Is it ok to swear at your kid?

Whenever I hear mothers swear at their kids, I just want to scoop up their children and rescue them. My roommate just said to her 4-year-old "what the fuck are you doing, you idiot?" after she accidentally squirted her with the hose. It took absolutely everything in my power not to tell her to stop speaking like that. She also tells her kid to "shut up" in a really stern voice, which just makes me cringe. If you want to tell your kid to shut up, can't you just tell them to "zip it". Heck, even "shut your pie hole" sounds nicer because it at least sounds a little humorous. I know she loves her kid, but is this really an acceptable way to speak to her children?

Is It OK To?
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  • No, never ok.

    Yes, parenting is frustrating. Yes, parents are only human.

    But they are the adult in the situation and it is their responsibility to hold their shit together.

    I've called kids little shits...in my head. Never to their faces. They're just kids. Any anger and frustration is MY issue to deal with, not theirs. I've lost my temper and snapped a handful of times, because I'm human. But without fail, I have apologised, made it very clear that I had no right to do that, that they deserve the same respect I expect for them, and that it was because *I* am having a bad day, it's not because they are bad.

    Kids are impressionable. They internalise this shit. So many people shouldn't be parents.

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    • Totally agree with everything you say here, Charli.

      Picking up on the "bad" comment: It seems to me that when kids annoy you - and every kid will be annoying at least now and then - it's important to make it clear that it's a specific behaviour that you find annoying and "bad", not the kid themselves. It's the old "give a dog a bad name" thing: if a parent repeatedly calls a kid bad, it's very possible that the kid will begin to strive to live up to the title. As you say, kids internalise, and they can pick up on very subtle hints about what the adults in their lives really think about them.

      I don't believe that all adults who behave in anti-social ways are the product of poor parenting. Some kids are born with wonky wiring or something neurochemical or neurological goes wrong as they grow up. But I'm sure that the majority of adults who are challenging or impossible to live with are the products of a couple decades of living with parents with poor or non-existent parenting skills.

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      • Very much. Children inately desire the approval of their parents or other loved ones. Well, humans in general, but adults should have learned the skills to be able to discern the difference. Children are unable to differentiate between you bring mad at *them* and being mad in general. They just assume it's their fault. That guilt is an awful thing to place on a child.

        Whenever I reprimand a child (and it sometimes needs to be done), I tell them what behaviour I'm disappointed by. They usually know the consequence before they've done it, because they've received a warning. Any time out is followed by a calm discussion, reassurance that I love them, and a way to deal with the situation next time it arises - ie, how they can differently express their negative emotion rather than screaming or hitting or whatever.

        For sure. Nature v nurture, etc. Same as not all kids raised by fucked up parents wind up fucked up themselves. There are many factors at play. I cbf to look up my child psych books or google, though.

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  • These are usually the same parents who end up bitching about how their teenage kids having no respect for them. Somehow, they don't understand that if you habitually treat a person disrespectfully, they end up having no respect for you.

    I'd never use that sort of language when speaking to my daughter, and neither would my wife. We wouldn't even use the alternatives you mention. When we want her to be quiet for some reason, we ask her politely and always explain why, and we use the same approach every time we want her to do anything.

    While I understand your empathy for the kid, I'd suggest you try to avoid getting involved unless there's actual physical violence. Some parents have very poor interpersonal skills and their kids have to learn how to deal with that. It seems to me that the best thing you can do is model a more positive adult-child relationship by treating the kid with more respect.

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  • It isn't. Only trash scum parents do this.

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  • Poor people yell at kids because they have no leverage. They have to double up on the punishment since there are no privileges to take away. You can be sure the kid is getting a beating behind closed doors.

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  • This is a huge NO! No parent should ever swear in front of their child or at their child, it repulses me to the core. And then when those kids end up swearing them, they will only have themselves to blame! When my parents would argue, they would constantly swear each other, and occasionally one or two swear words would be thrown my way. Parents don't understand the anxiety they cause their children by not controlling their emotions. Now whenever someone swears in a certain manner I feel annoyed as hell because it reminds me of those times.

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  • I found it hard to cope yesterday when a kid aged about 6 bumped a table I had my coffee on and some spilt on the (washable surfaced) table. She kept berating him and made him come and apologise to me and he looked so scared I wanted to hug him, but just said something like "That's OK, I know it was an accident and look, it's all cleaned up now and I'm glad it didn't get on you because it was hot." His mother glared at me, I assume because I wasn't being tough on him, but he did look a bit happier after I spoke to him. I felt it was a huge over reaction on her part, the kid was just hiding under the table from another kid and didn't even know the coffee was there.

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  • That kid's gonna grow up with some problems.

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  • I think it's normal to an extent... My dad would get really pissed at me whenever I did something stupid as a kid and yell all kinds of nonsense. But he does love me and has been my hero. He was also a military man, so discipline and firmness was to be expected. And I think I turned out just fine. Now as an adult, I truly understand how much my parents loved me and everything they did was for my best. I believe if someone fucks up, they need to be told firmly that they have made a mistake. My mom was the opposite, she would never yell, or even punish me. She'd just tell me whatever I did wrong was wrong and leave it at that... She is a wonderful, loving mother, but terrible at discipline.

    Forget about all that cushy nonsense, even children need to learn from their mistakes. Having your kid smear butter over something and going "Awwww, it's ok sweetie, momma's got it, you go and play, but please, maybe if you could possibly, if you want, not do this again in the future please?" is just idiotic! If children go unpunished, they grow up to be assholes with no respect for anyone.

    Then again, if you constantly shout at your kid, telling them how stupid they are and everything they do is wrong, that will scar them for life and turn them info betas with no self esteem. Human sponges basically...

    There needs to be a line, but I believe a bit of firmness and anger is the right way.

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  • My parents are constantly swearing, and they've been doing this for as long as I can remember.

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  • Today, unfortunately, it is the new norm. We live in a society who fully believes they can say or act in any manner thst they want because it is their right. Common courtesy and just being a good person is slowly fading from the norm. People judt dont care about others anymore, nor do they even pretend to.

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  • I feel the same as you. I just can’t stand when parents treat their kids poorly. Doesn’t sound like she abusing her kid, per se. So, you’re best off staying out of it. She is probably scaring him/her, though. Anyone can tell you, people remember certain times they were treated bad as a kid. Not just recall it, but remember like it was yesterday.

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  • Kids will follow the example they are given.
    Walmart mom's irritate the hell out of me.
    They yell, nag, curse, threaten.
    Then wonder why their kids do the same.
    Parenting is never easy.

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