Cathy & Todd discuss swearing, its origins, and how to talk to your kids about its usage. They also discuss when and how to offer a heartfelt apology, and how to relate and understand other people’s experiences. Link to Podcast Episode on our website.

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Time Stamps

2:31 Apologizing

16:18 Swearing

23:27 Why we swear

28:33 Parenting philosophy on swearing

29:36 Who Smarted?

36:23 Class & Vocabulary

39:40 Swearing and honesty

42:35 Swearing and physiology

48:06 Avid Co DuPage County Area Decorating, Painting, Remodeling by Avid Co includes kitchens, basements, bathrooms, flooring, tiling, fire and flood restoration.

48:06 MenLiving – A virtual and in-person community of guys connecting deeply and living fully. No requirements, no creeds, no gurus, no judgements


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How To Listen To Each Other- Podcast #695

Swearing Is More Important Than You Think

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Who Smarted?



How to Talk to Your Kids About Swearing

In this episode of Zen Parenting Radio, Todd and Cathy Adams discuss various aspects of swearing, including their differing views on its appropriateness and their approach to their children’s use of profanity. Todd highlights the importance of apologies and how they should be a sincere connection between two people rather than a way to pacify an uncomfortable situation.

Todd and Cathy also emphasize the importance of taking responsibility for one’s actions and addressing issues before they escalate, using the Lu Fu framework, which stands for listening until the other person feels understood. They acknowledge that swearing can be a way to connect with others, but it’s important to be aware of its impact and have a healthy relationship with control.

Regarding their children’s use of profanity, Todd and Cathy encourage open communication and believe it’s important to teach kids about the context in which certain words are appropriate and to understand their value when they hurt. They have raised their kids listening to fluent profanity, not the slurs, since birth and believe in the timing of maturity and that kids need to learn how to use these words. However, when their kids use profanity, they do not direct it at anyone, and it’s not flippant. Todd brings attention to it in a funny way, but he does not criticize his kids.

Todd and Cathy also discuss the effects of swearing on physical and mental states. They mention the famous ice bucket challenge where people could hold their hand in ice water longer while using swear words than without, as well as Steve Carell’s hair removal scene in the movie 40-Year-Old Virgin, where he swears uncontrollably during the painful procedure. They conclude that swearing can be a pressure valve, but it’s important to understand when and where it’s appropriate. They advise parents to guide their children on the use of swearing instead of admonishing them.

In addition to their discussion on swearing, Todd and Cathy share updates about their upcoming events, including micro-community talks, women’s group, and interviews with experts on conflict, dealing with teenagers, and sexual assault. Cathy also mentions that her book won the Nautilus award for the second time.

Overall, this episode of Zen Parenting Radio offers valuable insights into the use of profanity and how it can impact relationships, children, and personal well-being. It highlights the importance of open communication, responsibility, and understanding the context of certain words. By guiding children on the use of swearing rather than simply admonishing them, parents can foster healthy relationships with control and help their children develop a mature understanding of language.


ZPR#708 – How to Talk to Your Kids About Swearing Full Episode Transcript – DOWNLOAD

Todd: Here we go. My name’s Todd. This is Cathy. Welcome back to another episode of Zen Parenting Radio. This is podcast number 708. Why listen to Zen Parenting Radio? Because you’ll feel outstanding and always remember our motto, which is the best predictor of a child’s wellbeing is a parent’s self-understanding.

Todd: On today’s show, we’re gonna go over a few things. One is apologies. Okay. And two is there’s a podcast that I love to listen to called Freakonomics. And they just recently did an episode called Swearing is More Important Than You Think. And it made me think that we’ve been doing this podcast for a while.

Todd: I don’t know, about 12 years. I don’t know if you’ve ever talked about the topic of swearing, but I think from a parental viewpoint, it’s an important topic to have. Sure. So I might play a few clips from this Freakonomics podcast. My hope is if you like this discussion that you’ll head on over to Freakonomics and listen to that podcast.

Todd: But first I wanna say thanks to a few brand new Team Zen members. And by the way, sweetie, did you know. If you become a Team Zen member, even if it’s just for a week, you get either fuzzy socks or a t-shirt. 

Cathy: The socks are so good. I like t-shirts, 

Todd: but the socks are great. So I wanna say welcome to Mary Ellen from Crystal Lake and Tammy from Redondo Beach, California.

Todd: Thanks so much for joining the team. And we look forward to seeing you soon. As far as upcoming events on Team Zen, then there’s a far a few micro community talks this week differently wired families dealing with addiction, and then John Duffy and I are doing something on. May 12th Friday, May 12th, and then four days later we’re having Mike Doish on the show.

Cathy: So, and he’s gonna talk about consent and sexual 

Todd: assault. And John Duffy has written a bunch of books on teenagers, how to deal with teenage boys, how to deal with teenage girls, things like that. So, busy month. Yeah. 

Cathy: Next women’s group is Jan, or June, because. This month is busy cause we have a daughter graduating and such.

Cathy: There’s a few things on the agenda, you know what I mean? That’s right. So we had to postpone the women’s group to June, but it’ll be here sooner than you know it. 

Todd: That’s right. So, I got an email from a guy named Jason Gaddis, who has been on the podcast two or three times. He wrote an amazing book on conflict and how to deal with conflict called Getting to Zero.

Todd: And he wrote an email. I’m on his list, so it’s like an email list, but I thought it was interesting and we’ll just take a quick minute to talk about this and then we’ll get into the swearing thing. So Jason’s email says, I generally believe that apologies are overrated. However, if you’re planning to apologize, do these three things before you say, I’m sorry.

Todd: So let’s pause before that. Generally believing that apologies are overrated. Now, I think that is a statement that can get a lot of critiques. What does that mean? Well, I think it means different things to different people. I can tell you what it means for me. Okay. I think the words, I’m sorry, many times are used as a crutch to either stop feeling uncomfortable and it really isn’t a vehicle.

Todd: I think apologies how they were conceived are an opportunity to connect. Deeply and vulnerably with somebody. And in my judgment I, and I would judge a lot of other people out there sometimes just say, I’m sorry because they think they may have done something wrong and they’re trying to pacify it.

Todd: And I just thought of another thing. There’s a whole you and I have talked about this YouTube clip, I think it’s Dove or one of those, and they have a Sorry, Not Sorry campaign. And this is specific to girls. Women. Women. Apologizing when there’s no need to apologize at all.

Todd: As a matter of fact, and I promise I won’t forget, I’ll include that YouTube commercial that takes, it’s like two minutes. But it’s great because I have three daughters. I have a wife and I have plenty of. Friends, male friends who I can think of right now. One guy’s name is Jim, and the other guy’s name is Mike, and they’re the apologizer.

Todd: They apologize all the time even though they did nothing wrong. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about what seems to be sincere. Apologies are really not apologies. 

Cathy: You know what, sometimes what my girlfriends and I have talked about before is that like, I’ll run into a couch and I’ll apologize.

Cathy: Yes, there you go. That’s a good, and I mean, and there’s so many versions of that running into a wall. You know, like kind of tripping over something that is inanimate, but then we say, sorry, and that’s how, you know, something’s ingrained, right. That you’re gonna right away throw an apology out there. 

Todd: So, yeah.

Todd: I guess in summation, my viewpoint, as many apologies are out there are not heartfelt. And they’re just kind of used as a bridge just to move on. Well, 

Cathy: I think that, so, my viewpoint. Yeah. What that, you know what that means is that you’re saying sometimes it’s used to pacify, which I totally hear.

Cathy: I think that’s very true. Sometimes people use it as a crutch. Oh no, 

Todd: sorry. 

Cathy: Get it sweetie. I do pretty good. But I also think that sometimes people use it proactively like, Ooh I don’t wanna cause any problem. Like, I kind of feel like the way you’re framing it is like people trying to manipulate a system.

Cathy: And I think some people are trying to avoid causing any problems within a system. But my. My, the way I look at an apology is the whole point of it is to take responsibility, yes, for behavior. That’s why you apologize, and I 

Todd: would hope that it’s also to express some sadness. Like if I hurt you, I’m feeling sad.

Todd: So it’s a vehicle of communication of if I just did something to harm you that doesn’t feel really good over in my world. Take responsibility. Take responsibility. So Jason goes on, is there anything else you wanna say in general about apologies before I talk about what Jason says? I think 

Cathy: sometimes we also, so take responsibility, the best case scenario.

Cathy: And by the way, there’s, I have a really. I have pain in my mouth, so if I’m talking a little stunted, that’s why I can talk. You gotta ice that thing. 

Todd: I know. It’s ow, ow, ow and it’s on your mouth or your tongue. 

Cathy: I don’t know. I can’t tell. It’s like a big cut in my mouth. Okay. So anyway. Ah. So there is, you want me to get some salt?

Cathy: Oh God, don’t even say that. I’m actually drinking one of these seltzers. Yeah, because it’s like, it’s got bubbles. Yeah. And it like, feels good, you know, temporarily. Like soos it for a second. But anyway, if I’m talking funny, that’s why I think sometimes apologies are used to unload pain. 

Todd: Off of myself.

Todd: Yeah. If I’m the one apologizing, yes. I’m unloading my own pain and sometimes sending it over to you. Now, 

Cathy: sometimes you can do them all at once. You can take responsibility, unload pain, acknowledge someone else. There’s not one way. Sometimes we have a lot of different layers of why we apologize, but it’s just, you know.

Cathy: And then one more Todd, and then you can move on. Sure. Then there’s also the apology that we teach that is like just words. There’s nothing in it. Yes, there’s, it’s completely hollow. Yes. It’s the, you ran into this person. Say you’re sorry. Sorry. Yeah. And it’s just a word, right? And there’s no learning in it.

Cathy: So there’s lots of different ways. 

Todd: Well, it’s funny, before I go into Jason’s, three things that you should do before you say you’re sorry. As parents, I’ve seen this so many times at the playground or whatever, go say you’re sorry. I don’t think that’s good modeling of what a, an apology means, and maybe it’s one, it’s a three year old kid.

Todd: Yeah. You’re trying to help them understand basics impact. But the whole idea of forcing an apology or like, let’s say you hurt me, right. I need you to say you’re sorry. Then it’s not authentic. Right? I think that’s, I need an apo, I demand an apology from you. That’s not what an, that’s not what, sorry, is supposed to mean.

Cathy: True, but that’s a societal expectation. Right. We were actually just talking in the car on the way home. Todd and I were gone this weekend and we were talking about like what society wants you to do versus what makes the most sense and what is more like a full-bodied type of apology. Sure. We weren’t talking about apologies in the car, but it fits the same thing.

Cathy: And sometimes people be like, well, I understand. You know, I’m self-aware and that’s not what an apology does, so I’m not gonna apologize to you because that’s not really what’s happening. But the other person who may not be well versed in this topic is expecting an apology. You know what I mean? Like there’s a societal expectation that when you do something, you say you’re 

Todd: sorry.

Todd: And I’m just saying that if I have to ask for it, Then it doesn’t count. Correct. So you’re 

Cathy: talking about the person who’s saying, give 

Todd: me the apology. Yeah. I demand an apology. That absolutely, that doesn’t make sense to me, 

Cathy: and especially doesn’t make sense if you’re saying in an anger angrily, angered way, in an angry way.

Cathy: Apologize to me. And someone’s like, well, okay, then I’m sorry. And you’re like, good. It’s like, what came out? 

Todd: How did that feel? Nothing happened. That didn’t help me. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So, so Jason says, do these three things before you say, sorry, own what you did. Take responsibility. I screwed up and did blank.

Todd: Or I forgot to include you, or I shut down and pulled away. The more 

Cathy: specific Yes. To your situation that you could beat. Like, yes. People, when people are like, I was a jerk, it was like, what does that mean? Right. What does it mean you were a jerk? Like, that’s a very passive, let’s sweep it under the rug.

Cathy: I’m just trying to appease you versus. During the discussion last night, I wasn’t listening and I know I really you know, I was distracted and I realize that now, and I’m sorry. I recognize what you were recognizing, right? And you can also even say, I was really distracted last night. Let me tell you why I got some bad news from work, and I know you were trying to tell me something important, but you are more important.

Cathy: But in that moment, I was worried about work and so a lot of people are like, well, I don’t wanna give all my power away. There’s a reason why I feel this way. So you can share that. 

Todd: I just remembered one of the famous apologies on popular culture. Which one? Any idea what I’m let to play? I have no idea.

Todd: Seinfeld. Oh, so it’s when George loans. George loans a sweater to James Spyder’s character Uhhuh. And I forget how, who exchanges who with what, but I don’t think you need to know the specifics. Here we go. I don’t know if I’m into that. Hello? Hello. Hanky others? George. 

Cathy: You know Jason? I I couldn’t help notice.

Cathy: I, I didn’t get my apology. Apology for what? A drafty apartment 

Todd: Aless friend. A ballgame giveaway, MetLife windbreaker, come on. Not about the neck hole thing. Yeah, the neck hole thing. And I would appreciate it if you would say 

Cathy: you’re sorry. No way. You would’ve completely stretched it out. You 

Todd: have to apologize.

Cathy: Step nine. Step nine. 

Todd: All right, George. All right, I’m sorry. I’m very sorry. I’m so 

Cathy: sorry that I didn’t want your rather bulbous head struggling to find its way through the normal size, neck goal of my finally sweater.

Todd: Oh my God, that’s so good. 

Cathy: Well, and people do that a lot. Like if someone demands an apology, they don’t necessarily, they’re not as sharp as James Spader, but yeah. They’ll say things like, okay, I’m sorry that you were offended Yes. By the things I 

Todd: said. Right. And what they’re doing is passing it off to the other person’s experience.

Todd: Exactly. Okay. Number two, empathize with them. All right. I imagine the impact on your hurt was blank. On your hurt. On your hurt. Yeah. On your hurt. On your hurt. Yeah. So you got hurt because I said something wrong. I imagine that the impact on your hurt was blank. 

Cathy: Okay. All right. It’s an interesting language, 

Todd: but I like it.

Todd: You must feel really bad given what I did. Okay, sweetie. Struggling with these examples. Okay. Hug. I can’t blame you for how you feel. That must suck right now. Yeah, I like that. And then I would feel angry too. Yeah. All right. And then last but not least, validate their feelings. Your feelings make sense to me?

Todd: Yeah. I feel 

Cathy: like that’s some, a sentence that I say quite 

Todd: a bit. It makes sense because I hurt you. Yeah. Your frustration and anger with me makes sense because dot. I think what you said was really important. The more specific you can get the better. And I think a lot of weak apologies are more general.


Cathy: I think what is, if you’re really. That’s why I was kind of sharing an example where you can share your experience too, but also relaying back what somebody told you or if you know, some really one really well, like Todd knows it’s very important for me that listening is very important. Like when I’m sharing something, if Todd’s on his phone or his computer or he is like walking into different rooms I feel un unhear.

Cathy: You know? And again, this is gonna sound really like I. Sometimes Todd, I have a normal conversation and all that’s fine. I don’t care if he does all that, but sometimes I’m sharing something that’s kind of deep and he’s so distracted and I really appreciate it when he is like, oh, you know what? You’re right.

Cathy: I am doing that. Hold on, let me sit down. Let me listen. I was not it was like he understands me. He doesn’t have to say, how are you feeling about what I’m doing? He knows me, right? And so there is like a second, there’s, what is it called? A shorthand? [00:13:20] Yeah. Where he’s like, totally, I get it. I know what I’m doing here.

Cathy: And then he doesn’t need to say, and I am so sorry. He’s just saying You’re right. You know. And can you think of one for me with you? Not 

Todd: off the top of my head. Okay. But I’m sure there’s plenty. Okay. Both 

Cathy: ways. Well, I think that I feel like recently I was apologizing to you. I. Oh, there was something we were doing at night and I promised you something.

Todd: You wanna be more specific to it? No, 

Cathy: I don’t. No. And I was like saying, yes, and this is, you know, we’ll do this and we’ll do this and we’ll do this, and I totally didn’t do any of it. So like in the morning I was like, you know what? I said all these things. And I made all these big promises and I did none of it cuz I fell asleep.

Cathy: So, I’m sorry about that. Yeah. And you’re like, it’s fine. Yeah. But it’s like I’m taking full or I know that I did that. A lot of times what we’ll do is we’ll make all these promises and then in the morning we feel bad that we didn’t follow through. And we’ll say something like, well you knew I was tired.

Cathy: Yeah. I can’t believe you thought I was gonna really do that and we blame the other 

Todd: person. No, and I think what you’re right is it’s a simple acknowledgement. Yeah. It’s acknowledgement. Like I noted, I’m tuned into you enough to know that whatever I did or didn’t do impacted you.

Todd: And I’m guessing that doesn’t feel 

Cathy: real great or not. And I think you really what’s the word you deflate? Because I think in the morning, You didn’t seem mad at me. But I think if you would’ve thought about that for a while, you might’ve been like, that was annoying. If anything annoying.

Cathy: Well, 

Todd: if night may, maybe it’s like a micro cutt. Yeah. Or something like that. Yeah. And if you have enough microcuts that aren’t acknowledged Yeah. They turn into big cuts death 

Cathy: by a thousand cuts. Right, right. And so it’s like you weren’t mad, but I think all I did was take responsibility for it so you could take it off your list.

Cathy: Yeah, definitely. Like, let’s just take care of business. Like this is something. Sometimes people ask me like, well, what did you do when you got into this big fighter? Tell me about your worst fighter tell. Or like, you know, when your kids are yelling or they ask questions as if it’s already gotten really far.

Cathy: Like that we’ve gotten to this really scary place and the thing I often say to people is, I definitely have issues with you or my kids just like them. But I think a slight difference is I try to not let it simmer or not let it get bigger. Or push it away so it never gets to that point where someone’s yelling at someone.

Cathy: Yeah. Do you know what I mean? Yeah. Like you just. Handle it. If you’re aware, like sometimes someone’s gotta make the other person know, Hey, this offended me. We didn’t know at all. Right? You know, we have to share with each other, and that’s very 

Todd: vulnerable. Yeah. So in closing this, I will say one thing that Jason has in a framework in his book is called Lu Fu.

Todd: Listen until the other person feels understood. It’s just a, it’s the science of how to listen to one another. And we did a whole podcast on this and I’ll include it in the show notes here. It’s podcast number 695 and it was called How to Listen to Each Other. And we did it not too long ago. 695. So we’re on 707, so it was a few months ago.

Todd: So anyways. 

Todd: Okay, we’re gonna head on over to the swearing topic and before I play any of these clips how about we both reveal our Experience of swearing. Okay. Both if you do it, how you experience when others do it, and maybe even through a parenting lens. And why don’t you start, or I’ll, I’m happy to start too.

Todd: Sure, go ahead. I’ve noticed that I’m not a big swearer specifically around the kids. But even around you. The where I swear most is watching a game with buddies. With friends. And I also swear a lot when I’m coaching guys. I don’t know, I think I use it. More as an attention grabber.

Todd: Or maybe an a, a way to kind of connect and relate a little bit more. And if I don’t swear, I feel like it’s not as connecting or not as awakening, I guess. And it could be like, not as relating. Yeah. Something like that. 

Todd: I 

Cathy: think it’s something about not making things too formal. Yeah.

Todd: But basically my experience with swearing and my experience is changing as we speak. Because I’m like, you don’t have to swear. There’s a lot of words out in the English language that you can use other than curse words to get your point across. And I also noticed, because I listened to this whole Freakonomics podcast, it’s a sense of control.

Todd: I need to be in control. And if I’m using curse words, slur words that I feel out of control. So I’m not as comfortable with appearing out of control to others. Yeah. And that’s something I need to work through because I’m a human being that. Has, you know, a whole bandwidth of his relationship with control.

Todd: But I’m trying to keep everything so tight in my life that I don’t wanna be perceived as anything else. And there’s like a good boy, a goody Yeah, a goody tooth shoes. In there. So, like I said, I’m not saying I’m right. I, as a matter, as matter of fact, I think you have a healthier relationship with swearing, which we’re about to exper with, which you’re about to share than I do.

Todd: So I think I have more work ahead of me. So, anyways, that’s 

Cathy: me. I like swearing. I swear more than you. You were with my girlfriends and I this weekend. You had a lot of time with us, I swear all the time with them. Like we swear, like we use our languages for us. Yeah. Do you know what I mean?

Cathy: We’re not always out in the world doing that, but we speak a certain way to each other. We don’t swear at each other, we just use swear words. I am more comfortable with it. A lot of times when I present, I use swear words. I felt very I, I don’t I guess I’m doing it for effect, but I’m also trying to be myself.

Cathy: And that’s how I would say that sentence. I’d use a word in there like, you know, and we, it’s so funny to do this podcast because Todd and I, since this is a kids and family and parenting podcast, parents listen to this show with their kids. Yeah. And we have a rating of we’re, we are non explicit.

Cathy: We’re non explicit, so we really can’t swear 

Todd: here. So it’s, we’re his head on over to pop culture, 

Cathy: we swear all the time. Yeah. And, but it’s not like, okay, like the Freakonomics podcast that you were talking about swearing, they went into the history of swearing and like where it comes from.

Cathy: There’s a lot of religion around it. A lot of puritanical culture. Yeah. Around it. A lot of language to oppress people, to like divide us all. There’s all these reasons, just like there is for everything of why certain words become okay or not okay. And I like to obviously stay in within somewhat of the norms of our society.

Cathy: Like I’m not trying to like throw words out there to shock people. I’m using pretty typical language. And then there’s some words swear words I don’t like, I don’t like the B word. I know my daughter’s generation use it more commonly. In a a way to relate to each other. It’s more like a fun word, you know, like, I know that sounds crazy to say a fun word was such a strong word.

Cathy: I, from my generation, have a different connotation with the B word, so I don’t use it naturally. And then I just, like Todd said, like he I told him the other day when he said he wanted to talk about swearing, that I remember he told me early in our relationship, 

Todd: I have no rec recollection of this, by the way, what I’m about to say.

Todd: And I believe you, by the way. Yeah, 

Cathy: but I don’t, yeah, it’s something he loved his stepfather very much. He was a wonderful man. And I think your stepfather at one point told you, you know, I, I’m not really, it’s, yeah. I don’t like it when women swear. He was wonderful, by the way. I’m not throwing Richie under the bus, but he had a very, he had a more like religious background. It was an old school per old school women perspective. Women shouldn’t swear. Kind of like women should be more composed. And you told me that a few times when we were first dating. It didn’t stop me from swearing, but I was conscious of the fact. That you didn’t love it. Yeah. And but I also was like, this is, I mean, I grew up in a small town and.

Cathy: I there was a way we talked like, I don’t know. I know how to do work culture language too. Like I know how to not swear. Obviously, I’m a teacher, you know, I’ve worked with children my whole life, but I just feel like a reality man. That’s right. John COO’s, new John Cooper Melham. It’s 

Todd: not John.

Todd: Well, 

Cathy: John Cougar Melling. Yeah. John Bellingham. 

Todd: Where is this and where does this song rank in your John Nolan in 

Cathy: Small town? Probably number three. Oh, really? 

Todd: I think it’s more top five for me. 

Cathy: Maybe five. Yeah. This is, this song played a really big role in my life. I remember when I really liked it, like it was sometime in my early twenties and I thought, oh, I’m gonna play this song at my wedding.

Cathy: We didn’t play this 

Todd: song at our wedding. Oh, we didn’t? No, sweetie. The the speakers weren’t loud enough. You wanna do it again? No. No. At a wedding. At a wedding? No. No. Oh, I don’t even wanna talk about it. Do you wanna know what I think is one of the most underrated John Mellencamp songs? Which one?

Todd: That nobody ever plays? Are you play paper and 

Cathy: fire? No.

Cathy: You familiar? Yeah. I saw her first. 

Todd: That’s, it’s called Key West Inter mezzo, and nobody ever talks about this song. I saw you first.

Cathy: You wanna know what my number one is? Tell me. Peaceful World. Oh really? It’s John Mellencamp and India Re and I’ve always loved it. It’s on a bunch of my playlists. I think I used it in a Z parenting moment. 

Todd: This is probably my tough times,

Todd: Mel. I know he is in the Rock Roll Hall of Fame and everything, but I think he gets forgotten by how amazing he was. It is

Cathy: as convenient, please. Big pan, great song. Indiana. Indiana, I mean, I’m not from Indiana, I’m from Illinois. But write this Midwestern area. 

Todd: Do you mind if I play a clip from this podcast? Go ahead. This is called Why We Swear It’s almost a minute, but this is the longest clip. So just so you know, cause I know you get mad at me, but I do when it’s the long, when I play to the why, the purpose of swearing and 

Cathy: obviously it differs from person to person, situation to situation even I can think of.

Todd: A lot of different reasons. You might be angry, you might be disgusted, you might be trying to elicit humor from someone else. You might be trying to bond. You might be trying to show that you are your own person, and I won’t be bound by society’s rules. If I 

Cathy: ask you to give the answer to 

Todd: the title of this one book of yours, 

Cathy: why we Curse?

Cathy: Why do 

Todd: we, how Answerable is that question? You just answered it, Steven, you just elaborated a lot of the, so I’m not gonna play the rest of that, but it just has a lot of different uses. It does. Which he just explained. You know what? 

Cathy: Life is ridiculous. And sometimes we need to use words to be like, this is and I would use, I’d say effing ridiculous.

Cathy: Yeah. Like, I, like life is ridiculous. And sometimes a day is effing hard. Yeah. And sometimes this is freaking whatever, like I’m, you know, I can’t use it, but it, nothing else works. Yeah. Like to say, I had such a hard day. It’s like, no, that’s not what happened today. Yeah. And I’d like to use humor. I don’t use, and I think you’ll attest to this.

Cathy: I don’t know if you’ve ever heard me swear in anger. I don’t use swearing to Be angry. Yeah. I’ve never sworn at someone. I, but I use it with humor and I use it to tell stories. So I think people who use, you know, is it, so I’m gonna do a teeny transition and if you wanna pull back and we’ll go back into it later, that’s fine.

Cathy: But, Like with my children, the things that I’ve taught them about swearing is you don’t use words on someone. You don’t call them a name. You don’t use this name or word, no matter what it is to like, to point someone out. I don’t know how to say that any different. Like, you don’t call someone, but you might say certain behavior is a certain way, or I’m feeling this certain way.

Cathy: But I’m very, I really have this belief that. You know, again, we’ve talked about this on the show before, but if this is a good show to re-discuss it, that words have energy, right? And words are things, you know, the whole Maya Angelou thing that she says that I fully agree with, words are things, they get into your body, they get into your clothes, they get into the room.

Cathy: They have a heaviness or a lightness. And I am very thoughtful about the words I choose. And when you use a word and you put it on someone like you’re a B, or you’re an A, or you’re whatever. Oh, like it makes me, it gives me stomach ache. Yeah. Like it’s a really. But you can use the same word and put it in a sentence in a different way, and it becomes humor.

Cathy: Yeah. So you just have to be thoughtful about the 

Cathy: use. 

Todd: So if there’s anybody listening out there that have young kids I, you probably know this but the most, and if you don’t want your three-year-old to be drop in F bombs, the best thing you can do is not swear in front of them. Well, and when they do swear to ignore it as if it’s a normal word.

Todd: Right. Because the minute you bring up. A lot of [00:26:40] attention to it. Where did you hear that word? Right. Blah, blah, blah. Right. It’s not a good idea because they are, they’re stimulated by your response. 

Cathy: Right. And there’s two extremes to that because we’ve got the parents who freak out and say, where’d you hear that?

Cathy: Oh my God, you can’t say that. And then there’s these, I see this on Instagram and on TikTok all the time, a kid will use a swear word and the mom and dad will start recording them and say, what’d you say? What’d you say? And they make it like a show. Yeah. Like my kid’s using the F word. You’re also reinforcing the use of that.

Cathy: So that is one thing that I feel like when the girls were little, I was not swearing around them, at least on purpose. I’m not saying they never heard me, but I was thoughtful about, yeah. This is not the time at 

Todd: what age do you think you started relaxing? How often you would drop swear works.

Todd: Well, 

Cathy: we started talking about it when the girls were very young. Like, do you remember in my first book, in the Self-Aware Parent, I self-published it. It came out like when my girls were tiny and I told a story about JC saying feeling really bad cuz she used the S word. She kept saying, mom, I used the S word and I, you know, I was like, what’s it?

Cathy: I was thinking it was the S H I T, but whatever. And I said, what’s the S word? And she went in my ear and said, stupid. And I said, it’s okay. You know, like these words come out, but like, and then the girls started seeing writing on the slide across the street from where we live. Okay. Remember we, there was a park and they saw the F word.

Cathy: And so they’d come home and we’d talk about it really openly. Like, why do people write those words? How does it make ’em feel? When a kid, cuz. And then in fifth grade, I remember one of our daughters, I think it was Cameron, she said, all of the boys in her class are using these words. And I said, well, let’s talk about why do you think they’re using ’em?

Cathy: It gives ’em power, it makes ’em feel strong, it makes ’em feel older. Like it totally makes sense. Right. Yet had another 

Todd: reason to have a conversation. Yeah. With, so I wanna play from one of these experts, like, so in Freakonomics he interviews like these famous college professor people Uhhuh. So this is what one guy’s take is on it.

Todd: So we’ll see what he says. That’s 

Cathy: just me, and I know many people would rather their children. Not hear the salty words, at least not until a certain point. I frankly disagree because I think we’re living in a different world. If your children around the age of nine are gonna start hearing pop songs that are full of shameless profanity, and I have now watched that happen with my two little girls.

Cathy: I’m not sure why they should ever have listened to anything where words were bleeped out because I think we don’t give kids enough credit for understanding context. Very early on, my girls noticed that Daddy says, fuck a lot. They instantly knew he does that. That’s funny. But were not supposed to do it.

Cathy: Yes, and I cannot prescribe for other people in how they raised their kids, but my kids have been raised listening to fluent profanity, not the slurs, but the other ones since birth. All right. So I fully agree, even though I, he was probably, you know, maybe he was more loose with that than we were when the girls were young.

Cathy: But that is something I think that’s really important is I would say there’s reason why people use swear words. Like there’s, it’s good, it’s not swear words are bad. It’s, there’s an adult reason. Just like you can’t drive a cartel, you’re 16 or you have to learn how to use these words. Like you have to understand them, you have to understand their value when they hurt.

Cathy: Timing of when, timing of maturity. Yeah. Not with authority figures. You know, like I had, we had to like, we don’t just say this word is good, this word is bad because that’s like talking about, that’s like saying to kids, sex is good. Sex is bad. Yeah. Like, you know, oh, sex is not something we wanna talk about.

Cathy: It’s like, of course we need to talk about this. This is something that when they get older, you hope they have a positive experience with, so with swear words, it’s similar. It just wasn’t okay when they were young like that. It’s not time to use those words. Right. Just like it’s not time to go to a rated R movie.

Cathy: Now, did they sometimes with her friends say, blah, blah, blah, blah. Sure. Of course. Yeah. Because they’re kids and they’re trying 

Todd: things out. So how would you describe, without naming any of our three daughters names, Uhhuh what is our, household, like from their viewpoint regarding what’s acceptable and what’s not.

Todd: Well, 

Cathy: we’ve talked about it so much that it, the natural evolution to them swearing was not that big of a deal to me. I think it was a little big of a deal to you. 

Todd: It’s still a little not jarring, but I’m, like I said, I still got work to do because, All three of them are Swear. Yeah, 

Cathy: swear. Well, we have a 20 year old, an eight 18 year old.

Cathy: A 15 year old. So I would say that they, the times that they swear though it’s not flippant. It’s not, and it’s not directed. It’s not directed anybody. It’ll be like, we’re playing, we’re playing the wee game, you know, like tennis or whatever, and they’ll be like, yeah. Yeah. Which I think is like a normal experience.

Cathy: Yeah. Right. But Todd will always say something he doesn’t get mad, but you’ll say like, 

Todd: Well, let’s be clear. I don’t always say it. No. I always 

Cathy: wait, be I wanna be clear about what I’m saying. Okay. I don’t mean you criticize it. You say a funny thing after they say swear, once you’ll go you use one of our girls’ names 

Cathy: say Snugs.

Todd: Oh yeah. And like, got it. So I will bring attentions. True. Yeah, that’s true. So if we, I have nicknames for each of my kids, and if one of ’em says a swear word, I will jokingly. Say their name really loud and they know it, they’re in trouble. They know it’s funny. Yeah. Like they’re in trouble if you’re gonna get grounded.

Todd: And it’s just my way of saying, yeah, this is an interesting experience for for your dad, that’s all. Yeah. 

Cathy: Which and of course like I understand that. Yeah. With you. 

Todd: Do you wanna hear, go ahead. I was gonna play another clip, but you go ahead. 

Cathy: Well, I just kind of think that, you know, gosh, it’s so interesting because I just think when they’re living in our home. We get an opportunity, like, I’ll give you an example.

Cathy: When two of my girls were, or when one of my girls was younger, two or three years ago, she kind of got into the habit of saying things like, shut up. Shut up. And shut up is something sometimes we say like I might say to Todd, shut up. Or shut up, or, but the way she was saying it, it had a tone that I said, listen, it’s not about the words you’re saying, but the way you’re saying it is really sharp and ouch.

Cathy: And I know you don’t realize that cuz she’s got a pretty strong personality. And she’s not offended by those things. Like she’s one of those kids would be like, I wouldn’t care if someone said that to me. I said, yeah, but see, to my ears, it sounds harsh. So it’s not about shut up. It’s about the way it sounds.

Todd: Sweetie, do you want to hear somebody say, shut up? Sure. Hold on. I gotta get 

Cathy: the right part. I know what you’re gonna play.

Todd: Sweet. Where’s that from? That’s, well, no, don’t say duh. Not everybody knows 

Cathy: chickens. It’s Chandler and Rachel and Ross are trying to get his couch up the stairs. Because he’s Ross and you have little in common Todd, cuz he didn’t wanna pay to have it delivered. Yes. So he said, no, we can carry it.

Cathy: That’s my guy. Home. Yeah. But anyway. You know, like she, if she was like, shut up, but the way she was saying it, I had to tell her, that can sound harsh. Now, why am I telling that story? Because I think sometimes when we let our kids speak organically and naturally and have some autonomy over their words, we get to reflect back to them.

Cathy: Hey, in this situation that hurt. Or when you say “That’s your sister, that’s harsh,” or the way that you’re saying that, and we get to like continue. It’s not about teaching, but we get to continue to reflect back to them how something may sound. But if we run a tight ship where we’re like, you can never swear in front of me and it’s not okay, we don’t get to practice with them. They don’t get to ref, they don’t get 

Todd: to experience if they’re filtering themselves Yeah. In front of us. Yeah. It prohibits, prevents, reduces the possibility of their authenticity. Of their authenticity. Maybe there’s something we can hold a mirror up to them. Yeah.

Todd: Saying, just so you know, that might not, it’s a little 

Cathy: bit, yeah. Yeah. And she did, like, at first she was like, eh, you know, of course 

Cathy: didn’t 

Todd: we like cut it down to like, Saying, shut up to your sisters doesn’t feel real friendly to us, so can you not do that? So then she started saying, shut, shut. So she just left off the upward.

Cathy: So it’s like, And I was more about tone. Yeah. You know, it’s like there’s words are words and then there’s tone. And that’s one thing that we talk about a lot in text. You can’t read tone. Yeah. So text can be really challenging sometimes because you can’t read. Is someone saying, come on, or someone saying, come on text.

Cathy: You know, 

Todd: text is a terrible way of communicating. 

Cathy: Right. And so like with our kids, we’re not just teaching say this, don’t say this. We’re like, how do you use this? When are you using it? Are you using it to hurt someone? Or are you using it to make a point? Are you using it for humor? Are you, or are you using it for power?

Cathy: Like it’s got a lot of different vibes to it. 

Todd: Here’s a little piece on class and vocabulary. Okay, working class. But they’re swearing everywhere. They’re swearing in every class. This class oriented view of swearing is snobbery. It’s a way to put the working person down to lower classes down. Jay has seen further evidence in his own research.

Todd: We gave people a task. See all the words you can think of that Begin with the letter F. Say all the words that begin with the letter A. Then you give them a minute to do that. It’s a measure of fluency. Then I ask them, alright, name all the animals you can in a minute and then name all the swear words you can in a minute, which if you try to do this, you can get out about 10 quickly.

Todd: The people who generated the most swear words were the people who generated the most letter words and animals. It’s the opposite of what people think. People that have a high vocabulary also have a high swearing vocabulary. I believe that. There you go. Interesting. 

Cathy: Right? I believe it. And that’s the thing, like I really don’t spend time with a lot of people who don’t swear occasionally.

Cathy: Like I don’t really, when people are really hard on their kids about it. And again, I understand why you are when they’re little. I get it. There’s child developmentally appropriate time. But it’s kind of like anything else. I think when your kids start to.. When they start to play with something, when they start to practice something, when they’re starting to like dig into something, they’re telling you, this is something that’s becoming interesting to me.

Cathy: And they may not say, how do I use swear words, mom? But they’re kind of playacting them a little bit. Like how do I do this? And we get to reflect back to them, you know? This is appropriate or this isn’t. There was one of our daughters said that. It was one of our daughters. That she was hearing all these swear words and she started writing them all down.

Cathy: Because she was kind of trying to figure out their power. Like, why are these words powerful? And so you understand that your kids are negotiating with us, you know, like they’re trying to reconcile where these words belong. And I think the more we can talk about it in our home, yeah. The better verse they’ll be like they’ll understand time and place, no doubt.

Cathy: And they’re still gonna make mistakes with it. There have been times. Like some of my best presentations that I’ve ever given. I’ve used swear words or, you know, been completely myself. And then there’s been occasions where I’ve sworn and people have said to me afterwards, can you please not swear?

Cathy: And you know, you have to think about your audience, but you never really know. Yeah. Right. And so my end, you know. Well, 

Todd: and it’s funny like talking about presenting something, whether you’re at a board meeting at work and you’re presenting something, and this may get a little messy, but I feel like if you and I are doing a parenting presentation and we go in and just speak the way people speak, which includes curse words.

Todd: It removes any of the hoity-toityness of the message that we’re trying to convey. 

Cathy: I’m trying to be a normal human. Yeah. Having the same experience, but I’m not throwing them in there in a, in an inorganic way. Like I’m trying to be like, well damn. Or something like that, you know?

Cathy: Like I, no one would go, oh, darn. Like, that’s not how people talk. Oh, gosh. 

Todd: Gosh, golly. Oh gosh, 

Cathy: golly. Like, that’s not what we say. And so are 

Todd: you ready for a clip on relationship between swearing and honesty? Keep it short. It’s sort of, it’s ish. Okay. 

Cathy: When we swear, what are we trying to accomplish?

Cathy: Here’s a clue. In 2017, an international group of researchers ran a series of experiments to analyze the relationship between profanity and honesty. They found that people who swear are perceived as more authentic. Here again is John Mc part. Of becoming close to people. Part of becoming part of a group is to be able to let your hair down, is to show that you don’t think you’re better than other people.

Cathy: And one of the best ways to do that is to use salty language. That is normal human behavior. And here is Timothy J on the 

Todd: various uses of swearing. It’s humor, it’s bonding, it’s defending yourself, it’s putting people down. It’s self denigration. It’s storytelling. Jay is written about. It’s pretty good.

Cathy: Right? Yeah. I mean, and I so agree. Like, and I was just thinking, you know, what else would parents wanna hear about when it comes to their kids? I’m trying to think of the things [00:40:00] I’ve heard from parents when it comes to their kids swearing. I’ve heard them say things. Well, yeah, but if I say it’s okay, maybe they’ll go to someone’s house and use it and it won’t be okay.

Cathy: And I think that what we.. In these conversations with our kids about swearing is we let them know not everybody’s comfortable with this. Yeah. Like there’s a lot of conversations we have in our home where I’ve said, you know, this is stuff you’re learning that we’re teaching you, but this is not for you to go teach the neighborhood.

Cathy: Right. Like, You know when you’re having talks with your kids about sex or sexuality or gender, whatever, at home, you’re not like, now go teach all the children. Like everybody has their own value system and honoring that like that. It’s not about these people self, 

Todd: You deal with my habits. If you know somebody’s not into it, you value their, they 

Cathy: deal with it.

Cathy: You value their way or you honor their value system, their Say it for sure. And that is a part of learning words that work for you in a relationship. In a conversation. Because here’s the thing, people may say, well, I wanna use whatever words I want to. Words are not for you.

Cathy: Words are for other people to communicate, right? So if you are saying like, well, I’m gonna use whatever I 

Todd: want, you’re not communicating. Yeah. Whenever we communicate, we’re saying something and whatever we’re saying it usually to a person, always. And. We want to convey a certain message, right?

Todd: And if you are disregarding the recipient of that message, then you’re not doing a good job of communicating. And that’s 

Cathy: why if I give a presentation at a certain place and they say, don’t swear, I’m like, okay. Yeah. Because that’s their value system in that place. And it may not be my favorite presentation I ever gave, but I’m trying to honor, they invited me and that’s the right thing.

Cathy: So, you know, and on this podcast, like you and I could have it explicit if we want it, but we’re like, a lot of people tell us they listen to this with our kids in the car. So we’re trying to honor that trust. Yeah. 

Todd: I’m gonna play one last clip and then we’re gonna close up. Yeah. But it’s pretty good.

Todd: It’s about the physiological benefits. Oh, good. Of swearing. So here where you go, that shows 

Cathy: physiological benefits as well. Melissa Moore is also a fan of this research. Well, yeah. So it’s basically if you’re swearing or hearings, swear words, your skin conductance response changes. So you know the way your skin conducts electricity.

Cathy: There is a famous ice bucket. Challenge where you can stick your hand in ice water longer if you’re using a swear word. Than if you’re not using a swear word. Someone also did a grip challenge. You can, you know, hold a gripper with more strength and for longer if you’re swearing. 

Todd: That’s interesting.

Todd: It’d be fun to try that with current sw. Isn’t that interesting? It is. 

Cathy: You know what I’m thinking of? And that just came to me because she was saying that in the 40 year Old Virgin, the movie, 

Todd: yeah. When he is getting the hair revoked, 

Cathy: he’s getting the hair removed and the things he’s saying are, he’s just swearing.

Todd: You know? And Steve Carell is not acting in that scene. He’s having a real experience. He’s having a, they’re truly removing the chest hair and he’s a hairy dude and. 

Cathy: The woman who was hired to remove the chest hair is an actress, she is not an aesthetician or a waxer. And so she didn’t know what she was doing.

Cathy: Yeah. Yeah. So there was a lot of layers to that. 

Todd: There’s a part where they put this the wax in the tape over his nipple. I know. Oh 

Cathy: my God. My, then she didn’t like, that’s the thing. She was just like, they’re like, keep going. And then she was smiling. 

Todd: It’s like Stop smiling. Stop smiling.

Todd: That’s one of the funniest scenes in that movie, but it’s like 

Cathy: it, you know, it’s one of those classic scenes because that’s what would happen. Yeah. You know, it’s like they were totally improving. Yes. And she has, he has Seth Ro to hold his hand. Yeah. Oh my. He’s like, oh, my hand. He’s 

Todd: like, no, man. Any closing thoughts about swearing?

Todd: I’m just gonna keep exploring my own relationship with it. Not that I’m beating myself up over it, but I do feel like there’s a sense of, I need to present myself in this goody two shoes way. And I think I need to start doing things different to me. 

Cathy: Well, 

Cathy: and I understand 

Cathy: that like I didn’t really swear around my parents and I think when I was in certain situations I was very contained.

Cathy: And so I think that’s why I like to swear with my friends cuz it’s a pressure valve, it’s like a release. And obviously I mean that, you know, there’s like, there’s certain situations where this is appropriate and this is not appropriate. And we learn that as we live. We’re not just gonna know that.

Cathy: Like if you’re like, well how do I teach my kids what’s appropriate and what’s not? They’re gonna learn it as they go, and you’re gonna give them guidance as they go and talk to them about the words, like instead of making them feel guilty, ask them why, how that word makes them feel. Does it make them feel a little older, a little stronger?

Cathy: A little more mature? Like understand it. You can still say, please don’t use that in the house, or don’t use that at school. You can still give them guidance, but maybe relate instead of. Admonish, is that a word? Admonish? And I make that word. Yeah, that is a word. Is it 

Todd: admonish? Yes. Okay. I was about to play Clark Griswold’s holiday rant, but I’m too lazy to cut out all the swear words.

Todd: Can you think of any other APA playing strains and strings? Any other movies where there’s famous scenes of people swearing, but yeah, I think pta. Martin’s the biggest one, is probably the biggest one. And 

Cathy: then Clark Goswell, where he is like, don’t touch. I 

Todd: know. Well that he does that in the original. Dad, you need an aspirin or something?

Todd: Yeah, that Oh my God. And then he does the same thing in Christmas. So, but you can’t play it. I mean, I could, but he couldn’t bleep it all out. But there’s so many it’s kind of a pain in the butt to bleep, 

Cathy: so Yeah. Don’t do it. Yeah. So yeah. So that’s my take 

Todd: tatie. Okay babe. In closing, what are some other things I wanna, so Jeremy, wait, I 

Cathy: wanna say something.

Cathy: I, my book won an award last week. There’s a thing called the Nautilus Awards. And I actually won a Nautilus award four or five years ago for the Power of Self-Aware Parenting. What was that called? What was my book called? My first, the one that I self parent? No, not the Sub War Parent. It was for then parenting Living What You Want Your Kids to Learn.

Cathy: Oh, yeah. That book, I won a Naus award and then I won one for Zen Parenting this week. And what was fun about it is there’s a silver award and a gold award, and I won the Silver Award for Zen Parenting. And our friend Dana Suskin, who wrote a Parent Nation, she was on our podcast and part of our virtual community, she won the gold.

Cathy: So it’s just fun to, you know, share that. This is for both of you guys. 

Todd: Thank 

Cathy: you. Nice job. Thank you. I was very I was very grateful. You should be. 

Todd: And Mother’s Day’s coming up, right? Yeah. Go get some parenting, go get some parenting in the book. And, 

Cathy: For your significant other or for another mom or for a pregnant mom or for just someone who kind of is in the middle of it.

Cathy: Yeah. With their kids. 

Todd: And if you’re thinking of doing any remodeling or painting in or around your house and you live in the Chicagoland area, don’t forget about our partner Jeremy Craft. He’s a baldhead of beauty painting and remodeling throughout the Chicagoland area. 63 0 9, 5 6, 1800 men living, connecting deeply, living fully.

Todd: Todd Adams coaching one-on-one coaching for guys. Team Zen, all that good stuff. Anything else, babe? 

Cathy: No, that’s it. I’ve already moved on. I’m like texting people. 

Todd: Sorry, honey. All right, so we will see you all next Tuesday. Keep trucking.