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Moms Talk: A response to 'Teen Talk'—How to Deal with the Rude and Profane in Current Culture?

Each week in "Moms Talk," our Mom's Council of experts and smart moms and dads take your questions, give advice and share solutions.

This week's Mom's Talk inquiry: How do you respond to the bad stuff that comes out of the mouths of teenagers?

Out of the mouths of babes comes some shocking stuff. There seems to be a new language among the younger crowd that is rough, raunchy and so frequently punctuated with profanity that the "F" bomb has lost its bomb. This has grown beyond the typical rude and surly teen speak. The language we're talking about here includes words we never uttered in front of our parents until we were at least 30 (I still remember the first time I said "hell" in front of my mother—it felt funny and I'd been out of the house for years).

You hear it on cable TV, from rappers and in the halls at our local schools. Is it a fad? A decline in civilization?

I remember getting my mouth washed out with Ivory soap (more threats than actual washing), but we're too civilized for that now. Is it too late? What are your suggestions and how do you handle this decline in the spoken word?

DeAnn Rossetti February 23, 2011 at 09:35 PM
I hear you, Diane, and know that this is a serious issue in any home with kids over the age of 5. I remember when I was 5 some neighbor kid told me to go home and ask my mom what the word "b*tch" meant, and when I did, my mother slapped me so hard across the face that she broke my lip with her wedding ring. Now, of course, she'd be hauled up before CPS or DSHS for such a crime. But I got the message, clearly, that profanity was not allowed in my household. My son Nick has been exposed to more profanity in his 11 years than I was exposed to in my first 35 years of life, though. Just watching TV together on Monday night, in an episode of "House, MD", the main character had been forced to talk to a class of 5th graders on "career day" and was using all sorts of profanity and words like "vibrator" that the kids all wanted definitions of...including mine. That makes for some awkward moments, but since he's already heard so many "F" bombs and other swear words, what we have done is to tell him that those words are not acceptable in our household, and there will be consequences (such as a loss of privileges) if he utters them either at home or at school. At his school, the kids are not even allowed to use the words "crap" and "poop" without getting into trouble, so Nick has been pretty good about following those guidelines. We have one neighbor kid, though, who is no longer allowed to play with Nick because he used foul language at me once, and refused to apologize.
Julie Varon -John L. Scott Real Estate February 24, 2011 at 02:51 PM
I am anxious to hear some of the answers. I think the fact that there currently is a mainstream song "f u" in the top 10 (American Idol has featured it in it's cleaner version) may be part of why the teens are all thinking it's acceptable to use it. I thought I was open minded but I am really having issue with this. I guess this is payback for the many things that I challenged my parents with. It seems to be a subliminal way for teens to distinguish themselves from us as they head toward their independence. I just find it so offence and am still trying to hold my ground as I express my distaste. It's starting to feel like one battle that I'm losing. The question is how hard should I continue to fight it?
Diane Taylor February 25, 2011 at 06:40 AM
Julie I feel like we're in the same boat. The language thing is so pervasive now compared to even 10 years ago, it feels difficult to control. I do think DeAnn is on the right track--zero tolerance at home sets the tone. They will still likely use language that their friends are using, but if they learn to control it around parents, then hopefully they will learn to gauge in what settings they need to limit bad language (around potential employers, teachers, etc). I remember getting in trouble for repeating "Son-of-a-gun," after a camping trip in which I'd heard my uncle saying this all the time. I don't even know what that means or where it came from, but it doesn't compare to what's floating around on the lips of babes now.

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