfort, not to mention the inevitable anxiety and fear without releasing it somehow?

After my first daughter was born, I never even considered giving up swearing. My parents had a "do as I say, not as I do" policy on swearing and it backfired terribly. By swearing themselves and then telling me I couldn't, they made it that much more desirable to do. By demonizing it and showing me that it was a way to shock them, that made me want to do it even more.

Once when I was about 10, I said "s#!t" and my mom decided that as punishment, I would have to write "s#!t" 100 times. After I had written it about 20 times, I was doubled over laughing, enjoying the punishment far more than the crime itself. Mom must have found it funny, too, because a couple years later, I found the "s#!t"-covered paper in one of her drawers.

Since I was not going to stop swearing and I knew the "do as I say, not as I do" approach did not work, I figured that my husband and I would just model proper profanity usage for our children. We swear at home and in the car, but not at the grocery store, at the park, at friends' houses, or anywhere else. We swear at inanimate objects or when we hurt ourselves, but not at people (unless it's in the car, when those other cars might as well be considered inanimate objects). We never use swear-words as insults.

So far, it's working. My 3-year-old almost never utters a curse-word, despite hearing them many times a day from myself and my husband. On the rare occasion that she does, she uses it appropriately. For a while, if she didn't like something, she'd haul out a curse-word and hurl it at me. That got her many a time-out, and it stopped.

I believe that home is the only place where you can truly be yourself, truly relax and truly express yourself, and that's how I want our home to be. Therefore, freedom of expression reigns in our house, and that includes profanity. And why not? When used properly, it's funny, it's a stress-reliever and it doesn't hurt anyone. I wouldn't survive Seattle traffic or the frustration of daily life without it.

I will one day have to explain, however, that not all people in other cars are @$$holes. While merging into the HOV lane one day, I waved at a person who kindly let us in, and my 3-year-old chirped, "Thanks, @$$hole, that was really nice of you!"

Then again, that did, as usual, act like a steam-valve, releasing the pressure and turning a stressful drive in hellish traffic into an absolutely hilarious one.


  1. I hear you sister! The little people are going to be exposed to it may as well be at home. I don't swear AT my children, but I have been known to let it fly!

  2. I love your approach towards swearing (appropriate situations, not directed at people, etc.) I too have a hard time NOT swearing in front of my kids, and will probably end up explaining when it's ok to swear and when it's not, as opposed to saying they can never ever do it. After all, even kids can recognize hypocrisy.

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  4. I am in the same boat! I love swearing! I do try to curb the habit a bit around the kids, but they still slip out every now and then and they call me on it! Great article Sara!

  5. Thanks so much for the comments, everyone! I'm glad I'm not alone in being a hopeless potty-mouth parent!


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