I am a pretty good mom, I think. I swear. No, I don’t swear that I am a good mom, I mean, despite being a decent mom most of the time, I cuss.
When I was a kid, my mom always said that swearing was something less intelligent people do. When they could not find another word, those that cannot think for themselves use swear words. With my vast vocabulary, I should be able to use more intelligent words to express myself.
As I grew up, I believed that story less and less. By the time I was an adult, I completely disagreed. There are times when no other word in the English language can truly do. It has to be a swear word to emphasize the severity of the problem or level of emotion.
Through college years and single life, there wasn’t much harm in it. I wasn’t offending anyone, and I knew where and when it was appropriate to use them.
But, like so much else in life, when kids come along, that all changes. The problem is, while most of the rest of my body did change when becoming a mom, my mind did not.
Pre-speaking years, with the first kid, sure, you are clear for a few months.
I still wanted to try when my son arrived. I attempted subbing out words for “cleaner” words.
“Oh, darn,” I’d try.
But, to be honest, there were times it just didn’t work. Sitting in traffic, for example, I've had some of my worst moments. I am not a patient person, and Philadelphia traffic is enough to make the pope want to cuss.
In times of pain or shock, the first words out of my mouth tend to be inappropriate words for my kids to hear. When the dog misses his toy and clamps down on my finger, making it bleed, “Gosh oh golly, gee” just aren’t the first words that come to mind.
In later years, I tried the middle-of-the-road words. Instead of the s-word, I’d say “crap.” “Crap” is not a bad word, right? I’d agree for a 15-year-old, maybe, but once you’ve heard your 3-year-old repeat it, it doesn’t seem quite right.
I’ve decided, like most things about having kids, that there is no hard and easy rule to follow. There are times and places when a “rule” might work, and there are times it won’t.
I’ve learned as a mom to be easier on myself from time to time. I also have accepted, even if I try not to be the source, my kids will continue to hear bad words along the way.
The more important lesson to teach them is what is appropriate for them to repeat.
Sometimes, I figure it is a case of “Do as I say, and not as I do.” You might hear a word on television, or occasionally from the driver’s seat of our car, but that doesn’t mean you can repeat it.
So, I’m not perfect. As hard as I try, I do know it isn’t possible. And, swearing is just one of those things you can’t always prevent, and you can’t always protect your kids from hearing swear words.
But, you can teach them what is OK from them to say. Add to the previous cliché another, “If all of your friends jump off of a bridge ...” They can’t just do what they hear and say around them. It is more important for them to learn to think for themselves, not just mimic what is seen.
I will keep trying to watch my own mouth. I will try my best to keep it clean. And, when I don’t, I’ll remind my kids that it is not OK for them to repeat it.
I think I’ll be fine, just as long as our family doesn’t play Mario Kart together anymore.