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Kids and Cursing

by Ronald A. Rowe | March 30th, 2011 | Elementary

Is cursing really a big deal? Consider that an unbuttoned collar was once deemed offensive, but now it’s nothing. “Goodbye” was a scandalous abbreviation of “God be with you,” but we’ve moved past that. CBS has a hit show with a word that you cannot say on TV (at least not yet) in the title. Three of the top 10 pop songs in the country this week feature the f-bomb in the title and/or the main chorus. Has our culture evolved to the point that words once considered to be unspeakable are now OK? Should I be teaching my son the finer distinctions between the S-word and BS?

Yes and no. Yes, it is big deal. No, it isn’t OK now.

For one thing, dropping some ‘colorful’ language in conversation is still offensive to the majority of people. My children will not be on the cutting edge of bringing offensive behavior or words into the mainstream. While TV and films are doing everything they can to push the boundaries, I refuse to give in to the cynical notion that we can do nothing to hold back the tide of barbarism being foisted on us by Hollywood.

Then there is the matter of vocabulary. The f-bomb is a crutch that limits a person’s ability to express him- or her-self. If I’ve got “f-in’ big” in my quiver of words, why bother to learn “humongous,” “enormous,” or “gargantuan” instead? Diminished ability to express one’s thoughts is a precursor to losing the ability to think for oneself. When I hear teenagers cursing nearly every other word, I can’t help but think we’re heading into a dumbed-down future like an Aldous Huxley novel or a Mike Judge film.

The war is not lost. It isn’t easy, but we can teach our children to speak properly, without expletives, even in a society that places no value on clean talk. Obviously, don’t curse in front of your children. Nothing will defeat your efforts faster than a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude. Second, know who their friends are. You can’t help what your children will hear at school or walking through the mall, but you can control with whom they spend their free time. That’s who they will emulate. Finally, don’t leave it to chance. Talk to your kids about proper language and the importance of a robust, curse-free vocabulary.

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