Every sports arena is painted with lines to mark what is fair and what is foul. Every home needs to have some of those lines painted as well. One of the changing trends in our world has to do with the language we use. What word did you insert for my $%@!? Most of the time it is quite clear what the author using those symbols intends for you to think. Is that profanity? Or do they need to actually type or say the word?
Every home will have to decide which words are fair and which are foul. As a former second grade teacher I warn you that this choice will definitely have a big impact on your child at school. It was hard for me to discipline bad language in the classroom because I knew where the child had learned it. But I still had to discipline those words.
I used to work with a very nice man who was a former career navy guy. He used profanity around the office like I use salt around my kitchen. He used to let a string of words fly out of his mouth and then he would turn and apologize to me for using them. His language didn’t change much during his time there so I don’t think he was really very sorry!
Profanity is like a virus that is easily transmitted. I listened to those foul words all day and the next thing I knew, they were floating through my head on a regular basis. I remember burning my hand one day and shocking Jim with the word that sprung from my mouth. My mom would have grabbed a bar of soap and hauled me to the sink!
The first people who will need to draw the foul lines are the two parents. Which words are going to be unspeakable in your home? How much slander and gossip will you allow? What will you do when someone crosses the foul line? It isn’t just during the toddler years that we are teaching our children how to talk.
Jim and I didn’t use profanity in our home. Let’s face it, that would be bad for business. That didn’t mean that we never had anything foul come out of our mouths. Matthew 15:18 states: “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” Jim and I didn’t often cross the foul line, but there were seasons when the words hit and the chalk dust flew. In fact, Jim knew when he said the word “Blast” that it was as foul to God’s ears as a lot of other words.
I expect my little granddaughter to say “Cwap” any day. I didn’t like that word in my house, but I didn’t punish it either. When I suggested my son find another word he said, “I could, but you would hate that more.” Some battles with teens are just not worth fighting!
A friend was trying to teach his daughter to say “yes, ma’am” and “no, ma’am.” He walked around with pockets jangling for a month because when she used the word “ma’am” she got a quarter; if she forgot, it cost her a quarter. She learned to say “ma’am” as a habit by the end of the month.
One of the most important lessons we will teach our children is the power of their words. This is going to be especially important in the years ahead. Slander and bullying is rampant through social media and many people are being hurt. Matthew 12:36 is a sobering thought. Jesus said, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.” That might be a good verse to tape on the outside of a big jar in your home. Hand everyone a roll of quarters and charge one for every foul word spoken. At the end of the month, the one with the most quarters left wins the pot.
Our words matter. Let’s teach our kids that important truth from an early age and keep teaching it until we know that they will be able to stand before God on the Day of Judgment and be all right. Come to think of it, let’s teach ourselves that same lesson!