I Told My Daughter She Could Swear

I told my daughter she could swear

You should have seen the look on her face.  As part of a conversation I had with my 11-year-old, I said,  “You can swear,  you know.”

The look she shot me, was incredulous.

This conversation started after school one afternoon.  My daughter came up to me while the other kids played outside and said, “Mum, I heard this swear word in the playground, and I wanted to ask you about it.”  I always, always feel privileged when she shares with me like this.

I said casually, “Sure, what’s was the word? I’ll tell you what it means.”

It was a very crude word, and I told her what it meant and put it into context for her. Unfortunately, my daughter knows things at her age — unnecessary things; things I didn’t know until I was much older — because kids are much more exposed to adult content these days. Sigh. I want my kids to know when they ask me something, I will tell them the truth (age appropriate), rather than fobbing them off hoping they will forget it (I’m often sorely tempted to do this though).  More often than not, they will find the information elsewhere, which may not be in context, positive or helpful.

Conversations often change course naturally, and we started talking about words that have a different level of crudity but mean the same thing like, like poo-face, crap, shit.

“I am not allowed to swear,” she mentioned during in the course of our talk.

“You can swear, you know.”

The look she shot me, was incredulous.

I wanted to challenge her sense of thinking, putting the onus back on her with my reply.  I followed with, “I mean, I don’t want you to swear, because it’s not polite, especially for a child.  Many of the swear words children use, they don’t really understand the full implication of them.  I appreciate so much that you respect me on this, but I also respect you and love to see you making the choices for yourself, and for your own reasons.”

My daughter is in the pre-teen years, and I’ve noticed many changes recently, for example, she doesn’t play the games the younger kids enjoy anymore.  The way I parent her has slightly changed too, compared to her 3 siblings, because I’m entering a new stage of parenting with her. After Christmas my daughter will be in high school and when I was recently  thinking about family life stage, I jotted down some general goals when it comes to nurturing my children depending on the relevant parenting stage.  And so, I’m continually looking for opportunities to encourage and enable my daughter to feel confident and strong about the choices she makes, to own them, and learn from mistakes when they happen.

family life stages diagram“I don’t want to swear,” she said to me. I knew she would say that.  In a lot of ways she sees the world in black and white, and I guess that is part of the reason why I could (needed to) have this sort of conversation with her.

“I know you don’t darling.  I’m just saying that you’re maturing, and in the years to come, it’s going to be less and less about what Mum and Dad say you can and can’t do, and more about what YOU choose to do. I’m just encouraging you to think in that way.  So, in our home, you choose to follow our rules and also make suggestions of your own in to how we could do things.  And you choose how you will behave at school.”

She’s such an insightful thing, my daughter, and her sweetness, intelligence and maturity blows me away with wonder.

Am I worried she is going to start swearing her little heart out? Nope. Not a bit.

I’m proud. Proud as I watch her mature.  Privileged she shares the journey with me. Honoured to be her mother.

You Might Also Like...


  • Reply
    Jane McIntosh
    September 13, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    I love everything about this post. I hope I can be as in tune with my kids..:)

  • Reply
    September 13, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    That sounds like a terrific approach. I love the way you are showing her she has the freedom to make choices, and encouraging her to think them through, and own them for herself, rather than ‘don’t swear – because we said so’ Keep up the good work!

  • Reply
    September 24, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    I love this. I love how you have conceptualised the emotion, challenge, goal and ride over different stages. I think I am trying to do all of those things at the same time. This has really given me something to think about. Thank you.

  • Reply
    Breaking the Rules
    August 9, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    […] for my two daughters in question, Miss 12 sees the world very much in black and white, so I sometimes challenge her to think outside the box, while still staying true to her person.  […]

  • Reply
    June 12, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    Kelly. SO enjoy your wisdom. You are a bit further down the road than me and i like reading your snippets of learning family and parenting (and life). Do you have any posts (or advice) on handling sibling bickering in younger years? I have a 7,5,3 and one more coming soon. I want to discourage them from speaking disrespectfully to each other and me, but also not completely squash their feeling, emotions opinions and right to stand up for themselves.

Leave a Reply