Good parenting includes using clean language and teaching your children to do likewise. Set a family standard regarding cursing, then stick with it yourself, as you teach your children what should and should not come out of their mouths.
Usually it’s the parents, not the child, setting the standard by not allowing their children to use curse words. However, you may be surprised to know that for some children it’s the opposite. They are the ones wincing at their parent’s bad language.
Recently we were told by a young adult woman that her younger teenage sister was so sick of hearing her mother cursing around the house, mostly at her and her younger siblings, that she decided to take a stand. The teenager, boldly and respectfully, said to her mother, “Please don’t curse around us anymore, Mom. I hate it.” We don’t know what the mother’s reaction was, but we hope she’ll respect her daughter’s wishes and cut the cursing.
When we asked the young adult woman where her mother picked up swearing she said, “On, no question. It was our grandpa, her father.” That’s usually where the cursing begins. A child hears a parent and assumes it is acceptable language and adopts it as his or her own, right into adulthood. You can be one of the rare ones who makes a decision to stop the cycle of swearing.
Since most parents are decent people who want their children to use clean language we’ll assume you’re in that category. Here are some ideas that may help you in your quest to keep the language appropriate in your home.
Watch your own tongue
When you drop a dish, what comes flying out of your mouth? Pay attention. Next time something sudden happens, don’t curse. Decide in advance what you might say instead. For instance, “Oh, that makes me so mad when that happens!”
One woman said when that kind of thing happens she says, “Horse feathers!” Okay, so that’s a little bizarre. Pick your own harmless non-curse words. This Bible passage may help your resolve in keeping your language clean: “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” (Matthew 15:11)
Talk to your children about the importance of using clean language
Don’t wait until an incident happens. Teach your children regularly about appropriate language. Tell them why you don’t curse, or if you do curse, why you’re not going to anymore. Share stories of people who don’t curse. George Washington, first president of the United States, said: “The foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low that every person of sense and character detests and despises it.”
Point out others you know and respect and use them as an example of people who use clean language. Invite such a person, someone your kids admire, to your home and have them share their ideas about language with your kids. Most people would be honored to be invited to help you teach your children.
No need to beat your kid over it. That will only make the child want to curse more. Calmly and intensely look him or her in the eyes and reaffirm your family standard about swearing. We hope our kids abide by our teachings, but most kids will, at some point, use a curse word that they heard at school or on TV. You don’t have to make a big deal of it, but your child needs to know that you disapprove of such language and are disappointed that he or she said this bad word.
Make it clear that these words are not to be spoken by members of your family. If this is done lovingly and firmly, your children are more likely to get the message and abide by it.
Honor God’s name
It has become common among far too many people to speak the Lord’s name irreverently. They seem to have forgotten this commandment: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” Exodus 20:7. When people flippantly say, “Oh, my G!” they show disrespect to him. Teach your children to honor God in all their communications and he will bless them for it.
We encourage you to begin now to evaluate what is happening in your home regarding the language family members are using. As parents, decide what your family value is concerning swearing, then call a family meeting and discuss the importance of living this standard and create a plan for living it. As your family works at keeping this standard you will notice greater respect, peace and harmony throughout your home.