haven isn't talking yet, but she's about to turn 1 so i know it's coming soon. and with talking will come repeating words she hears, which brings up the issue of "bad words". i do not have the daintiest of vocabularies, and tony's mouth is worse than mine. however, i do not speak in a way that i believe is morally wrong. if i thought saying "goddamnit!" when i stub my toe was wrong, i wouldn't say it. since i don't believe it's wrong, i'm pondering whether or not to censor myself around haven. i think i've come to the conclusion that there is a way of speaking that i find wrong and will teach her not to do, but that it has to do with intent rather than specific words.
i fail to see any moral difference between "shit" and "shoot". is the "i" sound really more evil than the "oo" sound? is "freak" really more appropriate than "fuck"? i can't see how. if the words are just being used as punctuation/exclamation, i don't believe there is anything wrong with "bad" words (i won't even get into the nerdy linguistics history and how "bad" words are really just the Saxon version and "ok" words are the Norman translation).
i do think there are things it's not ok to say. cursing as punctuation is fine, but cursing AT someone is absolutely not ok. and you can curse at someone and damage them with your words without saying a single "swear". i think it is far more wrong to call someone a "poo poo head" than to say "oh shit" when a drink spills. in the same vein, derogatory "jokes" are inappropriate regardless of the words used to convey the disrespect. words do not have a meaning outside their intent and context. so it is far more vulgar and immoral to use "non-swear" words to hurt someone than to use "swear" words to emphasize the emotional content of a sentence.
i want to teach my children that words have the power to build or to break, and must be used carefully. i want to teach them to speak respectfully and kindly. those things are important. but i frankly won't give a fuck if they say "fuck" when a toy breaks or whatever. "oh fuck" will be fine, but "fuck you" will not....i believe learning that distinction is far more important than learning to simply avoid certain words.
i will teach my kids that certain language is not appropriate in certain places/situations. i speak differently at work than i do at home, in more ways than just word choice. i speak differently when writing a formal letter than when updating facebook. sometimes i even use capitol letters. and that ability to adapt communication style to fit a situation an important life skill to know. but it's not a moral issue any more than wearing shoes (which i also do in public, mostly, but not at home).
maybe i will get shit from other moms when my kids swear around their kids. but i'm covered in tattoos and breastfeed in public and take my baby to rock shows in bars...so i'm bound to get some shit from other parents one way or another. and if i know that my children aren't hurting others with their words, then i will feel successful and content in my parenting.
plus, it's super hilarious when a toddler says "shit" in public....