Sunday, November 9, 2014

Parenting - on "bad" language

I'm not a fan of the idea that there are some words that are "bad". Sure, there is language that is inappropriate for some situations, but nothing about a word makes it inherently bad. For me, it's more about what a person means rather than the actual words. For instance, I've heard some of the most racist things in my life by people who didn't utter a single racist epithet.

Lately, my four-year-old son has been a fan of watching YouTube videos. He especially likes watching the ones where a person plays a level of Super Mario Brothers while commenting on the game. Sometimes it's multiplayer, and they all riff off of each other and make all kinds of jokes. Sometimes the language gets a bit rough. Don't get me wrong - they're not dropping the F bomb, but they're saying words that I'm not ready for my boy to go around using in public. You know, stuff like crap, dammit, bastard, etc.

Fortunately, I haven't heard my son use any of those words yet. I figure though that it's probably only a matter of time before he does though. Part of me was tempted to tell him that he could no longer watch those videos. There would definitely be a lot of whining and complaining if I did that, and he'd feel like I was punishing him even though he hadn't done anything wrong.

I tried another tactic. I sat down and had a talk with him. I told him that the players use a lot of words that aren't very nice, and I don't want to hear him talking like they do. I told my son that so long as he didn't use those words, he could keep watching. However, if he started repeating what he heard on the videos, then he could no longer watch them.

How well did he understand that? I'm not sure. Was this a good strategy? I guess I'll find out. That was a few weeks ago, and he still hasn't said any of those words. It's working so far.

Ultimately though, I realize that I can't hide him from these things forever, and forbidding things is something that I think should be done as sparingly as possible - even though I realize that there are some things that I absolutely have to keep away from them for as long as I can.

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