New parents have many questions. What pram should I buy? How do I feed my child healthy food? Where can I get a cheap vasectomy? However, in the deluge of information one subject seems to get consistently overlooked.

Swearing.

Sadly, when Junior arrives many of us find that blurting out expletives is now frowned upon. No longer can we liberally sprinkle four-lettered Anglo-Saxon terms for the anatomy throughout our stories, lest those tiny ears pick them up and parrot them back at us.

Listen, before I go on: if you don’t swear, then you’re off the hook. You can stop reading. You’re better than us. Go and do something wholesome.

Right. Have those wowsers fucked off? Then we may continue.

First up, you might be wondering: what’s the big deal? Kids swearing! That’s kind of cute! Hey, there were a raft of films in the 1980’s that involved swearing kids and swearing grannies and y’know what? It was kinda cute.

The key here is that those were other people’s kids. Not only that, but they were fictional. Their language doesn’t reflect poorly on you. When your three-year-old drops her ice cream and bellows “MOTHERFUCKER” in the supermarket it isn’t, I assure you, going to be cute. Your parenting technique is constantly on public display, and there are judges everywhere just itching to award you nul points.

The good news is that the change is gradual. No-one expects you to just flip a switch and begin saying “oops” instead of “cuntsponge” overnight. Oh heavens, no. Babies are calibrating to their new, non-uterus environment and can’t be expected to deal with higher brain functions such as language just yet. You’ve got months to practice moderation. And believe me, when something is so ingrained, it’s going to take months. Try smashing your thumb with a hammer and calmly saying “gosh”. You’ll see what I mean.

So, what can we do? The key is substitution. You’re no doubt familiar with this technique from school days, when you had to keep a lid on your shockingly offensive playground language when back in the classroom. The substitution technique has given us such classics as “jeepers” for “Jesus”, “cripes” for “Christ”, and “golly” for “goatfucker”. However, now that you’re older (old enough to have sex! You wily old goatfucker!), your mind is no longer agile enough to come up with safe language substitutes on the fly. You’ll have to practice.

Think about it. For years now, you’ve been bandying around expletives with careless abandon. I’d be surprised if you haven’t used some variation on at least one of these phrases in the last week:

  • Congratulations on your engagement, asshole!

  • Thank you Mrs Ferrante, your tomato soup is the shit.

  • I found your presentation to be an interminable wankfest.

  • The hypotenuse is the longest fucking side of a bitch ass triangle.

Language like this is simply ingrained. Only with regular practice under real-world circumstances can one make meaningful progress at stemming the tide of profanity that’s constantly threatening to burst the banks of your - well, let’s face it - filthy mind.

Start by identifying your sweary catch phrases; most people only have one or two. These are the ones that issue forth without thought, the terms that bubble barely below the surface just waiting for an excuse to explode. Think of when you stub your toe. Your eyes widen, teeth clench, your chest swells in anticipation of the almighty expletive about to launch.

Have you got your sweary catch phrase? Now comes the substitution part.

Naturally it’s going to be easier to make a successful substitution if the substituted word is similar to the offending original. This, for example, is why “shit” and “shivers” make such ideal euphemistic bed partners.

Now if you can work some plausible deniability in there, all the better. For example, if your sweary catch phrase is “motherfucker” and you substitute “mustard farmer”, you might be congratulating yourself on a job well done. Not so fast! Now your kid’s thinking: “‘mustard farmer’? What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” and you’re back to square one.

Better to substitute a phrase like “mother fluster”. You can explain that away in one of two ways:

If you’re the mother: “well … sometimes, as a mother, I get flustered”.

If you’re the father: “well … sometimes your mother gets flustered, and I am sympathetic to her plight”.

Perfect.


To recap:

Sweary kids make you look like a terrible parent and, even though you are a terrible parent, let’s try to keep that to ourselves.

Thanks to a lifetime of swearing and drinking your mind is now brimming with expletives, yet is too dull-witted to think of non-profane phrases.

If you constantly practice substituting words that sound like swear words, you will eventually train your feeble and dusty old synapses to substitute boring alternatives, even under duress.

Consequently, your children won’t learn how to swear. Well, they won’t learn from you, at any rate. They’ll learn at school.

Everyone will think you’re a little odd.

So, there you have it! I hope there’s some useful advice for all you new parents out there. Oh, and please feel free to use “mother fluster”. Though if you need any more substitutes then I’m afraid you’ll have to come up with your own. I’m not your fucking dad.

@ianhaigh