Stupid Bad Guys

Yesterday I was joking with MCB giving her a hard time arguing about the sizing of coffees at our local coffee shop. Roozle was listening to The Lorax on CD and she says,

“It’s okay to be mad, Mommy. Really, it is. It’s okay to be mad but it’s not okay to say not nice things when you’re mad. That’s true. It is.”

I thought she was giving me a hard time for giving MCB a hard time. Which is hilarious and happens a lot. We laughed. A lot. And of course I immediately put it on twitter.

Then a few minutes later:
“Sometimes bad guys are stupid bad guys.”

Uh oh. Apparently she hadn’t been giving me a hard time. She was processing The Lorax.

“Riley, we don’t say the word stupid. It’s a not nice word.”


She’s right. It is. Except now she keeps saying it. In reference to bad guys and not nice things. Over and over.

The thing is, I’m not sure I mind if Roozle knows the word stupid. Or even says it. It’s more that I had hoped she wouldn’t know it yet. I’m not ready for this.

I know of some families that let their kid(s) swear and use whatever words they want, but only in their house. I like this idea in theory, but am not sure how it could be enforced. There certainly is something great about the freedown to explore language.

In my house, growing up, we didn’t swear. We didn’t say crap. Or hate. Or stupid. We were taught to choose gentle words. Probably so that my parents didn’t have to listen to us shouting “I hate you!” and “You’re stupid!” at each other all day long. Or maybe because they believed in the power of words. That when you speak or even write something, it’s real. Realities can be painted with words. Through poetry and stories. Identities can be built. And destroyed. I think I’m leaning in that direction.

What do you think? Should children be allowed to swear? What are your limits? Why?

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  1. I grew up in a very strict Yes mam, No mam, Yes sir, no sir household. We were not allowed to curse but mainly because we were Catholic. My brother and I never fought so it wasn’t an issue between the two of us. I would never have considering being so disrespectful as to curse in front of my parents. I always swore I’d be more lax with more own kids but I have to say, the older I get and the more kids I’m around, the more I long for those days. I don’t make my kids say yes mam or no mam, however, I CRINGE when I hear parents call out a childs name the the kid responds, “What?” The rule in my world is you answer, “Yes?” It just sounds so rude to me for a child to talk to an adult that way. I STILL say yes mam and yes sir to my parents and I think that’s the way it should be. I still don’t curse in front of them, really. And I wouldn’t stand for my kids cursing in front of me. Stupid? I don’t see that as a bad word. It’s a descriptor. I wouldn’t allow it as a name-calling decriptor but I’d be ok with saying something is stupid. Like homework.

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  2. I have a trash-mouth and I don’t really censor myself at home. So far, I’ve been lucky. The Who doesn’t repeat my curse words usually. And the one or two times he has, I have not made a big deal about it and it didn’t recur. My general theory is that words are just words and it’s the way you use them that make the difference. Saying you think a rule is stupid vs. calling someone stupid, for example, seems fine to me. We have discussed what the party line will be when he starts incorporating the words he hears at home into his language (if he does) and we think we will say that some words are for adults to use and not for children. This seems to work with things like soda and coffee. He seems to understand and accept the concept of some things just not being for kids. We’ll see what happens…

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    • Yes to soda and coffee (and beer and wine in this house!). GENIUS plan. Riley totally gets that rule too.

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  3. As a non-parent offering a totally outside perspective that’s probably a bunch of hooey, it sounds to me like she knows you prefer she didn’t use this word, and she’s testing you. (That explains why she will blame it on the book, and continue to repeat it; she wants to see how much she can get away with.)

    There seems to be two courses of action here: Either totally ignore the behavior, which will mean she’s not getting the attention she’s seeking and she’ll likely move on to something else, or reprimand her lovingly but firmly and say there are certain things you won’t tolerate in your house, and the simple fact that she’s quoting ugly words doesn’t make her use of them any less ugly than if they were her own to begin with.

    That all said, good luck!

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