Society for far too long has taught us how to behave and whom to love, and some of this is rooted in colonial discourses, but one thing I never understood is why children aren’t allowed to swear. I swear like a truck driver, and I am also a college professor who studies language and the purpose of insults and swearing.
Swearing is a taboo in the society we live in and is a way to restrict our speech, but it is something that most of us do unabashedly. I have made the conscious and well-thought-out decision to allow my kids to swear because they’ll grow up doing it. So, without further ado, let’s learn more about why you should let your kids swear.
Scientific benefits of swearing
According to studies, people who swear are more truthful than those who make a conscious decision to do so. According to Emma Byrne’s 2018 book Swearing is Good For You, she says that swearing has been shown to relieve pain and build further pain tolerance.
In another of her study, Byrne conducted a study on pain and swearing and had 67 undergraduates dunk their hands in ice water and leaven them there for as long as they could. She found that those who swore like sailors were able to withstand the freezing temperature 50% longer than those who didn’t swear. According to linguistic, foul words are also a sign of intelligence and aren’t a sign that you have a limited vocabulary. Instead, this is a myth constructed in linguistic snobbery. Jay and a team of linguistic argue that:
“It’s a cultural stereotype. But the more I became sophisticated in language studies, the more I realized that every language scholar knows that’s not true.”
So, this is one of the many reasons why you should let your kids swear, and as someone who studies language and insults to earn a living, it makes sense to let my kids swear.
Children who swear at home won’t swear in public.
Most of us speak differently at home and in our workplace, and our language is context and people-dependent. Linguists have found that children too modify their language according to their context. Because believe me, if I could drop the F-bomb in my workplace, I would do so every day, but I have to censor myself because I have to be professional in my workplace, and this works the same for children too. If you allow them to swear at home, then they won’t swear in public places as they know it isn’t the place to do so.
Children learn from the world we live in, and they are shaped by the space they inhabit, and so is their language. You should teach your kids about context, tell them that they are allowed to swear at home but not at school because they are sent to learn at school and shouldn’t say such words there. You are covertly teaching them to style shift on their context, and this will come in handy when they become full-fledged adults.
I want to make sure that we have an open-door policy.
I believe that every word has an appropriate use; while I won’t let my kids use racial epithets and homophobic slurs, I will allow them to swear, they will only be able to use certain slurs depending on their gender identity, race, and sexual orientation (because I’m going to adopt). For far too long has there been a rift between parents and children, and I don’t want this type of relationship with my future kids because this is not how I treat my college students.
I believe that you should have a friendly relationship with them as this builds trust. I will also show my kids the power of words and rather make them realize that they shouldn’t use words against them, nor should they do so against others. My grandma, who is my hero, always said it’s not what you’re called but rather what you respond to. It is a way to know that we aren’t living in a rainbow world and people will try to hurt us, but we need to know the power of words and know that they’ll never be able to hurt us.
This is why I think that kids should be allowed to swear. By desacralizing swear words, we are teaching them that they are actual humans and are allowed to be whoever they want, and we shouldn’t restrict them or their speech. Sound off in the comments section below and tell us if you allow your kids to swear and why you think this is a good idea or not.