Mom Confession: My Kid Swears Like a Sailor

By Brenna Jennings

It's a funny thing, how your kid will ignore just about everything you ask of her all day long, pretend she has no idea that what you just said fifty-four times was, "Please stop shoving Play-Doh in your underpants," and blatantly disregard your requests to kindly replace the entire contents of the silverware drawer before someone ends up impaled on a dinner fork.

And yet at the peak of your exasperation, after all the requisite deep-breathing, pulse-monitoring, when you find that your pocket of coping mechanisms has a gaping hole in it and the best thing you can pull out of there is some lint and an expletive, well, you know exactly what that kid's going to hear.

I spent a mortified week listening to my toddler perfecting her emphasis, pronunciation, and usage of the phrase, "Oh, DAMMIT," wondering if non-reaction was the best tactic or if a gentle, "That's not a nice word" should have been my strategy.

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For the most part we ignored it, but by week's end Anna marched into my home office lamenting, "Oh DAMMIT! There's no more candy in my Pez machine." I didn't know whether to put her in a time out or get her an agent.

I'm constantly amazed by Anna's ability to hone in on the precise wrong word in any given situation and then repeat it enthusiastically with impossibly bad timing. Her first viewing of Toy Story led to a week of, "Woody called Buzz stupid!" alternating with, "'Stupid' is not a nice word, Mama. You shouldn't say 'stupid'. Is 'stupid' a bad word?" She has no filter for day care or the grocery store, she frequently mortifies my in-laws with the versatility of the term "boobs," and her "Oh, crap!" delivered with context and accuracy.

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I've changed my swears of choice to "blerg" and "crud," but somewhere she's still picked up "freakin'." Admittedly there are occasional stifled chuckles, but we're also making a genuine effort to bring our daughter back to the G-rated toddler we used to know. (If you're married to a tradesman, as I am, you understand what an undertaking this is.)

How do you handle your kids' forays into PG-13-ville, or worse?

Here are some ideas for dealing with kids who swear.

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