We all do it. What parent hasn't accidentally cursed in front of his kids? If you are denying it right now, I'm calling bullsh*t. You know you f*cking have!
I love cursing. The word "f*ck" is one of my favorites. (Caution: if you're offended by the word "f*ck," you may want to move on to another article. I'm going to say it. A lot.) When my kids aren't around, I let the f-bomb fly. When I'm with my kids, however, I try to curb this tendency. I admit I'm a little less cautious around my 18-month-old, Simon, than I am around my 5-year-old, Penny. If I do let the language slip in front of either of them, well, sh*t happens. These words are naughty and fun to say, so, of course, Penny occasionally repeats them. When she does, first I laugh at how effectively she did so (she's a natural!), then I let her know why it was inappropriate.
But here's the thing: The only reason I stop her from cursing is that it makes my wife and me look bad. Other than the word itself, what does it matter if she says "oh, f*ck," "oh, frak," or "oh, fudge"? The message she is conveying is the same -- something bad just happened and she's probably going to have to help clean it up. As explained in a brilliant South Park song, changing curse words to non-curse words is "easy, m'kay." But is it really better to call someone a "bunshole" than an "a**hole?
I'm actually more concerned about other words Penny repeats, namely "hate" and "stupid." Nobody would categorize them as curse words, but when I hear my daughter say either one, it makes the hair on my neck stand up. These are the kinds of words I want to excise from my kids' vocabularies, or at least severely limit, whether or not anyone else hears them. "Hate" and "stupid" and other similar words dismiss people, ideas and experiences. When you're a child, you haven't lived long enough to dismiss anything outright. You haven't had any real experiences. And even if you have, you need to give them a second, third and fourth try. (Adults should, too.)
Of course, I say I hate things. I say things are stupid. But I'm old. I'm cynical. And I'd never thought of these words as inappropriate before having kids. I'm trying to cut them from my vocabulary. I hate those stupid words!
I want my kids to be like me. I want them to be funny and sarcastic and self-deprecating. I want my kids to find humor in the sh*ttiest of experiences. But, more than that, I want them to experience EVERYTHING... beyond what I can give them. I want them to try new foods, travel to new places, meet new people. And, even after they do all those things, even if those experiences sucked, I don't want them to say they "hated" them or they were "stupid." Even the worst experiences are worth something: a lesson to be learned, an amusing anecdote, something!
Who gives a f*ck if my 5-year-old says "f*ck"? What the f*ck does it f*cking matter? It's just a word. It's not polite. But, sh*t, neither am I.
Hate. Stupid. No matter where you place the asterisks in those words, the message is the same: "I can't be bothered. I won't even give it a chance." Now THAT would be the real f*cking curse.