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My daughter was having a playdate the other day when she yelled, “Dad, crap; is a bad word, right?”  My mind started doing calculations. I immediately seized on the way the question was asked. It was apparent she was looking for confirmation that “crap” was a bad word. I didn’t remember dictating that word was banned in our house, so I’m guessing my wife did. So, I wanted to back my wife up, but I could hear my daughter’s friend pleading her case, that in her world, “crap” was not a word she would get punished for. I did some mental gymnastics and  decided I didn’t want my kid to get a reputation as that “snooty, always correcting other kids, goody two shoes girl”. Plus, I didn’t want to plant my moral flag in “crap”.  So, I did what all good dads do, I punted. “Well, sweetie, it depends on how the word is used. Plus, each family has their own rules on what words are acceptable and what aren’t.” She was out about 5 words in and she and her friend were onto something else. When all else fails, give a long explanation and they will get bored and move on.

Words are weird. Each family has their own list of forbidden words. Basically, everyone agrees on the big curse words. However; there are a whole slew of words that are really hard to explain why they are accepted or rejected. Take the words and phrases for passing gas. In one home, FART is a go. A different family would punish a child for using the word FART and would insist on using “TOOT”. 

Then there are various words for a person’s backside. Some parents are cool with “butt” and others want kids to say ‘bum” or ”bottom”.

In some homes the parents can curse like sailors, but the kids can’t. There are families who believe the kids can drop “F” bombs. 

I have zero judgement on what words families decide to use (unless, of course, the words are hateful). I explain to my kids that each family, school, workplace, is different. 

A much better list of cursing rules was written by Meghan Moravcik Walbert in a Lifehacker article. 

The Three Part Rule For Kids And Cursing

  1. You shouldn’t curse around adults until you are an adult.
  2. You shouldn’t curse around kids younger than you. 
  3. Don’t use these words to be mean. (See above rule for using swear words to express emotion, not to be insulting.)

Read the full article