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Is it OK for your children to swear at you?

January 11, 2011

I’ve been asked to appear on Radio City  in Liverpool tomorrow night at 10.30 to discuss swearing – why don’t you join us as I’d love to hear your views.

Here’s an article I wrote about swearing awhile ago.


 I was reading a survey about swearing today and it got me pondering……

Research  has found that over two-thirds of parents allow their children to swear without punishment, effectively accepting the practice and 4 in 5 parents swear in front of their children.

Research of 2,241 people intended to investigate swearing in society and particularly with regards to children, has found that just 1 in 3 parents reprimand their child if they swear in their presence. The same research also found that 4 in 5 parents admitted to having sworn in front of their children.

Dads were the most to blame for swearing in front of children, with 84% of men admitting to the practice, compared to 75% of mums.

When asked “Which of the following have you heard your child say?” 42% of parents admitted to hearing their child utter the ‘F’ word.

Here is the top 5 most prolifically uttered swear words according to the research:

1. F*ck – 42% (of parents have heard their child say this word)
2. Sh*t – 36%
3. Cr*p – 31%
4. Bastard – 28%
5. Bo**cks – 22%

An interesting stat that the survey revealed is that 93% of parents that have sworn in front of their children have heard their children swear. But is that really surprising as parents are their kids primary role model in everything that they do , say or in how they act?

William Findlay, CEO of Nulon UK had the following to say,

“A previous study we commissioned found that the average Briton swears 14 times a day, meaning that it’s highly likely that at least one of these will be in front of children, maybe their own.

“The results speak for themselves, showing that children whose parents swear in front of them are much more likely to swear. I think that as a nation, Britain needs to either cut down on our bad language in front of children, or be more willing to ensure our kids don’t follow suit, at least within earshot. It’s a matter of respect from both parties, and the fact is, kids will swear, especially when they feel there will be no repercussion.” 

Kids hear so much swearing on TV and in films these days it’s quite a battle to get a balance isn’t it?


  • What are your views on swearing?
  • At what age do you think swearing is OK?
  • Is it OK for your children to swear at you?
  • Is it OK for your children to swear at each other?
  • What punishments do you have ready if they do?
  • What words are acceptable to you?
  • What words are not?
  • Do you feel you swear too much or too easily?
  • What small changes could you make this week to change that?
  • How can you remember to make that change?
  • What would be the benefits to you, to your family as a whole and to your kids if you made a change?

It’s purely a matter of choice and your values but I hope these little questions got you thinking and were helpful.

Let me know your thoughts!



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About the author

Sue Atkins is a Parenting Expert who offers practical guidance for bringing up happy, confident, well behaved children. She is also the author of “Raising Happy Children for Dummies” one in the  famous black and yellow series published worldwide and the highly acclaimed Parenting Made Easy CDs. She regularly appears on BBC Breakfast and The Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2 and her parenting articles are published all over the world.

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Sue Atkins the Parenting Expert
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3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 12, 2011 8:37 pm

    From a Canadian perspective, some of those words aren’t considered swear words here, I would consider sh!t and fuc% to be TERRIBLE words to utter – let alone at someone.

    I do think that words have lost their meaning and we don’t take nearly enough time to consider what we’re saying.

    I had an English Lit Professor in University tell us that those who used foul language in their day-to-day vernacular were of lower intelligence. There are so many other words we could chose that would be far more appropriate.

    • January 12, 2011 10:20 pm

      Yes maybe we have got too casual with out vocabulary. If people swear too much it just loses its impact …..TV programmes over here in UK can be full of it , particularly the comedy shows and of course kids copy what they hear.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.


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