Friday, December 05, 2008

Is This a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

So, last night, we're all gathered downstairs and we're getting ready to play "Apples to Apples". This is a fun family card/word game. But Jacob is freaking out. He's literally screaming. He doesn't want to play this game. We try to convince him, because he's had a great time playing it before.

Finally we get him calmed enough to tell us why he doesn't want to play it.

"It has a swear word in it!" He says through his tears.

Jodi and I look at each other. We can't remember any word on any of the cards that can be construed as a swear word. We tell him it's OK.

"NO! NO! It has SWEARING!"

Finally, we get him calmed down, and in the end we have a great time playing a completely cuss-word-free game.

But that experience kinda haunted me. I got to wondering if my son's reaction to swearing is good or bad. His brother does it, too. He'll shut off the TV sometimes if he hears a word that he thinks is "bad" or if it's "too violent". And frankly, his threshold for both is pretty low. "Stupid" is a swear word in their book.

On the one hand, I think it's great that they want to keep clean and pure. I want to applaud that. On the other hand, if they go on screaming crusades everytime someone around them lets loose a string of colorful language, they're going to live very lonely lives.

What's a parent to do? It's just so *%^$#!! confusing...

Mark Hansen


  1. It is an interesting situation... As you say, on the one hand it's very commendable, but it's also to the extreme. My sister-in-law told me recently about one of her friend's kids who was so concerned about modesty to the extreme that a doctor couldn't look at her without her screaming. And she is a teenager... So there was some concern about how her wedding night would go, etc.

    I think people in general (not just kids) can tend to take things to extremes when some level of importance is emphasized. Of course, we emphasize modesty and good language to our kids, and that is re-emphasized by their church leaders... so how to temper that enough to where the hard lines are clear, but other situations that are necessary or not a big deal are tolerated?

    My girls used to have to say "stupid isn't a nice word!" whenever they'd hear it in a movie or when someone would say it... Now, they still know that it's not a nice word, and they don't use it themselves, which is great, but they don't have to make an issue of it every time. It's all part of their learning and growing process to learn things like "tact", I suppose. You just hope that it doesn't change again (like when they're teenagers) to the point that they're comfortable saying things like that, or worse. But as long as their inner dialogue is still telling them that "stupid isn't a nice word" and that is being reinforced by our teachings and example, then they might be alright.

    I'm glad you were able to play the game and have fun, though. Say "hi" to Jacob for me.

  2. Yeah, there are some things that in the interest of peaceful interaction with the rest of the world we have to just learn to "tolerate", even though we try not to do it ourselves.

    It's interesting where to draw the line.

  3. It sounds like your boys have ". . . not of the world" settled, but they're still working on "in the world."

    I would say that as a stage they are going through its fine, but if you were to brush it off as acceptable behavior you would be dooming them to a life of dysfunction and misunderstanding with others around them.

    We go through the same thing with our kids, teaching them about words we don't say but also having to teach them about how to react when they are exposed to language or actions that we disagree with.



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