Unpopular opinion here, but hear me out. I swear in front of my kids. I explain to them that they are bad words that shouldn’t be used outside the home. But I also explain what they mean and why I use them. Most of the time it’s a slip of the tongue or used in the heat of the moment to express intense emotion. Yes, I can say things like fudging or fluffing, or I can use words of some other random nonsense. But the meaning behind whatever I fluffing say won’t change. So why change the words?
However, there are some words that our family considers “bad” words. We try our best to use these words more mindfully because we feel these words are truly harmful. So, what words can be worse than swear words you ask?
Here are some of the words our family chooses not to use, and we hope that you will use these words more mindfully next time:
Calling someone crazy, or insane, even using conditions like bipolar, OCD, and other conditions as descriptors, is unkind to folks who don’t have psychological diagnoses and offensive to people who do. These words aren’t used kindly, even when they aren’t used maliciously.
Sometimes ‘fat’ is the correct descriptor, like a ‘big fat juicy steak’. But these words are not allowed in my house when it comes to using them to describe bodies. As a kid, people always called me skinny and told me to eat. I was perfectly healthy but started having very peculiar eating habits because of this. Describing anyone as fat or skinny, ugly, deformed, or what have you, will be absorbed by the sponge that is your child’s brain. If they think they fall into one of those categories or repeat the hurtful comments to others they may start to internalize these words. Either way, it’s harmful to someone and is solely based on your own beauty standards.
My kids picked these words up at school. These aren’t typical words I use in conversation. My kids explain that they are bad words when they hear these words, and they are right. Calling things stupid, dumb, retarded, or an idiot is not only hurtful but harmful. *The r-word is one of the worst slurs you can use against mentally ill and neurodivergent people.
This one is hard. But honestly, nothing is perfect. Do your kids ever get upset that they can’t do something perfectly? Mine do. They still want things perfect even though I explain that they need to practice to get better at things. It’s one thing to try to encourage them to improve themselves, but it’s another to create an impossible standard that they might feel they will never live up to or reach.
By no means is this an exhaustive list, but this is a start. I’m not telling you to start dropping f-bombs and stop using all other words. I am merely suggesting that you use words more mindfully. Simply that you be more mindful of your choice of words and phrases. Stop and think about how your kids perceive what you are saying. Think about the hurtful stereotypes these words can portray. Find better ways to express what you are thinking and feeling. It all starts with working on ourselves, and our kids will learn from our example.