Jamie Oliver has revealed that he allows his children to swear.
But before the parenting police pipe up, he only allows them to use naughty words during the festive period.
The TV chef explained that though he doesn’t normally allow his kids – Poppy, 15, Daisy, 14, Petal, eight, Buddy, seven, and 16-month-old River – to say expletives, him and wife Jools lift their profanity prohibition for 60 seconds at Christmas time.
Speaking on ‘The Russell Howard Hour’ on Thursday, he said: “I love it but as a dad, I don’t like it. I say, ‘How do you know that?’ My boy makes them rhyme as well.”
And Jamie isn’t the only parent to have spoken out about their children swearing.
Taking to Facebook, the mum-of-four admitted that she often swears in front of her children, though would never condone swearing at someone.
Despite her own liberal use of expletives, Constance says that her children haven’t picked up the habit, knowing that naughty words were something only she could use.
Recently though, to the mum’s surprise, her son has started dipping his toes in the bad language waters.
But that doesn’t mean she’s getting worked up about it.
“Does it bother me? Not much, meanness would bother me more,” she wrote. “I certainly don’t encourage it, have pulled him up on it and he appears to have stopped.”
Constance isn’t the only parenting blogger who believes it’s ok to swear in front of little ones.
Maria Foy, a New Zealand based mum-of-two, recently penned a post about swearing in front of her children and why she doesn’t believe doing so is detrimental to their behaviour or development.
“I am a swearer; from WAY back. Not a prolific potty-mouth, but I do use the full range of my vocabulary to help me express how I feel,” she wrote.
“For me, swear words are just words. They help me express myself, especially when I’m emotional; but they’re still just words. I don’t use swear words to create drama, or insult people; they’re used to help me express my emotions.”
So is she right? Is it ok to curse in front of little ones? Or should all parents be swapping their f-bombs for fiddlesticks?
While there’s no real evidence about the effects swearing has on children, there are various studies which suggest swearing can be beneficial for parents. A recent article in Association Psychological Science’s Observer suggest that swear words might have a cathartic effect after an injury or emotional episode. For example after you stepped on a stray lego piece.
Another study revealed that swearing could actually help us withstand pain. The research involved two groups of participants dipping their hands into icy water — one could repeat their favourite profanity while withstanding the cold, the other could. Unsurprisingly, the swear-y group were able to withstand the ice bath longer — but the effect was greater for people who swore less in their everyday lives.
Of course one of the main reasons so many parents are holding their tongues is the fear of their child repeating the bad work back. Not only is there a concern that their little one might be judged as having a lack of discipline, but there’s also a worry they might be considered a bad influence on other children.
But a recent study found that childhood swearing is largely innocuous. Scientists documented children ages 1 to 12 naturally uttering swear words, and only rarely witnessed negative repercussions. On no occasion did swearing lead to physical violence. Instead, taboo words were used mostly for positive reasons, like humour, and mostly weren’t spoken out of anger.
Whether you’re a no-expletives household or you parent from a ‘so what’ school of thought, there’s little doubt that the issue is a divisive one for parents.
Perhaps the solution is making like Jamie and ensuring there’s a time and a place for little ones to let rip on the naughty words.
Just maybe try not to let your Christmas dinner turn into an expletive-fuelled free-for-all. Because “Dad, can you pass the f***ing sprouts” could be taking things just a little too far.
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