“Did she just say what I think she said?!” My husband and I were a bit floored the other night while watching, “So You Think You Can Dance.” This dance-reality series on FOX is billed as a family-show, with many children and pre-teens tuning in each week. My own six year old daughter has watched this show in the past, as she loves to see the dancers. Just several minutes after 8pm (two hours prior to the end of the FCC “safe harbor” viewing period), host, Cat Deeley dropped an a-bomb. While we expect “common-place” swearing on sitcoms and tv dramas that are not geared towards families, we were shocked to hear questionable language on a more family-friendly show.
Several months ago, Kia launched a commercial (that aired all day long) that used the same word. We saw this commercial while we were watching college football (something we do every weekend in the fall!) The Food Channel hosts a show with an expletive in the TITLE (that they advertise for!) I flipped on the tv in my bedroom around 11:30pm one night, and noticed it was still on the Cartoon Network. (The kids had watched Tom and Jerry earlier that day.) Within three minutes, the CARTOON on a network for children, had mentioned anal leakage, big boobs, marijuana usage, and penetration. (I kid you not.)While cable is not as regulated as regular television, they still must abide by the “safe harbor” viewing hours, not airing anything “obscene” or “profane” between the hours of 6am and 10pm. However, you can forget about cable after 10pm. My husband and I enjoy watching Conan, and have heard many an “sh” bomb dropped on his late-night cable show.
When did swearing become so culturally acceptable? When did people begin to think swearing was funny? When did people begin to think it gave them “power?” It’s pretty clear that in general, our society thinks it’s okay to let swear bombs fly, no matter who may be around to hear.
The sad thing…The FCC really only deems the F word (and all words in the F bomb family) as “profane,” and considers most other words fair game. While most of us aren’t going to be dropping F-bombs around our kids, I think as parents, we need to ask ourselves if letting our four year old hear “common place” swear words is okay with us or not. We may think swear words go over our children’s heads when they hear them on tv, but children are walking, talking human sponges…soaking in EVERYTHING they see and hear. When they see someone on tv they deem “cool” or “pretty” use certain language, they are definitely more likely to experiment with it. (If they are hearing the swearing from a parent, it is almost certain they will grow up to use that language as well.) An example of this occurred at our house yesterday. My ipad decided to go nuts and Siri’s voice was just randomly saying things. My son was in the other room watching tv. I exasperatedly picked up the ipad to try to fix it and said, “Shut up Siri!” (We do NOT allow “shut up” at our house and try very hard not to say it in front of the kids….but I was frustrated.) Several hours later, Siri went off again, and my son sighed and said, “Shut up.” I was certain he wasn’t paying attention to me…..and look what happened. Kids WILL repeat what they hear.
So what do we deem acceptable for our children to hear? The FCC and current television shows and advertising campaigns have made it pretty clear that the only “safe harbor” for our children is a very small handful of channels. Outside of PBS, Disney and Nick (which both air a few shows I am not thrilled with and don’t allow my kids to watch), we can’t be certain our child won’t hear questionable language when viewing tv. The radio isn’t safe either. While radio regulations are stronger than tv, do we really want our kids saying things like, “I’m sexy and I know it,” and “Yo, I’m runnin’ through these ho’s like Drano”, etc?? I once had one of my kindergarten students tell me I had a nice “bedonkadonk.” It didn’t sound cute. (Wouldn’t sound cute coming out of a grown-up either.) But, we let these things go….figuring our kids don’t understand, and our “those are grown-up words” warnings will suffice.
I invite you to take a stand with me today against swearing….to not only more closely monitor what our children watch, listen to, and read (yes, I have to “edit” while reading children’s books! Roald Dahl uses language like “idiot”, “twit”, “beastly brat,” etc….not words I want my kids using!) , but to stop allowing the gateway drugs of swearing to be said around our children either. Do we really want our kids using put-downs and swearing euphemisms? We need to stop allowing potty-talk words, near-swears, and all forms of name-calling. Know that it is within your power to ask friends and family members to refrain from using certain language around your kids. (Trust me, I know this is hard! Nearly everyone in our family uses words we don’t allow like “butt”, “crap”, etc.) Let’s nip the “what the’s” in the bud (one of my ultimate least favorite things to hear kids say), and not allow our kids to say their homework is “stupid” or to proclaim that life “sucks.”
I want to raise classy kids…kids who have words that edify, and not tear down. I want their speech to reflect their heart and make them a light to others. The tongue is a deadly weapon (read James 3 to learn more about the tonuge!) Each time I open my mouth to speak, I want to carefully consider my words and ask myself if I would be okay hearing those same words come out of my children’s mouths….Would I want them to put down someone else? Would I want them to gossip? Would it be okay for them to say, “darn it” in an angry tone? Set a standard for your kids…it’s clear what the media’s standard is….Let’s rise above it.
Ephesians 4:29 “Don’t let any evil talk come out of your mouths. Say only what will help to build others up and meet their needs. Then what you say will help those who listen.”