Over the past few months there have been a number of instances where I have been in a public establishment with my children during which they are exposed to unwelcome profanity from a complete stranger. Let me be the first to say, I’m no saint and I have and still do use choice language on occasion. But as a mother, nothing makes me more frustrated than when my innocent children are exposed to inappropriate themes, language and content, especially in a family friendly environment. Total strangers throw around words that my children have never heard (and won’t hear from me for many years) without a care in the world. And they surely don’t think about how their language is shaping the younger generation.
I know life can be tough, days are long and emotions run high, but is there every REALLY an appropriate time to drop an f-bomb (or other choice phrase) at a family gathering or other public venue? Maybe my ideas are antiquated, but I stand firmly on my beliefs to not curse in front of children and I wish others would follow suit.
It’s not that I’m offended by profanity, and I am not naive to think my children will never hear or speak these words on their own. As I mentioned, I’m not perfect, but here is why I absolutely curb my tongue when little ears are listening. We are constantly exposed to negativity surrounding injustice in our world. Media outlets fill the airwaves with people being treated poorly. Sexual assault, racial and sexual inequality, and political tensions are common topics in the news. These choice phrases I mention include profanity, sexually abrasive terms, obscene remarks and racial or ethnic slurs. When I hear these words and phrases being tossed around carelessly with young children listening it makes my skin crawl. Allowing our children to hear us speak to or in reference to others using these terms breeds a younger generation of disrespectful and hateful individuals. I, for one, would love to see my grandchildren grow up in a more peaceful world, but as long as we continue to verbally disrespect one another that will never happen.
As her literacy skills advance, my five-year old has recently become quite curious about the definition of words. As typical of children her age, she frequently questions the meaning of words. In her quest for knowledge, these vocabulary conversations often turn into a series of questions, some of which I am unable to answer. Now really isn’t the most appropriate time for me to have to field questions about the meaning of words with derogatory or obscene connotations.
I’ve been told by many that using profanity in front of children is “okay” if you teach them that explicit words are only acceptable for adults to use. I firmly believe in setting a good example for my children, and having a “potty-mouth” really isn’t the image I want them to remember of me when they are older. Children will use the language they hear, so choose your words wisely.
Lastly, I’m sure there are quite a few people who would argue my points and give me the whole “freedom of speech” lecture. Well, when our founding fathers wrote laws allowing citizens to speak their minds I’m pretty sure they didn’t include the use of derogatory, explicit and hateful terms. So whether you’re a parent or not let’s join forces and watch our mouths because little ears are listening and soaking up everything they hear, to pass it on for years to come.