Sticks & Stones

We've all heard the saying "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me." But the truth is, they will. I still remember a name I was called in middle school. It hurt me so much that I never forgot it, and I won't even write it here. Names do hurt.
But kids call names. They just do. And as parents of four kids, it's something we deal with.
I feel like family life is a constant work in progress, and this is an issue we're working on right now. John and I are trying to clean up our potty mouths, and work on the kids' name calling.
There are some names that are obviously taboo, such as curse words. But some really depend on your perspective, and that's something we're struggling with right now. There are some words that I don't find offensive, but John does; there are some that John does not find offensive, yet I do.
For example, 'doofus' and 'freak'. Are these just silly names? Or offensive words?
You may suggest banning name-calling completely, and while that's not a bad idea, I just don't see it happening. At least not without constant discipline, and let's face it, that's exhausting. And the fact is we've allowed it this long, we can't expect the kids to just become Brady Bunch perfect angels overnight.

So here's where I need your help.

What words are totally forbidden in your home? What names are considered offensive? Mean? Hurtful? And which are considered just silly, playful, typical-kid stuff? I really want to get the perspective & opinion of other people & parents on this issue. Help a mama out!


Mama Wheaton said...

No swear words allowed. Jerk is used, I don't like idiot or retard, I feel like those are meant to hurt and insult. Wimp is used a bit, by the boys. Butthead is probably the worst of it but that was used by my husband when they kids were younger. Dorc is used not often. I think that's about it. I'm sure there are more when it is just the guys but I try to keep it to as little as possible.

Danielle said...

No cuss words allowed in our home. Although I do use them quite frequently when the baby isn't around. My husband does not like when I call things gay. So we do not use that word. But we do call each other weird, and it is in a playful way. It is really hard to find a balance I think. Good luck.

Kel said...

Wow - we use quite a lot of words in this house, many of which probably shouldn't be (potty mouth run amuck) but certain words like Jerk (hubby's all time dislike) or Retard are just not cool in our house. However words like 'turd' or 'tard' can be heard often echoing from one mouth or another. :)

Tara R. said...

We don't use the word 'stupid' and I HATE the words 'retard' and "gay.' My kids are a lot older than most here, so cuss words are more common than I would like, I still tell them I don't want to hear it.

shortmama said...

My kiddos are not allowed to call names that are negative or can be taken as negative. We dont use the word stupid in our house at all. We try to lead by example, no cuss words, no negative talk within ear shot. We say things like someone is acting mean or goofy or silly. Or we say "that was a dunderheaded thing to do" if you do something airheaded like walk into a door or something. I wish I could be more specific but we really just teach the girls to be nice...to live by the golden rule

Anonymous said...

I like "dunderhead thing to do" as above commenter suggested...I think behavior can be labeled, not the child.

Tammie said...

this is a hard one for me and i dont know that the answer is black and white. we use a lot of potty talk around here, but its mostly done in a good natured, fun way and never in a way thats disrespectful. sarcasm is a big part of my familys sense of humor.

that being said, i dont mind the words that are being used as much as i mind the way they are used, especially if its a hurtful way. plus i think the situation plays a big part in how i feel as well. for instance, if my son does something airheaded and we both laugh at it, i may call him a dope or a dink, but i definitely wouldnt call him those words if he messed up on something that was important to him. ive never really sat down and said what words or phrases could and couldnt be used. ive just tried to teach the kids to be respectful and kind.

BUT, along with just about everyone else here, i dont like to hear the kids say that something is "gay."

for me the jury is stil out on "retard" or "retarded". i dont particularly like to hear it but i think that the definition of it has sort of changed over time. for instance, i dont know of anyone who would actually refer to a mentally challenged person as retarded. its just not used in that way anymore.

Aunt of 14 said...

"shit" is a word that is forbidden. Whenever I "accidentally" blurt that out, my mother corrects me with "say Phooey, honey... PHOOEY..."

Somehow Phooey never stuck with me.

Try saying things like honey, sweetie, pookie, cookie, babycakes... I call my dog furrybutt, but if I had children, I wouldn't do that. I think.

Momisodes said...

This is something we struggle with already too. Even with our daughter only being 4. We try our best to not use any curse words (although, I slip more often than Dadisodes). We also try to avoid: Stupid, Jerk, Idiot, Moron....you know, all the things that come to mind when I get pissed at my husband.

Just Breathe said...

My husband would use the work "Stupid", I hated that. My kids are all grown up and we really don't know how this happened buy our almost 29 year old daughter likes the "F" word allot so we don't let her use it in our house. (at least we try)

Adrian's Crazy Life said...

I struggle with this one. My older boy uses dufus and idiot with his brother sometimes and to be honest, sometimes it is deserved when Blake is being particularly clueless, but I don't like it and I think I'm going to put a stop to it.

My feeling is that home needs to be a refuge from all the unkindness that the rest of the world hands out to them, so regardless of whether they like each other all the time, they need to be courteous to each other.

I have a whole post I did a while back about sibling rivalry vs. bullying. What would you do if they called some random kid on a playground by those same names? You probably wouldn't tolerate it and neither would the other kid's mother. It's definitely a thought-provoking issue.

What I would do in this case is come up with a consequence, something like having to do the other siblings chores for the day, or having them fine each other a quarter or something for name calling. It will take a while to get the message across, but I think they can learn.

Seizing My Day said...

My general rule of thumb is this ~ if it is not encouraging ~ don't say it ~ we are very silly and laugh so much in our house ~ but words do hurt ~ so that is my rule and I am learning to stick to it!~ though I think I can be the worst offender especially when I am driving!!! (mommy is learning too I tell them! because I grew up in a not so guided sarcastic home) I hope we don't need therapy later b/c my expectations are too high??! LOL! seriously it seems to help them understand that words hurt others!~ =)
Just Jenn~

KK said...

We weren't allowed to use name-calling at all and shut up was grounds for soap in your mouth. I don't think I'd be that strict if I had kids, but it is hard to draw a line. Basically it comes down to intent.

Unknown Mami said...

You know what, I think really it's the name calling that I find the most offensive. We don't call each other names. We have potty mouths and drop a few bombs and really need to work on that, but we never call each other names.