What’s the right age for a kid to start swearing? Some parents loathe cuss words and might say the “right time” is never. Others sprinkle four-letter words into their sentences like seasoning and plan to let their kids do the same. Parents have strong opinions on this issue, and one mom on TikTok has ignited a huge swearing debate after revealing she is totally OK with letting her 7-year-old cuss.
It all started when TikTokker Abbey Fickley shared a video of her daughter complaining about the mismatched socks her mom gave her to wear to school. “Why do I have two different socks? This is, like, some wacky Wednesday kind of sh*t,” the little girl is heard saying in the recording.
Some people found the girl’s sassiness hilarious, but others zeroed in on the fact that she said a cuss word. Among the very first comments on the video, one shocked person writes, “You just let her cuss like that??”
Soon, dozens of other people joined in the discussion, with some defending Fickley and the idea of letting kids swear at home. Others argued that swearing is “disrespectful” at all times and shouldn’t be OK for young kids.
Why do some parents let kids swear?
Fickley decided to respond to the comments in a follow-up video where she explained exactly what rules she has around swearing and why she thinks bad words shouldn’t be off-limits.
“A year or two ago, I decided that I would be the person in my daughter’s life to teach her the context of swear words,” she says. “In my home, they’re actually called ‘home words’ because that’s what they are. They are words that are only allowed to be used at home. With that being said, home words are actually a privilege, which means they can be revoked at any time.”
Fickley says the two main ways to lose swearing privileges in her house are:
- Using home words to offend or be mean to another person.
- Using home words to say mean things about yourself.
While some might see cussing as a sign of misbehavior or lack of discipline, Fickley says the opposite has been true in her house. “In the past two years of letting my daughter use home words, we’ve never had an issue. She’s a very well-behaved, polite little girl who just gets good grades and is respectful to teachers and classmates,” she adds.
Fickley’s explanation resonated with other parents who let their kids say cuss words or are considering how they want to handle this issue in their own homes. “Best to be taught by mama,” one parent writes. “I’m the same way and my son is constantly praised. He’s such a good boy, and he’s 15 now. You’re such a good mom!”
“I love ‘home words.’ I’ve been looking for a better word than ‘swear words’ or ‘bad words,'” another person adds. “They’re only bad if used that way. Love this!”
But not everyone was convinced by her explanation. Some parents still said cuss words simply aren’t OK, no matter the context. “I’ve never let my kids swear, as it’s full-on disrespect. I taught my kids they’re smarter and can expand their vocabularies by not swearing.”
Is it OK for kids to swear?
Ultimately, whether or not a person uses swear words is deeply personal. Some people refrain from saying these words due to their own values or religion. Others think swear words are just like any other word and there’s no reason to worry about them.
Even experts don’t draw hard lines for or against swearing. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says swearing in frustration is “almost a natural human behavior,” and that while it can be considered inappropriate, it’s “commonplace” in some families. The only thing they say should never be tolerated is kids swearing at other people in anger.
Fickley recognizes that not every parent will share her preference for teaching her daughter about swearing. What matters most, she adds, is just being open with and available to your kids in whatever way that you can be.
“I decided from day one that I would always be a safe space for my daughter to be able to come to me with absolutely anything and everything and never be afraid that she’s going to be in trouble,” she says. “I understand not all of us were raised that way. I wasn’t raised that way either, but I’m choosing to break the cycle.”