Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Language Standards

Its eye-opening to hear ugly words parroted by your preschooler. The first time I realized I needed to change some of my language choices was when Karate Kid was just this side of two and began cursing up a toddler storm while attempting to plant a marigold plant that was not cooperating. Thankfully, once I cleaned up my own vocabulary, hers followed suit. It could have been much more mortifying, I'm sure.

For me, cleaning up my language has been a work in progress. Having left my faith in my younger years, I picked up some very ugly habits that I truly wish I hadn't. I am horribly guilty of slipping, now and again. When I do, I hear it from my teens, but I think they would agree I am improving still, although not perfect.

As our children have gotten older, we've had to battle the influence of their friends and the words their friends are allowed to use. We felt it was important to draw a distinct line between what we feel is appropriate language usage and what was inappropriate, regardless of what their friends said. As far as we know, our teens have respected our standards, at least in our hearing.

I have a wonderful friend whose definition of vile cursing is completely different from my definition of vile cursing. I'm amazed at how she was able to maintain such a high standard in her home. All three of her children are teens and absolutely will not use the words "stupid", "dumb", "butt", "suck" (as in that totally sucks!), or "hate". Quite honestly, I admire her for having such high standards. I've been embarrassed on occasion and have had to apologize for one of my own children (Lil' Wingnut) using "curse" words in front of this family.

I suppose what I'm getting at, in this somewhat meandering post, is that we need to have standards in our families. We also need to recognize that other families may have different expectations than ours and that we need to be sensitive (within reason) to one family's ideals while being tolerant (within reason) of another family's apparently lower standards.
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Party of Nine said...

I was just thinking of this, too! Last night Ryan and I were watching a show that airs on HBO, where every other word was vulgar. Ev was laying with us, and started repeating. Hopefully he hasn't repeated it today...yet. Speaking of vulgar language, I tend to let slip some angry words when I've had it up to here. I know I didn't get that from my mom. I don't remember my mom every saying such things (my dad on the other hand...) On another note, I heard Rayzor teaching Ev the alphabet the other day "A B C butts, D E F butts..." I just had to laugh at that one.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mau,

I have standards when it comes to the words that come out of my mouth...they aren't high standards but standards. Stupid, dumb, butt (insert Lil' Wingster laughter here), and suck are words that don't come out of my mouth unless it is absolutely necessary (must be very necessary because they are used daily by me). But I don't use them towards everyone and everything just those things that are worthy of such articulation. Patrick from the cartoon on Nickelodeon calls them sentence enhancers...and that his tongue tickles everytime he says them. I don't know about the tongue tickling part butt I do know they add a certain vabratto to whatever or whomever is providing to be a challenge. Think of when the car won't start... "This car is making me angry" Just doesn't do it...now if my car is actually acting up I might use more salty verbage than what I am about to use but this is a family friendly blog with great recipes and my point can still be made with the words provided. I always feel a whole lot better if when my car is acting up I say... "This st#@*d car why is it being so d@#b and such a pain in the b%*t (insert Lil' Wingster laughter here) it really s%#ks having to deal with this st*&%d car!" Now doesn't saying that make you feel so much better. It still doesn't tickle my tongue!

Love ya Mau,


Maia said...

Thank you for posting this! I grew up in a family that held standards like your friend's. As my faith became less important to me in my college years, I picked up my own ugly habits that have been a work in progress to clean up.
Add to this that my husband grew up in a family that was more mainstream AND that we differ on religion. SO far only my toddler is talking and no bad words yet (except for the fact that several of his words SOUND like bad words). But I know that we will be dealing with this issue as the years go by. So while I'll keep aiming for standards, I know that there will be days when I apologize in embarrassment and days when I pray that people will have understanding for our apparently lower standards.
Thanks for writing a post that put this in perspective!

Maurisa said...

P of 9--when I have had it up to here and begin to let the four letter words fly I know it has definitely been too long since confession :) I am getting much better. Most of my bad language is muttered under my breath at the stupid drivers around here. LOL!

Brother of Mine--if I weren't laughing so hard, I'd wash your mouth out with soap!

Maia--thanks, I'm not even sure what inspired this post. I was just thinking about it while out running today.