Notes and comments on
"Bad Words"

Sandra Dodd, and others when indicated

On the AlwaysLearning list, someone wrote:
I do not swear, and I would like my children not to swear, or at least not until they are older.
Joyce responded:
I don't eat sugar and I would like my children not to eat sugar, or at least not until they are older ...

I don't watch TV and I would like my children not to watch TV, or at least not until they are older ...

I don't watch scary movies and I would like my children not to watch scary movies, or at least not until they are older ...

I don't read books and I would like my children not to read books, or at least not until they are older ...

The first step is to recognize that they're separate people. And your unschooling job is to help them be who they are not who you want them to be.

That said, unless your husband swears or they're regularly around other people they like who swear, it's not likely they will while they're young.

But if they do, kids don't naturally want to hurt others so we can help them by passing on tips on appropriate places to use swears if they're not catching on. I wouldn't immediately assume that they don't understand as soon as you hear a swear. My daughter liked to eat sprawled across the table when she was little, but she never did it at other people's houses or restaurants. ;-) Most kids can pick up social clues just by living life :-)

Joyce Fetteroll
September 2008

I went on my history-of-language-and-religion tirades. Quotes from other people, and my responses in the same discussion:
CUSSING -=-I understand that in the real world people use these words, but I DO get offended (maybe I shouldn't - I've just always felt it showed a lack of vocabulary, which I tend to have, ironically...)-=-

Two points about that:

Your house is part of the real world.


Did you "feel" it showed a lack of vocabulary, or have you heard that and internalized it and repeated it?

-=-For now I've just told the kids that there are some words that aren't nice to say, and leave it at that. They haven't asked or anything...-=-

Between now and when they ask, you have time to examine your beliefs and feelings, and as you move more into principles, it will make it easier to figure out when the time comes (if it does) how to handle the next phase.

"Cussing" is a term for "cursing," which has to do with the power of words to condemn people, or the meanness and hubris (sin of thinking you have power or importance) of telling someone you hope they burn in hellfire, or even the shortened version of "go to hell" or the older "damn you" which is short for "May God damn you to hell."

So those are strong words. Those are curses.

"You're a son of a bitch" isn't a curse, it's just an insult. But somewhere in the past few centuries in the U.S., at least, they were generalized to "cussing" and condemned along with native Anglo-Saxon non-medical terms involving anything sexual or scatological.

I think someone who doesn't say much more than "Shit" and "Dude" might be displaying a lack of vocabulary, but someone who knows six synonyms for "vagina" and fifteen for "penis" can't possibly be accused of a small vocabulary.

The trick then is the awareness of appropriate times and places to use those words, and when it's not courteous.

It has to do with courtesy, discretion, choices, mindfulness--all the good stuff.



-=-My 6 yr old swears, first of all I do use strong language on occasion because sometime it's appropriate. -=-

Ah! Swearing. That's another thing "we" don't do because the Bible says not to. I think the U.S. has a puritanical take on language that not all English-speaking places have.

The rule against swearing has to do with not getting God involved in your oaths, or not taking ownership of the universe as though it's yours to gamble away, as though you own it. Few people think of it that way, as what principles are behind it. Maybe nobody does but me, now that I think of it, but when I was little and sitting in church (First Baptist, EspaƱola, New Mexico, Brother James Cathey, Minister [most of those years]), I thought WHY would the Bible say not to swear by any thing?

Matthew 5:34
But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne;
Matthew 5:33-35 (in Context)

Matthew 23:22
And he who swears by heaven swears by God's throne and by the one who sits on it.
Matthew 23:21-23 (in Context)

James 5:12
Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your "Yes" be yes, and your "No," no, or you will be condemned.
James 5:11-13 (in Context)

So that's the New Testament. Genesis has all kinds of swearing oaths before God. So stuff changes, even in the Bible. (Yeah don't say THAT in a Baptist church.)

So cussing and swearing are two different things and neither one involves the use of "the f word" nor any words for poop.


Language and Unschooling

Bad Words (notes from a conference presentation)

Bad Words 2 (a follow-up)