Teenagers and swearing – the rights and wrongs

I have a confession to make. I like swearing.

Swearing is a great way to let off steam and it can be quite creative (the uses of the word ‘b*llocks’ are almost infinite). And, used sparingly, a well timed ‘F•ck off’ can be very effective if someone is hassling you and doesn’t know when to stop.

But I can switch my swearing on and off. I don’t swear in front of the kids and never have. I hate to hear adults swearing in front of small children – or, worse, actually swearing AT them (because there is definitely a difference).

I grew up with parents who said ‘bloody’ and ‘bugger’ a lot and I have it on good authority that ‘bugger’ was one of my first words. So I started as I meant to go on. But my parents would NEVER have said the ‘f’ word.

When I was 7, I used to talk to these 13 year old girls who hung round the village (remember those days, when kids just hung around outside?!). They used the ‘f’ word continually. I didn’t know how bad it was, so I started saying it. Then I said it in front of my mum. Put it this way, the telling off I got that day was enough to terrify me out of saying that word again until I was 17.

But from my early teens onwards, mild swearing at home was accepted. In fact, any swearing apart from the ‘f’ word and the ‘c’ word (which I have not uttered to this day and never will). So we said ‘sh*t’ and ‘boll*cks’ and ‘bast*rd’ to our hearts’ content, all with my parents’ consent.

But my own kids are teenagers now and swearing still isn’t really a thing in our house. Not that I’m saying it should be a thing, but it is definitely something to consider. As parents, we all have what we consider to be acceptable behaviour and swearing (or not swearing) is a part of that.

Now the kids are older, I say ‘bloody’ and ‘bugger’ at home. Not a lot, but I do say them. I don’t say anything worse.

I am aware that my eldest uses the ‘f’ word outside the house, because my daughter has told me he does! That’s fine with me. He’s an adult and it’s his choice, as long as he doesn’t offend anyone. I don’t want to hear him say it at home though. I don’t know if my younger son says it and I’m 99.99% certain my daughter doesn’t say it.

At home recently, they have been known to use words like ‘prick’, ‘dickhead’ and ‘arsehole’ – usually at each other in anger – and sometimes when describing each other. I let that sort of thing go. I think they are old enough to use that language.

I know they have friends who tell their parents to ‘f*ck off’ and their parents will say it back to them. That doesn’t sit well with me and I couldn’t imagine saying it to my kids in either anger or jest. But we all make our own choices about what is acceptable.

Do you let your kids swear at home?

This post was inspired by my friend Natalie aka Plutonium Sox and this post about her 7-year-old.

Swearing, Teenagers and swearing, Teenagers, Parenting, Teenagers and swearing - the rights and wrongs

Photo by Harry Grout on Unsplash

Author: Sarah Mummy

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21 Comments

  1. I don’t swear in front of my kids (or my parents!) and they are a bit young to swear themselves.

    However they are very well-versed in swearing following the play my daughter was in this summer – one of her entrance cue lines was “once a c***, always a c***”.

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    • That is hilarious! I must admit I would be cringing at my daughter hearing that word, although I have no problem with her hearing the f word on TV or films.

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  2. Bit of a hard one. I confess to being a bit hypocritical. I swear sometimes when annoyed and then give out to the kids off for swearing!

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    • That is difficult! I must say I’m pretty proud of myself for never swearing at home, and it has set a good example for the kids.

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  3. I feel very similarly to you! I also grew up hearing the two ‘b’ words on a regular basis, but nothing worse, and (largely) choose when to swear or not now. I imagine, once my daughter is older, I will tolerate this level of swearing, though not sure I’d like to hear the f* word! coming out of her mouth!

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    • Too right! It sounds like we are very much of the same opinion on this. I don’t want to hear any of my kids say the f word, even though I appreciate that they will say it outside home.

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  4. I have got more chilled about swearing as the kids have got older, and Morgan will say the odd swear word when he’s having a conversation with us. Funnily enough I have never heard him swear to his mates when he has been on his PlayStation, and I guess that’s down to us not allowing swearing in the house when they were younger. But yes, I have chilled out now he is 17, and I personally love a good old FFS sometimes !! x

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    • It’s definitely good to chill out about it when the kids get older. I remember FFS being my favourite phrase when I worked at McDonalds way back in the day – always about customers and not always when their backs were turned! In my defence, they would traF me like sh*t and I was earning little more than £3 an hour, which is not enough money for that sort of nonsense!

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  5. You are the sweariest person I know!!

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    • Ha ha, I thought about you as I was writing it! You would be surprised (or disappointed) at how little I swear now! X

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  6. There is an odd time I full on f word swear in front of my girls. Oops but it’s once in a blue moon. I do love to swear though especially if I am angry. It’s great to let of steam.
    My favourite words in front of the kids is bloody and bugger but nothing more. I learned to swear from my friends but was never allowed to swear in front of my parents and still don’t.
    I know my girls swear but not in front of me or their dad. I have overhead them shouting f off to each other. The little madams!

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    • Swearing is great for letting off steam! I’ve never actually heard any of my kids say the f word, which is quite impressive I think! X

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  7. Great post Sarah and thanks for the mention! It’s really interesting to hear how you’re dealing with it as your children get older. I’ve been putting a lot of thought into it recently as you know. There are so many worse things children could be doing than swearing, I hope I’ll be chilled enough not to get worked up about it when the girls are old enough to start swearing a bit. I actually wouldn’t want them reaching adulthood without the ability to tell someone to f off where necessary, it can be empowering.
    Nat.x

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    • Absolutely that! You don’t want to hear tiny children swearing, but there is definitely a time and a place for it for teenagers and adults. X

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  8. This is a great post and it’s really interesting to see how different people react to swearing in the home! Personally, I agree with you (even though I don’t really swear myself) and I couldn’t imagine using words like that in front of my parents!

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    • Thanks very much. Looking back, it seems strange how accepting my middle class parents were of swearing in the late 80s and the 90s. But we knew there was a line a d we wouldn’t cross it!

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  9. Ohhhhhh I can swear like a fisherman’s wife at the best of times, especially when driving. However, even now at the ripe old age of… (let’s just say I’m mid 30’s), I still will not swear in front of my mother. The ability to bite my tongue and not exclaim a profanity has been learned well over the years! Sim x

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    • It’s amazing how so many of us have the ability to switch swearing on and off. Driving is definitely a good time for swearing, but I only do it if I’m on my own!

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  10. Neither Robert and I swear in front of the kids and I know Robert doesn’t in front of the kids at football either. It is a personal preference and I never heard my mum swear either. The kids have asked what certain words mean, which I tell them, but I won’t tolerate them using them x

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  11. Interesting post and I have to admit that I have one who swears a lot. Because of his anxiety, he swears when he is stressed and now I have to let it go to a certain extent as he can’t help it. The others don’t swear, I know R does with his friends but he doesn’t around us. It is a tricky one as they are growing up, but I would prefer not to hear it. We encourage the use of soundalikes such as “fudge” and “feck”

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    • I think in your situation, I would let it go too. There are definitely worse things in the world than swearing. It’s good that R only does it with his friends though. I’m a big fan of the word ‘flip’!

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