If you’ve ever been around a child and had to hold back the cacophony of crass language that is your life, worry no more! New studies indicate that swearing around your child is not only fine, but encouraged!
These conclusions come from the life experience and research of Derek Seguin, a comedian, and Benjamin Bergen, a cognitive scientist. Swearing is great, and Seguin indicated that he has been swearing around his children from very early on, with exception to his oldest child, saying “every year [he] swear[s] more and more.” The youngest child, who was exposed to the most swearing, incidentally swears the least! So, obviously, swearing isn’t that big a deal. In my experience, a couple of family friends have been swearing around their children, and now they don’t see anything novel about swearing, and don’t do it at all!
Bergen argues that swearing around your child casually has no impact on their mental health and well being, so long as the swearing is not directed at your child in a harmful manner. He also touches on swearing as abuse, which is only needed when you consider how curses like the f-word are used. “Just the swearing because your hockey team lost” is a-okay, and let’s face it: the Oilers, if that is your team, lose a lot!
So swearing isn’t inherently bad, but is it good for you and for kids? Researcher Emma Byrne has stated that if you’re not swearing around your child as a way to preserve their innocence, Byrne argues that you’re actually doing them a disservice! If we want our kids to learn the correct ways to use the curse words so prominent in today’s world, then we need to be swearing around them.
By the age of five, not only did I use some curses “correctly,” but my parents also impressed upon me why I shouldn’t swear. It was a trip home from a wedding in Ontario; my dad was in the seat beside my sister and I was in the back. We got half an hour down the road, and out of my mouth was “Holy c&%$, someone forgot to do up my g&%&@#% seatbelt!” My dad woke up and quickly fixed both issues, and though now I don’t remember what that reason was, I am now a functioning adult who understands why he did what he did!
If we keep the cultural taboo of swearing around children, then we don’t help children learn to not use them in misogynistic, racist, or sexist ways. According to Byrne, we should explain “why there are some words [we] don’t use, and what the… effects of them are.” If we don’t, that’s when swearing becomes the bad, taboo thing we shouldn’t do around children.
Swearing should be the beautiful expressive thing it is in today’s world, and a tool to further the objective of creating a better and more aware world to live in in the future.