Thursday, September 23, 2010
Swearing and cursing
“…for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart” -Luke 6:45
Occasionally your child may utter a word that leaves you in shock. Kids say funny things at times, but the use of profanity from that sweet little mouth is a shocker.
It is absolutely appropriate that we teach our kids and teens that using profanity is not tolerated within the family. But it is also important to teach our children that it's the heart that matters more than the words.
When young kids use profanity, they are usually just repeating a word they heard on TV or in public (or from you). When older kids swear, they are usually trying to get attention. They notice that when adults use profanity, they do it with emotion, so it must be important. But the teaching parent is careful to use the opportunity, not just to wash out a mouth, but also to wash out a heart.
Think about the “acceptable” swear words- words that are used to mimic unacceptable curse words. “Shoot, dang it, crap” etc. are all just substitute words that are acceptable in society, but may reveal the same heart issue that fuels the original cursing.
Growing up in the Staples household, language was always very important. One of the main items in our den was a huge dictionary. When the definition of a word was asked, Dad would always point to the dictionary and say, “I’m not going to tell you- look it up.” I always wondered if he just didn't know the definition. He required good grammar too and both my parents were quick to correct.
They also didn't tolerate profanity, at least not in front of the four boys. Occasionally he’d let a “crap” slip out, but no real profanity. But I knew he got mad and I knew he got angry. He would usually turn red and go in another room.
Most cursing is the result of anger and most anger can be destructive. Controlled, valid, loving anger can actually be a good thing, but 90% of anger is fueled by jealousy, vengeance and ill will. Yuck. Just telling our kids to be quiet doesn't help them learn how to sort through these emotions.
Teach your kids how to process through disappointment and anger. Teach and re-teach how to forgive and move on. Be a good example before your kids in modeling the healthy ways to process through disappointment. Then, as the heart is cleaned, the mouth follows.
I remember when our kids were little and Elizabeth had a portable tape recorder. One of Eric’s little friends took the recorder into the bathroom and spoke into the microphone. We laughed as we listened to it later and heard what the little boy recorded. He simply spoke the worst words he could think of “poopie, diaper, bottom…” To him, they were “adult” words. His little heart felt the urge to “let it all out.”
Jesus stressed that it’s the heart not the mouth that truly does the damage. As Barney would say, “Nip it in the bud.” And the bud begins in the heart.
Stress heart surgery with your kids and help them practice forgiveness and love.
Yank that bar of soap out of his mouth and focus on his heart instead.
By Eric Joseph Staples ©