Swearing, Connection & Vulnerability

*Warning: If you are offended by swearing then this post might not be for you! 

I think I’ve mentioned in the past that my 4-year-old has picked up some unfortunate bad language. I’m not 100% sure where it all started but with his 13-year-old brother and his buddies hanging around our house all the time and with a father from Montreal (not to stereotype but I have noticed my husband’s childhood pals punctuate most of their sentences with the f-word) – it has followed that he has picked up a few doozys. And brace yourselves because he has landed on a brutal one……his latest gem is “bitch”.

I can literally hear you gasping through the computer screen. Yep – it’s awful. We certainly don’t use that word in our home but somehow he picked it up and someone laughed (probably his brother) or overreacted (probably me) and he decided that “bitch” was going to become his bad word of choice. Now don’t get me wrong – he doesn’t go around using the word all day long, but if his buttons are pushed or he’s being taunted by his siblings or teased by his cousins- he’ll let loose with a “you bitch!”

And yes this is deeply embarrassing. As much as I try to remember that my child is not a reflection of me, it still stings when he calls his brother a “bitch” at Thanksgiving dinner (sorry mom).  And I have tried absolutely everything to get him to stop and nothing has worked. Not even the threat of no Santa presents has convinced him to clean up his language.

Frankly, before I wrote this post I tried not to tell too many people because I was afraid of being judged as a bad mother. The few times I have confessed to close friends I’ve heard “oh my, we don’t allow bad language in our house” or “my children would never ever swear!”. Ok well I appreciate the honesty (and I’m happy for you…sort of ; ) but in the end those interactions always made me feel a whole lot worse about my situation.

About a month ago I was chatting with a friend who also has a 4-year-old son. We were laughing about some of the challenges and funny things they do when she suddenly admitted “oh yah – and now my little darling has started saying “fuck-wad”! He’s even using it in public if he get’s annoyed. The other day he called my daughter and a bunch of her girlfriends “fuck-wads” right in front of a big group of parents standing around at school. I could have died!”

Well I literally stopped in my tracks. “What’s wrong?” she asked. And I told her my story. She just listened and nodded and laughed. And when I finished she smiled at me and said “Well, let me know what works for you and I’ll do the same. It’s nice to know there is someone else going through the same thing.” I cannot even tell you how much better I felt just knowing that I wasn’t alone – it was like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders.

“When we show up in our perfect imperfection, it gives others permission to relax into doing the same.”

Ali Schueler, Wild Woman Speaks

So I’m sharing my story -this very personal (and embarrassing) story in the hopes that you will feel inspired to also let yourself become just a little bit more vulnerable. In this social media culture, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that everyone’s lives are composed of one perfect snapshot after another. But life is messy and wonderful and sad and scary and funny….sometimes all of these things at once. That’s what it is to be human isn’t it? If we are willing to share some of our challenges and struggles then we might just find more genuine connection with the people in our lives…. and maybe even encourage them to open up as well. Sometimes our screw ups and painful experiences contain powerful lessons that we can learn from and share with others.

Let’s face it – we all have those things in our lives that we wrestle with and that make us feel vulnerable. Maybe you don’t have a 4-year-old who swears like a truck driver but perhaps you struggle with feelings of depression or anxiety, or feel overwhelmed at home or work, or are dealing with a difficult child or spouse or are feeling stuck in your current situation. Whatever it is I guarantee you will feel so much better if you can open up and share with a trusted confidante. Maybe they’ll say “Hey – me too!” And you will realize (no matter how many swear words you have had to endure) that you are not alone. What a gift!

brene brown 1





15 thoughts on “Swearing, Connection & Vulnerability

  1. Oh Kaden – he’s a character:) how could he not be with older siblings, their friends and his own strong personality! The other part of that is he looks like an angel and usually acts like one to!

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. What a touching, honest and heartfelt post. Just yesterday with a call from the principal and have been feeling a blue about the best way to handle the situation. You are certainly not alone and I would bet money that you would be hard pressed to find a parent who hasn’t gone through the “bad ” word phase and regretted that laugh/over-reaction the first time they heard it knowing that it would have simply disappeared. Yes, Brené Brown is amazing and being vulnerable allows us to connect with others and lift our spirits. Thanks for yet another heart warming post Lori.

  3. We connect easier through our weaknesses. Hearing too much about a person’s strengths/accomplishments/perfectionism can be intimidating (not to mention boring!) This is a great post that could not have happened if you tried to paint a perfect parenting picture! Some of my closest friendships are with those who I have consciously made the choice to let my own guard down.

  4. What a funny and meaningful message I found within this post! I am getting tired of the perfect pictures and self indulged posts I get from every Facebook and Instagram I see. Yes I get it, we all want to share those awe inspiring moments of our families at their best but it is refreshing to see my kinda family at their worst too! Lovin the honesty!

  5. Lori, I hope that will be the last time I see you write that you worried about being a bad mom! Each one of your children are lucky to have you and YES none of us are perfect (very boring). My baby (Maddie) at 4 years latched onto “f…ing as..hole” and yes her siblings being fully entertained by it kept it alive and well for at least a month. I then called a family meeting (minus Maddie) and explained the risks for her at school and on play dates to think this was an entertaining phrase to use. They all saw the light and together we completely ignored it and poof it vanished. When my other daughter started with the ‘bitch’ word I acted unimpressed and asked her if she knew the definition of the word. She didn’t, and when I explained it meant female dog – she was deflated. Again it went poof.
    Good luck!

    1. Thanks so much for the great advice Bev! As usual you have so much wisdom to share. On one of my first classes with you – you told the story about one of your children getting “revenge” on you by putting worms in your bed. I knew after that story that you would be a wonderful and honest mentor in my life. I always appreciate your willingness to share not only the successes but also the mess-ups that you encountered along your parenting journey – it makes you so relateable. I hope we can connect soon!

  6. I read this post because I did want to hear you swear.

    I swear a lot too. But I’m an adult so I’m probably allowed. You could try explaining to him that’s it’s not polite to use. But if you put so much emphasis on how bad is it, he’ll probably do it even more!

    Good luck! 🙂

  7. Lori, I totally agree…it takes a lot of strength to show our vulnerabilities but in doing so, we open ourselves up in a “real way’ to connect to others…

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