“Oh shit!” I exclaim, as I realise in my hurry out the door that I have forgotten to pack my daughter’s lunchbox in her school bag.
It is probably one of my most commonly used phrases when in a panicked state, along with a range of other expletives that fly out of my mouth when I am hurrying, have hurt myself, experienced some sort of shock or sometimes because I am just so damn excited. For a while I felt like a horrible parent for being a mum that drops these words regularly but now I just say, “who bloody hell cares?”
When I was pregnant with my first child I used to remark, “I’m going to have to work on my swearing before she’s born or her first word will be something it shouldn’t”. And I did try, I really did. But like any long formed habit, it was well and truly ingrained in my psyche and unless I went to some sort of swearing rehab, I just didn’t think this habit was going away anytime fast.
So instead of being hard on myself about it, I embraced it. It was a part of me, the way I communicate and the person I am. But a few disclaimers I’d like to put forward before judgement is passed upon me.
Firstly, I don’t want my children to be ‘gutter mouths’ and by no means do I encourage them to swear. I’d also like to say that although in reaction to something I do let some slip, I am also not a gutter mouth who has a limited vocabulary or an understanding of what is socially and professionally appropriate language. I do hold a professional job in (ironically some might say) communication.
But as science has proven, swearing is actually beneficial for you in numerous ways and with that fact in the forefront of my mind I will continue to use these words where I see fit. Recently a scientist, Doctor Emma Byrne released a book entitled ‘Swearing is Good For You’. Within it she examines research (scientific research) that shows the benefits of swearing and how it has actually been in existence since the earliest humans began to communicate many years ago.
Emma details that swearing can in fact: reduce physical pain, lower anxiety, help prevent physical violence, help trauma victims recover language, and it also can promote human cooperation and team work. Who the F am I to argue with scientific research?
For me, swearing does 100 per cent reduce my anxiety and stress. If I couldn’t let some ‘bad’ words out when I felt these feelings, I would hate to guess what other habits I may have or other reactions I may display in front of my children. And now I have a doctor who supports this benefit with actual scientific evidence. Woo-the-F-hoo.
Watch: Here's what to do if your kid swears in public.
Dr Byrne argues that ‘swearing education’ should be from parents rather than peers, so in other words, they should hear it from us first because we can moderate it, explain it and have an actual conversation about why people swear and when and if it is appropriate.
This has been a conversation in our house after one of my ‘reactions’ and it was a pretty simple one; something along the lines of, “Don’t say what Mum just said, that is not a good word.” And with the obliquity “Why?” that comes from a four-year-old, I replied, “Because there are many other words you can use in instead and some people don’t like those words, especially at school.” Simple? Yes. Basic? Yes. Understood? Yes.
And so far (touch wood) I haven’t actually ever heard either of my two girls say an expletive or really take much notice of the ones I have just yelled out. This may be pure coincidence (or possibly over exposure) but I also believe it is because my husband and I don’t make a big deal of swearing as a part of our language.
If they didn’t hear it from us they’d no doubt hear it at school, on the TV or even as we passed someone at the shop and possibly in a far worse context. It is everywhere and although it is tainted with the ‘bad’ brush, in reality (in most cases) it is pretty normal and like anything, in moderation (and in the right time and place) it is really not that bad.
So to all the swearing parents out there, it’s all going to be f**king okay!
Do you swear in front of your kids? Tell us in the comments section below.