Partner Swears In front of a Child

Partner Swears In front of a Child

You’ll disagree with your partner in front of your kid at one point or another. While disagreeing is expected, how you do it and what happens after the episode matters greatly. Some people bang doors, curse, and utter slurs, while others swear. 

Has your partner ever sworn in front of your child? Did they regret it afterwards? Were they conscious of the words uttered that time? Swearing in itself may not be as harmful, but the emotions and words tied to it are.

Should Your Partner Swear In Front Of Your Kids? 

That depends. Swearing is so ingrained in our culture. But as a parent, you are the one to decide whether you want that culture in your home or not. Of course, by letting your partner swear in front of your child or not. 

Are you okay with your child swearing? If you are okay with your little one swearing, by all means, go ahead and let your spouse swear all they want. But if you don’t prefer your kids to have that habit, you need to cultivate a home environment free of swearing. 

Research reveals that children do what they see their parents or others do. So when your partner swears in front of your little one, just know they are teaching your kid how to do that.

Does Swearing Harm Children? 

Interestingly, no. Swearing in itself is associated with some positive virtues. The “Frankly, We Do Give a Damn” study revealed that people who swear are thought to be honest. 

The study authors reported a pattern of a positive relationship between honesty and profanity. And that profanity is linked with higher levels of integrity at the community level and lower levels of deception and lying at the individual level. 

Bergen also said, “people are more likely to swear when they’re in heightened emotional arousal, and the swearing may result in a positive or negative outcome.” This emotional arousal maybe happiness, anger, or sadness. 

In his book, “What swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brain, And Ourselves,” Bergen further states that there’s currently no research investigating the impact of swearing on kids. That’s because exposing young children to profanity is considered wrong (ethically). 

However, that’s not the case with older children. According to Bergen’s experiments, which looked at the exposure of college kids to profanity and its effects, swearing has almost zero impact on kids. But what of slurs? Do they have an effect? 

Well, that’s a different story. A 2014 study reports that constant exposure to slurs ultimately changes how someone feels about themselves and the victim. One observational study consisting of 143 middle schoolers who were exposed to homophobic slurs concluded that the students exposed experienced depression and anxiety feelings. 

When Does Swearing Become Bad?

While your partner’s swearing in front of your kid may not be harmful in its essence, the language accompanying the swearing may result in harm. Since we are humans, occasional curses here and there are also usual. 

But using foul and bad language or slurs makes you appear a terrible parent and partner. Foul language directed at kids, like telling them they’re worthless or threatening them, is offensive and relates to verbal abuse. 

Verbal abuse is detrimental in many ways. Several studies suggest that verbally abused kids are more likely to develop anxiety and depression as adults.

Such kids are also at a greater risk of suffering from low self-esteem, mood changes, PTSD, substance use, chronic stress, social isolation and withdrawal, and feelings of guilt, hopelessness, and shame.

What Happens When Your Child Learns Swearing And Bad Language ?

You and your partner are your child’s role models, and the example you set forth is what the kid will copy. If your partner swears, curses, or uses foul language in front of your kid, your little one will learn the same. And while some parents may be fine with that, others won’t. 

So, are you okay with your child’s learned habit of swearing? If not, there’s a way to salvage them. First, don’t punish or yell at your kid. Punishment portrays the wrong lesson and may make matters worse or result in your kid having rebellious behavior. 

A better approach is to use the extinction method accompanied by reinforcement of preferred behavior. Extinction entails ignoring the behavior you don’t like, in this case, swearing, cursing, or using slurs. 

When you use the extinction method, you slowly reduce the undesired behavior by not reacting to it or giving it attention once it occurs, which may otherwise unintentionally encourage it. 

So, next time your little one makes comments when swearing or uses offensive words, ignore and don’t give them attention. Although doing so may be challenging at first. Your kid may swear more aggressively or use foul language more. But don’t give in and react or give attention. Succeeding in using the extinction method requires consistency and persistence. 

To get the most from this method, it’s best to combine it with reinforcement. Reinforcement is the opposite of extinction and involves reacting or giving attention to comments made without swearing or using non-offensive words to replace offensive ones. 


For instance, you can react by recommending your kid when they stay an entire day without swearing or when they swear using non-offensive words like sugar instead of “sh**.” Doing so would let your child know that you still have their attention and ignore the behavior, not them.

When you constantly praise your child for communicating politely and ignoring them when they swear, you’re telling them what’s acceptable behavior and what’s not. And since kids learn first, they’ll soon stop swearing and using foul language.

Whether your partner swears in front of your child or not, your kid will have a fair share of exposure to profanity from friends, family members, or TV programs. While you may not be able to control the exposure, you can model your child’s behavior. Provided your kid knows using the “F***” word is not the correct language, they’ll turn out okay. 

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