Why is it taboo not to swear in front of kids? Well, perhaps because of several factors that may or may not be true. These factors may include the belief in that it:
- increases stress factors
- can be considered “unclassy”
- is rude
- can be be used in abusive behaviors and situations
- is unacceptable in cultural or religious groups
I have to admit, I LOVE to swear. And sometimes I feel as if weights are lifted off my chest from simply busting out the F-bomb or whatever curse word fits well with the situation. I almost feel like I’d just taken a deep breath and clearly exhaled (cursed) all of my bad feelings when I’ve been annoyed or pissed off about something. And it feels fantastic!
My husband doesn’t care much for my swearing, though. In fact, he once told me it was just not “lady-like” to hear the F-word coming out of my mouth. He said he wanted to be with a woman, not a pirate. Being the unwitty person that I am, I didn’t have a good come back except a very immature one, “WHATEVER!” But deep down my feelings were slightly shot. Perhaps he was right. But I’d like to argue on the positive aspects of it as well.
Studies show the benefits of swearing
Now I’m not an expert, but I will show you a list of studies that could debunk some of the negative beliefs that most of society might have about swearing, especially in front of kids. In fact, professor of cognitive science, Benjamin K. Bergen, also a father and author wrote in his book, “What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves,” that swearing around kids isn’t bad as long as it’s not used in an abusive manner.
Anger can be expressed without resulting in the physical act of it
Swearing can be a way to communicate someone’s anger. An author once referred to swearing as a “primitive act of speech, comparable to the growling of animals.” When certain animals growled, it would be a sign that it was angry and that other animals should stay away. This helped avoid fights and other physical damage that could have otherwise occurred.
It’s very similar to people. Sometimes we can get so angry that cursing and telling someone off could keep that someone away. At least until the anger wears off a little.
Anger can be such a beast with very wicked thorns. When it explodes, it can cause a significant amount of damage. Remember the saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” Truthfully, words can really hurt, but physical acts of anger can leave much deeper scars.
If you have small children, they are most likely expressing their anger through temper tantrums. As they age, the anger will still come, but they would have to manage it in more mature ways. Can you imagine a teenager (although I’ve actually seen this happen) rolling around on the floor every time they don’t get what they want?
The tolerance for pain is increased
Studies show that swearing can help people cope with pain longer than those who don’t. In a more recent study, participants who were asked to repeat swear words during workout were found to be stronger than those who didn’t.
Psychologists perceived the pain management response as a generalized inhibition. Participants were found to care less about the pain.
The power of persuasion is stronger
It’s believed that attitude is likely to change when swearing is involved. The reason being is the relatable nature and informal delivery of the message. In other words, more people are better able to understand and relate to what you have to say when you talk to them in a language they can understand best.
A study done by researchers at the University of Cambridge, Maastricht University in Hong Kong found that those who swear were more likely to be honest and speak the truth. Those who filtered their language were most likely filtering other words as well, says David Stilwell, co-author of the University of Cambridge study.
My best girlfriends and I have become very close, because of our ability to “be real” with each other. Of course a few tequila shots and wine helped us get there, but after the first few F-bombs, trust was formed and we knew we were soul sisters.
The Negative Effects of Swearing
Now, I don’t think I’d like it if my 7 year old started spitting out the F-bombs or using any kind of swear words for that matter, but I also don’t think I could shield him away from hearing them for too long. Regardless of whether or not he hears it from the TV, myself, my friends or his own friends, I know that he will eventually use them.
Children love to push their parents’ boundaries. I know, because I remember doing it myself. Swearing can create many emotions, including our ability to cuss ourselves into our more calming, soothing selves. However, it can also cause sadness, anger and high blood pressure. Nobody wants the 3 latter, especially for their children. So we do what we can to avoid them from having to go through the consequences of expressing their anger with swear words.
So you see, your child will hear swear words. It’s inevitable. You can choose to handle it any way you like, but I hope this is at least an eye opener to the possibilities of some positive light into how you’re going to prepare your child for the swearing world. Will you allow him or her to understand it so they know what it’s all about and why it’s used? Or will you just try to shield them from it for as long as possible so they can figure it all out on their own later on?
As parents, we live life feeling guilty about so many things we do or don’t do for and around our kids. Being ourselves and having natural, innate reaction to life and the circumstances were given, good or bad, shouldn’t be something we need to feel guilty about.
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