Josh got in the car after school like any other day. We all talk over each other on the drive home, with 3 kids, it’s bound to happen. They both tell me about their days…at the same time. We work on taking turns to speak and I work on active listening and not getting distracted by Lila’s singing. Because she’s always singing….or talking. My word girls have a lot of words don’t they?
Anyway, out of nowhere out comes, “mom, I know the F word. I heard it at school today.” I’m sorry what now? Please come again 6 year old. Then he says, “yep, and I know the S word too.” I wasn’t sure how to feel. I was happy he wasn’t spouting off said words, but also optimistic that surely he meant fart and stupid. That’s logical right? Wrong. I asked him to whisper it in my ear so I knew what we were dealing with and sure enough…there it was.
So why post about this? Good question. I’ve wrestled with this all day. I haven’t been able to hit publish. I don’t want to be mis-understood. I don’t want to insult anyone. I don’t want anyone to think I’m writing this from the perspective of some perfect parent who never makes mistakes or who judges every one else from up above. Because Lord knows I have my struggles. But I’ve decided it’s worth the risk.
None of us are perfect. Language isn’t one of my struggles but I take flying off the handle and losing my ever-loving mind with my kids just as seriously.
But here’s the thing…when my kid then repeats my behavior, I become mortified and heart-broken. He…or she… learned that from me. Because I couldn’t keep my stuff together in that really stressful moment we just had.
I take the heat for that and my prayer is that I take it seriously enough to work on it and fix it. That it jostles me awake from my motherly slumber. My kids are watching me. They are learning from me and the things I expose them to. And it’s kind of a big deal.
When we were having this conversation in the car, I said “how in the world does a kindergartener know to say that word?” Maybe I’m naive but I truly never considered this being an issue this early. Jake spoke up and said, “mom, he probably heard it form an older brother or sister.”
But, to Jake’s point, our kids hear stuff from older kids, parents, TV, video games, COMMERCIALS(Do NOT even get me started on this, it’s like commercials get a free pass to be as trashy as possible). It’s everywhere. I get that. I’m not going to sit here and point my finger out at all the crap in the world teaching my kids things I wish it wasn’t. Does it sicken me that my kids are being exposed to things I wish they weren’t? Yes. But I hope it wakes me up. When our kids tell us things they have learned that make us sad or mad or sick to our stomachs or scared half to death, we have some choices to make. We can ignore it, let someone else teach them, freak out, hide, or make it teachable. So, here is what I tried to do with this little situation.
We love the kid who said the word to begin with. This might mean taking a short break from this little friend when he’s making poor choices, but that doesn’t mean shunning him altogether. We don’t stick our noses up in the air and act like we’re better. Who are we kidding, that kid is repeating a word he heard from someone somewhere. So, I have to be careful in my reaction not to be critical and judgemental. Not to point and accuse and ridicule. Do I teach my kid that it’s wrong to say that? Absolutely. Do I tell him to walk away from said friend if he starts using words he shouldn’t? You bet. Will I let him play at this friends house? Probably not, or at least not without getting to the bottom of the situation and getting to know the parents. But, I try not to portray to my kids an attitude of judgement or an attitude that says our own stuff doesn’t stink. Because boy does it stink.
We talk about the why. I often find myself as a mom just giving the dont’s. Am I alone here? Don’t do this or that. That is wrong. Stay away from this word because it’s bad. So often I forget the why. Can I just tell you, if they don’t get the why from you, they’ll get it somewhere else. So, it’s my job to tell them why we don’t say certain words. Josh is 6. I didn’t go into detail about the meaning of the word, however I did tell him how I felt about the meaning of the word. We talked about our mouth’s and how they are supposed to honor God, not just with what words we say but how we say them. We talked about setting a good example for the kids around us and being respectful to other’s in how we speak. Respect is losing it’s value in our society. It just is. And it’s a real sticking point for me. Respect yourself and respect those around you. Period.
Don’t over-react. I think it’s easy to FREAK OUT when our kids tell us stuff like this. The thing is, I don’t want to give such crazy strong reactions that my kids stop telling me things. I want to be calm and proactive when I need to be and strong when the time calls for it, but in a way that doesn’t portray sheer and utter panic(even though I’m sure as heck wanting to pee my pants). If I freak out and go insane then my kids will think I’m a loony person and stop telling me stuff. And I want those lines of communication open, even if I hate what I hear.
Be humble. Again, language isn’t a struggle in our house for my husband or myself. But that doesn’t mean we’re perfect. We yell sometimes and argue in front of them. We put way too much pressure on our oldest and sometimes get too caught up in our own stuff to pay attention to the little people hanging on our every move. We’re human and we are imperfect creatures from the ground up. So, I want my kids to be humble. When a friend makes a bad choice or says something he shouldn’t, we need to remember that we’re not perfect either. However, I want them to know that a lot of what their friends do or say just won’t be allowed for them or in our home. I want them to understand that you can build unhealthy habits at an early age that are so hard to undo. So, let’s teach them while they are young. While they care what we have to say. While they are actually listening. Be humble, but be wise.
Don’t hide them in a bubble. Sometimes it’s easy to want to hide them at home for the rest of their lives. Don’t get fearful ok. Try not to freak out and jump into hiding. This is SO STINKING HARD. I want to protect them, as I should, and I also want to teach them how to deal with life situations, which I can’t do if I never let them experience anything. So finding this level ground is such a struggle. Is it better to over-protect? If the situation calls for it, then yes. Are there going to be times when I have to let go and let them make a mistake or fall? Yep. I pray we know the difference when those moments come.
I know parenting is hard. I know we all have different views, opinions and convictions on how to raise our kids. So, this isn’t a judgement post. It’s a plea. A plea to pay attention.
Too often I’ve told the kids they could watch a show on TV and because it was on a certain channel, I haven’t even paid attention to the show itself. I trusted it. Then, from the kitchen I’ll hear something that jolts me awake from dicing vegetables or doing dishes and immediately realize it isn’t appropriate. The same has happened with video games or apps. Ya’ll. It happens. Wake up. I need to wake up.
There is so much out there vying for our kids attention and for their little hearts and their minds. They are growing up too fast. Maybe you see this post and think I’m just a prude(does saying the word prude make me a prude? Or just a dork from 1963? I’m so uncool) for getting all worked up over a word. It’s not the word. It’s what the word represents. It’s the loss of innocence that makes it hurt the most.
And our kids are losing it so much faster than we did. They are exposed to so much more so I am begging you to please wake up and pay attention. Pay attention to the friends they are with. Pay attention to the games they play, the movies they watch, the apps they have on their phones or tablets. Pay attention to siblings and the things that are going on in other people’s homes. Pay attention if they are struggling at school or being bullied or feeling left out. We need to open our eyes and stand in the gap for our kids.
Teach them boundaries now. Preserve some of that innocence because they only have it for a short time as it is. Before I know it…teenager’s will be in my house(Lord have mercy GET ON YOUR KNEES. I am not ready for stinky arm pits and scruffly faces and attitudes and eye rolling and GIRLS!!!) and I will be on my face every day praying we survive and THEY survive and that we don’t ruin these humans. Let’s do our best to shape and guide and mold, because in a blink, they’ll be grown ups just like us. So for now, let’s do our best to help them just be kids. Kids with parents who are wide awake.