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Why I’ll Let My Kid Curse at Home… Eventually

cursing cursing

Ask anyone who’s ever had a drink with me (or, well, anyone who’s ever met me), and they’ll tell you I curse like a sailor. It’s just a thing I’ve always done. As best I can remember, I blurted out four-letter words as a kid to provoke and get attention. And as an adult? I mean, same.

So when I was pregnant, and my dad — who has never approved of my “potty mouth” — asked if I planned to clean up my language when I became a mother, I answered with an emphatic, “F$&K NO!” (Yes, I was feeling extra salty, and not being entirely honest.)

I’d already given this topic quite a bit of thought, and even discussed it with my husband. Together, we decided that given our sometimes colorful choice of words in private, public, and even professional spaces, it would be pretty hypocritical to force our kid to limit his own vocabulary.

I really want my son to be able to express his full range of emotions in a safe space, and if that involves screaming some profanities at home every once in a while, I can support that (It’s a better reason than doing it to get a reaction out of adults.) Plus, to me, cursing is just not the biggest deal in the scheme of things. Sure, I want to raise a kind kid, a kid who will stand up to bullies, who will take action when others are in trouble, and who, generally, won’t be a total a**&^%$. I even want him to say “please” and “thank you” and excuse himself when he farts, especially when it’s loud. But I’m no Miss Manners, and to me, there are so many more important virtues than being polite for the sake of being polite (I’ll take a rude kid over a racist kid any day, you know?).

But I do recognize that cursing is a big deal to some. It can be truly offensive to some people. It’s important to calibrate. Plus, I’m pretty sure you can still get in trouble for that sh*& at school, right?

So we decided that our son will be allowed to curse at home. But not until he’s old enough to understand that there are some words that are okay to say in private, but not in public — sort of (but not exactly) like playing with his penis, or picking his nose. And that means my husband and I can’t (or at least shouldn’t) curse around him until we feel he’s ready to have that conversation. Or until we get a call from his teacher because he doesn’t want to eat his f!*king tuna sandwich. Whichever comes first.



Emily Farris lives in Kansas City, MO with her burly husband, toddler son, and two rowdy rescue mutts. She's written for Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, and The Cut. When not busy cleaning up somebody's pee, she's posting about drinks and home decor on Instagram @theboozybungalow.