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My Kids Do Not Swear! (And I Judge the Parents of Kids Who Do)

Of course my kids don't not swear. What kind of parent would let their child utter profanities? Avoidance is perfectly possible. All you need is a bit of self-discipline or failing that, a big dose of creativity and a great poker face. Here's how I do it in three easy steps.
10/27/2015 12:28pm ET | Updated October 26, 2016
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Of course my kids don't not swear. What kind of parent would let their child utter profanities? Avoidance is perfectly possible. All you need is a bit of self-discipline or failing that, a big dose of creativity and a great poker face. Here's how I do it in three easy steps.

1. Don't swear in the first place

It really is preferable to not use bad language in the first place but I'm no Mary Poppins and my spoonful of sugar tends to be a bit more based on the philosophy that if you're not willing to take medicine then you're probably not that ill and should therefore clean your room. Ah good boy, yes you can sit on the sofa and watch a movie now you've swallowed it nicely.

So let's be clear, not swearing just isn't happening around here. So instead I inform my husband that he can French Connection himself. Quality parenting with a nod to '90s fashion, oh yeah!

Now we have my stepchildren on Thursdays so I can quite cheerfully refer to seeing them next Thursday as a family adaptation to See You Next Tuesday (C U Next Tuesday -- I'm sure you can work it out if you don't already know this one). I really do think it's important to create little rituals and stories around your family's set up. Now please don't start worrying that I refer to my stepchildren as c**ts. It's probably just the cat who just tripped me up for the tenth time that hour. Or my husband again. Or the f**king dishwasher not turning on despite me pressing the button and hearing the damn click that signifies it has started.

2. Clarify what you said

Now it's not always possible to avoid saying bad words but with a bit of damage limitation you can develop a delightful family vocabulary. Some friends of my mum seemed perturbed when my toddler sighed in exasperation at his toy before shouting at it. I explained that sometimes we express crossness like the fox.

Is it not obvious? Foxes are rather naughty what with the chicken killing and all that. Now and then when we are being a bit naughty we might embrace our inner fox and speak out like it. Hence, "fox says." I'm pretty unimpressed that you thought he was saying "f**ks sake." What kind of mother do you take me for? I encourage my child to share his feelings by the means of animal identification and hold no truck with your stifle them approach. More coffee anyone?

In a similar vein we have things being "ship" on those days that all is chaotic and stormy. There have been days where I've wanted to just scream but have been comforted by my toddler patting my hand and saying things are just a little ship. Thank kiddo, you are wonderfully empathetic. My emotions are up and down as though on a wave and you have recognised that.

3. Make this a family game

I'm a lot of things but I'm not a hypocrite and with my eldest stepson aged ten the game is pretty much up with him. Or at least it would be if I was willing to let that happen. He can mutter at me, I'll look at him with a raised eyebrow and he then says exactly what I wanted to hear the first time. Then I smile.

So committed am I to the fact that my kids do not swear that I'm happy to appreciate that sometimes I myself mishear what people say. To date, my eldest stepson has mostly had to clarify that he wasn't muttering at me but I'm getting older and I'm sure that over the coming years I'm going to catch myself mishearing more and more.

So there you have it. My kids don't swear. If yours do then you should be trying harder!