Sunday, February 21, 2016

Teens and foul language

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I have three kids, two teenage boys and a young innocent kindergarten girl who just told her brothers, “Shut the F-up” (only she actually said that word)!

I don’t even let them say “stupid.”  I have always taught my kids that it’s rude and shallow to name-call, especially the F-word.

My oldest son and his dad used to swear a lot (we were divorced). So I got a jar and we had to put a dollar (yes … the price of swearing has gone up) in it every time he said something offensive. Then my son thought it was funny to call a girl a slut to his brother and they laughed until I made them both put $5 in the jar.

The boys think it’s funny to say any bad thing. Recently, my husband and I left a movie because it had so many disgusting words or insinuations. My sons thought it was great!

I was a substitute teacher when my older kids were in elementary school and I was a single mom. I’m not perfect and I used to let things slip when I was angry. But ever since the jar, I stopped.

My friend is still a teacher and she said I should get over it. She said the kids swear all day long and they can’t police it, especially the F-bomb.

Isn’t anyone going to do something?


Dear Disgusted,

We understand your feelings. We go into schools, to speak, and kids are swearing with every worst word or phrase that exists.

There is a bigger problem in our society to address:

How do we help our kids know who, what, when, where, why and how and to express their feelings appropriately and with civility, when the whole world is upside down?

Being polite is out-of-style. The new norm means rude and offensive is funny. Our society has run out of self-control. Swearing is impulsive and out-of-control. 

We admire that you started with yourself. Too many adults think it’s hilarious to watch foul movies and TV shows. Parents have taken to YouTube to post babies saying bad words for their 15 minutes of fame.

Your five-year-old child is innocent and probably doesn’t know what the word means. She probably wanted to express her angry feelings to her brothers. If her brothers laughed, she might be confused, but ultimately it got her good attention.

The best thing to do is calmly take her aside and ask her if she knows what the word means. She probably won’t. Tell her it’s an adult word that is unacceptable in your home. Shut down movies and songs that are foul. This isn’t going to be easy. But do it. The everyday person has to start saying the following:

“Not in our home- not today – rudeness isn’t ok” and mean it! Be consistent!

Schools need to stop the epidemic of swearing, especially a violent word like the F-word. Adults and teens, if you had a hundred cockroaches running around in your room, would you say, ‘There are too many, I can’t do anything?”

Of course not, you’d get an army of pest controllers and get to it!

By the way, “bad” words are ruining our vocabulary (along with the simple-mindedness of social networking) which ruins our communication which ruins our chances of expressing ourselves and having healthy relationships. Having healthy relationships matters the most. You can take those to heaven. You can’t take a trophy, money or fame, right?

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

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