An open letter about allowing your child to swear


Dear Alex,

As a fellow blogger, I first want to say thank you for not only sharing your views with us (the world) and being open to our criticism, but also for sharing a window into your family.

There were some things though that you said that greatly concerned me.

Look, it’s no surprise that children are going to swear.  They may not do it in front of you (because they know they are going to get in trouble), but it is likely happening on the playground with their friends.  However, not allowing it in the home is establishing proper boundaries.  “Hey, that’s a bad word, it’s inappropriate, and let’s work together to find another word to describe how you are feeling.”

Children at a young age have issues with things like boundaries and completely understanding things.  Like you mentioned about the little girl who didn’t talk about her abuse cause her father said he would “kill” someone, and she took it literally. Children are more likely to take something very literally and have a hard time understanding “the greater meaning” behind something.  It is easy to say if something is frustrating, you can say “damn”, thinking they are just going to say “damn this thing” when it isn’t working.  How do you then turn around and say it’s not ok to say “Damn you” when you are making them eat their broccoli?  As you mentioned about their literal nature, they are going to really struggle with when it’s ok and when it’s not ok to use these words.

Kids are all about repetition and routine as well.  As you allow your child to use “house words” at home, you are incredibly naive to think that these words are not going to “accidentally” come out.  While it maybe ok with you, when your daughter teaches one of these words to their friends, your parenting is now exposing another child to something that their parents may not have expected till they were 10 or older (Take a look at the iconic scene from A Christmas Story – Ralphy learned the word from his father, but instead says he learned it from a friend.  That friend gets in thrashed in response.)  While maybe not as severe, this type of parenting is seen with parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids leading to the resurgence of illnesses that were once extinct, as well as the idea of well it’s ok for my kids to drink at home, but not outside the home.

In regards to letting your child watch violent movies, to each their own.  Honestly, your post screams of you tooting your own horn about the maturity of your own child.  That they are so mature they can deal with these adult matters, but what it comes down to is that children can’t process violence at a young age.  Their brains are not fully formed and things that you think aren’t that scary and seem to not scare her, could cause later anxieties because their brain tried to process that information before the development ability was there.  Maybe your Nugget is mature beyond her years, or maybe your are just being incredibly irresponsible so you are able to say “my kid is more mature than yours”.  I don’t know but I caution you to read the science of how a child’s brain forms, how stimuli affects it, and even more importantly, how this stimuli can effect your child’s psychology.  And as always – steer clear of blogs who discuss this and look at peer-reviewed articles.  There are other ways to teach your child to be a strong independent girl without exposing them to violence.

“Since, I have met people who never spoke up about their abuse because they thought that words they’d need to use to describe the actions were off limits.”

This is a huge blanket statement, and I wonder if the people who have spoken to you about their abuse have either a) spent time in counseling and/or b) have been entirely honest.  Their are two MAJOR reasons people don’t discuss their abuse and those are guilt/shame (they feel like they did something to cause it or they feel they’d be causing trouble by telling) and/or the person who harmed them is close to them and they are told that there is nothing wrong with what happened.  Regardless of their feelings about it, they are told what has happened is normal or ok.  It’s not like if they knew they could use the word “fuck”, they’d come out and be like “Oh, Mr. Johnson fucked me.”  It’s not just as simple as they didn’t have the inappropriate version of the word to use.  The issue is more likely Mr. Johnson is a close friend of the family and no one would believe me because that’s what Mr. Johnson said.  Everyone always talks great about Mr. Johnson, etc.  Since you were the one who started off the post discussing it, I greatly urge you to have more indepth conversations about what is inappropriate touching, etc.

Personally, I think age appropriate media is best for children.  Jem is great, as you mentioned, and has very little violence in it while showing your daughter that she can be an independent powerful woman.  Does she need something with a little more action?  Check out things like Sailor Moon, She-ra, etc.  But as said before your post reads like you are looking for reasons to justify watching inappropriate movies in front of your child or a boast about how mature your child is.  Keep in mind that you may not see the effects of these actions until later on, and while you may be fine with “dealing with it when it comes up” this is could be unnecessary stress and exposure for your child who will have to then unlearn what she thinks is normal.

All my best,


Jamie Webster

About Jamie Webster

Just your average blogger. Married 2 years with two wonderful children who are 6 years apart. Little about me: I’m turning 31 this year (yikes), have had 9 foot surgeries in 8 years and have spent a little over 4 years of my life in and out of a wheel chair (or scooter). And today, I am training for a half marathon. I attribute two major changes in my life to my healing: the power of goal setting and going gluten free.