Dear Grandparenting: My grandchildren have a little language problem that needs fixing. They are plenty smart but you would never know it listening to their conversations. They like it down and dirty.
My father and his three brothers served in the armed forces during World War II and/or Korea. The military is a roughneck world, but they couldn’t hold a candle to my grandkids in the profanity department. Trust me, there’s no way.
I believed it was a phase initially, but this swearing thing seems to have taken a real hold on them. They don’t swear around company or I would kill them. But when they’re alone, they’ll start up with swearing contests, slinging around F-bombs and everything else. I pretend I didn’t hear anything.
I will admit it feels good to let loose with a profanity if the occasion calls for it. But this is an embarrassment. How would you handle it without starting World War III? Sofia Melendez, New York, New York.
Dear Sofia: Profanity is regrettably approaching the commonplace in today’s potty-mouthed times. It peppers the conversations of celebrities, sports idols and even certain world leaders. Swaths of the Internet are becoming cesspools of taboo words and slurs.
When civility and manners seem in short supply all around, it’s what you get. Researchers maintain it is routine for grandchildren to have a working vocabulary of 30 to 40 swear words – when they start school!
Don’t wait to institute a zero-tolerance policy for profanities. Forcefully remind your grandchildren that your hearing is fine. Explain how repeat offenders will be dealt with. Serve by example, since children learn from family.
Expletives aren’t going anywhere. They’ve been around since the invention of language and occur between 0.3 and 0.7 percent of all modern speech. That’s more than it sounds, since we use personal pronouns just 1.0 percent of the time.
According to different scientific studies, there are silver linings galore in all this swearing. Researchers contend people who swear may in fact be smarter, happier, healthier and calmer, besides being generally better communicators with superior vocabularies. Draw your own conclusions.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Becky Nelson, of Everett, Washington, had just sat down to eat her bowl of ice cream with grandson Timmy when the phone rang.
When Becky returned from the kitchen some 15 minutes later, her bowl was empty and so was Timmy’s.
“I had to eat it to save it before it all melted,” said Timmy. “Waste not want not, right Grandma?”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.