What to do when Mom cusses like a sailor?

I am for the most part a good person, but I do have one major, major flaw – I cuss a blue streak!

It’s not all time, but when I get frustrated, mad or am retelling a story where I was angry then the F-bombs drop. I also tend to drop the S-word when something bad happens — like when I drop my cell phone on concrete!

I have a new curse I didn’t even realize I was saying frequently until my 3-year-old repeated it and in the proper context. I was putting her in the car and I either dropped something or forgot something and she says with exactly the right intonation: “Dumba@@.”

I was shocked but at the exact same time my mind flashed to me sitting in the front seat saying “Dumba@@” when someone cut in front of me or didn’t go in traffic.

I felt awful that I had taught my daughter that word.

I picked up the cursing habit from my big brother who picked it up from my father. Oddly, my father doesn’t cuss much anymore and not so much my brother either. But I am hooked!

It is embarrassing, and I do not want the children to pick up the habit, but I’m not sure how to break it.

Do you cuss? Have your kids picked it up? How would you break this terrible habit?

80 comments Add your comment


November 2nd, 2010
2:12 pm

This is not the end of the world; it’s rather funny actually. Try your best and realize swearing is not the worst thing for a child to hear; after all… TWG turned out Ok!


November 2nd, 2010
2:31 pm

I tend to drop the “F-bomb” rather frequently.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AJCMOMania, ajcparenting. ajcparenting said: AJC's Momania blog: What to do when Mom cusses like a sailor? http://bit.ly/9ELGbO [...]


November 2nd, 2010
2:40 pm

I used to be SO bad…the words were just constantly part of my vocabulary. Once I really started listening to people talking, it was really just awful to hear! Then, to hear kids talking like adults in that regard…awful!

I had to make a consious effort to think before speaking, ESPECIALLY when I was mad/frustrated, etc.! It’s still hard though because daddy and big brother still have the potty mouths!


November 2nd, 2010
2:40 pm

“Out of the mouths of babes.” Its a self control issue. Do u want your children to practice self control? It starts with you.


November 2nd, 2010
2:41 pm

When my daughter was little but when she was learning to ride her bike she got fed up with the training wheels. As we were going back to the house she asked me to take off the training wheels so they wouldn’t make so much d–m noise. I could not help myself from laughing out loud. Even though we seldom curse, I notice so many adults and children do. They are hearding it everywhere TV, Radio, other kids and adults just walking in the stores.

My mom always told us that if we really wanted to get a point across not to cus but use our vocabulary.


November 2nd, 2010
2:52 pm

I also cuss like a sailor, and while I’ve tempered it a bit, we still run into problems. I’ve actually gone back to cussing in the car because I was replacing “dumba@@” and “a@@hole” as well as others with “idiot” and “fool.” It’s actually MUCH easier for my children to understand that there are words they’re not allowed to say until they’re grown up than to get a detailed explanation of when it’s okay to use “idiot.” That’s what I tell them -cursing is for grown ups. You can’t do it because you’re a kid, so look forward to growing up one day and you, too, can cuss like a sailor (or mom)!

My funny stories are: Sitting in traffic two years ago behind a very slow car, my then 2 year old son piped up and shouted, “GO A@@HOLE!” We couldn’t help but die laughing, and my husband looked at me and said, “That’s ALL you!” It was too…

The other night we were putting up a new bed and my now 4 year old stubbed his toe. He seriously looked at us after howling for a minute and said, “I didn’t say f**k because it’s a bad word.”

When I was 3, my parents had a rounder of a fight before my grandparents arrived for a visit (as usual -my mother did NOT enjoy my father’s parents!). I toddled into the living room after they arrived and everyone was sitting around, looked at my Dad and said, “You son of a b***h!” Evidently everyone thought it was pretty funny, but I think my Mother almost crawled under the carpet.


November 2nd, 2010
2:58 pm

Trust me, no matter how much self-control you use in this department, kids manage to pick up these words one way or another. When my son was in kindergarten a kid went running through the hall at his school screaming the f-word. Last year his bus driver turned around to the kids one day and used just about every cuss word imaginable during a tirade about how bad the kids were (yes, he did get fired the next day). My husband and I are no angels with our language either, but at least we try to control ourselves. Unfortunately, I think bad language has just become part of our vernacular. The only thing you can do as parents is try to set a good example and make sure they know better than to talk that way at school!

Former office cusser

November 2nd, 2010
3:00 pm

I broke the habit back in the Seinfeld days, when everyone in my office started saying “Newman!” instead of something worse. Made for a more civil workplace as well as home. I’ve regressed a little bit, but the f-bomb is pretty much gone…


November 2nd, 2010
3:10 pm

Can parents stop cussing: Hell Nah…..


November 2nd, 2010
3:15 pm

One quote I heard that I liked was, “The absence of profanity is offensive to no one.” But my favorite is, “Do you kiss your momma with that mouth?”


November 2nd, 2010
3:25 pm

If you’re little one is dropping the “F-Bomb” that’s a problem; mom and dad can’t control themselves. At a certain age children do realize there are certain bad words parents can say but they are not allowed to say them. Luckily for us, since we speak a few languages mom and I swear rather loudly but not in English (plus, certain swear words quite frankly are better with more emphasis in different languages). As the boy got older I would allow him to swear on rare occasions as long as it wasn’t in english – at the right age.


November 2nd, 2010
3:26 pm

Mommy drinks because you cry.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

November 2nd, 2010
3:26 pm

Former office cusser — i am always looking for replacement words that will flow — jesse’s girl always has colorful replacement but they never come to mind — maybe I could remember NEWMAN — I do need a replacement word — i think that would help.


November 2nd, 2010
3:28 pm

My grandmother always told me cursing indicated a lack of a vocabulary.


November 2nd, 2010
3:34 pm

Theresa, you have no self-control. For me it was almost like a switch. I swear as much as anyone in the proper context and with the appropriate crowd (adults!), but as soon as my son was born, those words went out the window when he was in earshot…yes even when he was a newborn. Of course after he goes to bed at night, his dad and I will revert back to normal grown-up conversation, which does include choice words here and there, but neither of us seems to have a problem censoring ourselves in front of him or other children.


November 2nd, 2010
3:35 pm

@ Stephanie -yeah, I always love that old jewel, but as someone who got a perfect score on the verbal portion of the SAT, I can tell you that it doesn’t matter. Sometimes cussing just FEELS better!


November 2nd, 2010
3:40 pm

Some people are social smokers; I’m a social cusser, usually when I’ve had a few drinks and the topic of discussion gets interesting. I try not to cuss too much at home but ‘damn it’ is relatively common and $h|t tends to come out during high levels of frustration. My parents both cussed a lot more than I do and I remember being embarrassed when my mom let them fly out of her mouth a little more loudly than appropriate at times.

When my son was 3 he was obviously annoyed because no one was paying attention to him so he slammed his fist on the table and says, “Damn it, someone listen to me!” Even my in-laws cracked up.

bunch of yentas

November 2nd, 2010
3:43 pm

I started just saying the first letters, thinking I was doing the right thing. You know, like, “You dumb S.O.B., watch where the F you’re going. I almost plowed your stupid A right here in the road! God, what a load of B.S.”

and then one day my son, looked up from the back seat and asked, “Dad, is that a bunch of B.S.?”

so, i figured i needed to drop that too. But its difficult. I love those words and they are great words. The F word alone has SO many many uses and connotations. There is no word as versatile as it.

I wish that people would stop being offended by these words.


November 2nd, 2010
3:46 pm

I think the only way to remove swearing from your everyday vocabulary is to make a conscience effort to not say the words. I too used to swear, a lot! Every other word coming out of my mouth would have made, well pretty much anyone, blush. It was just a habit I’d gotten into. I can remember starting around 6th grade because all my friends were doing it. But then as an adult, I just let loose all the time. After having children I didn’t cuss around them but when they weren’t in earshot…

For me the change didn’t happen overnight and I had to remind myself when I wanted to swear that I was setting a bad example. If I couldn’t control what was coming out of my mouth then what control did I really have over myself at all?? That’s what I thought. Now if I really want to let one zing, I’ll use what I refer to as Beetle Bailey language (*&$!*##(@() which comes out something like: bitzcommaflagsha. Or whatever nonsense comes to mind. Works for me anyway and surprisingly is stress-relieving. Sometimes I make myself laugh from the silliness of saying nonsense and that makes me feel better.


November 2nd, 2010
4:01 pm

I used to swear a lot, but at one point in time I opened my own business and realized with a concious decision that cussing is not something my customers wanted to hear. Although that didn’t cut it out completely but when my wife was pregnant with our first child we started a swear jar, and our unborn child got a dollar everytime one of us cussed. Every month the value of a cuss went up a dollar.

Now when I hear someone who cusses regularly I can’t help but think how small their vocabulary is since they have to use the same words over and over again.


November 2nd, 2010
4:06 pm

I find it to be highly offensive when a person constantly uses swear words. To me they show a complete lack of class and decorum, not to mention disrespect for those around you.


November 2nd, 2010
4:36 pm

When I was 4 in pre-school, the teacher went around the room asking all the kids to say a word that began with the next letter in the alphabet. My letter was F and I said F*ck. Of course my teacher was quite flustered as I was told and my parents were quite embarrassed (not enough to not tell this story over and over though). As a child I had a 2 pack a day 2nd hand smoke habit and listened to more swearing that any kid should have to put up with.

75 years later mom still smokes and swears. I at least had the good f*cking sense not to smoke.


November 2nd, 2010
4:42 pm

There’s a HUGE difference in people who swear constantly and pepper every conversation with curse words and people who swear when in traffic, stubbing a toe, dropping a glass, etc. I don’t think anyone enjoys hearing people who use the “f” word in every sentence, but there’s definitely a difference when something happens.


November 2nd, 2010
4:49 pm

I have a 4 month old and I see I really need to be careful!


November 2nd, 2010
5:02 pm

You cuss in front of your kids? You’re not supposed to cuss in front of your kids! You are such an amazing looser. A classless looser, at that. Parents need to represent the best of society so the kids will emulate them. Going around cussing all the time means a. that you’re out of control and b. that your kids won’t respect you because they know you are out of control. You have to be the ADULT. Am I getting through to you? I will never get over the fact that someone pays you to do this.

Recently Retired

November 2nd, 2010
5:05 pm

After our children were born we were much more aware of the constant stream of profanity spewed by a childless couple who were our close friends. Even though we otherwise enjoyed their company we let that friendship slide because, like second hand smoke, we didn’t want our children to be bombarded with the foul language.

During a parent/teacher conference, I had to address a problem concerning a child who was occasionally swearing in the classroom. The child told me he was allowed to swear at home. The dad somewhat sheepishly said that this was true and that he had told his kids they couldn’t swear anywhere else. Obviously this did not work very well. I told the dad that he could be limiting his child’s friendships because other parents would not tolerate the language around their children or allow their children to come to visit.

Some issues are just not worth dealing with if they can be avoided. (Note: This child did not swear in class again. If a 6 year old can figure it out, so can you.)


November 2nd, 2010
5:06 pm

Something else about being classless comes to my mind: “If you can’t say something nice… don’t say anything at all.” I think that covers swearing and criticizing others too. Just saying.


November 2nd, 2010
5:30 pm

If you are going to call someone a loser, at least learn how to spell it. Note that I refrained from adding “, loser” to the end of the previous sentence. That’s due to my high level of self control. :)


November 2nd, 2010
5:37 pm

dcounts…very succinct!

Recently retired…great illustration!

We ALL have our moments but some bad continous habits are hard to break.

We were just talking about this the other day as a close friend works at UGA and says she cringes when she has to ride the bus. The potty talk is horrendous. I asked my daughter and she agreed. I have never heard her use a curse word, even though she hears them all the time. Obviously it takes self discipline on her part. We have never really used curse words in our house, so it is not a custom more an exception.

My father in law has a very coarse vocabulary, to the point that it is mostly cursing. I do not enjoy having any conversation with him. My husband has to take him off of the speaker phone ,it is so offensive. It is a habit he has had for a VERY long time. My husband did not repeat the offense.

Children can and do repeat exactly what they hear at home, so perhaps that will chide you into cleaning things up. Teachers get an earful from the students.

To me, it is kinda hard to tell your kids that these are words grown ups can use…why? Because they are rude, classless, inconsiderate and hurtful and that is what grown ups are allowed to be?
Great role models!


November 2nd, 2010
5:37 pm

I’m no saint, but my parents never swore (at least in front of us), and I don’t either. Once my kids hit school age I would hear them on rare occasions, so we made a rule. You can say what you want in front of your buddies, but never, ever in front of anyone older or younger.

Three teenage boys here, and I must say, they do well in sticking to the rule. Swearing is a habit, and a pretty ugly one.


November 2nd, 2010
5:43 pm

Thank you so much for your input. It’s a word I have been fussing with lately in my crossword puzzles. I know the difference but sometimes I slip up. I always appreciate a spelling correction. I’m serious. I would rather know than look the idiot. So thanks.
Teresa is still, however, a loser. Cussing in front of the kids simply is not done. It’s tacky, it will brand a child as having a filthy mouth, especially a young child. Also, a parent who does this denies his or her child the delight of discovering dirty words on their own. Let them own it. As I said, be the adult. Show some discipline.


November 2nd, 2010
5:45 pm


November 2nd, 2010
5:48 pm

I’ve been lucky perhaps, but despite steady exposure to it, my now 12 y/o has always understood the distinction between what adults can get away with saying & what smaller children can get away with saying.

Given the vocabulary that I routinely hear from similar aged children, all from educated/affluent homes, I’m not at all sure that anything he might pick up from me would have caused a batted eyelash. I recently traveled with a group of middle/high school students on a school outing & was quite surprised to realize what even the strictest faculty members show no concern about, proving my son’s claims that “no one at school really cares about language” to be quite true, no matter how much that surprised me. Let’s just say George Carlin would have been impressed ;)


November 2nd, 2010
6:00 pm

@stephanie – I agree that is shows a lack of vocabulary when someone uses the same word for adjective, adverb, and verb in the same sentence. I think dropping an occasional word when you are upset is definitely different then being unable to come up with anything more descriptive than f****ng. I haven’t really ever found a situation where I thought that word was appropriate besides the bedroom.

That said, it really is a matter of self-control. If you can keep from saying the words in front of your grandmother, then you can keep from saying them at all. I have noticed that when my overall stress level is too high, the words come out more easily because I’m just not as able to control myself when I’ve got so many other things on my mind.


November 2nd, 2010
6:09 pm

Ralphie: Oooh fuuudge!
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] Only I didn’t say “Fudge.” I said THE word, the big one, the queen-mother of dirty words, the “F-dash-dash-dash” word!
Mr. Parker: [stunned] *What* did you say?
Ralphie: Uh, um…
Mr. Parker: That’s… what I thought you said. Get in the car. Go on!
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] It was all over – I was dead. What would it be? The guillotine? Hanging? The chair? The rack? The Chinese water torture? Hmmph. Mere child’s play compared to what surely awaited me.

Mother: All right. Now, are you ready to tell me where you heard that word?
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] Now, I had heard that word at least ten times a day from my old man. He worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium; a master. But, I chickened out and said the first name that came to mind.
Ralphie: Schwartz!

Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] I have since heard of people under extreme duress speaking in strange tongues. I became conscious that a steady torrent of obscenities and swearing of all kinds was pouring out of me as I screamed.

Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] In the heat of battle my father wove a tapestry of obscenities that as far as we know is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan.


November 2nd, 2010
6:16 pm

This blog brings back memeories of my cousin’s grandfather.
Every other word out of his mouth was a cuss word.
We’d grin, shake our heads and walked away.
Now my 20 year old son has a bad potty mouth, along with his friends.
Should have realized he’d have such a mouth after his very first word, which wasn’t ma-ma or da-da, it was jack@$$!
Now I do cuss, but not nearly as bad they do, even my three nephews are awful.
Now I’m constantly after them all to clean up their language.
I agre with BehindEmenyLines, George Carlin would have been very impressed!


November 2nd, 2010
6:17 pm

oops! Meant to type memeories.


November 2nd, 2010
8:45 pm

@MJG -I tell my children there are MANY things they have to wait to do until they’re grown ups! Cussing is only one -others include driving (well until 16 at least), drinking alcohol, having sex , wearing certain types of clothing, going on trips without mom or dad, living on their own-oops, I guess only classless, rude people can do those things! You and Bluebell seem to have a stick shoved far up your -oh no-better not say it! Personally I think people who flip out over curse words are terribly silly and immature. I also think that peppering your language constantly is coarse and tacky, but exclaiming something in anger is quite fitting. My 4 year old seems to have mastered the fact that he can’t say certain words because they belong to “grown ups.” It really isn’t THAT hard! I wholeheartedly believe in children being told many things are not allowed by them, but they’re fine for grown ups. I’m not a big fan of the way our entire society has become so kid-centric. When I was growing up, grown ups ruled -not children. I looked forward to growing up, and now I’m enjoying the rewards! I personally enjoy a rousing curse -especially when I hurt myself. I cannot imagine how silly I would sound or feel exclaiming, “OH DRAT!” while blood ran down my leg or something. And how on earth does my saying “F**K” when I fall or calling someone an a@@hole when they pull out in traffic hurtful to you or anyone else?


November 2nd, 2010
10:51 pm

Ok, so JATL gets the trashy mom for a while award. God, why do I bother. Clearly any discussions of manners are unfamiliar to you. An explanation is a waste of breath. You weren’t brought up to understand or instruct a child in civil demeanor. Your comment that ” the stick up my “oh, better not say it” clearly expresses your complete lack of quality. Trash. Just trash. You shouldn’t even have children if you are their working example. Also, you are incoherent. Demerits for being incoherent. Big ones.


November 2nd, 2010
11:03 pm

@Bluebell -I think you’re just a troll since I never recall you posting here before. And I will compare my pedigree to yours ANY day of the week as well as my IQ. I guarantee both are of much higher quality! Not only do you appear to be incredibly uptight, but rather stupid as well. It would be sad to be you, but much sadder to be your child!


November 2nd, 2010
11:19 pm

You couldn’t compare your pedigree to mine on a bet. Your willingness to let allow your children hear you spew obscenities makes it very clear which end of the table you occupy. Below the salt. Coarseness clearly defines you.


November 3rd, 2010
7:39 am

JATL…I do not flip over those who spew obscenities….it is a choice. I have uttered them myself, on occasion. To me, it is simply a habit and one that gets harder to break the longer and more frequently you indulge. Old habits die hard.

Language acquistion is something I speak about weekly and curse words are acquired. You generally have to hear them regularly before you use them.

If you can control your mouth on your job or in front of those who would be VERY disappointed….why not your kids? They see parents as role models. Choices have to be made and parents of children can and do make these choices, if they are important to them. If not, then again that is their choice. Do as I say and not as I do, has never been my favorite line.

I abhor those who use racial slurs…some folks are fine with it. Not everything offends everyone…that is simply the way it is.

“others include driving (well until 16 at least), drinking alcohol, having sex , wearing certain types of clothing, going on trips without mom or dad, living on their own-oops”

many of these ( to me) are expected adult behaviors…not everyone is expected to use foul language…unless those expectations have been set in the child’s environment.


November 3rd, 2010
9:13 am

didnt get to read all the posts yet…need to get off to work…but i use the F word occassionally…and honestly…i would much rather my kids hear me call someone an a-hole than moron or idiot…most people cant help being a moron or idiot but most could help being an a-hole :)….the F word is just too dang versatile of a word to stop using. no i didnt want my kids to say it…but they hear it ayway. and you dont have to allow your kids to say it just because you do…they cant drink a beer just because you do, right? i have cut way down on my use of that word….and i hate when i hear teens use it every other word…there is a place and time…but that is a great word and i porbably will not every stop using it completely. (just think of all the different ways and times the F word can be used lol)


November 3rd, 2010
9:20 am

and contrary to popular opinion…’bad’ words ARE vocabulary…all words are…its a matter of choice which vocab words you want to use. i never use ‘bad’ words in front of people i know it offends. but honestly…if offends me that i cant lol..have a good day all you horrible people who use ‘bad words’…..and also to the ones who are so judgemental.


November 3rd, 2010
9:25 am

racial slurs are never ok….neither are ones that are mean to people…


November 3rd, 2010
9:37 am

@deidre_NC -wow a voice of common sense! Obviously so rare….


November 3rd, 2010
9:44 am

Well Said JATL … I remember growing up… WAITING TO do all the grown up things, … And I agree, when did we start letting kids make all the rules?? My mom made the rules and I was expected to follow and if I didn’t like it… too bad for me… :D


November 3rd, 2010
10:37 am

Thank you deidre for your 9:20 post..


November 3rd, 2010
11:39 am

I went through a period of time when I was a kid where I was swearing quite a bit. It got to the point where my friends didn’t want to be around – at all. My parents called up my friends to find out what was going on and they ‘told’ on me. Dirty Rats.

My parents sat me down and said that there is a time and place for everything and what I was doing was probably not the time and place. I stopped swearing. Mostly. I can vividly recall the first time I swore in front of my Mom. It was hilarious. The look on her face just before she started cracking up, because of the face I made.

I don’t swear but for the occasional stubbed toe or jammed finger. I don’t say the F word – it was a word my Mom hated so I just didn’t say it.

I’m not a prude about it, but I have made a note to myself when I’m with a bunch of people – guys mostly – who don’t think anything of swearing up a blue streak.

I have a WAV file that I think is extremely funny. It’s called fword.wav. Anyone wants it, let me know.