Use of coarse language - FamilyEducation
Use of coarse language
03/06/2008 at 00:07 AM

Other than avoiding the use of profanities in my own speech, how can I help my teenage son understand and appreciate how degrading and demoralizing it is to self and others when using bad language? Thanks.

  I take a different approach.  It makes the local ecclesiastical leader of my religious group laugh, because I give my children swearing lessons.  In the course of normal interaction, I do not use language stronger than 1950's slang (a very occasional pissed off and jerk).   My husband is even less vulgar in his emotional expressions.

   When my children bring home new vocabulary, I ask them (in a conversational tone) what they think it means, and by the time they are teenagers they are pretty good at figuring it out from context.  Then we have a generally humorous conversation about the circumstances under which use of that particular term, with its meaning and associated emotions, would be appropriate.  I have also introduced them to words and meanings they have not yet encountered.  These conversations are sometimes quite uncomfortable, so they are both short and rare.

  We also have a weekly family meeting, and on occasion we have had a lesson about the uses of language.  We include talking about how others of various ages perceive people who use demeaning language, and we also talk about the fact that kids their age do not have a choice about attending school, and therefore speech in school is restricted, because others who disagree or are disturbed by certain speech do not have the option of just walking away.  We also talk about being precise in our use of language, and about people who are so dull of thought that they can only use vulgarity and obscenity.

  Another lesson we have had is one on being respectful.  The brunt of this lesson is that one who is "respectful" is full of respect.  That it doesn't matter who a respectful person is dealing with, it is the respectful person who has respect.  If I am dealing with someone who I do not regard highly, it does not diminish my respectful behavior.  People who do not behave respectfully are people who disrespect themselves.  I do assume that they know themselves well enough to know if they are worthy of respect.

   Hope this approach will spark something in your mind.  I think it's great to get lots of opinions.


You are wonderful! Thank you for your very thoughtful and insightful reply.