Whether you choose to curse in front of your kids or not, they are bound to hear a curse word or two at some point. So how do we handle it when our precious and perfect children start noticing?
I think it's simple; we talk to them about it.
There is a social lesson in cursing, and it is an important one. Social rules tells us the who, what, where, when, and how of social situations. Who can curse? What curses do you use? Where can you curse? What happens when you curse? What are the consequences of cursing?
As adults, we often curse because we know the answer to these questions. We understand and (usually) follow the social rules of cursing. We know not to curse on a job interview, at a PTA meeting, or in front of our religious grandmother. We know what curses to use. We know that curse words can hurt someone’s feelings and we know that some curse words hurt people more than others. We know that in some places we can’t curse at all and in other places we can curse as much as we want. We know the difference between cursing at someone and cursing at a situation. Adults can curse because we know the meaning behind the curses. We understand our environment and our audience.
And there is the lesson: Your audience matters. Your environment matters. Your intent matters.
But there is more….Adults can curse because we are adults. It is OK to tell your child that just because you do something, it doesn't mean they can. You drive a car, does your 5 year old? You drink wine, does your 8 year old? You can vote, does your 10 year old? You can have a credit card, does your 12 year old? There are a lot of things that adults can do but children can’t.
So my advice is that whether you choose to say "oh phooey" or "shucks" or you let the 4-letter words fly, we should just be honest with our kids. I'm an adult and I'll curse if I want to.