Tuesday, May 8, 2012

F-Bomb: Language Acquisition and How We Roll

It happened.
We were driving to the Children's Museum, and Willa chimed in from the back, “Check out that fucking river!” 

Yep... I may or may not drop the F-bomb occasionally when with friends/family (and absolutely never when your children are here).

There was a time that I thought I should stop... but then I decided that when the time came, it would be an opportunity to discuss Time and Place and so on.  And the time came.

I didn't want to make a big deal of it, just in case it was one of those things that would wither quickly... 

“And the fucking cranes! They're moving, Mama! They're doing them work!”
“Look at that!” I reply.

Well, she then seemed to really start to like the feel of the word. I can't blame her, really.

“Fucking river. Fucking cranes. Fucking van. Fucking Jonah...”
“Ooop!” I cut in. “Just so you know, Willa, 'fucking' is a strong, strong word. For most people, only adults can say it. And the thing about our family is this: You can say 'fucking' if it's just me, you and Jonah around. No one else. And it can NEVER be about people, because that's too strong and hurtful. That's just how our family works.”

 “Fucking Jonah?”
“Ooop—remember, in our family, we need to make sure we help each other feel safe and comfortable. 'Fucking' is too strong for people.”
“Fucking crane?”
“Sure. And you can say it with just me and Jonah. But the Children's Museum has lots of other people, so can we say it there?” --”Nooooo.”
“What about Gramma's house?”  -- [laughing] “Nooooo!”
“And what about at Tumbleweed or Tulip Tree?” --[still laughing because I'm being pretty silly about it] “Nooooo!”
“But in this van, just you and me and Jonah, not about people?” – “Yeah!”

Right before getting out at the PCM, I reminded her, “Remember, now we're around other people, and if you want to keep playing here today, we're only going to use words that are safe and comfortable for everyone.”
“That's the deal?”
“Yep, that's the deal.”

So far it hasn't come up again... as far as I know...

And I'm not sure this is the best way to do things... I'm learning as I go in this parenting journey! But I hope I at least:
  1. Avoided Shame (I don't want her to feel ashamed that she tried something)
  2. Supported Divergent Thinking (I don't want her to stop trying things that are risky)
  3. Reinforced Our Family Values (Help each other feel safe)
  4. Established Clear Expectations/Boundaries
  5. Acknowledged that “Fucking” is a different kind of word without making it scary or forbidden.

What a fucking great opportunity.


  1. What an honest & refreshing post! In my class if someone says what we call in Ireland 'the f word', we reinforce that it is not a word to be used in school. Like you I'm not going to say it's a bad word, as I know I use it & many parents too, so the last thing they need is for their child to tell them 'my teacher says that's a bad word'.

  2. This explains the time when Willa said, "Fucking Pete" to me. I was a little taken aback, but realized it was a term of endearment.

    1. Oh Pete, I actually laughed out loud at this.

  3. hahaha! fucking hilarious!! I really like this blog - great stuff all around! thanks for being so real.