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Sometimes there is a good reason to let your kid swear

Ellie DeLano

Yep, you read that right. I let my son say a swear word. I am mother of the freakin’ year, here.

Yesterday morning, it was raining a monsoon, and I was working from home anyway due to an appointment later in the day, so I decided to play benevolent mom and allow them a few more minutes of precious sleep (and spare them a soggy walk to the bus stop) by driving them to school.

It would have been great if my daughter, Anna, had gotten her act together, but she’s fifteen. Despite my yelling repeatedly from the foot of the stairs, we left nearly 15 minutes later than I wanted to, which in turn, made both her and her brother late to school. Then she argued with me over who got dropped off first, and when her brother tried to state his case, she told him she hated him and so did everyone else. She told him nobody wanted to be his friend. Then she added some swear words with that, which my son David admonished, and that set off another rant.

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After using the mom voice of extreme displeasure, I immediately decided I had to get her out of the car before it got any uglier. I dropped her off first, and then did some damage control as I drove her brother to his school. What Anna said was typical teenage girl annoyed by a younger brother and spewing venom. But in David’s case, (and like most kids on the spectrum who take everything literally) he took those remarks personally and entirely to heart. He began crying, sure that he was hated by the world. I reminded him that his sister was just having a bad morning, and that he most assuredly had friends. We named them all off as we drove, and by the time he got to school, he was doing better — but still very upset that he was late.

When I arrived home later in the day after my appointment, his sister was upstairs in her room and David greeted me at the door. I asked how his day was, we talked a moment about homework, and then he said, “Mom, this morning was all my fault.”

I looked him in the eye and said, “No, it wasn’t. You didn’t do anything wrong. Your sister was just having a bad day, OK?”

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“She was,” he agreed. “She should say sorry. She was being a swear word.”

I couldn’t help the way my lips twitched. “She kind of was,” I agree. “And yes, you deserve an apology.”

He ducked his head, then he looked up at me hesitantly. “Can I say a swear?”

Normally, swear words are completely forbidden for David. That’s not really fair, since his sister has the mouth of a sailor and curses a blue streak over everything no matter how much her father or I object, but she knows not to do that with teachers or certain neighbors or younger kids. David doesn’t have that filter, so I tell him he can’t swear until he’s older.

But right then, I could see in his eyes how very much he wanted to use that word. And really — he was already thinking it.

“Go ahead,” I said. “You can use a swear word, just this once.”

“She was being a bitch,” he said. And oh, the amount of triumph in that word! His eyes lit up and I swear to you he grew two inches just saying it. It obviously felt really, really good.

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“OK,” I said. “You got that out. And next time, if she’s being mean, just remember that it’s not always about you. Sometimes, it’s just that she’s mad and you’re there. OK?”


“And don’t be using that word. It’s bad manners. You love your sister and she loves you.”


And that was that. The ceremonial exorcism of sibling angst with a carefully executed epithet, courtesy of one fed-up little brother, and me: Mother of the freakin’ year.

This post was originally published on BlogHer.

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