Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Words Have Power, Why Give Them More?

I was listening to my daughters sing a song in the backseat of my car yesterday when I got smacked across the head with my angelic little eight year old blurting out a curse word, right in tune with the singer on the radio.  My knee jerk reaction was to say "NO!!!!  We don't say that word!!!!" but instead, I just let it slide and continued listening to her and her 5 year old sister belt out the lyrics and thought about this.

The song they were listening to wasn't a bad song, it's not like I was driving around town listening to gangsta rap, it was country radio.  My kids have no idea what the word means.  Hadley is clueless that she just dropped a four letter word at mommy's feet and you can bet if Lydia had known she would have rushed to rat her sister out.

So, basically, my kids said a word that meant nothing to them.  The word had no more meaning than any other word in the song, in fact it had less meaning than most of the words.  The song wasn't an inappropriate, there were no innuendos, there was nothing questionable in the lyrics other than this one word.  It was a love song they were listening too, and it was sweet.

I wrestled with this for quite some time.  Do I give this word power, by explaining that it's not a word we use or do I let it slide where it remains meaningless?

I can't help but think that we give words way too much power.  Quite frankly, profanity doesn't offend me.  I won't lie, there are a couple of words that make my ears bleed, but as a general rule, it doesn't bother me.  I teach my kids not to use words that are hurtful, they aren't allowed to say stupid, or call someone fat or ugly because those are hurtful words.  Those are words, that when used properly, can scar someone for a long time and my kids aren't old enough or mature enough to understand that.

I will occasionally say something like "my stupid phone quit working again..." and I've explained to my kids that mommy and daddy are mature enough to know what the improper use of those words are.  They get that.  My kids won't hear Keith or myself say something like "John is so stupid, or fat, or ugly" because we want to teach them to be considerate and compassionate to everyone and statements like those are so hurtful and can really have an impact.

Obviously, I know profanity is super offensive to some people and that's why, when my kids hear a word and ask me what it means I will tell them and then explain why we don't use it.  The general rule will be no cursing, but why teach my kids curse words just so they will know they exist?

I made the decision to leave a love song, a love song and not let one word have more power than an entire song about love.

When Hadley overheard a curse word recently and asked what it meant, we gave her the definition; it means "female dog" but that man is using it as a slur against a woman in a very inappropriate way and unfortunately society has turned it into a dirty word so we don't use it.  End of conversation, we haven't heard a repeat of that word since.  It's not like my kids are itching to curse, they just don't know yet.  Our head isn't in the sand either, I just don't see the need to add more to them when there's no benefit.  

The fact is, our children are going to hear profanity whether we use it or someone else does.  They will hear it on TV, the radio, school, the grocery store, a sporting event, you name it we can't avoid it no matter how much we shelter them.  What we can do, is take the power away from those words by making them as meaningless as the are. 

And yes, I'll be embarrassed if Hadley throws down those lyrics anywhere but in the backseat of my car while singing along with the radio, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there!  And no, I don't think we should all go around spewing profanity, this isn't a case for cursing, I just think that maybe if we didn't have such reactions to things they wouldn't matter so much.  Words are already have so much power, why should we give them more?

When I told Keith about this whole internal battle, he was completely on board and agreed that it was really a non-issue.  When I told him I was going to blog about it, he said, "ooh, well that's going to offend some people."  So I want to make sure that you all understand this is my opinion only.  I'm no different that any other christian, parent, or person out there,  I'm just trying to do the best I can with life.

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