My Kid Gets His Potty Mouth from Me

6 years ago

"Damn!", he says while looking out of the side of his eyes at me to see if there is a reaction.

And there is. But I can tell by the slight sag in his shoulders that the reaction isn't as big as he had hoped.

"Pardon me?", I say calmly. So calmly. I've learned, over the years, that my child, this child, is always on a mission to stir the pot. If he can make you cry, or yell, or emote in any way, he is a happy boy. He will laugh over your tears. It's an obnoxious trait, however that's not the point here.


He's been testing out the potty mouth lately. Seeing how far he can go with it before I call him on it. And the truth is, he doesn't get very far. Some people, I know, find profanity funny coming from the mouth of a four-year-old. I find it appalling.

And therein lies the rub. Because he's learning his potty mouth from me. I swear. A lot. I find it very difficult not to swear, although my mouth is 1000 times cleaner than it used to be.

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When I was younger, before I met my husband, it was acceptable to curse in my parents house, provided that I used the correct words. God Damn, Jesus Christ, Christ, and Oh my God were the phrases of choice when I was a teenager. I used them A. Lot. and thought nothing of it... until I met my Christian husband. He took great offense to me blithely cursing his Lord, and really, now that I think about, I realize that I was being deeply insensitive when I used those terms.

Shortly after we started dating, my future husband told me that if I had to curse, he'd prefer that I really swear. And so swear I did.

For him.

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However, now I can't stop. Not completely. And now my kids are armed with those Very Bad Words and are itching to spring them on the world. According to a study done in 2010, kids are swearing earlier than they ever did before. This means my kids are simply keeping up with the Joneses.

Except...I don't like it. I don't want to be the mom with the potty mouthed kids.

I've had the talk (many times over) with the kids about how grown-ups have words that they can use, but kids can't. I've even admitted that I shouldn't always use those words. I don't fall into my son's trap of overreacting when he tries out the words that I shouldn't have taught him -- hopefully non-reaction will make the words less interesting. And I've been trying extra, extra, extra, hard to keep it clean.

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It's almost working. Almost.

"Damn!", he says, watching me.

"Pardon me?", I say, looking up at my four-year-old.

He smirks. "Dam! Dam, Mom. Like beaver dam. You know. DAM."

Yes. Yes, I do.

What do you do about swearing in your house? Does everybody keep it clean, or are you a potty mouth like me? How do you approach that subject with your kids?


Marilyn is a work-at-home mom, with two kids, a blog (A Lot of Loves), and a large cup of coffee.

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