What the **** did you just say?

Published: March 17, 2011

Parents must teach kids that swearing is unacceptable

Every family has different rules for their children and mine is no different. One of the most important rules is that no rude words are allowed to be spoken in our house.

To my surprise, my kids eagerly follow this rule. If they hear a new word, they always ask me whether it is bad.

The other day, both my kids came up to me and said

“Mama, are we allowed to say ‘what the ****?”

When I asked where they had heard these words, they told me they hear them everywhere. They told me that even the kids in their class use this phrase.

I was not comfortable with them shouting this sentence at home, school, in malls, playgrounds or at someone else’s house whether or not they added “hell” to the end of it. It just doesn’t sound right.

There are a lot of words and expressions I just don’t want to hear coming out of my 5 and 6-year-old’s mouths.

They should be talking about Disney cartoons, fairies, toys and story books, not saying everything “sucks” or telling people they will “kick their ass” or that someone should “shut up” or this is “stupid”.

We haven’t had any run-ins with the biggies yet and it seems that most of the time I don’t know what I don’t want them to say until I hear it.

From the moment they started talking, I made some ground rules about foul language and I try to implement those as much as I can.

It’s fun to see them telling their friends or the other kids in the family  “don’t say ‘stupid’, it’s a bad word!”

The response that comes from the other side is mostly:

“No it’s not. I hate it when you say that.”

My kids again:

“Do not say ‘hate.’  It is very rude to say that.”

Every child goes through the phase of discovering words that result in immediate worried reactions from parents. The fact of the matter is they usually just repeat what they hear and don’t really know what it means.

The best approach is to ask them what they think it means. When they say they don’t know, you have the choice to tell them the meaning if it’s appropriate and explain why it’s not alright for them to say this word or any other word that they don’t know the meaning of.

This usually works but sometimes they get offended when other kids use those words.

I always tell my kids that their words reflect their personality and they obviously don’t want to present themselves as someone who swears.

I know that I can’t stop this for long since they live in a world where they will be coming across such words, but at this moment they are too young to be that awareness.

I want to hold on to their innocence as long as I can, perhaps till they grow out of it.

What’s totally off limits at your house?


Najia Naqvi

An accountancy student based in Toronto,Canada.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://Multan ILLIDAN

    Saying the F word is haram in Islam!Recommend

  • Ready to Scare

    We weren’t allowed use the word “stupid” or “jhooti” when we were little. I think that was a great thing. I’m still a little shocked when I hear some graphic curses.

    Altough I admit – my language has certainly become far more colorful since the good old golly gee wilkins holy habitiat batman days. Recommend


    I truly agree with what Ms Najia has to say about using the “F” word or any sort of foul language for that matter . nowadays swearing has become more of an habit rather than being used to hurt others feelings . i would blame parents , teachers and guardians who entertain such behaviour in their family , YES i can pin point families who actually enjoy using foul language just for the sake of Laugh in the family gathering . it starts a chain of learning .Recommend

  • http://bakedsunshine.wordpress.com/ Shumaila

    I don’t have children, but I do think foul language from them is often ridiculous. Although I don’t think I would want to restrict them. I’d do like Atticus did in To Kill A Mockingbird – simply let them know the meaning, then let them outgrow that word, instead of making a fuss about it. Recommend

  • pl/sql

    Everything is “haram” in IslamRecommend

  • Arshad Ghumro

    Great Blog Ms. Naji.
    I think u r following very right approach because this is the right age of kids to teach them good values and rights & wrongs of the life because their brains are like clean slate, I pray that every parent should follow this practice then we can make our society a better place to live. Recommend

  • Neha Khan

    Why do we have to bring Islam into everything? I think no culture, religion, society condone abusing. It is a matter of basic etiquettes. Recommend

  • Old News

    i like what you’re doing, but man, your kids are gonna get beaten up in the playground with
    “don’t say ‘stupid’, it’s a bad word!”

    The response that comes from the other side is mostly:

    “No it’s not. I hate it when you say that.”

    My kids again:

    “Do not say ‘hate.’ It is very rude to say that.”Recommend

  • Waqqas Iftikhar

    who the — had the bright idea to turn these blogs into young world?


  • http://Multan ILLIDAN

    @Neha –

    Why do we have to bring Islam into

    Are you serious? We bring Islam into every other thing. We’re a nation where the motivation behind the progress comes from religion. We have a habit of sticking religion i-e Islam per-se, into every little thing.

    You must have noticed it yourself, come out of the mode of self-denial!Recommend

  • Waqqas Iftikhar

    and yes those kids are going to get into a world of sh*t with their pontification on the playground.Recommend

  • Neha Khan


    Relax and read again what I have written. That’s exactly what I am saying that why do we have to bring Islam into everything. Recommend

  • http://Multan ILLIDAN


    Oh, sry that I failed to notice that you were being rhetorical!

  • ik

    @pl/sql: Could you pl define the meaning of haramRecommend

  • najam chaudhry

    you need to clear that religion is not a proper word for Islam, and there isnt any english word out there for word “DEEN”, islam is deen IT IS NOT A RELIGION but religion is a part of it i.e is belief and is a personal matter for everyone …..
    but surely if you die by having being addicted 2 skunk or weed etc., it is still personal but you are addict, you can judge no more, so state comes to your rescue and bans it,
    same is for DEEN , it gives you a code for life and certainly doesnt want us to end up in hell , so it comes to our rescue and bans it !!!!
    so it will be there in all walks of life , but the problem comes as, it say “enter completely in the deen of allah” and we dont do that except for bits and pieces that suites us, any of us ….
    so for weed you have to go to AMSTERDAM , so if you can’t stop blaming Islam , you need to take a flight from it mates !!!Recommend

  • A Chowdhury

    I learnt the F word at the age of 12 … today children learn it at the age of 6 …. wonder how much early they will lose their virginity ? !!! Recommend

  • parvez

    From what you have written, I think your doing the right thing. Just don’t over do it because today the kid is exposed to much more than what we were and the child should not end up confused.Recommend

  • http://grsalam.wordpress.com Ghausia

    I have a niece and nephew, 4 and 7, we tell them words like stupid or hate are bad words too. (Its surprisingly hurtful when a 4 year old says she hates you because you said no to ice-cream) I highly doubt it will get your kids beat up on the playground, and if that happens, well a) bullying is a part of a kid’s life no matter how much we wish it wasn’t, b) Storm to the school and demand justice, simple and c) They may get beaten up but they’ll grow up to be better people at least. Recommend

  • http://Multan ILLIDAN


    Well, you call Islam a ‘DEEN’ or wotever, then the same applies to every Religion.
    That means we do not have any Religionin this World..Lol ( However I get wot you wanna convey) :D

    Stil anyways, Oh Yes, for Weed you need not go to Amsterdam, simply come to me! :PRecommend

  • G. Din

    @najam chaudhry: @ILLIDAN
    “islam … IS NOT A RELIGION ”
    Absolutely correct! Islam is a cult. It satisfies the definition of “cult” to the t!Recommend

  • Hameed

    Get real, ppl have more pressing issues like how to feed their families and make ends meet.

    Weed i’m game :-)Recommend

  • http://ahandfulofdust.wordpress.com/ Mariam

    Time has changed a lot when we were kids and for the present day kids and I doubt if you will be able to keep your children safe from all these things.Recommend

  • Usman Khalid

    i give damn to article.,, just want to say don’t copy other’s culture and be what we were and are …Recommend

  • http://www.naveedtaji.com Khawaja Naveed Haider

    @ILLIDAN: who say? It can be sin but what’s the logic of haram?Recommend

  • http://www.naveedtaji.com Khawaja Naveed Haider

    Hmmm kids are getting forward training rather than they are told about the stories… hahaha… Recommend

  • Majid Urrehman

    Very nice practice Mrs. Najia. This goes a long way in one’s life. In our home these words were and are forbidden to speak and we hated them as much as we hate them today and inshaAllah in future too. Recommend

  • farooq

    Ok…so here i find the answer to my long unanswered question,.., How come some of the boys i meet in my office are true mummy dady’s, they blush wenever u use a bad word, when you ask them whether he will go to pir sohawa for lunch they will say, I have to ask my mom…..for every step in their life they will look back to their moms….and beleive me thats not good….leave the children to explore everything Once I toldd my dad about a decision i was about to make, he said go for it….and after a year i was badly thrashed and i went to dad and told him about the result of that decision..he smiled and said I knew about this the moment u told me…I asked, wy didnt u tell me then … he said…isn’t it good that you found that on your own….!Recommend

  • Ali Haider

    Which school do your children attend? You should name that school as well, since it is for the benefit of people that you are writing this. I will not be surprised if you said, Forbels, Lycium, Grammar etc etc etcRecommend

  • bushra

    not letting your children speak foul language doesnot mean u’re not letting them explore oh puhleaaaaaaaasse . its like u stop ur lil one from eating mud n thats the end of adventure for him .NO! thats what parents are there for,to tell us b/w right and wrong(unless some of the parents don’t know it themselves) . @Naj : i truly appreciate what u’re doing bcoz thats exactly how my lil one is trained.Recommend

  • Mahmood Hussain

    For God sake safe children from such words and society and free Internet usage. This would ruin our generation.Recommend

  • http://wafatariq.wordpress.com/ Wafa Tariq

    Actually, mostly parents are busy in collecting money.! they care about money rather than their children grownup age.. children adopt things very quickly, they are like a computer brain..feed whatever you want to feed and it will store it!Recommend

  • Saraah

    very good article..i totally agree!!Recommend

  • http://none vikash

    this is nice article but how much people learn from this
    today they promise themselves that now they will not speak these cheap words but next day they’ll repeat this.
    shortly we can say we give wrong image to people,to nation,to worldRecommend

  • J

    No wonder why my 14-year old cousin had this status on FB “in a relationship with …..”Recommend

  • Mehwish

    totally agree with u… i am 24 and i really get shocked when i hear kids using such foul words which i cant evn begin to think of saying.i guess it totally depends upon grooming…ofcourse while growing up i also did hear people and mostly frends using four letter words…but i never used them … its all about grooming the kids about decency and what our religion says about the careful words in speech…everyone should educate the kids and evn adults about it..Recommend

  • http://www.adnanjabbar.com Adnan

    I myself not a parent, hell not even married but I can understand as being around parents and kids, what actually happening is quite disturbing in a sense that the kids have started learning this as a fashion statement from the other kids. Most of our society is now stepping into the educational zone but the major thing they are forgetting is culture. Previously it was PTV (Pakistan Television’s) cultural dramas but now if we ask kids about Ainak Wala Jin they are like o_O “what the hell is that. Most of the time our homes are vibrating with the sounds coming out of our TV’s (the magic box of old times) foreign “cable” channels where words like these are frequently said. To understand it more clearly it should be noted that the child’s mind is an un-written information book. Which fills up with words, expressions, happiness, sadness of life. But bringing them up needs some slice and dice just like a plant. Let them know about good and bad. Give them the decisions to make their own choice when they are grown ups. :) Best of luck with parenting.

    Dr. Adnan Recommend

  • Canny

    The last thing this country needs is a generation of uber-burgers that the author seems to be rearing.Recommend