Trying to keep swearing away from your kids isn’t easy.
They have sharp ears, they have friends with older siblings,
and they have the uncanny ability to ask to watch movies where you totally
forget about the curse words until it’s already too late. (All of those classic
80s movies you can’t wait to share with your kids? Just a heads-up — they are
ALL full of swears.)
There’s a certain point where you just have to cut your
losses and accept that your kid knows the d-word… and the b-word… and yes, even
But hearing your sweet little darling say the f-word doesn’t
have to always be a hair-raising experience. Putting aside the fact that little
kids swearing is one of the funniest things in the world, there are situations
where curse words are actually GREAT for your kids.
No, really. Here are five moments where I was happy (heck,
downright grateful) that my daughter got to see, hear, and experience the
But, yes, they do use the f-word a few times in the
libretto. So, should I have kept that music from my kid because of “appropriateness
concerns” or should I have let her experience a musical phenomenon that has
inspired in her a love of both music and history? It’s no contest. I let her
sing the f-words from Hamilton with
2. Reacting to
A few months ago, my kid came home from a sleepover in
tears. Some girls, former friends, had spent the night teasing her and mocking
her relentlessly — classic mean girls behavior. And my daughter was beside
herself. Why were they so mean? What was wrong with her? None of my pleas for
her to calm down were working, so I resorted to the nuclear option.
I said, “F___ those girls.”
That got her attention. I then told her that she could say
it herself. After a hesitant moment, she replied with, “Yeah, F___ those girls,”
and the effect was instantaneous. Letting my kid use that one taboo word robbed
the bullies of all their power and gave her a sense of empowerment. So what if
they teased her? Do they even know what her dad let her call them back at home?!
One little word transformed my daughter from victim into a victor. What’s not
It’s one of my favorite movies. She grew up listening to the
soundtrack and loving the music. There’s almost nothing objectionable in the
movie… aside from a handful f-words.
So I let her watch it. And she loved it. (I regret nothing.)
4. Looking at modern
Years ago, I took my daughter to an art museum and, in their
contemporary wing, there were a few pieces of artwork that featured the f-word
They IMMEDIATELY captured her attention. “Dad… Dad… Dad… do
you see that?”
I could’ve shielded her eyes and run out of the room, but I
didn’t. Instead, I started a conversation with my daughter about WHY an artist
would want to use that word in their art. It was, without a doubt, one of my
favorite conversations with her that I’ve ever had. She was curious, insightful
— she really wanted to understand why someone would incorporate that kind of
language in a piece of art. And I never would’ve had that moment with her, if I’d
run out of the room in shock at the first sight of the word.
5. Asking what it
The first time I ever heard my daughter say the f-word, I
didn’t know how to react.
Did she just say what I think she said?
When I brought it up, she was embarrassed, mortified even.
She’d heard an adult using it and had just tried it on for size, not knowing what
she was doing. She was convinced that I was going to punish her forever and
take away her toys.
Instead, I took a different approach. I said, “What do you
think f___ means?”
She was shocked to hear me say the word out loud, but I
wanted her to know I wasn’t mad. She hadn’t used the word in malice or spite.
She’d accidentally heard a grown-up use it and there’s just no way you can
unring that bell.
So, instead of trying to make her pretend it never happened,
I brought the topic out into the light. I let her know that no one was angry
and told her we should have a conversation about the word, just so she
completely understood what it was she was saying.
That started a ten-minute discussion about the f-word, where
it was referenced heavily, which ended with my daughter actually having an
understanding of what swearing meant rather than just ignoring that she’d
stumbled onto a word of power. Now if she used it again, I knew she understood
its meaning and could honestly now be expected to deal with the consequences of
saying it, which, at the time, seemed like the fairest way to deal with it.
Because swearing isn’t inherently bad. Swearing irresponsibly
is and now my daughter knows the difference.