My kids are at an age now (well one of them anyway) where they are noticing curse words. Not just those in the playground which they hear from their friends, most of whom learn it from their older siblings – I hope that’s the reason anyway. So ultimately we had to have the “curse word” conversation.
Added to that our choice of media – my wife and I are both avid thriller and horror movie fans as well as raunchy comedies which liberally pepper every single conversation with a swear word. Our love for R&B and rap music (among other genres such as world and country music) also have their fair share of words we don’t typically say in front of the kids. All these factors make it really hard to shield them from getting all too familiar with those words. We can lower the volume on the radio or pause the movie, but that is only a short term solution – and inevitably we will have to explain the appropriateness of those word. My son is the time who does not like confrontation, but when asked he is very direct and honest….so the onus is on me yet again to lead this one.
The best policy in this case, given that there is no way around it, is to be direct and honest. I told him that there are words, these are the words, and that they mean certain adult things. When he is an adult and understands them then we can have another chat on whether he can or how to use them. Until then he will hear them in music (including music his parents listen to), in movies (including movies his parents watch) and form his friends. Just because we hear them, and even know them doesn’t mean we use them – we as parents are a perfect example since he knows its in the media we consume but he never hears us (or rarely I should say) use the words. We certainly don’t take it lightly, especially in front of kids.
I also told him that he can act differently with his friends than he does with his family and parents. So what he says and how he talks to them is not the same as he would with us. We understand he can’t be a boy scout around them, at least in conversation, if he wants to be “cool”. But that doesn’t mean what he does with them translates equally at home with us and his baby sister. Those were the rules – flexibility, appreciating his individuality with his friends, but keeping respect with us.
For now it seems to have worked, and dealing with it as mature people made a difference. Avoiding the “because I said so..” approach really did it work. We were clear and understanding of how he is with his friends. In return his buy in to how he talks and deals with us will make sure that he will see it through. This gave us both a sense of accomplishment, and more importantly his confidence went sky high since we treated him not as a baby but as a growing person. Having said that, I must admit that I miss the days when he thought the F word id “farting” and “idiot was such a bad word for him that he would be in shock whenever he hears it – gone is the day of innocence, inevitably so!