“Do as I do, not as I say.” With new words being made up every day and children subjected to such celebrities as the Jersey Shore cast, it’s no wonder we’ve all heard this phrase a time or two. Mom and Dad don’t want us repeating after them because they’re not always so PC. Faux curse words—think “drat,” “gosh darn,” and “fiddlesticks”—just aren’t as satisfying as letting the four-letter words fly when you stub your toe, have to stop for the third red light in a row, or find out your DVR didn’t record this week’s episode of Swamp People. But if little Timmy (or Tammy) is around, you know you can’t drop an F-bomb or a string of expletives a mile long. What else are adults around children not allowed to say?


1. Shut up: When we hear something we don’t like/don’t want to hear/think is complete BS, our immediate reaction is usually to say “Shut up!” Instead of giving kids a license to tell teachers and other authority figures to shut up when they’re asked to lower their voices or told to go to the principal’s office, use a funny phrase like “shut the front door.”

2. “You’re so…” phrases: These phrases generally don’t end with good or positive adjectives. Instead, when we find ourselves beginning sentences with “you’re so,” they usually end with something like: annoying/difficult/ridiculous/or any number of words we wouldn’t want children using to describe their classmates and teachers. Next time you’re tempted to tell your husband, “You’re so infuriating,” because he forgot to take out the trash for the fourth time this week, bite your tongue and calmly remind him that the trash won’t take itself out.

3. Gay: NBA players have warned us away from this word with their “Think B4 You Speak” PSAs. It’s true that the word has wormed its way into everyday conversation as a synonym for lame, but the fact remains that a child using this word incorrectly (which is how it’s generally used today) could really hurt someone’s feelings. Now, if your child is saying that a party is so gay, meaning it’s merry and lively, that’s a different issue…and one that will likely get him or her teased. So just don’t use it.

4. Crap: This is one of the easier “less-offensive” terms of disgust to use in place of curse words, but people don’t want to hear it out of a child’s mouth. And since kids pick up on all the crap adults say, you want to keep “crap” out of your vocabulary.


5. Oh my God: Repeat after me: “Oh. My. Gosh. Oh. My. Gosh.” That wasn’t so hard, was it? So why is it so difficult, in the heat of the moment, to replace the “d” with an “sh” in that one little phrase? Ya gotta do it, though. Otherwise your child will run around saying “oh my God” in the most inappropriate of situations, such as when she sees your notoriously unfashionable friend wearing white after Labor Day.

6. Stupid: This one goes without saying. Avoid saying people, places, and things are stupid…unless you want to receive a call from your child’s principal because he told his teacher, “That’s stupid!” in reference to her polite suggestion that he wash his hands after emerging from the bathroom in 4.6 seconds.

7. The finger: This one’s nonverbal, but we probably all say a certain phrase in our heads when we give incompetent drivers the bird. Since the words aren’t usually verbalized, Timmy/Tammy might mistake it as a type of wave and give Pastor Brown a highly inappropriate greeting next Sunday at church.
What are parents actually allowed to say around their kids? Well, you can always give praise instead (however sarcastic it may be), count to 10 before replying to incessant telemarketers, or rely on the old standby and hope for the best—“Do as I do, not as I say.”

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