I'm a profane parent. I cuss in front of my kids, and it’s not just an occasional expletive here and there in extreme moments, either.
My every-day vocabulary is peppered with potty-mouth lingo. I rein it in when other people's kids are around, but my own are used to my salty language. My stepson is 17 years old, my daughter is 9, and I've always used swear words in front of them.
I'm not proud of it, but nor am I ashamed. Look down your nose at me all you like. I've perfected my hypocritical parenting guidelines, and the kids are all right.
How do I ensure my kids don't open a can of dirty word soup at school, you ask? Well, just like drinking alcohol, driving a car, or voting, my kids have always understood being a grown-up has certain privileges at specific ages. They've accepted this fact after a few initial attempts at premature profanity.
As a pre-schooler, my stepson yelled the F-bomb repeatedly at a family BBQ for no apparent reason, and my daughter, after dropping food on a restaurant chair and eating it anyway, answered my question, "What do you think mommy would say about that?" with the reply, "Fuck it?"
They learned those words were inappropriate for kids to say, but not if you're over the age of majority and understand the where's, when's, why's, how's and who's of cursing.
My daughter doesn't swear because I've explained to her that using profanity is a privilege of adulthood. Let's face it, some of us believe having a foul mouth is a reward we get for all the hard adulting we do. As for my stepson, at his age I'm not too concerned about him cursing, as long as his usage is in correct context and timing, without adults around who may take exception to his language. He knows the drill because I've taught both my kids that cuss words have their time and place.
Growing up, I never heard my parents swear. Ever. In fact, I was 17 before I heard an adult co-worker curse. I was shocked! Until that point, I believed my own cursing was something reserved for rebellious youth who thought they were bad-asses. I had grown up being taught four-letter-words were naughty, unintelligent and offensive.
Thankfully, I've learned to say, "Eff that!" and go about my profanity like it's nobody's business, which it's not.
Even science is on my side. According to Inc.com, Benjamin Bergen, a linguist and professor of cognitive science at UC San Diego, actually studied the use of expletives and wrote a book about it. In his publication, "What the F: What Swearing Reveals About our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves." he confirms his findings that if you're not using slurs (which are psychologically harmful to kids and adults) and you're not swearing AT your kids (which I would never do), my kids aren't suffering any kind of damage from my vulgar pie-hole.
Despite my proclivity for cussing, I'm not here to convince anyone else to take up the habit. I just want my kids to know I can swear and still be reasonably intellectual, while also demonstrating a woman can have a sense of self strong enough to not worry about what some people might think.
Yes, there's a fine line in that regard, as they do need to care what others think in certain situations, but we have those talks. I've explained the etiquette of cursing and like other societal norms I've taught them, all I can do is send them out into the world and hope some of what I've said sinks in. Even if they do trip up and let a "bad word" pop out at the wrong time, they'll learn quickly enough.