Tuesday, 1 December 2009

**@%%&&!

One of my least favourite things about some Bosnian parents is their propensity to think that teaching their children to swear is funny. Now, I'm no angel on the swearing front, I try to contain my expletives to 'oh blast' or 'ffffffffiddle dee dee!' and similar, but occasionally the ability to stop my mouth moving before the words come out goes missing. I do try hard not to swear in front of my children as I do not think children swearing is in the slightest way funny, cute or amusing.

Most of the time the Bosnian children swearing doesn't really impact me. I mean I can swear a bit in Bosnian, but most of the insults just form a part of the series of sounds that I don't understand. But when Adam comes back from nursery and suddenly yells at Luke 'eat my pooo-see', I suddenly have a problem on my hands.

Luckily for me (and much like Nappy Valley Girl's boys) he is in a real toilet humour phase so has developed this particular insult to be 'eat my poo'. I'm less fussed about this, it is something he could have come up with on his own and as we have discovered that the only way to get him to eat Spag Bol is to tell him that it is made up of worms covered with worm poo, I can see why he is thinking the way he is. I've had a few conversations with him about not saying nasty things to other people, but keen to not draw attention to this particular phrase I'm ignoring it completely and hoping it will soon be forgotten.

I am interested to know though what others have done to stop their children from swearing, and also from any Bosnians who might be able to clarify whether I'm right in thinking that some people think it is funny to teach children to swear and whether they also like to teach them to swear in English.

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17 comments:

Victoria said...

The only time I allow myself to swear in front of children is in the car, and these are 'car words' only to be said by mummy in the car. Of course I sometimes swear at other times when it slips out, but I definitely do not like the idea of my children swearing. In fact, my daughter and her friends (7&8 yr olds) have all started saying 'Oh God', which for some reason really upsets me. I know they are just copying their parents (me included) and it's not that bad a swearword, but it just seems wrong to hear it coming out of such little mouths.

Emma Louise said...

I grew up in a house of swearing. (Something I will always be angry at my parents for!)
It didn't effect me, I didn't let it influence me into using these words.
My brother on the other hand , a swear word is every other word for him. I refuse to let him be round my son if he uses such words as I fear he will pick up on them like my brother did from my parents.

I fear that when Oli goes to school he will pick up these words from other children. How do I shelter him from such bad words?

I agree with Victoria, it is wrong for such big bad words to come out of little mouths.

TheMadHouse said...

I try not to swear in front of the boys, but they are both in to toilet humour too at the moment and Poo head is a phrase that has come out of school - hmm

They do both say Oh for Pitys Sake mummy!!!

It is when they use the words in the right context that you need to worry!

notSupermum said...

I very rarely swear, and when I do it's not usually any stronger than 'bloody', apart from the time I dropped a frozen leg of lamb on my bare foot....a few choice words escaped then I can tell you.

nappy valley girl said...

I hate swearing in front of the boys but I sometimes find the words just escape. Luckily they haven't started really copying me yet, but the moment they do I will have to swear of swearing completely.

Mwa said...

I REALLY don't get why swearing is such a big deal to English speakers. My husband hates it, too. I just don't see what the fuss is.

angelsandurchinsblog said...

Promise this won't contain a swear word! There is something funny about hearing a naughty phrase pop out of the mouth of babes, mainly because the babe in question usually has no clue about what they're saying. But when they do know it's very, very sad. Mine are fond of saying 'Idiot!' at the moment, clearly learnt from me. And believe me, that sounds bad enough when yelled at mummy across a crowded playground. F***** awful, that's what...

siobhan said...

I rarely swear. This partly comes from living here where you don't get much respect if you've got a foul mouth. However, I do have to admit that life with a toddler and a newborn did sometimes have me do somethings that were a little out of character. The day my two year old son shouted 'f**king daddy', I caught dh's eye an we exchanged a look of shock and bemusement, quickly followed by embarrassment on my part as I realised I couldn't blame anyone else. I'm the only person he hears speak English on a regular basis.

Mamma Po said...

I'm totally with you BinB. I think there's nothing more crude than hearing dirty words spouting forth from the mouth of a pre-schooler. Some friends of mine couldn't be bothered to hold back their own colourful vocabulary in front of their kids and actually found it funny when their 2 year old came out one day with the immortal phrase, "Fuck me, Daddy, my fucking nappy needs fucking changing'. Charming.

Myself, I admit I do occasionally let slip with the odd ,'Bloody hell'. I'm not proud of the fact and I'm working on it. But if my kids so much as say, OhMyGOD!!!' (care of Mamma Mia, I'll have you know), I am on them like a ton of bricks. My shallow, hypocritical answer is that certain words/phrases are for adults-only. They know, they just know, it's not right to swear and rarely ever do so - if ever than just to get a reaction from me.

muummmmeeeeee...... said...

I can't stand it when children swear and my two wouldn't dare - at least not in front of me. Swearing is reserved just for adults who find life VERY VERY FRUSTRATING AT TIMES and are faced with the split second decision to shout "FFFFFFFLIPPING HELL" rather than belt the life out of the computer/car parking meter/gum-chewing-shop assistant who can't be arsed to look at you let alone say please or thank you when slapping the change in your hand....FFFFFLIPPING HELL...there...much better.

Iota said...

My kids don't swear (tho can't take any credit for that - they just don't seem to want to), but they do call each other names. Each one has a name that he/she hates the others to use, and they all relish using them. It's very tedious, and causes tears and frustration and anger.

So when you've cracked the swearing, see if there are any transferable tips for me.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Victoria - ah yes the car moments. Definitely all swearing rules temporarily suspended, especially when driving in Bosnia.

EL - it sounds so wrong, especially when it has a sexual connotation. I hate it.

MH - I don't mind the poo hysterics. Sometimes it is pretty funny. It is the words with sexual connotations that I find totally wrong.

NotSuperMum - you did well to only say bloody. I would have been dancing and putting on a show worthy of an Oscar at that point (I am undoubtedly a bit of a drama queen on this front)

NVG - the words do occasionally just pop out. Adam stubbed his toe the other day and just muttered 'sh*t' so I must stop doing it.

Mwa - It is the sexual connotations which really disturb me. I hate the idea of my little boy saying things like 'eat my pussy' - it is just wrong wrong wrong. The odd bugger or whatever doesn't faze me that much but I do think that I am right to have a problem with the more obscene phrases.

A&U - Mine like idiot too - and as it is a word that I don't say really I know that they have picked it up from the Bosnian word idiota (spelt wrong) which means the same thing. I don't get too concerned about a lot of swear words, but the ones with a sexual connotation, there I draw the line.

Siobhan - I do swear a bit, but not in earshot of the boys (well not very often) but sounds as if you were well caught out there.

MammaPo = oh my, I'd be mortified if my child said that. I'm explaining that they are not nice words to use, but for this particular phrase that Adam said the other day, I'm ignoring it completely and hoping that he forgets all about it...

Mummmeeee - There is definitely a place for swearing, I find myself in that situation fairly frequently, but I'd be mortified if my kids were to swear as a matter of course.

Iota - I'm just trying the ignoring tactic. And kids, they really know how to find the weak spot and then pound on it with a sledge hammer. It must drive you absolutely potty!

Dino said...

Hi Emily,

I don't really agree when you say that Bosnian parents teach their kids to swear because it's "funny". I would say that it's more because swearing is more common in Bosnian culture (and ex Yugoslav culture in general) and it is considered fairly normal for Bosnian parents to swear at their kids when they've done wrong and isn't looked down upon like it is in the UK. At the same time, swearing is considered less offensive and more socially acceptable than in UK culture. As a result, kids pick up lots of swear words at a young age and then start using them pretty early on as adults often swear in front of children and this is all considered socially acceptable.

I remember when I was little and was at nursery and school-even back then at the age of 4+, a lot of little kiddies swore. At the same time I remember going round to various friends' houses, witnessing my friends misbehaving and then for their parents to shout "jebem ti mater" or "picka ti materina" (I presume you know what those two mean!). But I know if it emerged that parents were using this kind of language to discipline their children in the UK, people would be outraged and immediately suggest that it is bad parenting.

When I came to this country I remember being very confused as to why no one swore and why it was such a taboo, and everyone here was horrified when I told them that swearing down there is practically "normal", even for children. One of the things I found hard to adjust to was learning not to swear at all in school. But to conclude I would just say that it is a cultural difference and nothing more, and I would just brush it off and not think too much of it.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Dino - it is definitely a cultural thing, and I have noticed that swearing by kids is really common here. On the whole I really don't have a problem with it, especially if it is in Bosnian. I only have a problem with it when it is in English - I'm too English to change I suppose, but 'eat my pussy' from the mouth of a 4 year old is never going to sound ok to me! Funny how different cultures have such different attitudes to swearing. You will see that Mwa's comment is also what is your problem British people - and she's from Belgium but us Brits are all horrified. It must be very difficult for people like you coming into our culture to realise how offensive swearing can be!

uSvijetu said...

I read your blog frequently and really enjoy seeing things from your point of view.

I'm Bosnian and although it's more common to swear in Bosnia than it is in the UK, my parent always warned me (when I was little) that it was a really bad thing to do. So I didn't do that until I was in my teens and met some people who used those words frequently so after a while they became part of my vocabulary as well (nothing I'm proud of thou). Now I know better and I almost never swear and especially not in front of children. But there are many different kinds of people in Bosnia, as I am sure in UK. That is why I don't believe that EVERY grown-up Bosnian thinks that it's OK for children to swear. Maybe some do...

Metropolitan Mum said...

Being Austrian, 'F****** Hell' doesn't sound as bad to me as the equivalent in German would do. Coming to think of it, I don't think we swear in German at all. It's very bad, and I know we have to be more careful, but it's hard to get out of a damn habit. ;)

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

uSvijetu - you are definitely right. Not everyone thinks it is ok for kids to swear in Bosnia. But it is definitely more common here than inthe UK. I'm not too bothered about it, only when they swear in English. I know that they don't know what they are saying but it is really offensive to me, particularly if they are teaching my kids to swear in English! But, many many Bosnian parents are against swearing, just the occasional ones who aren't. They are in the UK too...

MM - I think swearing in another language doesn't sound so bad. Problem for me is that the boys are learning to swear in English and to me it sounds dreadful and I HATE it.