Language & Kids at work
November 18, 2005 10:04 AM   Subscribe

How should I speak when someone brings their kids into a coarse-language-OK area?

I am a programmer at a small company. We have about 150 employees on three floors of a small building in Portland. The second floor is mostly the domain of the tech folks. At lunch, we play ping pong fairly agressively and there is a moderate amount of coarse language during such play. It has been that way since I've been here, and I like it this way.

Recently, a coworker brought his family in to share lunch with him. There were two children, ages 4 and 1. I was conversing as normal, with a few curse words sprinkled in my lunchtime speech. I started getting vibes from my coworker. He asked me, clearly uncomfortable (and cued by his wife) if that was how I speak in front of my children. "Actually, it is." I truthfully said. I did tone it down, not completely successfully, and got the evil eye a few more times before the end of lunch.

Was I a jerk? In the name of politeness are people supposed to only use "G-rated" words in front of other peoples' children all the time? Even if you do not agree with that attitude, and talk naturally in front of your own children? Even if you actually think that attitude is harmful to children? Even in an environment where the default is coarse language? Does a least-common-denominator really apply for language in all situations? This isn't a rhetorical question, I am honestly interested in others' opinions about this situation.
posted by Invoke to Society & Culture (48 answers total)
 
Depending on the exact words you used, I'd say that you were not a jerk. Parents have to deal with this all the time, they need to get used to it; the world is not a quite polite place.
posted by pwb503 at 10:10 AM on November 18, 2005


My approach in these situations is to ask myself how exactly important it is to my life as a whole to be cursing at that particular moment? How much would it actually hurt me to defer to politeness and deference for others for 20 minutes. I am an avid curser and the answer to that question is usually 'not at all'. It's not like he is in your home making these demands.
posted by spicynuts at 10:12 AM on November 18, 2005


I think you're kind of stuck being bound to being polite as possible due to it being the workplace. It's not a frathouse or some bar and other people have to work there too. I've been in your position, and the environment you describe sounds fun, but what it comes down to is that everyone works there and everyone's entitled to be able to be there w/o being offended by bad language.
posted by xmutex at 10:12 AM on November 18, 2005


the world is not a quite polite place.

He's not in the world, he's in the office. Would you use this excuse in a meeting with clients or vendors? "Yeah I said motherfucker, but the world isn't a quiet or polite place, so suck it". Can we just admit that there are places or times when a small degree of propriety is in order?
posted by spicynuts at 10:14 AM on November 18, 2005


Well, look at it this way. If you were a member of society who believed in recycling and wanted others to recycle, you might just encourage others to do it as well. Others won't want to, because they think it takes too long, or there's a kickback for some mobster, or something. However, you believe in it, and continue to espouse it in public, because, as the aformentioned member of society that you are, you'd like to have some small hand in shaping it the way you wish. I don't think anyone can fault you morally for that.

Now, as that same member of society, who, presumably enjoys swearing during ping-pong as much as recycling, you probably wish that everyone swore during ping-pong. While in no position to force others to swear during ping-pong, you are well within your rights to encourage others to swear while playing ping-pong. Given that your coworkers children might just grow up to be agressive lunchtime ping-pong players themselves, it would behoove you to encourage them to swear in all walks of life, just to be safe.

If experience has taught me nothing else, and it almost hasn't, the best way to encourage a child to swear is to swear around him.

Bottom line: you're improving society. Don't let your coworker get away with this decimation of all you hold dear and love about your country.
posted by jon_kill at 10:15 AM on November 18, 2005


I always talk with coarse language, but ever since friends and family brought kids around I realized it's not that hard to watch your words around kids, and it makes their lives easier if you did. To ignore it seems inconsiderate to me.
posted by mathowie at 10:17 AM on November 18, 2005


Was I a jerk? In the name of politeness are people supposed to only use "G-rated" words in front of other peoples' children all the time? Even if you do not agree with that attitude, and talk naturally in front of your own children? Even if you actually think that attitude is harmful to children? Even in an environment where the default is coarse language?

Yes to all of the above.

You can respect their parenting decision even if you don't happen to agree with it.

Does a least-common-denominator really apply for language in all situations?

I'm not really sure what you're getting at with this question.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:17 AM on November 18, 2005


It is for reasons like those voiced above that I quit cussing at work. Years ago I worked with a wonderful woman - she was kind, hard-working, funny, witty, etc - but cussing truly hurt her feelings, she found it genuinely offensive. Being around her made me realize that I was being hurtful without intending to - the most insensitive kind of hurt.
I realized then that I might never know who I was offending/hurting, and that could damage my career in untold ways, so I quit cussing at work.
Outside work, I cuss like a sailor sometimes - and folks I work with are genuinely shocked the first time they hear such words from me. So, it's worked.
posted by dbmcd at 10:17 AM on November 18, 2005


everyone's entitled to be able to be there w/o being offended by bad language

The easiest way to avoid being offended by words is to remember that they are just words.

A far more difficult methodology is to rewrite everybody's vocabulary, so that "fuckin" is no longer a casually used intensifier and "shit" is no longer a way to express an unfortunate happening.
posted by I Love Tacos at 10:19 AM on November 18, 2005


Yeah, using bad words around other people's kids when the parents ask you not to is a jerk thing to do.
posted by thirteenkiller at 10:19 AM on November 18, 2005


Were you a jerk for swearing in front of the kids? I'd say no. But your answer to his question was a little jerky. It was a rhetorical question that you answered literally, even though you knew it was really a request to not swear. It would have been better to respond, oh sorry, and try to comply. Even if you didn't manage to stay completely G-rated, it would have counted as an attempt to get along. As you handled it, it's a little borderline combative in a situation that really isn't worth it.
posted by dness2 at 10:22 AM on November 18, 2005


The easiest way to avoid being offended by words is to remember that they are just words.

A far more difficult methodology is to rewrite everybody's vocabulary, so that "fuckin" is no longer a casually used intensifier and "shit" is no longer a way to express an unfortunate happening.


Yeah you know that's a great idea and all, but so what? His coworker was offended w/ his kids around and it's the workplace. Refraining from cursing out of courtesy is a reasonable and decent thing to do. Not dropping 'fuck' and 'shit' all over the place is somehow a huge burden to ask of someone? Come on.
posted by xmutex at 10:23 AM on November 18, 2005


You weren't a jerk because you tried to tone your language down.

If your question is:

In the name of politeness are people supposed to only use "G-rated" words in front of other peoples' children all the time?

Then I would say the answer is 'yes', but then for me it wouldn't be a big deal as I was raised Catholic so am used to switching between butter-wouldn't-melt type conversation and language that would make a docker blush.
posted by oh pollo! at 10:24 AM on November 18, 2005


For what it's worth, I almost never use "profanity" or lame profanity-substitutes in the workplace.

I think that people who are bothered by it have wonky priorities, but it's an unneccessary battle, so I don't bother fighting it.

My summary: you should've been able to go curse-free without complaining. They should've been able to hear a few curses without complaining.
posted by I Love Tacos at 10:25 AM on November 18, 2005


I agree with some of the others, it probably won't kill you to edit out the course language while the co-worker's kids are present. However . . .

I don't think the responsibility is all yours. I think that your co-worker knows what sort of language he can expect to be used during lunch. He should have considered taking his wife and kids out for lunch or some alternative scenario as an option if he was concerned about the language.

It is bewildering to imagine that he assumed people would take so much notice of his kids and change their behavior accordingly. At the very least, he could have gone around the office, visiting the ping-pong players, and advised them that his family was coming and asked for some language modification during lunch that day. After all, if coarse language is the norm, and nobody else objects, then bringing his kids for lunch is the LCD and he should have acted proactively to ensure that the environment would be kid-friendly for that day.

So, in summary, you both share the jerk title on this one.
posted by necessitas at 10:31 AM on November 18, 2005


My summary: you should've been able to go curse-free without complaining. They should've been able to hear a few curses without complaining.

Yeah, that is good, I agree with that.
posted by xmutex at 10:36 AM on November 18, 2005


In the name of politeness are people supposed to only use "G-rated" words in front of other peoples' children all the time?

Yes, and also in front of your own children please.
posted by caddis at 10:48 AM on November 18, 2005


FWIW, when I said I wasn't able to completely tone it down, I mean that I did edit out the obvious "shit/fuck" ones, but failed to catch "blow me". Or rather, I caught it at the "m", which is rather too late.
posted by Invoke at 10:48 AM on November 18, 2005


Yes, and also in front of your own children please.

You don't need to tell the guy what to do in front of his own kids.
posted by xmutex at 10:54 AM on November 18, 2005


Does he think the cursing is ok when his kids are not around? I don't get why kids should be shielded from dirty words at all. What is the idea behind it? That kids copy adults, or that it's somehow damaging to their heads to hear a lot of filth?

If it's the former, that would mean swearing is generally a bad thing, and you shouldn't ever learn to do it, which is a battle the parents are bound to lose. Kids will hear and they will learn how to do it themselves, regardless of protective measures. Or do parents want to see their kids as little angels, with foul language clashing that picture, i.e. is it ok once you reach a certain age?

Presuming that your coworker knew the environment he brought his kids into and expected you to change your behaviour, I think he's more of a jerk than you are. If everybody stop swearing for his sake, you're doing him a favor and he should recognize that. It's a favor you could do him, but if you don't, he shouldn't whine about it like that.
posted by springload at 10:55 AM on November 18, 2005


springload: There are some people, like myself, who never curse. People like me (who may seem crazy and repressed to you) believe that language does have meaning and we generally try and use language in a positive uplifiting way. I don't curse because I think it is stupid. I try to talk and act politely towards others. I also act this same way around my children. However, I try not to enforce my beliefs on everyone around me, so when people curse around me at work, I am not constantly telling them not to because that would be ridiculous. However, if I bring my children with me to work, I do not think it is unreasonable to ask my co-workers to refrain from cursing during this time. I do realize that children will be exposed to cursing in the world around them, but children are exposed to many things that I don't think are ideal for them. So, what I try and do is limit their exposure to these types of things as much as I can, while at the same time teaching my children why I think these things are not appropriate. I will agree that the co-worker should have just said, "Would you please tone down your language while my children are around?" rather than trying to judge how Invoke acts around his own children.
posted by bove at 11:04 AM on November 18, 2005


In the name of politeness are people supposed to only use "G-rated" words in front of other peoples' children all the time?

Yes. You should only use G-rated words around anyone you don't know at all times. That is, in fact, the "polite" thing to do. Do you really care about being polite? That's the question to ask yourself. It sounds like you're not around children all that much- I would imagine you can manage to tone it down for short amounts of time.

I remember once being out to dinner with my Dad when I was young and my sisters were younger, and suddenly he turned around to the table behind us and said, "Excuse me, we have children!" The funny thing was, I hadn't heard a word of whatever they were saying that was so offensive.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:07 AM on November 18, 2005 [1 favorite]


The only thing that cues children to repeat dirty words is when adults act ashamed of those words. The only children that run around shouting "Fuck Fuck Fuck!" are those whose parents are absolutely mortified at this. If there was no parental reaction, the kid wouldn't do it.

Accordingly, the co-worker was doing a much better job of teaching the kids to swear than you were.
posted by jellicle at 11:10 AM on November 18, 2005


Cursing, not jerky, your response, a bit jerky.

I tend to agree that cursing is a LCD way of communicating when a person is too lazy, distracted, or (stupid?) to express themselves better.
I don't understand why people get offended when they hear coarse language, but have no problem with cutsey neologisms/euphemisms:
Shit, crap, piss, fuck, god damn = offensive
Sheesh, poop, number1, fudge, gosh = not offensive
Defecate, relieve, urinate, fornicate, curse you = correct
posted by MrMulan at 11:17 AM on November 18, 2005


if your co-worker is making a habit of having his wife and children at your office at lunch, well, that's one thing, but if it is just once in a while then I think that yes, you should tone down the language.

parents do such a good job at keeping their young children from being exposed to strong language that when kids do hear it, it can seem like an assualt, something fraught with meaning and more importantly -- aggression -- in a way they can't quite understand.
posted by macinchik at 11:21 AM on November 18, 2005


I think there are actually two different issues here that are getting all confused because this happened because someone brought their kid to work and because you're enjoying some recreation on that workplace:

1. Is it ok to swear in the workplace?

I'd say "no." I know you're playing ping pong in the office, but what do you do when a client / investor / etc. comes through? You should consider what sort of impression you're leaving on others, what sort of business relationship that impression is going to impact, and whether it's worth it to leave that impression on others simply because you enjoy saying "fuck."

If you're comfortable with this, and more importantly, if your bosses are ok with this, then go ahead and curse, but don't be surprised when someone either thinks you're an asshole or opts to take their business elsewhere.

So, I guess the actual answer is "it depends, but I'd say no."

And yes, this makes me a corporate tool who is unable to stick it to the man.

2. Should you have to watch your language in front of people that don't approve of cursing for religous / parental / stupid reasons?

Once again, it probably depends. Are you interested in actually getting along with this coworker? Is it important to either your social life or your business? If not, then curse all you want, but realize and be comfortable with the fact that he's going to think that you're a jerk.

Your coworker definitely could have asked you in a better way, but that's neither here nor there. In our society (some / most) people try not to use certain words around little kids. Is this right? Is this necessary? Probably not. Should we try and change that? Sure, but there are plenty of people that are never going to change their minds about this.

Just as a thought experiment, consider this situation.

Your coworker not only brings his kids / spouse / extended family to the workplace to spend his lunchbreak with them, but he also decides that they'll have Bible study. In the breakroom. Loudly.

Is this proper workplace behavior? I'd say no. This is a free country, and he's welcome to do whatever he wants on his break, but by studying his chosen religon, in a manner that is disruptive to others, he's causing an atmosphere that is hostile and unprofessional.
posted by bshort at 11:23 AM on November 18, 2005


Like it or not, words do carry meaning. Depending on the circumstances, they can connote class, intellect, violence or other factors. Some teachers think that any kid who swears comes from a shifty background and they then transfer their prejudices to that child, in terms of how they mark and respond. Other people decide the kid isn't the "right" kid for leadership opportunities. Some people just hear the curse words and figure that anyone who was intelligent could express themselves more eloquently. They may see some curse words as degrading or linquistically violent. And that's why a lot of people don't want their kids to swear. It's hard to teach your kids not to swear if they always hear adults doing it. It may not be so much that the parents are paranoid but that their environment is rife with people who harbour prejudices against users of Anglo-Saxon words. That is, after all, why English speakers started using French words.
posted by acoutu at 11:29 AM on November 18, 2005


I have a potty mouth, and I have no problem dropping the f-bomb in public when kids are around (not at a preschool or anything, but say at a retail store). In my opinion, they're going to hear it at some point anyway, and parents can use me to teach their kids a lesson. "Did you hear what that lady said? She's rude and you should never speak that way..." etc etc.

However... if someone, especially a coworker or someone I knew, asked me point blank to tone it down in front of the kids, I would, regardless of setting. It's not about my right to curse so much as my respect for my friends and coworkers.
posted by geeky at 11:47 AM on November 18, 2005


I curse all the fucking time, but around kids I just automatically default into watching my mouth -- it just seems to be basic manners to me. My sister, on the other hand, swears like a sailor right in front of her kids (although she's trying to keep it under wraps now that she was confronted by the sight of her 5-year-old cheerfully calling someone a motherfucker at the grocery store).

Having said that, I think there's a difference between being able to watch one's mouth while you're simply conversing in front of a child and being able to watch it while you're engaged in an aggressive game of ping-pong. In the latter, you're in much more of a reactive mode -- your reflexes (both physically and verbally) are amped up much higher/faster in that situation, I would think, which would make it much more difficult to replace "fuck!" with "fudge!"

So while I think it's a good thing to watch your mouth around other people's kids (even if you curse in front of yours), I also think it's utterly foolish for people to bring their kids into a setting where such language is going to be flying fairly freely and expect everyone to immediately switch into a different autopilot. I mean, would they take the kids to a sporting event and expect the players or coaches not to curse once they saw the little darlings in the stands?
posted by scody at 11:48 AM on November 18, 2005


That you have to ask demonstrates that you believe it to be questionable behavior at best, debased at worst. Why practice what you believe to be wrong when you know what is right?

What you are really asking is whether or not there is moral code. This is the question that most philosophers attempt to answer. If you believe humans evolved from simpler creatures, you would logically believe there is no moral code. If you believe humans were created by God, you would logically believe that if there is a moral code, it is God that authored it.

As you can probably guess, I believe that God created all that there is and that He gave us a very clear moral code to follow. I believe that life is most enjoyable when this code is followed. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control: against such there is no law.
posted by kc0dxh at 12:07 PM on November 18, 2005


Yeah, using bad words around other people's kids when the parents ask you not to is a jerk thing to do.

Hmm. I go with the advice above in meatspace and not swear around anyone I don't know (and it makes me uncomfortable when I'm in a public place with coworkers/ friends who can be overheard), but I think there's a bit of nuance here. People should consider their workplace before they drag their kids and wife in there for lunch too. No one is impressed by the fact you reproduced.
posted by yerfatma at 12:13 PM on November 18, 2005


The only thing that cues children to repeat dirty words is when adults act ashamed of those words. The only children that run around shouting "Fuck Fuck Fuck!" are those whose parents are absolutely mortified at this. If there was no parental reaction, the kid wouldn't do it.

Sorry, jellicle, but just for reference, my mileage has varied on this. When I was young, my parents didn't have a problem with cursing in front of me, and I didn't realize that phrases like "aw, son of a bitch" were loaded differently than "aah, argh, darn it." This caused some problems when I went into first grade and genuinely didn't realize why the teacher didn't appreciate my saying "shit" in front of the class when I was losing at Chutes & Ladders.

After this debacle, my parents quit all cursing -- cold turkey -- and I haven't heard a "damn" out of their mouths since I was about six. I don't swear much now, at 19; I just don't think of it unless I drop boxes on my feet.
posted by booksandlibretti at 12:35 PM on November 18, 2005


Well, you realize that cursing isn't perfectly normal in the business environment right? Your situation at work allows you to get away with certain behaviors that you wouldn't normally be able to engage in; so when someone asks you to curtail those behaviors, you should.

In more general terms, cursing is viewed by many/most of society as impolite. Engaging in impolite behavior is risky business. Often, even though you have a right to do as you wish, everyone will think you are a jerk. Consider this example, you are at a bar and some other patron insists on sitting next to you and singing off-key songs at the top of his lungs. Is he within his rights? Yes. Is he being a jerk? Absolutely. In your coworkers eyes you are the drunk singing off-key.
posted by oddman at 12:43 PM on November 18, 2005


In our society (some / most) people try not to use certain words around little kids. Is this right? Is this necessary? Probably not

Yes, I guess it boils down to whether one should always act so as to not offend other people, even if you think their hangup is stupid. I think no, if someone is offended by something very normal and natural, I won't bother about it even if it makes them mad. To which category the cursing belongs depends a lot on the situation.

Cursing is offending on the basis of tradition alone, but that tradition is quite strong. How strong probably depends a lot on location. Here, which is Sweden, the etiquette on cursing and workplace behaviour both seem more relaxed than in e.g. the UK. I can't speak about the US, but it seems like the UK for this matter. Here, your coworker's attitude would not be the normal one. Teaching your kids that currsing is bad, sure, but sourly prohibiting others from doing it around them would appear a tad strange.

There would appear to be a better place for these sensitive kids than in the curse-ridden ping-pong room, and if they are in there, there are much better ways of showing offense than the one your coworker chose. In another recent thread, someone was offended/disturbed by a coworker bringing kids to the workplace. That's another way to look at it.

That said, I would probably have done what you did and try to talk sweetly. And if my mouth slipped after that, I'd expect coworker and kids to accept that without further ado.
posted by springload at 1:15 PM on November 18, 2005


Depends. Was everybody there cursing, or was it just you and a couple other people doing the lion's share? You say there's a moderate amount of swearing going on, and it's a "swearing OK" area, but could that possibly just be your perception?

If the room is generally a place with lots of foul language, it is the guy's fault for bringing his kids there. Bad parenting. If it's basically just you, you should go ahead and stop it.

I sympathize with you, if it matters: I think it's kind of weird to bring your kids into the workplace at all. Hard to describe, but it feels like a taboo is being broken—like they're crossing wires, or trespassing, or something like that. Work is different than home.

I also disagree that we have a responsibility to support the decisions that parents make about how to raise their children. Should you not be able to eat meat in the lunch room if the parents were trying to raise their children vegetarian? It's not your responsiblity. I advise cutting out the swearing not because I agree with the above posters, but because it's just gonna make you look like an asshole if you're cussing and nobody else is.

Side note: there have been a few questions on AskMe recently about how to deal with co-workers bringing their kids to work, and the problems this causes. Is there a trend going on that I'm not aware of? My parents would never have even thought to bring me to their jobs when I was a kid.
posted by Hildago at 1:17 PM on November 18, 2005


When is that language OK around small children?

You know, I had a similar thought while at a football game a few weeks ago....

Small children and family seated in front of me, surrounded by screaming, beer drinking men with serious use of foul language.

Is that a different situation where swearing out loud in public is accepted or expected or both? Or in this instance where there are also children present are you supposed "watch your language" so you don't offend people?

I mean from what Invoke said, "At lunch, we play ping pong fairly agressively and there is a moderate amount of coarse language during such play. It has been that way since I've been here, and I like it this way."

This is a location in his workplace where this usual language is spoken and always has been. If I brought my children there for lunch, I would be aware that foul language is possible. Just as bringing my children to a football game....the guy behind me may drop the f-bomb.

If I didn't want my children to hear those words, I as a parent wouldn't bring my children to those places I knew in advance may be inappropriate.
posted by Gooney at 1:33 PM on November 18, 2005


Some would consider saying 'blow me' in the office within earshot of coworkers to be more than offensive, but harrassment. I know it's all in good fun, though, and if your office is tolerant of that, than fine, but you know, I have a feeling not everybody thinks it's fine.
posted by drobot at 1:37 PM on November 18, 2005


Invoke, as you said, you tried to tone it down with some success, and that's a good thing. Kudos.

Why curse? There really isn't much reason, and some fair arguments why not to curse (civility, politeness, respect for others who don't share your favor for rough language, not negatively influencing kids, etc.).

When I was younger, I laced my language with entirely too much profanity. It got to a point when I was letting it creep into conversations with people who I admired, and who did not curse. Containing it was a struggle for a while, but now it's easy. I found that making a joke of it and inventing words or forcing myself to use silly substitutes (Mother Pussbucket from Ghostbusters is a good one) helped immensely, and added levity to fun and crappy situations alike. My friends enjoyed it, those who might otherwise be offended appreciated it as well.

When I'm tired or frustrated, the occasional profanity will still slip out, but only rarely and only when I'm alone.

Your effort to moderate the profanity is admirable and shows respect. Habits are hard to break, and the fact that you let a couple things slip is understandable. The "evil eye" is understandable too, and did serve to keep you trying.

The guy who asked you should thank you for honoring his request.
posted by mumeishi at 1:52 PM on November 18, 2005


In response to some of the questions raised, I can say that I am probably one of the people who swear and trash-talk the *least* in the lunchroom. I'm older than most of my coworkers and it actually took me months and months before I said curse word one, having been used to much more formal environments. Over time, learned to play ping-pong and loosened up in order to fit in with my coworkers.

Regardless, I'm being convinced by many of the responses here that despite the very obvious corporate culture at my company, several (perhaps many) people at my office might be uncomfortable by the language. I loosened up once, I'm sure I can reverse the process. I'm not out to be a jerk, or to justify being a jerk. This is an honest attempt to get some discussion and opinions on the issue.

Caddis, you did not answer the question I asked, and you are presuming where you have no right. Kindly refrain in the future. I will raise my three children as I and my wife see fit.
posted by Invoke at 2:07 PM on November 18, 2005


In this situation, I would say yes, you should tone down the language. But if I'm in public, and I see a kid I don't know, I rarely give a shit. It's a free country and I'll say what I want.
posted by agregoli at 2:33 PM on November 18, 2005


I always talk with coarse language, but ever since friends and family brought kids around I realized it's not that hard to watch your words around kids, and it makes their lives easier if you did. To ignore it seems inconsiderate to me. Mathowie

Agreed. I swear like a fucking sailor, but guarantee if you do this around kids you'll look like an ass. Check your verbage. Your colleague will respect you for it. I doubt he'll assume it's his right that you clean it up but rather will appreciate the effort on behalf of his kids.
posted by docpops at 2:42 PM on November 18, 2005


The reason parents don't want kids to hear swear words is so that the kids don't pick 'em up, and start saying them, which would lead to people thinking they were bad parents.
posted by delmoi at 2:49 PM on November 18, 2005


It might have been a little more diplomatic to just apologize and carrry on sans-swearing.
And yeah, around small kids, it is socially unacceptable to swear. Sure you have the right to, but I mean really.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 7:08 PM on November 18, 2005


I say you were a jerk - not swearing around young children is just basic social politeness. Whether you think the prevailing social attitude is correct or even harmful is irrelevant - you can raise your kids how you want but that has nothing to do with respecting other parents' boundaries.

But he was a jerk also, for the way he confronted you about it with that hostile and judgemental question. He should have just politely asked you to tone it down because of his kids. I suspect if he had you might not have reacted against the request as strongly.
posted by nanojath at 7:50 PM on November 18, 2005


He's not in the world, he's in the office.

comedy gold.

really, if it's OK to curse in the office, don't bring your (sheltered) kids. lecturing coworkers about your child-rearing theory is never fun.

having said that, I never ever curse around children. they're the ones who do that anyway.
posted by matteo at 7:59 PM on November 18, 2005


I curse at work, I curse at home. I try not to curse in front of my children, but honestly, I finally had to explain to them something that I grew up knowing instinctively:

Adults can curse. Kids can't.

My kids are OK with this explanation. They don't curse. I still try (and fail) to not curse in their presence, we'll all come out OK.

I do tone down my natural language around nearly most new people I meet, and I tend to watch for their reaction to a curse. If they seem to bristle even a little bit, I don't curse again.
posted by asavage at 12:10 AM on November 19, 2005


I think asking "Is that how you talk in front of your children?" is frankly an unnecessarily rude and confrontational way of asking someone to turn down their language for your benefit and I don't blame you for responding the way you did. It wouldn't have killed the guy to ask politely.
posted by teleskiving at 3:25 AM on November 19, 2005


I had a similar situation erupt in a resturant when a kid asked my why I had a "God is just Pretend" bumper sticker, and his parents were absolutely livid that I let him find out that there are people on the planet who don't believe his parents narrow religious views yet are not demons or devil worshipers
posted by Megafly at 2:42 PM on November 22, 2005


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