Sunday, March 22, 2009

Curse Words and Kids

Tonight, over leftovers, my kids had some serious questions. For the record, the questions weren't about the leftovers. Caleb wanted to know just what the "f word" was and Alex decided to help her brother in his quest for the truth. They can form an unbeatable team in a matter of moments when they are united behind a common cause such as deciphering what a cuss word really means. It's Sunday night, so Mike was at church. I was left alone to answer these hard core facts of life questions.

They wanted to know what made a word "bad." I laughed inside at the question because the only answer I could immediately come up with was that "society has deemed this word inappropriate." I'm not entirely sure I understand the term "society," so I came up with another fumbling response. After articulating that some words are just meant to hurt people in a very mean way, I stopped myself dead in my own tracks. Honestly, I don't know the origin of curse words. I don't know why certain letters have been assembled to form offensive expressions of crudeness.

So, instead of concentrating on what the bad words were and just how they were spelled, I talked to my kids about kindness. Their focus was diverted when I talked about the motivation behind using offensive language. The motivation being causing pain, causing hurt. They understood that immediately and vowed to try and use words to uplift and encourage.

But, at bedtime, the little rascals still wanted me to review a litany of bad words in English and Spanish, just they could "be prepared."

I didn't introduce them to any new terms of profanity. But, I did laugh really, really hard when they asked.


  1. kids often come up to me and say things like, "so-&-so said the "J" word." and i'm left sitting there trying to figure out what word they are referring to.

    that particular one was "JERK" ... but i never know what's worse, ask them what word their talking about (so they have to repeat it), or sit there ... daydreaming of what word i THINK it is. :)

    i love your kids.


  2. Oh man, this is classic. My sister said the "d" word once and then followed it up with 'o beaver! Just to be clear that her declaration wasn't swearing. Then we all started doing it. We must have been reallyl funny to my parents that day.
    Way to go Caleb and Alex for asking about words in English and Spanish, by the way. That's classy!


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