Written by: Preston Chapin Soriano
DISCLAIMER: If you are easily offended, this post is not for you. Instead, here is a video of puppies playing in a ball pit. If puppies upset your delicate sensibilities, then I ask what are you doing on the internet?? Go seek counseling NOW.
Language is by far the single most important thing that a child is taught. It means everything, literally. When your explaining a situation, describing a thing, or telling a story the wording that you use is vital to painting the most accurate picture that you can. Say you are describing a thing, you can use the word big, large, giant, enormous, mountainous. Each of these words are synonyms meaning roughly the same thing, but each word causes the reader/listener to visualize a different size in their mind. Precise speaking will not only help with book reports and essays, it will also keep the doors open for healthy and honest communication between yourself and your family, friends, co-workers, and peers.
Generally speaking, every word that you say—while holding some kind of social value—will ultimately not be toxic to say. Your tongue won’t fall out, your lips won’t fall off, your head will not implode. Separately, they are simply words. They hold no moral or immoral value. So, when your child hears and repeats words that stroke the sudden and uncomfortable anxieties that social stigmas have deems “inappropriate”, what do you do? Do you lash out at the child who has not yet learned about the appropriate usage for such words? Laugh, but tell the child not to repeat that again? Or do you get angry because they are just not old enough to magically unlock the vault for a small portion of the English language?
Yes, I am talking about swear words.
The words themselves are not bad, but how you use them. Profanity, among other forms of aggressive language, can be abusive. When discussing the thoughtless antic of someone with a friend, they are likely to laugh along with you. However when speaking to your boss with the same verbiage, you are very unlikely to get the same results. We curb our speech depending on who we are talking with, and it is important to understand that you can teach your children this.
A child that grows up with the taboo of profanity is more likely to become a potty mouth as a teenager and adult. This is the same thing with other issues that parents try to shield their children from such as drugs, alcohol, and sex. Abstinence taught in any sense (“Don’t do this, don’t do that”) has statistically been proven to increase the rates of the thing that is being taught against, or in most cases not taught at all. When your child is old enough to be rationed with, studies show that age is around the seventh year, explain to them about the appropriate use of language. Teach them everything you’ve learned over the years yourself, like examine first who they are speaking to. Teach them that respect should be given if they want it to ever have it reciprocated. Simply ask them to refrain from using the language until they are an adult, that you don’t want to punish them for using it (because they will use it) but you won’t like it if they do. Children want to please their parents. Like everything in life, you must set a strong foundation for anything of value to be built upon it.
Everyone should be using profanity intelligently. If a five second story turns into a forty second story because you’re using ad hominems as filler, chances are you are doing it wrong. If you’re trying to warn of danger, the few seconds that you add to your sentence could really mean life or death. Profanity is not bad or evil, but it should be used pragmatically when time avails for it and you’re using the appropriate amount of emphasis, because that is really all profanity is good for. Emphasis. Saying “This guy is a jerk” sends a different message than “This guy is an f***ing jerk” in the same way that “big”, “large”, “mountainous” convey different verbal imagery.
We as human beings should always strive to be as precise and accurate with our language as we possibly can, growing and evolving over time in much the way that languages do. Our conceptualization through communication, after all, is what sets us apart from the rest of the (known) species. If we cannot accurately and effectively communicate with one another, we cannot share ideas and grow as a society. The restrictions of language become the death of language, and as a species we will wither and stunt our growth. Our children will forever be dwarfed intellectually. So let us remove social restrictions, and teach instead how to communicate.
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