“Mama, what the ‘BLEEP’ was that?”
The first time I heard my daughter drop an F-bomb, she had just turned two, and we were sitting in a crowded waiting room at the doctor’s office. While my immediate reaction was to gasp and horror, my husband just chuckled and made the very rhetorical comment “I wonder where she learned that…”
“She must have heard it on TV!” I fired back, a bit too defensive. My husband raised his eyebrows and gave me a quizzical look. Truth be told, unless Mickey Mouse has started swearing like a sailor on his cartoon show, I’m fairly certain my daughter did not learn that word on television, let alone, how to use it properly… She learned it from me, her dignified, refined, sophisticated mother.
As a parent, I’m always trying to set a good example for my children. Whether it’s how I interact with other people, how I talk about myself and my husband, or what I’m eating at meal time. I know my children are always watching and always learning. Which means they’re also going to pick up my bad habits, one of which just happens to be my penchant for swearing. And I know it’s hypocritical for me to correct to my daughter for using certain words that I use every day, but I correct her anyway. Not only do I not want her using them around me, I don’t want to get that phone call from her teacher saying she taught her entire preschool class a colorful collection of bad language and profanity.
To my credit, my language has certainly improved since my children arrived. As an educated professional, obviously I can come up with alternative ways to express myself. Part of being a parent is censoring your language, not just the content but the actual words themselves. However, it isn’t just the swearing that sometime catches me off guard and makes me wonder just what my children are picking up on. At the end of a long day, my daughter will routinely ask me if I need a glass of “mama wine”. Ironically, she’s often absolutely right about that one… When I go grocery shopping with my son, as we’re walking down the beverage isle he regularly starts shouting “Dada Beer! Dada Beer!” So from the outside looking in, my children appreciate adult beverages and are well on their way to being cast in a rated R movie.
Have your young children picked up on any of your bad habits and displayed them in inappropriate situations? How do you react? What’s the appropriate way to respond when you’re sitting in a crowded, silent church, your daughter drops her bag of Cheerios and loudly exclaims “Ah ‘BLEEP’!”?
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