Is Swearing Really a Big Deal? 5 Conversation Starters About Swearing for Parents, Kids & Teens by Aidan and Ash ElDifrawi
Is swearing that big of a deal or could it actually be considered a good thing? Most people have different perceptions of swear words based on their values and beliefs, and, as parents, enforce specific rules based on what swearing means to them. But are there specific rules that should be in place? Or should Gen Z be allowed to swear however much they want?
Here’s a list of conversation openers about swearing that both parents and teens can be on board with:
1. What Drives Parents to Be Stricter About Swearing?
Concerns about kids swearing often stem from parents thinking it’s a representation of how they are parenting their teenagers. When young children swear, it’s seen as cute to a certain degree. When adults swear, nothing appears to be wrong. However, when a teenager swears, it offends their parent more than anyone else.
Tip: Discuss with your family what your values and beliefs are so there’s no confusion about your family’s views on swearing.
2. Does Swearing Have an Effect on the Psyche?
Swearing is not typically a focus in the world of psychology, which focuses on the impact of development and mental health. Instead, swearing mostly falls under the domain of sociology and anthropology. It typically is studied through a lens of how swearing affects other people rather than how you affect yourself.
Tip: Review with your children how swearing affects others and how it can make others, who have different views, feel (i.e. uncomfortable, offensive, insulting, disrespectful).
3. Can Swearing Be Considered a Good Thing?
An extensive amount of research states that swearing ultimately lets people tolerate more pain. It allows people to feel they have power and control, boosts confidence and gives a sense of clarity, which can help people react to situations in a long-term beneficial way. Swearing is also a non-violent form of retribution – a better consequence than resorting to a violent or bad action. It can also provide emphasis and allow people to send a strong message or make a point.
Swearing can help people connect, as it makes you feel bonded, in the right situation. Therapists, teachers and coaches may often swear as a means to connect with teenagers. It allows teens to feel more comfortable and that there is no superiority complex. Swearing even brings out humor, emotion and passion. However, if you swear more often than rarely, its positive impact will no longer remain.
Tip: Although swearing can have positive reactions, it’s important to be conscious of your surroundings and others’ feelings. Remind yourself and your children that the negative consequences from swearing outweigh the positive effects.
4. Does Swearing Affect Your Personal Brand?
Numerous studies show that swearing does not affect your personal brand, as long as you are aware of the situation you are in. There is a correlation between people’s use of profanity and higher intelligence and vocabulary.
Tip: As a general rule, swearing should not be encouraged, and even sharply curtailed, until a child fully understands the social relevance and appropriateness of swearing, around ages 8 to 12. Once Gen Z fully understands the implications of swearing on their “personal brand,” Gen X should allow them to burden the natural consequences of public swearing for themselves, without any additional punishment or reprimands beyond openly discussing the topic.
5. Has the Perception of Swearing Changed Over Time?
Yes, due to the unlimited amount of unfiltered content within this new digital age, people are exposed to much more. Gen X parents grew up in a G-rated world while teens today live in an R-rated world. Because of the digital age, people find a lot worse things than swear words. Swearing has become infused into our culture and will continue to become normalized as it is further desensitized. However, certain forms of swearing – terms that label or attack specific groups of people on the basis of sexuality, ethnicity, etc. – will never be socially acceptable.
Tip: Remind yourself that societal views change with time, even if it seems like a foreign concept. Have an open mind when trying to understand your children’s Gen Z perspective so that they feel understood.
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