It is kind of interesting to think about and discuss cussing in therapy with teens or parents. There are some who don’t care, some who make it a 10 on a 10 point importance scale, and many in between. This subject often comes up when discussing defiant teens, who talk back and refuse to obey even the simplest requests. It also comes up when the cussing is an abrupt change in the teen’s behavior. The average parent will say that it is not a good thing and is something that is disrespectful. Having said that, in 17 years of counseling I have seen that the average adult cusses, while justifying or denying that it happens.

Now I do not look down on those who cuss, nor am I naïve enough to think that by simply eliminating cussing that a person’s destructive behaviors will cease to exist. I would however like to leave parents with a couple of things to think about. First of all the old “do as I say, not as I do” approach does not work. Your lectures have very little effect on your children - as much as you would like to believe that your endless lecturing has some great effect. Second, cussing, even in jest, is an aggressive behavior and over time will increase someone’s likelihood of being defiant, aggressive, and cold natured. I am not saying it is the end all be all of influences, but over time there is a definite influence. Now before you think of some anecdote to disprove this, consider that as a good parent you want to make it more likely that you are influential in a positive way rather than nit picking how much one specific decision might be right or wrong.

I wouldn’t suggest that you all of a sudden treat parenting against cussing as if it is the most important thing in the world. Nor would I suggest that you pretend that there is no affect in the family at all. Before you determine boundaries and reactions to cussing I would encourage you to really think about who you want to be as a parent and how you want to behave as a parent. Never forget that your modeled behavior has far more influence in the long run.

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