Jul 28, 2014
Partly Cloudy

Foul Play, I Swear!

The challenges of raising fine young wo(men) in an expanding world of offensive language.

Foul Play, I Swear! Foul Play, I Swear! Foul Play, I Swear!

With the long holiday weekend, we had the pleasure of hanging out with a number of families in the mountains enjoying the relaxation invoked by the woods, mill pond, and sounds of nature.

Over the course of many meals, cocktails, and more meals, we were all catching up on the happenings since last time.

One of the couples was sharing about the family dynamic around their daughter’s boyfriend and that the rest of the family didn’t like him. Ultimately what it came down to was a lack of social graces. He didn’t know how to be with people and interact well with the family. He didn’t have good manners. 

As I strive to instill in our two teens, though currently on seemingly deaf ears, the value of curtsey, manners, chivalry, and the like, I try to impart that the "small things" are not always so small and that our futures can be opened or closed by others based on their opinion of us.

The conversation about the boyfriend got me thinking about something I’ve noticed for a while now; the normalizing and expansion of swear words in mainstream language.

Maybe my age and East Coast roots are showing but when I was growing up, there seemed to be a handful of clearly defined words that were off limits and if/when we used them, we really hoped no adult was within earshot. 

Now it seems that list is greatly expanded, both in number as well as age of use. Among the many are words like "suck" (the not-so-new but normalized "S" word) and "ho" that are entrenched and peppered throughout popular music, movies, books, such that teens and even grade schoolers use them easily or view them more as slang. 

Coupled with a rudeness quotient that seems to be increasing, some days it feels like civility and good manners go against the "cool" factor or get tossed in the "old-fashioned" bucket.

Does prevalence mean it’s been accepted as okay? While I hated the lemming question as a kid, “If your friends were all jumping off the cliff, would you?” the wisdom of those words and the consequences of our actions are ever true today. I wonder, sometimes, if the anonymity of our expanding world makes it easier for kids (or adults) to be disrespectful. 

Does being cool and hip mean good manners are old fashioned, a thing of the past?

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