The Cussing Epidemic- A Christian Mom's Response to Cuss Words.
I won't lie, I learned my first cuss word when I was in third grade, and it was a big one.
So, when my third grader got in trouble at school for using such a word, it wasn't his use and knowledge of the word that surprised me but the question he asked afterward.
"Why does God create bad words?"
I felt both sweetness and a sense of sadness in his questions because as my kids have gone through public school, I have noticed a rise in kids using cuss words in their everyday speech. I might be able to write a dissertation on my theories, but I think it comes down to an increase in expletives in media (movies, music, etc) and a misinterpretation of 'freedom of speech'.
(See Post Darkside is Trending)
But I'll start with my son's innocent question. Why does God create bad words?
Truthfully God did not create bad words.
God created man in his image, thus making humanity able to speak and understand language, as well as creative and intelligent. Where God created perfection and order and gave sweet gifts to his creation. There was another whose goal was to take every good and perfect thing God gave to humanity and corrupt it. Yep, Satan.
Again, I could go on a theological tangent, but my goal in this post is to bring awareness and provide guidance for other Christian parents struggling with the Cussing Epidemic.
The use of profanity has risen greatly since the 1960s. This rise has been attributed to increasing social familiarity and independence in Western society, a lack of religious importance, and the reduction of profanity restrictions in movies and media (Baruch & Jenkins, 2007). It is estimated that 80 to 90 swear words are used daily by U.S. citizens (Jay, 2009).
The enemy's goal isn't to make you start cussing but to slowly normalize it, so we forget what these words are.
Cussing is the use of inappropriate words in anger in an attempt to curse an object or a person. Yep, the goal of cussing is to curse someone or something.
What is a curse? It is a request of a higher power to harm someone or something. Read that again. The goal of cussing and/or cursing is to harm someone. We use these words when we feel powerless to gain a sense of power with our words.
But what are we to do as Christian parents?
We shouldn't wrap our kids in bubble wrap and remove them from society. So, what can we do?
"From an overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks" - Luke 6:45
First start at the heart
Bad words come from a place of big emotions; I think we can all agree about that. The words we speak say a lot about who we are and how we handle our world.
Cuss words originally come from frustration, bitterness, and anger. That is where we need to dig in. Not just at the shock of the word chosen, but at the heart of the emotion being felt. Once we get to the heart of the word choice then we can deal with the word used and the consequences of such choices.
Truthfully they are lazy words that lack creativity. I tell my kids when bad words come (cause they do- they're human) that they are more creative than that. Of all the thousands of words in the English language, there are enough to express their emotions that are not an expletive.
I love this quote from Michael Hyatt, "If you can't be interesting without profanity, then let's face it: You're not that interesting."
It's a telling quote, isn't it?
Next, grow your kids' understanding of what the words mean.
I've always encouraged my kids to ask me the meaning of words they don't know, especially cuss words they hear at school or the park. This is always done in an age-appropriate way based on each kid's maturity.
Because most of the kids using obscene words don't know what they mean, only that they are words used to match the emotion they are feeling. But as we communicate the meaning and power of these words, we can help our kids understand that what they are saying is not truly what they feel.
And if they are wishing harm on another person or child it's time to call in some new coping mechanisms.
Develop their coping skills.
This graphic from Childhood101.com has been the bread and butter of Social Emotional Learning in my home for many years.
It is simple and easy for me to remember when I don't have the printout available.
I only add a couple of words to the first steps. (in bold)
Step #1 says: Remember it is not okay to hurt others, ourselves, or property with our words or actions.
Step #2: Take 3 deep breaths or slowly count to ten.
My kids tend to get stubborn and stuck here often, so we have to work on it when emotions are not in a heightened state. I have stubborn and strong-willed kids that will be great adults one day but teaching them to manage their emotions won't happen in the middle of the storm.
Step #3: Use my words to communicate how they feel and what they wish would have happened.
Step #4: Ask for help with the problem.
Step #5 Take time to Calm Down.
This typically is my boys' third step. Their testosterone-filled bodies need to get a release before they can put words together. My kids have a "Yes you can" list of the things they can do when their emotions are big.
Punching a pillow
Get Physical (toss a ball, run a lap around the block, jump on the trampoline)
Scream into a pillow
Rip paper from the recycling bin
Listen to music in their room.
Play with Playdough or something with their hands.
Teaching our kids that emotions have a purpose, but how we use them just like how we use our words is the important thing.
And what the Bible says about bad language.
Did you know that the Bible has more to say about bad language than it does about alcohol? There have been many laws and activist organizations about the danger of alcohol, so we know the dangers because they can see the effects.
But even more destructive and life-sucking is the words we use. I heard a quote once that still sticks with me from Patty O'Mara, "The words we say to our children become their inner voice." <EEK> Why is this so powerful?
Because we know that words can bruise us longer and do more harm to our hearts and minds than to our bodies.
But what does the Bible say about bad words?
Proverbs 6:12- A troublemaker and a villain, who goes about with a corrupt mouth...
Ephesians 5:4- Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
Ephesians 4:28- Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what helps build others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Colossians 3:8 - But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
I could go on, but there are a few references that can help show our kids God's perspective on cuss words. Jesus put it this way in Matthew 12:36-37- I tell you, on the day of judgment, people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words, you will be justified, and by your words, you will be condemned.”
Are there bad words in the Bible?
There are several instances of people being cursed, Adam and Eve, the serpent, and Ham. And those that called out curses like Job, and Issac when blessing Jacob, disguised as Esu.
Because in Bible times to curse was to call on a supernatural power to harm or destroy something.
As to bad words in the Bible, we have to remember that culture played a large part. There are a few, but most are on the same side of things or more of a cultural term that in modern times is used to defame another.
You can see more specific words and their cultural meanings here: What bad words are in the Bible? - The holy script
This is a battle worth fighting parents.
Because words are a reflection of what is in our hearts and if Jesus is truly Lord of our hearts, then there can be no darkness that comes from our lips.
For we are 'therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us." (2 Corinthians 5:20)
For the Scriptures say, 'If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. -1 Peter 3:10
I may not be able to control what my kids hear and say outside of my home, but inside my home bad language is not welcome.