Can you remember when you uttered the F word for the first time? Ok, if you have never uttered that word in your entire life, you can ignore my question and go straight to Paragraph 4.
Growing up, my parents taught me to be courteous, have good manners, and to say “please” and “thank you.” I don’t remember them telling me NOT to say the S word, B word or F word. That directive only came after I said it the first time!
I remember very vividly, I said the F word for the very first time when I read it off the wall at the void deck. I was probably in P1 or P2, and I saw that graffiti at the lift lobby when we were on our way home. And of course, I had to choose the most “appropriate” time to ask the question in the lift filled with people, “Mummy, what does F.*.*.* mean? How do you pronounce it?”
I think my Mum must have dug the deepest hole ever that day in her mind. She shushed me and when we got home, the cane came out. I think she thought I was trying to be a smarty pants. (honestly, I don’t think so though!) But there you have it, my first time saying the F word.
I grew up with Christian parents, and these words were never in their vocabulary. So naturally, my sister and I did not use them as well. We were taught to “be careful little mouth what you speak” and that vulgar words reflect badly on us and on God. As we grew older, the habit to pepper our sentences with these expletives just lost its glamor. Besides, it did not make sense to use them.
In this same way, we brought up our kids in an environment where these words were never uttered in our home. But I know these words are prevalent everywhere. TV, Movies, Youtube, and of course friends in school, friends from the tuition center, neighbors, etc. So we try to bring up our children with the right values and take every opportunity to tell them what’s wrong when they are exposed to it.
Since young, we have told them not to say the F word when we hear it in the movies or on TV. Then recently, Nathan told me that his friend, Sam, uses the F word all the time. So he was relating how Sam would speak and what he would do, etc. And then suddenly, he asked me, “Mummy, why is it wrong to use the F word?”
Now how would you answer this question?
I told him, the F word is a very rude and vulgar way of saying “sleeping together.” (My children have been taught that you can only sleep together when you are married. But what happens when a couple sleeps together is still not fully, explicitly explained to him yet!)
When Sam says “F the table”, he means he wants to sleep with the table. When he says “F someone that he is angry with”, it means he wants to sleep with that person. And all these do not make sense. Grammatically, it is wrong. So if it is vulgar, and it is also grammatically wrong, why would you want to say it? And I went on to apply the same principle with the S word as well. Why would Sam want to bring up “Poo” in his sentences?
I also elaborated that when you use a rude expression to show your frustration and anger, it makes God sad. Because the Bible teaches us that what we say gives a glimpse of what is in our hearts. So we have to guard our lips and the words we say.
And the kids understood. They were able to reason out why it is logically wrong, and from the explanation, they know that it doesn’t please God when they use these words. As parents, we have to be mindful of what we say and the example we set. It is hard to enforce something when there is a double standard.
At the same time, keep praying for our kids. There’s no way we can bubble wrap their ears and minds as they grow up. I’m always praying that they will be so aware of God and that the values we teach them would become a conviction that grows stronger each day.