When you become a parent, life as you knew it becomes a distant memory. But while we’re aware of the more obvious changes; namely losing any form of social life and the ability to sleep for longer than an hour at a time, there’s a less glaring alteration in your behaviour that will likely kick in when your little human starts to talk. Yes we’re talking about swearing.
But while many parents take it as a given that they’ll need to swap their ‘f-bombs’ for ‘fiddlesticks’, others aren’t so willing to censor their cursings.
Maria Foy, a New Zealand based mum-of-two recently penned a post about swearing in front of her children and why she doesn’t believe doing so is detrimental to their behaviour or development.
“I am a swearer; from WAY back. Not a prolific potty-mouth, but I do use the full range of my vocabulary to help me express how I feel,” she wrote.
“For me, swear words are just words. They help me express myself, especially when I’m emotional; but they’re still just words. I don’t use swear words to create drama, or insult people; they’re used to help me express my emotions.”
The blogger, who writes parenting blog Happy Mum Happy Child, went on to say that when she first became a mother she worked hard to try and cut swearing from her vocab but found that parenthood meant she needed to express herself more than ever, so she gradually came to terms with the fact that swearing would continue to be part of her life.
“I teach my children that the words I say are “adult words”, and that when they become an adult they can choose to use them or not. This was how I was raised,” she continued.
Maria says that since adopting this more relaxed way of being around her children, her children haven’t sworn once around her.
“I am allowed to swear. I am allowed to use words to express how I feel, no matter what words those are,” she wrote.
“If, as a person, you are offended by my swearing then that is on YOU and not on me. I do not swear to offend people… I use words to help me express myself,” she wrote.
So is she right? Is it ok to curse in front of little ones? While there’s no real evidence about the effects swearing has on children, there are various studies which suggest swearing can be beneficial for parents. A recent article in Association Psychological Science’s Observer suggest that swear words might have a cathartic effect after an injury or emotional episode. Stepped on a stray lego piece? The s-bomb could make you feel better!
Another study revealed that swearing could actually help us withstand pain. The research involved two groups of participants dipping their hands into icy water — one could repeat their favourite profanity while withstanding the cold, the other could. Unsurprisingly, the swear-y group were able to withstand the ice bath longer — but the effect was greater for people who swore less in their everyday lives.
So could there be an argument that teaching children that cursing after pain or emotional trauma could be acceptable as an adult? Or if not acceptable, at least understandable? Or is it always unacceptable to curse in front of the kids?
Of course one of the main reasons so many parents are holding their tongues, is the fear of their child repeating the bad work back. Not only is there a concern that their little one might be judged as having a lack of discipline, but there’s also a worry they might be considered a bad influence on other children.
But a recent observational study, found that childhood swearing is largely innocuous. Scientists documented children ages 1 to 12 naturally uttering swear words, and only rarely witnessed negative repercussions. On no occasion did swearing lead to physical violence. Instead, taboo words were used mostly for positive reasons, like humour, and mostly weren’t spoken out of anger.
Maria says she has witnessed a lot of negative comments about swearing, but doesn’t intend to change the way she speaks, even if her children are present.
“If swearing offends you, then I am not sorry, because I do not swear to offend you personally. Please try and look at me as an actual human being – the fact that I swear does not define me as a person. I am about more than that,” she says.
“HOWEVER, if you cannot look past this, then that is ok. Each to their own. It doesn’t make what I do wrong, it just means you don’t agree with it …”
What do you think? Should we be holding our tongues in front of our children? Let us know @YahooStyleUK