Swearing Up a Blue Streak

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Dear Dharma,

I work at a very male dominated, blue collar job so you can imagine the type of language I’m used to at work.  To me, it’s practically white noise.

My sister, on the other hand, is a stay at home mom, watches Barney and Dora the Explorer and is horrified at even the hint of profanity.  Of course since I’m so used to it, I quite often slip up around her children…

She gets so mad, she’s even threatened to stop letting me be around them if I don’t stop. I mean, come on! They’re gonna learn these words soon enough!

How can I convince her?

Sincerely,

Rhonda

Dear Rhonda,

Can you fricken believe her?  Doesn’t she know the culture around swearing has changed dramatically over the past many years?  Sheesh…

Except… they are her kids and it is her right to expose them – or not expose them – to whatever she chooses.  So on that level, you’re in a bit of a pickle.

Instead of trying to diminish her view point, as “Come on, get over it!” does tend to do, perhaps the both of you can try to find a center point.

I have a friend who framed this perfectly for me…

she says that both she and her husband swear around their kids but that they have explained to their kids that there are certain words that grown up’s use and kids just don’t.

It’s just like when you’re drinking a glass of wine in front of the kids and they’re all like, “Mommy, mommy can I have some?”  We say things like, “No, honey – this is a drink that only grown up’s have.”  And mostly speaking, that seems to do the trick.

Think about it – weren’t most of us brought up understanding that there are different rules for different ages?  That’s why kids go to bed at 8pm and parents stay up til midnight.  Grown up’s drive cars, kids do not – and so on and so forth.

The same friend says that when they have friends over who swear, and then apologize for their language in front of the kids, it’s the kids who pipe up saying, “It’s okay, we know we aren’t allowed to use those words, they’re for grown up’s only!”

So they get it.  Because kids aren’t made of glass, they’re actually quite adaptable when given the opportunity to grow a little and to make certain distinctions as to what’s appropriate.

And I love it.  Because with that way of thinking, kids are being exposed to the real world (which accommodates your “they’re going to learn these words anyways!” state of mind), while offering a great life lesson that people behave in different ways in different circumstances and that there’s a time and a place for everything and everyone.

If you think your sister might be open to that kind of lesson, approach her with it – and maybe couple it with the promise to do your best to keep the F bombs to a minimum out of respect for her parenting techniques.

If she sees you’re willing to meet her in the middle, she might be willing to do the same.

Dharma

 

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