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When Did Cussing Become Casual

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Everyone remembers the first time his or her toddlersaid a cuss word. The parents were wide eyed, may have chuckled to each other,but reprimanded their child never to use that word again. Many times grandmasand grandpas were given a warning, as were aunts and uncles to be aware oftheir language around the children. This still holds true in many families, butthere is research to support that swearing, cussing and profanity is on therise within the public domain. Experts who have studied this phenomenon haveexplained that just as TV violence is acted out with three year olds who watchit, swearing is the same. When kids hear cussing on the television, in theirmusic or among the adults they live with they begin using it more openly andfrequently.


Swearing is on the rise among women as well. Arecent survey showed that 45% of women swear and cuss daily. In the 1970's, menout swore women two to one. Swearing for women was deemed unladylike, andperhaps now swearing may be an effort for women to equalize with men or aneffort for them to relieve stress. Ironically, studies have also shown thatwomen are more offended by swearing when they hear it than men.


I don't watch TV often, but when I do I am appalledat the language used especially early in the evening. I remember a time whenthe word "Hell" or "damn" were bad, but now they are using S words, F words, Bwords and no word that gets a rating is too far. If you are an adult, that isone thing. You can flip the channel, but if you are a child it's quite another.Eight, nine, and twelve year olds are trying to achieve one thing. They aretrying to grow up and become a teenager. If cussing and cursing help themachieve that then it will become part of their repertoire. It is no wonder whenI am working with a mother and her child and the child is upset, the child willuse cursing directed at their mom in order to get their point across. I canalso determine how comfortable swearing has become in the home by watchingmom's reaction. If she gets big eyed and takes a hold of the situation, itusually means it doesn't happen often, but if she allows it, and has littlereaction, it more likely signals that it is common in the home.


If swearing has become endemic, what is a parent todo? If your child is surrounded by other children who swear and cuss as freelyand easily as they use an expanded vocabulary, how can you prevent your childfrom using the same words? If you have noticed yourself swearing more and more,how do you stop? These are questions that are commonly asked by parents,teachers, and other concerned adults. Below are a few suggestions that may help.



  1. Unless you practice learning new words and using them, in times of stressor laziness you will return to your old vocabulary.
  2. If swearing becomes commonplace in your family, then the best place tobegin is making your home and car a no swear zone. You can expand the zone, butof course to monitor it means you have to be there.
  3. Have a curse jar for yourself and your family. Any time you, your spouseor child swear, whoever cussed puts one dollar in the curse jar. The money cango toward a charity or any other creative mission that will help others.
  4. For couples an effective way to minimize swearing is for them to developan exercise plan or a chore plan. When one of the partners swears they do tencrunches or cleans the toilets. Of course both partners have to want to stopthe behavior for this plan to be effective.  


Swearing and profanity are the things thatcontribute to the definition of a society. Profanity expert Timothy Jay pointsout movies such as the "Little Fockers" and Cee Lo Greens's "Forget You." Hementions that everyone knows what this movie and song are really saying.Profanity is not just in media.  Itresides in high-level politics with Mr. Biden using variations of the F word atofficial Washington events. For the most part, whether we say it's no big deal,it really is a big deal. We are more stressed, and unless we are careful withwhat comes out of our mouths or what we type into a computer or text, we canhurt others beyond repair. It also speaks loudly of us as parents, mentors andleaders of our homes, churches, schools, communities, and country. I grew up ina bi-lingual home and knew swear words from other languages. One thing remainsprevalent, knowing swear words is different than choosing to use them. Allswearing begins in the home, as does the acceptance of them in our ownvocabulary and media streaming in. If you want your children not to swear,model an expanded vocabulary for them, so they have many words to choose fromprior to saying $h&^% and demand they not use cuss words in your home.–Mary Jo Rapini


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