When Is A Swear Word Just A Swear Word?

By Meg Hodson

I am a blogger. The power of words holds a special place in my heart and is very important to me. I have always loved to write. You might say I am fanatical about proper grammar and spelling. I get language. I know how to form a proper, complete sentence. I say "please" and "thank you". I don't start conversations with "me" or "and".

I am fairly confident that I am instilling this tradition in my children. I help them with their writing assignments. I force encourage them to read everyday. I correct their grammar when they speak incorrectly. I'm not pushy about it; I guide them.

As a parent, my husband and I have always taught our children to not use words or phrases that we would deem inappropriate, what most of us call "swear words". I remember vividly when I heard my first swear word. My Mom let my sister and I watch the movie "Grease" and I openly asked my Mother what s#*t meant. She explained the definition and, of course, told me not to use the word.

So, I have followed suit. We were recently watching a movie on Netflix that unexpectedly had a few notable words in it. For many times in the past when dealing with swear words, it was always a quick "we don't use words like that" .....and that was that. But what does this really teach our children about such words?


A swear word is not any different than any other word in our language. It's merely letters coming together to form a word. It is the meaning, emotion, and use we put behind those words that make them inappropriate. We choose whether to use questionable words or not.

If one of my children accidentally slipped a swear word into a sentence, my reaction would be calm. First of all, they more than likely do not know what they are saying nor the context of the word. Our children are little sponges and I am not going to fault them too much for remembering a word they heard. But I would follow up and ask them if they knew what the word meant and why they were using it. They are definitely little sponges to what I have to say.

So, when such words were uttered during the movie, we paused it and I found myself saying "it's just a swear word". I mean, it's JUST a WORD. My husband looked at me a little shocked and puzzled. So, I quickly followed up that, for me, swear words are impolite words; they're not proper; they are an easy way to not ponder and think about what you are going to say. They're an out.

Now, I am guilty of letting the occasional swear word slip from time to time. I don't believe it's ever happened in front of my children. I've never been a heavy user of such words. I suppose it's partly the way I was raised and partly a choice. I don't chastize movies or others if they choose to use those words. I do know it would be inproper for any child to use such words before they truly understood what they mean. When moments like this do arise when we watch a movie, I don't become self-critical as a parent. But I do explain to my kids my views. And if they choose, in their heart of hearts, to use such words, they can......when they have moved out of our house.