Bad Dad Confessional: I Swear in Front of My Kids

Is it okay to swear in front of the kids?Is it okay to swear in front of the kids?One of the funniest aspects of this whole "dadblogging is a new phenomenon" thing (unrelated: last month I celebrated my 6th year as a dadblogger) is this underlying assumption that we blogging dads are some sort of role model, a small but dedicated cadre of new Atticus Finches who are enlightening the rest of the dadding masses through our exemplary behavior.

What a crock of @$#%.

Related: 14 ways our kids drive us crazy

Here's the reality. Last night, as befitting my New Model Dad status, I was preparing dinner for the family (nothing fancy - just some chicken baked in some leftover Thanksgiving gravy; after busting out the cooking skills on Turkey Day, I was still spent). The microwave beeped as I was putting some glasses into our dishwasher. I turned, removed the Tupperware container full of leftover stuffing, which promptly slipped out of my hand and exploded all over the floor. I clenched my jaw, bumped into the protruding top rack of the dishwasher, causing it to slam back into the machine, resulting in one of the glasses shattering into a million pieces. "Oh, FUDGE. FUDGE ME, you motherfudger!" I snarled.

Only, like A Christmas Story's Ralphie, I didn't say "fudge." And of course the kids were sitting right there.

I wish I could tell you that this was an isolated incident, but it's just the latest in a long series of me swearing in front of my kids. I have a mouth like a sailor; while I don't have a very good filter, my volume control's become much better over the past few years.

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But unfortunately, my son absorbed a few of the bad words at a very early age. (Decorum prohibits me from telling my favorite "four-year-old drops the F-bomb" story - you can read it here.) Despite a couple of isolated incidents, he keeps his language clean. This is to his credit: he's also reading chapter books these days, and he's shown a preference for books for older kids and even adults. He's working his way through the Harry Potter series (which contain the occasional "damn" and "hell"), the Percy Jackson series (ditto), and the Artemis Fowl books (likewise). He understands that he's not to use the bad words he may read in books, or that he hears in his favorite movies or TV shows. This is easier in theory than it is in practice: my in-laws recently gave him a copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and while I'm thrilled that he's excited to dive into that classic work of American literature, I'm not at all sure he's capable of processing Twain's prolific use of the n-word.

But I figure he's got a few more years until he's ready for that. In the meantime, I'll continue to not worry too much about my language. Part of parenting is teaching your kids to use good judgment and to think things through before they actually do them; so far, my son's done pretty well in that regard. Now that my daughter's picking up new words, I suppose I'll need to be extra careful about the ones I use around her. On the flip side, a cute little redhaired girl cursing like a rap star? That is blogging GOLD.

- By Jason Avant

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