Of all the topics I’ve ever written about, swearing evokes the strongest reader responses. Wait, I take that back: American Girl Dolls bring all the crazies to the yard. People love to chime in on that post. But my most widely read blog post is one I wrote several years ago that still draws daily hits due to its search-ability: “To Swear or Not to Swear: Why Are People So Uncomfortable with Profanity? (Go check out some of those comments. Yikes.)
Whenever I write about my penchant for profanity, I get a landslide of comments from both sides of the spectrum. Moms raise their hands in droves to admit that they, too, swear sometimes, and even in front of their kids. Then I have those who are vehemently opposed to expletives of any sort, sometimes because of their religion, sometimes because they think swearing is tacky.
But no matter how people feel about it, I always get a lively conversation going when I bring up swearing, particularly in relation to parenting.
I am so excited to be published on Redbook.com for the first time with an article about . . . you guessed it, swearing. Surprisingly, I’ve gotten overwhelmingly positive, support comments about this piece. Here’s an excerpt:
I could hear it before I saw it; with a familiar grinding sound and a whoosh, I knew the school bus had just pulled away from our stop. And we were still in the driveway, waiting for my daughter to tie her shoes. After 30 minutes of frantic lunch-packing, squeezable yogurt-scarfing, shoe-gathering, and a generous dose of shouting, we stilldidn’t make it in time. I saw the blur of yellow zoom past our cul-de-sac, and angry tears filled my eyes as I realized this was all my fault. Not enough planning, an absence of the much-touted “get ready the night before” preparation strategy, and an inability to rouse the kids (and myself) in a timely manner—there was nobody to blame but myself.
In that moment, as if the lack of organization wasn’t bad enough, I sank to a new low. The words drifted out of my mouth as an accompaniment to the slow-motion departure of our missed bus: “Oh great, we just missed the f***ing bus.”
That’s right. I used the F-word in front of my two little girls. I’m the mommy who swears.
You can read the whole article here.
The thing is, I have mixed feelings about losing our cool in front of our kids. On one hand, I do believe presenting a perfectly composed persona to our children is misleading and actually a detriment to teaching them how to cope with emotions and stress. But on the other hand, I feel like absolute crap whenever I blow up in front of them. And when I do, I always apologize.
So where is the line? When is it OK to show our kids that we are frazzled, to lose our patience, even to yell, and when does it benefit them, and us, to learn how to rein in our irritation and tempers?
I don’t know.
This is something I will always struggle with. I do know this—I am always looking for tricks and tools to remind myself to breathe, to slow down, to regain my grounding, and to find empathy for my children. As much as I believe it’s healthy for our children to see our imperfections, I don’t want to be the “angry yelling Mommy.” Ever.
I’m reading a really helpful book right now on this very subject. It’s called Parenting With Purpose: How to Raise Well-Behaved Children and Build a Strong Parent-Child Relationship, and it’s by Nina Garcia of Sleeping Should Be Easy. The book is chock-full of helpful suggestions and perspective, and my favorite part is the bonus chapter, which includes 20 Actionable Tips that you can easily refer to when you just need a little reminder to slow down and be more deliberate with your kids. There are great ideas for staying calm, starting out your morning well (which I desperately suck at), and keeping your temper.
And guess what? The book is FREE on Kindle for the next three days! So run over there and download your copy ASAP.
I think I will always be torn about how much to accept who I am as a parent and how much to push myself to do better. As I write in my Redbook article,
I simply don’t possess the energetic resources to keep myself composed as the “perfect mother,” the one who never raises her voice, mismanages her time, or experiences an epic parenting fail. And to be honest, I’m not sure what I would be teaching my children about life if I were able to pull that off.
What do you think? Should moms who swear try harder to keep their tempers? Join the Mommy, for Real Facebook discussion!