For the first two years of her son's life, first-time mom Erin B. and her husband cursed freely in front of him, until one day they noticed that he was doing it, too. At that point, they tried to stop,"But I still slip up sometimes," confesses Erin.
Sara B. swears in front of her child when she's driving. She tries not to and succeeds most of the time, "but you're bound to slip up once in a while," she says.
Try as you might, it's not easy to prevent the occasional swear word from entering the atmosphere in your children's presence. If they're coming from you, have no fear: Circle of Moms members offer four different strategies for damage control.
1. Ignore It.
Some moms go with the pretense it didn’t happen. "If you get all up in arms about them, you just give those words more power," points out a member named Anika. Likewise when the child does it. As Erin shares, "When Wyatt does it, I try to not make a big deal about it. I let him know that it is a bad word and he isn't supposed to say it and then we go on from there.”
2. Turn it into a teaching moment.
Jenn M., who considers herself "a potty mouth," tries hard to make sure her kids understand it's inappropriate. "I apologize to them and remind them that I'm naughty for using that word.”
Jodi, who's a more occasional curser, also feels that owning it is important, and says, ‘Oops, I shouldn't have said that, it wasn't right" when she slips up in her children's presence.
Heather Q. has taken it a step further by identifying the words that aren't allow and forbidding them in her household. (See: 10 Words to Avoid in Front of Your Kids). She's not concerned by her son's occasional exposure to cursing because he now knows the boundaries.
"A lot of what he hears is on movies that my husband and I watch," she says. "I'm not so much worried about it because he knows pretty much what words are appropriate and which words aren't. If he has a question about a word he asks and we explain to him if it's okay to use.
3. Substitute silly words.
Many moms try to prevent swear words from leaving their lips altogether by using quirky substitutes. “I've come to love the word ‘Motherchicken,” Sara B. laughs. Stacey J. agrees: “ I do try to use replacement words or what I consider mild swear words round the kids, like bloody or frigging.” (For more of moms' favorite substitutes, see Shiznit and Fudgenuts: A Mom's Guide to Cursing.)
4. Clean up your act.
The best way to deal with the swearing issue is to keep your lips tightly sealed when you're angry or excited, says Lisa S. "I don't want my boy to start swearing so I don't swear. I'd rather him learn helpful words to start with before he starts hearing all the new colorful words elsewhere."
Cassie C. agrees. "I do not swear. Honestly, my language is completely PG. It is just not something I do. I sound ridiculous. I swore for the first time when I was 16 on the softball bus and knew I sounded dumb."
How do you explain swear words to your kids?
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