Why I Decided to Teach My 8-Year-Old Daughter How to Curse

Why I Decided to Teach My 8-Year-Old Daughter How to Curse

Like any good parents, my husband and I spent our child’s early years carefully watching what we said in her presence.

We created kid-friendly playlists so we didn’t accidentally broadcast explicit lyrics. I taught myself to blurt words like “Fudge!” whenever I stubbed a toe.

And if a visiting childless friend made the mistake of speaking the way we used to when we were all in college, my husband and I eyed each other and nervously laughed, hoping the offense had gone unnoticed by our pure and otherwise untainted daughter.

Of course we also vowed to never invite that person over again until our daughter was safely tucked away at college (somehow the irony escaped us).

So when my daughter came home from school one day with a glint in her eye and the news that she had learned some “bad words,” we were prepared for the worst.

Daughter: I learned the S-word today.
Me: Oh yeah? What is it?
Daughter: Stupid!
Me: Uhhhhhh….
Daughter: I learned the other S-word too!
Me: Let’s hear it.
Daughter (leaning in for a whisper): Sexy

My husband’s thinking was, “Whew! We dodged a bullet there!”

Initially, I felt the same way. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that something had gone horribly wrong. And I had to fix it.

What did you just say?!

My childhood, as best I can remember it, was quite different. My father had this wild idea that every word has a flavor and one of the joys in life is putting words together the same way you would a feast. There is no such thing as a bad word, he would tell me, just badly chosen words.

That kind of hippy philosophy served me fine as a kid, but as a parent? It felt risky.

I mean, I can barely trust my daughter not to fart, loudly, in public places without a lot of giggling. Can she really be trusted to not shock polite society, armed with a list of naughty words? Can any kid resist something so, well, irresistible?

Yes, I believe they can. In fact, I believe they must.

It occurred to me that if I am prepared to teach my daughter someday about the necessity of condoms or the dangers of drinking until you are absolutely convinced you need to share your thoughts with the world via a bullhorn, well, I could survive a talk about a few lousy words.

So I sat my daughter down to give her an education she’d never forget.

An asshole is a body part no more nefarious than an elbow, I explained. And while you may shock fewer people by substituting “jerk” for the more common usage of the word “asshole,” you don’t spare anyone’s feelings.

But if I’m being completely honest, I told her, nothing will soothe a stubbed toe or a broken heart as much as letting loose a torrent of these “bad” words … just preferably while by yourself.

Wait, but why?

I know some may think I’m crazy. It’s one thing to teach a child what the words technically mean, but it’s quite another to teach her how to throw around these bad boys with conviction.

But there are few things I’m as passionate about as giving my daughter a voice—her voice—along with the authority and autonomy to use it.

In the end, this is an issue of control. I’m not really referring to parental control so much as the control that society tries to place upon us “for our own good.”

I don’t think it’s an accident that one of the supposed bad words my daughter learned was sexy. Society has served up sexy as a role model for younger and younger girls (witness what’s happened to Halloween costumes), while simultaneously punishing them just a few years later with another S-word: slut.

It’s not the knowledge of these words that will ultimately taint my daughter but her ignorance.

Because as long as these words remain a mystery, I allow other people to determine their meaning and impact for her. As long as I insist on protecting her from her own presumed linguistic rebelliousness, the more I communicate that I don’t trust her to be the responsible, thoughtful child I know her to be.

And if I can’t trust her to control her own words, how in the world can I expect her to one day control her own life?

The issue is not whether we should teach our kids about curse words. Like it or not, they’re going to hear them and ultimately use them. I think we owe them an ounce of guidance before they go off to college to exercise their new found right to make fools of themselves.

The question is: how do we know when they’re ready, not just for dirty words, but for the dirty realities of life? Isn’t that what we’re really worried about?

I’d be lying if I said a part of me wasn’t scared about getting a call from an angry parent demanding, “Do you know what your daughter just told my daughter?” I waited a while to write this, because like any parent, I didn’t know if my intuition would prove wise or worthy of my own reality show.

I’m proud to say that my daughter can curse with the best of them, but she doesn’t. Except for the one day when her feelings were badly hurt by some girl drama that I have conveniently wiped from my own childhood memories.

On that day, she walked up to her room and closed the door. I wisely resisted the urge to make sure the windows were shut or to listen at the door, ready to correct any grammatical mistakes. (Because, to be fair, if there’s anything worse than compulsive cursing, it has to be grammatically incorrect compulsive cursing.)

Instead, I waited downstairs, sipping my tea, until she reemerged and smiled.

“I feel better now,” she told me.

And so do I.

5 Strategies to Land Your Dream Job (Even If You Don’t Feel Qualified)

5 Strategies to Land Your Dream Job (Even If You Don’t Feel Qualified)

You’ve tried everything you can think of to make your job more appealing.

You spearheaded a new project, negotiated a flexible work schedule, and pinned inspirational posters around your desk.

But everyday you still ache to be doing something else, and you just can’t ignore it any longer.

The problem is you feel powerless to pursue what you really want in a world that reduces your experience to a handful of keywords.

It’s the classic Catch-22: you think you can’t get hired without experience, and you can’t get experience without a new job.

Except that’s not exactly true.

I’ve worked with hundreds of career changers over the last five years, helping them quickly and easily land their dream jobs — without a lot of experience and without going back to school.

Before you resign yourself to merely living for the weekends, try these 5 strategies for getting your foot in the door with a job you’ll love. (more…)

7 Unexpected Reasons You’re Not Living Up to Your Potential

7 Unexpected Reasons You’re Not Living Up to Your Potential

It’s frustrating, isn’t it?

When you were a kid, you knew you’d do something amazing one day. Maybe nothing so grandiose as curing cancer (although you didn’t rule it out). But you’d be respected and known throughout your field. You’d look with satisfaction and pride at your work, whatever it was, and know you’d made a tiny dent in the universe.

But it just hasn’t happened and you’re not sure why.

You’re working hard, really hard actually. But year after year goes by, and that next level of influence and impact doesn’t get any closer. And you’re about to give up on the dream all together.

I get it. Teachers and family frequently told me, “You’re going to be great someday.” They meant to be encouraging, but as I got older (and discovered how hard it is to be “great”), I started feeling like I was behind where I was supposed to be in life. It made me anxious that I wasn’t living up to the potential everyone else seemed to see in me. Why wasn’t I celebrity yet? Why did I still feel ordinary and average? Wasn’t I supposed to be further along professionally by now?

I worked on that anxiety for a number of years, redefining success for myself and focusing on creating the life I wanted to live. That was good psychologically, but I was still struggling to actually achieve my goals … until last year.

Last year was a pivotal one for me in terms of personal and professional growth. My business grew by leaps and bounds, allowing me to increase the amount I contribute to the family finances 4-fold. During the same time period, I embraced long-term healthy eating habits and started exercising 2-3 times per week, every week. I even took the entire month of June off, going back to England to see all our favorite faces and places.

I’d never felt so good about what I was doing, how I was doing it, and the impacts I was having. The anxiety and doubt that plagues overachievers like me was mostly quiet.

It felt like I was stepping into my own greatness, a greatness that already existed, rather than trying to achieve it.

And when I did that, I unexpectedly hit a hidden tipping point that made everything I was trying to accomplish a lot easier.

The conventional advice on success largely holds us back. Here are 7 reasons you’re still not where you want to be in life, and how to (finally) arrive. (more…)

8 Questions to Ask Yourself If You Have Trouble Achieving Your Goals

8 Questions to Ask Yourself If You Have Trouble Achieving Your Goals

Lots of people set goals. Very few people actually achieve them.

Why is that? What separates the quitters from the achievers?

It’s probably not what you think.

Many people think the difference comes down to willpower or sheer persistence. Those are important qualities, for sure, but it’s much more than that. Achieving significant goals requires a mastery of all three steps in the following process:

3 steps to goal setting blog

With this in mind, you have to ask yourself: How likely is it you’re going to complete a goal if you haven’t first selected the right goal, that will actually deliver the outcome you want, and implemented the right strategies to obtain it?

In other words, our completion rate of goals, given our lack of understanding on how to create goals in the first place, is actually pretty commendable. And we can drive those numbers much higher if we focus on getting the first part of the process right from the get go.

Of course, you’re probably not starting this process for the first time, are you? Chances are you already have a few goals already on the books. So let’s put them through the goal-setting wringer, shall we?

Below are 8 questions you should ask yourself before narrowing down which goals to commit to. These questions will give you a general idea if you have a goal that will propel you forward or just hold you back (and make you feel rather lousy about yourself in the process). (more…)

Mental Tricks to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed

Mental Tricks to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed

I was reading a list of goals from a client and nearly laughed out loud. I work with a lot of overachievers, but I thought this was perhaps the most ridiculously overambitious list yet.

But I didn’t want to say that directly. I wanted him to figure that out for himself. So I told him to add up how many hours he thought each task would take to accomplish and report back to me.

He estimated it would take him approximately 15 hours a day over the next 90 days to accomplish the goals he’d described. And he was completely unfazed at the prospect. In fact, it would be difficult to describe his emotional state as anything other than eager.

This was an interesting response considering that when I asked him to choose one word to describe his 2015, he replied, “Overwhelmed.”

This is a man who loves his work. He also happens to be exceptionally good at it. When I asked him what he would do with more free time if he had it, he had a hard time coming up with a response. The idea of relaxing on a beach or getting lost in a book wasn’t unappealing, but those activities had a hard time competing with his passion-based business.

That interaction got me to thinking. Is there a meaningful difference between overwhelmed and busy? And is it possible that the trick to stop feeling overwhelmed had nothing to do with how busy you are?  (more…)