Young Girls Swearing

Updated on June 20, 2013
C.M. asks from Bartlett, IL
12 answers

My 12-year old has 3 friends who are sisters that she has been friends with for about 4 years. Just this year the 3 sisters started swearing, using the "S" word and the "F" word.

My daughter has NEVER swore before (except when she was 2 and she mimiced things that other grownups said-whoops!) Sometimes in movies she will hear swear words and that's okay. The last time she hung out with these girls she came home and used the F-word once. Her father came down HARD on her and we said that if she was going to swear like these girls, then she wasn't going to hang around them anymore.

Well, she just came back from their house and she said the S word. The way she said it was a genuine slip! (It was actually quite funny.) Her father doesn't want her to hang out with these girls, who are very nice except for the swearing. We've known the whole family for 4 years as well, they are just looser with their girls than we are.

I hate to have her break ties with these girls just because of that since they are good friends. Still, we don't think swearing is appropriate for a 12-year old, ESPECIALLY the F-word. I don't think she swore today to be "cool," it seemed to be a genuine slip-up. It could be from just hanging around them all day and night.

Advice welcome!

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So What Happened?

Thanks for responding!

I'm positive that my daughter doesn't swear when we're not around because she has been homeschooled since 2nd grade and so I'm usually with her. She does use "replacement" words, so she's likely to say "shoot" or "darn it" which is why I think she slipped up and said "s**t" instead of "shoot" (which is what she'd usually say).

Her other friends don't swear, and the swearing ONLY occurs after hanging around with these girls. We will just have a talk with her about what kind of image she wants and who she wants to hang around with.

She hears swear words in movies, and my husband and I will swear on occasion.

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answers from Anchorage on

chances are she does swear as do her other friends, just not around adults. We all did it at that age. As for me, I am more like the other mom. I will tell my kids (7 and 9) to watch their language, but I never punish for it, they are just words after all, and ones they hear everywhere all the time. By making a big deal out of it you actually give these words more power then they should have, if they are not seen as a big deal then they lose their cool factor and just become words.

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answers from Columbia on

I don't think it's realistic to ban a tween/teen from all the kids who don't act the "right" way.... or she'll never have any

I have never forbidden swearing. Instead I taught my daugther context. I never restricted songs she could listen to.... instead we talked about Eminem and WHY he uses those words, how it makes him sound and what other choices he could make (in those videos) to have a different outcome.

Words are just words. WE give them power.

I would have conversation WITH your daughter (not AT her) about what those words mean to her and when and where they are appropriate. Also what kind of image she wants to have... and whether or not cursing will help her achieve that image.
This conversation should be mostly HER doing the talking. but you and Dad should be there to engage in the conversation.

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answers from Atlanta on

It's a kid thing. I remember swearing like a sailor at that age - but I knew better than to ever do it in front of an adult, especially my parents. AT 30 I still mentally cringe a little if I slip up and swear in front of my parents. I wouldn't stop her from seeing them. Just reiterate that it's not tolerated in your home, it's not ladylike, etc.

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answers from Seattle on

Meh - To me, swearing isn't a hill worth dying over. Just because she isn't generally saying them at home doesn't mean that she is not saying it at school or with her friends. So, while I wouldn't LIKE it, I wouldn't ban my child's friends because of it.
I think I would just talk with my kid about how I understand that he (my oldest two are boys) is probably going to swear and say bad words, but that *I* don't ever want to hear it. And no other adult should ever hear it either. If he wants to curse it up with his friends, fine....but he has to be respectful in front of other people that don't want to hear it.

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answers from San Francisco on

Isolating kids is not educating them. It is possible for her to hang out with these girls and not emulate their swearing. Just tell her you like these girls but don't like their language, and that swearing all the time is tacky and base.

If your daughter is in middle school, she has already been hearing plenty of these words and worse. You are not going to be able to put her in a bubble. Some of my daughter's friends did a lot worse than that, and I used their actions to educate her. I didn't ban her from them. And she was an exceptional teen (though occasionally angsty). :)

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answers from Dallas on

Easy. She doesn't hang with them for a week. It's a wake up call to all the girls. Slip of the tongue doesn't happen unless it's a habit when you are out with your friends.

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answers from Baton Rouge on

I doubt that these girls are the only places your daughter hears those words. Is he going to bar her from every place that she might hear them and repeat them?

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answers from Washington DC on

Agree with CoMoMom, but at the same time I would add: "In our household, it's not cool to swear. So any time you do it -- or we do it-- there's a dollar in a swear jar." Or make it $5 if your husband is really wound up about it. I do get that this may not be a huge battle worth fighting hard, but also if you have certain standards for behavior in your home or when with mom and dad, you need to stick to those standards. Fining her - or yourselves! -- for swearing could help reinforce that these words are not welcome at home.


answers from Dover on

It is typical for kids to start testing their boundaries (and yes, they do sometimes just slip). My son was great about not cursing in front of me but I have heard him with his friends and know that I don't like his choice of words (he's now 21). Once in a while, he would slip because he was still in "hanging w/ friends" mode and there were other times where he slipped just because he was repeating something or not thinking (like when he was younger).

I would suggest that you allow her to be friends with them but limit her time with them. Try to make the bulk of their time together be at your home. When you hear the language you don't think is appropriate say "watch your language girls", "girls, please choose better words", or "we don't use that language here".

We had neighbors who had three kids. The youngest was about a year younger than my son. They all had foul mouths (not horrible but definately not age appropriate). I would get on them when they were at my house or in my yard. When they would say "it's ok, mom lets us" I reminded them that they weren't at home or with their mom and that language was not ok.



answers from Washington DC on

I would ask her how she wants to present herself. Swearing is crass and often makes the person sound less intelligent instead of more mature. Her friends may think it's "really cool" and "grown up" but it just sounds vulgar. Just like what to wear, what you SAY matters. My sks grew up hearing people swear (not in our home, generally) and managed to filter themselves. What I would be more concerned about is if this indicates a shift in attitude and behavior that you do not want your DD to be a part of. If they are still nice, perhaps invite them to your home and hear what they say. Then ask them to rein it in. When SS first returned from college, he'd drop curses more often. We'd caution him ("Please remember you are home now. You're dropping a lot of f-bombs and we don't need to hear that.") and he'd usually straighten up.

You may also ask her about her friends. Is she surrounding herself with the right people?

I would keep an eye on this because if she returns every time with a curse, then perhaps you need to not give her so much time in their home. See above about inviting them to yours instead. Sometimes rather than banning a friend, we had them come here, where we could keep an eye on things. One of the neighbor girls (about 13 when SD was 11) showed SD and her little friends how to get on a chat line. Had SD been to her house, we might never have known. We talked to the girls, talked to SD and moved past it, but inviting the girl to our home confirmed what we suspected and SD was no longer allowed over there.



answers from Los Angeles on

I don't think I could say it better than CoMoMom did :)



answers from Colorado Springs on

Well, it's natural to do what your buddies do. That's the default mode. To do anything else takes some awareness and some self-control (not to mention bravery).

Does your daughter know just what those words actually mean? If she knew, it might help her to think before she uses her mouth.

It has become popular for parents to defend the use of curses and obscenities, but they're trash words, and your daughter can decide to use her mouth for better things.

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