My Sodding Hammer

I get angry with my son sometimes (some days often). It’s the sort of anger that, in my experience, only a person you really love can inspire in you…the teary, frustrated anger you get when you’re thirteen and arguing with your sister. With my two and a half year old it’s also tinged with a feeling of failure on my behalf…‘I shouldn’t be this angry with him. I am the adult and I should be a pillar of zen-like calm at all times’.

A couple of months ago I read a blog post about parents getting angry at their children; in the post the parents in question were publicly, and it sounds quite viciously, swearing at their child I was nodding along at the unsavoury picture presented and the effect this must have on the children (particularly a public berating…not that I’m advocating such a one at home either). It was an unashamedly judgmental post and it worked – I eagerly scrolled down to comment and add my voice to the general consensus of agreement. But then I stopped – many commenters were expressing total condemnation for ANY swearing around children and swearing at children was blasted as tantamount to child abuse.

Eek. I got my coat.

Now I’m not known as a swearer – my family and friends would probably put me last on the list of people they know to swear. But even so, can even I in all honesty say I haven’t sworn in front of my child?

No I can’t. There’s the burnt finger from lethal toasted pittas moment; the pigeon almost hitting the car moment; the dinner is catching fire one, the ‘where are the shitting keys, we are late!’ one.

But of course I would never swear AT my child…I attempt to parent my son according to the philosophy of ToddlerCalm. It falls into the gentle parenting category, not permissive but definitely erring on the positive. I don’t know if it’s the best way, right or wrong, but I like it.

I also fall into the relatively rare breed of people that are mostly enjoying the ‘terribleness’ of the twos. I am proud of his development, I find his boundary-pushing fascinating and I feel sorry for him when he has the sort of overwhelming tantrum that only cries and kicks and time and cuddles will fix.

And so, having made some peace with it all, I trooped back to the blog post to comment and stand jury against parental swearing. At that moment my son came marching into the kitchen: ‘where is my sodding hammer?’. Uh oh…ummm, great impression son. I closed the computer.

I have sworn at my child. Probably more than once.

There’s the toddler has just put a small library of books down the toilet moment; the unwanted, uneaten spaghetti bolognese hitting the ceiling moment; the frustratingly well-crafted hammer flying through the air at speed towards my head moment; the same hammer bashing my hand, knee, nose episodes.

And maybe ‘sodding’ doesn’t seem like much of a swear word (although let’s face it, the hammer on the head incited much worse), and it’s certainly not a torrent of obscenities, but surely any word unnecessary to the meaning and expressed in anger does the same job…a child doesn’t much know the difference.

Well I’m not proud at all…I do not want my son to feel ‘abused’, ashamed or belittled and I really would like him to learn how to be emotionally intelligent. Believe it or not I am actually very committed to being a primary role model for that.

So I embarked on two things: firstly I wrote a post about anger management with a toddler. It turned out to be incredibly dull, and long. I won’t publish it, don’t worry. But it did make me reflect on all the good I do as well as the areas I need to improve on.

I also undertook a little survey of a few friends…and here’s the thing: it’s not constant, it’s not the thoughtless ranting that was described in the blog post I originally read, crucially it’s not name calling, and maybe I asked the friends who I knew would have experienced the same. But it turns out that, shhh, I’m not alone.

Swearing around your child or, dare I say, it in their general vicinity in anger is obviously an example of parental anger management needing work, it should not happen; and I think with practice it happens to us all less. BUT is it ok to blanket-judge that all swearing is terrible parenting and even bordering on abuse? I just don’t think it’s as simple as that. There’s no denying a lifetime of shaming and shouting can fall pretty neatly into the abusive category, and name-calling whether swearing or not is unacceptable from an adult to a child, but the odd moment of losing one’s inner calm, releasing a few expletives and then addressing it? Judge me if you will, but I think that’s entirely human.

I’m now going to borrow a little quote from Laura at Five Little Dove’s that hugely resonated with me. This didn’t relate to swearing in her blog post I hasten to add – I’m sure she has impeccable restraint, but it is a reminder that anger happens to all of us:

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Mummuddlingthrough

 

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32 thoughts on “My Sodding Hammer

  1. Oh god, yes, it’s hard to break a several-decades-old habit and not just swear on reflex, isn’t it? I’m sure most parents have slipped up at some point. And I’m sure almost all of us have muttered, “Oh, for fuck’s sake,” over a tiny infant who wasn’t in a sleepy frame of mind at 3am for what felt like the millionth night in a row. But there’s a huge difference between the occasional expletive and telling your child that they’re worthless. Huge.

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    1. Oh yes, I missed the midnight muttering!! Yes, exactly I agree, there is a huge difference…and one that’s not even about swearing, you don’t have to swear to tell your child they are worthless (although swearing can be part of it). I was just so surprised at the vitriol expressed towards ANY swearing…you’re right, it can be a hard habit to break.

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  2. I quite liked the terrible two’s too, 2 year olds are funny, I dont think a poll would be too accurate as people tend to tell you what they think you should hear rather than the truth, sometimes a swear word just sneaks out whatever your outlook on swearing in front of children, especially when tots turn to teens 😦

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  3. I’ve definitely sworn around my daughter, but it wasn’t too worried about it because she’s not taking yet. it’s not a great habit, granted, but sometimes the odd word slips out when I spill hot tea on myself or step on yet another sharp plastic baby toy.

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  4. Jeez, yes. NG said ‘Daddy, why are you a dick?’ at the weekend and I spat out my pancake. I would like to have a coffee with you as I’m PRETTY sure we’ve had identical experiences! I like the twos as well – NG is pretty ‘sodding’ amazing most of the time. Thanks for linking as this has made me feel much better this evening! #anythinggoes

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      1. Oh goodness, TOTALLY ok with it. I am pretty bad generally at remembering to link up – always remember as I press ‘send’.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Having been in the early years sector for twenty odd years, I can hand on heart say I have never sworn at a child. Ever. Who is not my own. 😉
    My own children, at times they make me swear like a trooper.
    Ok so it’s not big and not clever but let’s face it, there are far worse things we can do to our children than cuss occasionally.

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  6. Great post. The worst I use when the big girl is around is probably “bloody” and she’s definitely heard alot worse. I remember looking through some photos ages ago and her commenting on someone’s facial expression “they look like they’re saying f##k”. Suffice to say she soon was told never to say that again and we’ve discussed that there are a lot of words to use to describe things and we don’t need to swear. Thanks so much to the scumbag lady in Primark who turned round and said “for f##ks sake when she decided to stop halfway out the door and so the pram accidently caught her heel. Charming when I have two kids in town! #coolmumclub

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    1. Oh no! I saw Will Smith on television talking about how he never swears in any of his songs etc and it was from being told at a young age that there are other words and it’s intelligent to use them. So true. And yes, this is probably hypocritical given that I’m admitting to swearing but that is really annoying from that woman…swear around your own children, but don’t inflict it on other people’s! I feel the same with smoking, well smoking annoys me more – I hate that people are sending smoke into my child. Just leave him alone! Sorry, off track there…but thank you for commenting x

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  7. Oh I have been known to mutter swear words under my breath. Although there was the time I shouted very loudly “oh shit” and oldest then started singing “shit, shit, shit”. I then managed to convince her I had said “ship”. This did not convince mother-in-law when we went round for lunch and Oldest dropped something to exclaim “oh ship”. And then just for good measure Oldest added “or for shippy sake”. Whoops :-/ #coolmumclub

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    1. Oops, this made me laugh! I am so amazed by how much my son is tuned into everything that comes out of our mouths…even when we think he’s completely engrossed in something else he’ll suddenly join the conversation. I love for shippy sake though, I may borrow it! Thanks for commenting x

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  8. We are all human, and I would hardly put involuntary swearing upon moment of burning finger on the oven in the same category as ranting and raving at a child for no apparent reason. I try to be as good a role model as possible, but I’m sure that in time, Piglet will come to realise that I am not perfect (to be honest, he has probably already realised this) and neither is anyone else. #coolmumclub

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    1. That’s exactly it…definitely not in the same category. Also, while swearing isn’t the best example, I don’t want my son to think I’m perfect. Learning about the whole range of emotions and how they can make people react is an important part of his education!

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  9. Great post. I have always sworn like a trooper (no idea why; I have an otherwise extensive vocabulary and was not raised by potty-mouthed parents) so this is something I’ve really struggled to reign in since the twins were born. I even tried to make the effort when I was pregnant, in practice!

    I’d love to say that my swearing is restricted to just swearing AROUND the twins but that would be a lie. I love them beyond words, they are my everything, but I have sworn AT them several times… And we’re not talking “sodding.” I’m ashamed of this but it just happens in the moment, that’s how I roll, but I know that my girls will grow up knowing how much I love them, and that I never “put them down.” I think they’ll just know that mama loses her “ship” (lol) now and again, no biggie.

    #coolmumclub

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    1. The heat of the moment can bring about all sorts of responses…as you say not putting them down is different and in the context of an extremely loving place then, you know, it happens! I think people can be too judgemental. I am so impressed that you started practising when you were pregnant! Go you!

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  10. Love this. In all honesty, the older I have become the worse my swearing has become. I kind of like the use of the odd mild swear word to add emotion to an anecdote or release a bit of pent up anger. There are worse things, surely. That said, I do try and hold back round the girls, and berate the hubby if he uses words that he doesn’t think are too bad, around the children. I try to imagine how I would feel if these words became part of our daughters vocabulary at school or nursery. Yup, not so good. Thankfully, neither of the girls have uttered a ‘bad word’ yet so must be doing ok!
    Great read, thanks for sharing with #coolmumclub

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    1. Yes it would be awful if swear words became part of children’s vocabulary! My son has only uttered sodding. I hope it stays that way. My husband is so good…and I really am not a sweater, I don’t know why they pop out some days! Thanks for hosting #coolmumclub lovely

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  11. OMG (yes I just used that acronym sorry!) I love this post, I also love the way you write, I am currently writing a blog post of alternative swearwords for when you accidently may kick a door or something around your kids as I enjoy a good swear on occasion, like when someone pulls out infront of me in the car. I totally also love you for the fact that you admit your little one makes you angry, I used to say it was impossible for anyone to make me angry, then my son was born and he pushes me to the end of my sanity. I was so guilty and upset by this as I was like he is a child, my child, why does he make me feel this. I think becaue he so reminds me of me and secondly I get angry when he misbehaves and him misbehaving feels like I have failed. So I am with you there. xxx

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    1. What a lovely comment…thank you, I’m in good company, that’s good to know. Anger makes me so guilty and upset, I completely relate. I can’t wait for your alternative list. I use flippety gibbet a lot and also shizzle…as in an enjoyable meal… ‘good shizzle darling?’. That’s not a swear word is it?? Thanks SO much for a thoughtful, scrummy comment x

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  12. This has really been something my husband has had to struggle with. Before our son was born, he swore like a sailor, and not only when he was angry. Years of swearing had just sewn the words into his vocabulary and it’s something he still struggles with. Now that our boy is starting to say his first words, it’s really been something we’ve been more conscious about.
    While words do slip, from the both of us, it’s totally different than us belittling or calling him swear words. Great post! ❤ #coolmumclub

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    1. That’s it isn’t it, they do slip out…particularly when they’ve been of a vocabulary for so long, that must be quite hard. Sounds like you are both doing great at being aware of it and practising not to! Thank you for commenting and also for sharing on Twitter x

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  13. I’ve got angry at my baby a few times. Sometimes I’m tired, he should be tired, yet he’s screaming at me! It’s tough and I’ve snapped at him, dare I say I think I’ve sworn at him. It’s at this stage my partner swoops in for a cuddle and remind me he is just a baby, he doesn’t know!
    I know the toddler phase is going to get to me, I have this time to prepare, read and work out how I’ll cope!!

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    1. I can totally relate…I left out the middle of the night frustration and naps (as my previous post may have indicated!) were huge pressure points for me with a lot of stress and anger at time. I think it’s incredibly normal, but also really perceptive to note it and put strategies in place…there really are so many! And I need to constantly be revisiting the books and ideas. ToddlerCalm is a great one for empathy, I love it. Thank you for commenting lovely x

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  14. Amaze. My son still doesn’t understand what those words mean so I’m chillin for the moment. However, I have somewhat accepted that I may accidentally swear in front of him in the future and if this happens I am not going to beat myself up about it, there are already too many things I am unsure of in this parenting jungle. I would like to think that I won’t swear at him because that does seem a bit harsh, but you never know what life will bring. I’m trying to be more of a “go with the flow” parent. ; ) #coolmumclub

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    1. Sounds like as fab attitude, i wish I’d been a go with the flow parent…! Yes you’re so right, on the grand scale of things that could be bad for our children the odd dropped swear word is probably not too high. Thank you for commenting x

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  15. Lovely, honest piece. Thank you 🙂 I learnt most of my swearing from my mother, but she never swore AT me (that I remember). I think that is a crucial point when discussing the issue of abuse. Whilst it seems we here are all agreed that swearing in front of or around your child is something to be avoided as best we can, I think we also all agree that it is not (always) abusive. In reality, people swear, and bringing children up in some sort of cotton-padded safe environment won’t necessarily help them cope in the real world. Understanding that mummy gets cross and sometimes shouty, (just like they do) but calms and is lovely (just like they can/do) is a good life lesson in the changing moods of people around us. As long as (endless caveats!) it is not one extreme to the other.

    I think though, that the overwhelming essence of your post for me, was one of love and forgiveness. Love for our children and forgiveness for our failings. Acceptance that we all err from time to time but that doesn’t make us failures, it just means we got it wrong that time, pick ourselves up, try better next time. I also take from this blog that we should take a moment to consider what we’re outraged at, before we criticise others. *Mumbles something about glass houses and stones, yada yada…*

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    1. Oh what a lovely thorough comment thank you. Yes we’re not perfect…I’m not perfect but I try to parent lovingly, gently, positively and sometimes I fail and I do think it helps my son to see how a range of emotions are dealt with. Yes lots of caveats of course but normally, hopefully, not abuse.
      You’ve made a great point at the end…i think I need to take that forward in all areas of life. I like that you managed to take that from this post but I hadn’t! Thank you! Xx

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