Today I was out with my family and we went to a popular restaurant here in Maryland called Eggspectation. To be clear this is not a post that looks negatively on this specific restaurant. I think of this place as a family friendly restaurant despite the sports bar in the front of the establishment. On this particular day it was extremely busy and standing room only in the waiting area. What happened while me and my family were standing there was almost astonishing, but yet more perplexing to the issue that parents face daily…cursing. Is there no language barrier that keeps people from cursing around children?
A woman and her kids walked in and stood behind us, and the kids had to have ranged from 6-10 years of age. As we were all standing there attempting to be polite and avoid entering personal space, a woman sitting down behind all of us on the community benches was talking at a normal utterable level and then all of a sudden said “S**T” really loud. I immediately looked up at the mother’s terse face as she quickly pulled her boys in close to her as she attempted to shield them from the foul language. I saw that look in her face and being a father I had the same look on my face that she had on hers…disbelief. We struck up a quick conversation about foul language and the uncultured people not just sitting behind us but also everyone else. This conversation led me to telling her about another conversation I had with another parent where I work who told me
“I went to my daughters school event and I couldn’t believe the things that these middle schoolers were saying! There were words and phrases that I had never heard before or didn’t know that I middle schooler should even know! When I asked my daughter what they were saying, she told me that I didn’t want to know.”
When I told this mother this story, she immediately agreed with me and said that even kids younger than that of middle school age had language that you would expect of an adult or that of a mule driver or boat captain. The conversation was left at that but what stayed with me was the fact that there is no language barrier for children anymore. Being a new parent I don’t know how long this has been going on and maybe my parents did a good job at shielding me from it. How do you shield your kids without them having the feeling that their parents are being overprotective or overbearing on their lives.
Some things that I have personally had to do is the following:
- Clean up my own language – you can never teach them anything if you curse as well
- Be aware of my child’s surroundings
- If my son hears it – immediately explain that it was bad
- Inform my son on alternative words and proper language
- Direct my son’s attention to something positive
This lack of a language barrier among adults and children seems to be more prevalent since becoming a father and attempting to find ways to close him off from those environments is easy enough while he is four…but what about when he goes to school or we are out in public somewhere? I can’t shield him from everything but what I am resolved to do is to to make sure he has a positive environment when he gets home and to allow him to express himself in a positive fashion. When there is little I can do about what other people say, how we respond is crucial. I am honestly not sure whether to steer him away, cover his ears, or whatnot…but one thing I do know is that I need to follow through with showing him and teaching him the better way to communicate.
There is no language barrier for cursing for children at times…I mean there are curse word generator apps for you iPhone and on the web. Even though cursing is prevalent in just about every medium, I feel that who or where we introduce our children to can either lower or heighten that barrier. It’s a choice to make for them…and I want to raise the barrier by teaching my son the proper way to behave.