Watch Your Mouth Around My Kid

I have a terrible potty mouth. Just filthy. 

I’m an educated, intelligent, professional woman with an extensive lexicon. I’m able to expound prolifically using a plethora of words and phrases. And, sometimes, there is no more appropriate a word to use than a well-placed f-bomb.

My family jokingly took bets as to what my son’s first curse word would be based on my most common obscenities. (As a side note, it was my husband who accidentally taught my son his first curse word.)

I should probably explain that I’m not exactly proud of my dirty mouth. But, I’m not embarrassed by it, either. There are worse things that could come out of my mouth.

And, often, there are worse things said in the presence of my son.

I imagine you asking, “what’s worse than an f-bomb in the presence of a two year old?”

I’m glad you asked. Here are just a few “toddler friendly” examples:

“Boys don’t wear make up.”

“Don’t cry. You’re just being silly.”

“Wouldn’t you rather play with a truck than that doll?”

“You can’t wear pink.”

Here’s the deal. Saying “poop” when I drop something or “fudge” when I suddenly realize I’m late for a meeting I forgot about might offend some people because those kinds of words have been deemed inappropriate. But, no one is going to get hurt. On the other hand, telling my son that he should ignore his feelings or avoid otherwise harmless activities could hurt him.To his core. 

Watch Your Mouth Around My Kid | Kansas City Moms BlogMy kid loves the color pink. And you’ve just told him that he can’t wear his favorite color. What does he internalize? That something is wrong with his favorite color. That something is wrong him for liking that color. 

He’s two and a half. So, I’m sure he’s not able to work through those thoughts and feelings the way that I have. Am I blowing things out of proportion? My example might be a bit extreme. Like I said, these are toddler friendly examples.

But, as he gets older, the words will get bigger. More specific. More pointedly designed to control him. So, when it comes down to the underlying issue, my concerns cannot be overstated.

Unkind words. Belittling words. Shaming words. Bullying words.  

Not in my gol dang house and not in front of my flipping kid.

We’ve all heard the phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” And, I think we all know that those words are cow doo doo. Words have the power to change what we think and how we feel about ourselves.  With the prevalence of self harm and suicide among teens and young people, we are inundated with stories about how words can not only hurt, but can kill.  It isn’t necessary for us to be hateful in what we say. We don’t always have to explicitly tell our children that they are stupid or messed up or worthless or bad. We send that message through thoughtless words. Through indirect messages. Like “boys don’t wear make up.”

Right now, my son is little. On one hand, so many things sail right over his head, beyond his understanding. And, on the other, he knows so much more than we give him credit for. He might not realize that when he is told “crying is silly,” he’s being told that his emotions are inconvenient or annoying and that he shouldn’t express them or even feel them. In fact, he’s probably going to keep on crying regardless. But, the more frequently he hears those messages.  The more people who send those messages. The more important the person relaying that message. And those messages will start to stick.

My biggest fear as his parent is not that I’ll drop a “mother trucker” in front of him when we’re already late to daycare and I realize I’m out of gas. My fear is that I’ll say something that sends him the message that something is wrong with him.

I do watch my language around him. I choose my language carefully to explain things to him. I choose encouraging words with the hope that he’ll feel encouraged and that he’ll choose encouraging words, too.  My hope is that he’ll know that he is loved unconditionally, and will feel comfortable being himself, rather than feeling he needs to “pass” some senseless rules that the adults in his life have imposed upon him with their bullying words.

My kid says “poop” when he drops a toy. 

My kid lovingly feeds and clothes his baby dolls.

My kid is listening when you talk to him.

So, you better watch your darn mouth.

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23 Responses to Watch Your Mouth Around My Kid

  1. Elizabeth Hall April 5, 2017 at 9:29 am #

    So well put! I feel like you took my thoughts and wrote them out perfectly!

  2. Lindsay April 5, 2017 at 9:39 am #

    Yes yes yes. Love this.

  3. Justine April 6, 2017 at 3:51 pm #

    I totally agree! I also worry about people using self-deprecating language around children. I have met 3-year-old girls who are already worried about their weight and I know that the way we talk about ourselves plays a role in this and other beliefs they begin to form about themselves.

    • Sue April 8, 2017 at 7:54 am #

      Yes, I worry about this too. I hate it but don’t know how to approach it with the people concerned.

      • Britt
        Britt April 10, 2017 at 11:41 am #

        Sue, I’ll admit that it isn’t always easy to confront others. I try to flat out tell people, “don’t say that to my son.” And then I say to him what I’d prefer for him to hear. I.e. if someone says to him “crying is silly,” I’ll say “please don’t say that. Crying is not silly. I can see that you’re crying because you’re upset. It is ok to get upset…” And then I’ll follow up with a statement about why he is crying – which of course depends on the situation.

    • Britt
      Britt April 10, 2017 at 11:38 am #

      Justine, I agree with you. Self-deprecating language is still bullying language.

  4. Lori April 7, 2017 at 1:37 pm #

    So were you censoring yourself in this article or do you consider “poop”, “fudge”, “darn”, “mother trucker” to be cuss words??

    • Britt
      Britt April 10, 2017 at 11:42 am #

      Lori, the Moms Blog higher ups have some strict language requirements, so I definitely censored myself for this post.. Which may or may not have required a few good searches for alternatives!

  5. Alesha April 7, 2017 at 3:42 pm #

    How I love this!!! Yes, I have a potty mouth, but those words do not damage the way other phrases do (unless, of course, being directly aimed at a person). I about flipped my lid when someone told my daughter that the boy that hit her “only does it because he likes you.” Bull hockey, lady! Do NOT feed that lie to my kid, so she thinks that abuse is a normal part of relationships.

    Yeah, that stuff makes my Mama Bear come out.

  6. Emilee April 7, 2017 at 4:27 pm #

    I trucking love this!! Thank you!!!

  7. Amanda April 7, 2017 at 10:49 pm #

    Truck Yeah! 😂

  8. Mary Jo April 8, 2017 at 8:38 am #

    I do agree with what you are saying. And I’d like to take it a step further….we want to teach our kids how to communicate in a healthy way-one way of doing that is helping/showing them how to express their thoughts and feelings…when I say “damn-it” what I really mean is “I’m frustrated with…….(could be the situation could be a person) and I need to……(problem solve/choose a healthy was to deal with this situation or person). When you just swear, it doesn’t allow for the development of your emotional intelligence, the process of identifying what you are feeling, verbalizing it in a healthy way and then choosing a healthy solution on how to handle it. This is the process we need to be teaching our kids so as they grow they don’t get stuck at “damn it!” But that they express their frustration in a healthy way that does not create more conflict for them in that moment and then be able to work through it to get to a solution. Here’s an example:. As an adult, I am sad and angry that my spouse broke a vase. If I say, “son of a bitch, you broke that!” He is going to react in an equally nasty tone and it is going to end up in a fight and disconnect from each other. But if I would have said something like this-the outcome would be different: “I am sad and angry that the vase broke. My mom (who is dead now) and I made that vase together when I was young and it was a symbol of our connection and love. That is why it was important to me.” My spouse is going to react differently bec/ he will understand why that vase was so important and not just a plain old vase. Because I expressed my feelings in a healthy way, the outcome is going to be different. Even if he still responded in a nasty way- I am much better off, for myself- that I labeled my feelings, verbalize them in a healthy way which lead me to be able to choose a more productive way to handle the situation…So we are our kids role models on how to not only express our thoughts and feelings but how to develop beyond those words and “handle” those situations that will help us to grow emotionally and increase our emotional intelligence…BTW, I do slip and swear in front of my kids at times and I make sure I follow it up with- “what I meant to say was “I feel…..because….I am going to…..” it shows our kids we are human and we always have an a other opportunity to handle things differently- even when we screw up.

    • Wendy April 8, 2017 at 5:14 pm #

      Well said Mary Jo!

    • Britt
      Britt April 10, 2017 at 11:36 am #

      Mary Jo, I think we’re on the same page here 🙂 Since I’m dealing with a word limit, I did limit the topic of my post. Everything you’re saying here would make a great follow up post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  9. Amanda April 8, 2017 at 7:02 pm #

    So obscene language okay, gender policing bad. Interesting justification…

    • Karen April 9, 2017 at 10:53 am #

      What makes the word obscene? It’s pretty arbitrary, especially the ones that aren’t related to sex. I think you missed the point, because an exclamation of “Sh*t!” when you stub your toe might be socially frowned upon but it actually hurts no one.

  10. Mirloblanco April 9, 2017 at 1:13 pm #

    agree with Amanda. I don’t like it when I’m out in public and people are dropping the F bomb because they don’t know any better. I think I t’s tiresome and shows a lack of vocabulary. We can do better for our children and teach them to express themselves better (by the way, can we stop saying “like” every other word?) I think the above examples just make us sound ignorant and uneducated. Do I drop the F bomb? Yes usually when alone or with trusted friends. But knowing when and where to have a potty mouth is an important thing to teach as well. I’m concerned about all these articles that encourage people to except such a low bar.

    • Britt
      Britt April 10, 2017 at 11:54 am #

      I think we have some common ground here. I think we have a duty as parents to teach our children how to express themselves – how to identify feelings, how to articulate them, how to make their opinions known, etc. And, if I understand your comment, you would agree with me on that. I apologize if I misunderstand what you’re saying.

  11. Margo April 9, 2017 at 2:18 pm #

    I’m much more comfortable with obscene language than gender policing. Yes. We have a family policy of not using words around toddlers that they’ll get in trouble for using- because they literally have no ability to filter in any situation.

    But once they have some filter? The rule is, if you don’t know when it’s appropriate to use the words, you’re not old enough to use them.

  12. Kathryn April 10, 2017 at 12:17 am #

    One of the most devastating things that was said to me as a young tween and teen was said constantly by my stepfather. “You are a liar!” He said it again and again. It sometimes included words like compulsive and habitual. Well…I wasn’t a liar but after being accused so many times and finding that the truth caused me so much trouble, I would find myself caught in impossible situations where the only option was to lie. I also learned to hate the man responsible for the emotional abuse. That is what words can become…emotional abuse.

  13. Erika Carlson April 10, 2017 at 10:44 pm #

    When my daughter was too, and it was near Christmas time, every single person would say to her “have you been good?She always looked so confused because we never conflated gifts with “being good” or even the concept that there was such a thing as being bad. Of course there’s doing things that other people fund annoying, but that doesn’t make you bad.

  14. Alex Volk April 11, 2017 at 3:43 am #

    This is a great post. I’m gay and grew up in Kansas City. Once while over at a friend’s house, I got shamed by his mother for not acting masculine enough. She said, “Glad you’re not my kid.” I didn’t have the words to describe how I felt–just a pit of shame in my stomach.
    Growing up gay in the 70s and 80s was not easy. I am so glad that things are changing and there are parents like you. Thanks again.

  15. Megan April 14, 2017 at 12:10 am #

    Man, it bums me out that you have police yourself about curse words to post this. I’m sad that people are more “offended” because of a “bad” word over hurtful actions. A word has the same meaning, doesn’t matter if you say fuck or frack. But you don’t need to curse to put down another human, yet why don’t we show the same offense? Such a double standard. I’d be proud of my kid, even if it cursed, as long as it wasn’t a put down to another human.