My 14-year old son is doing a lot of swearing. He uses this language with his friends as well as on line through email. I am not happy about this. Is there anything I can do to get him to stop?
For adolescence, swearing seems to be a way for them to have a greater sense of freedom and power. For a young person your son’s age this is not surprising. See chapters 6 & 7 of Peaceful Parenting® where ages and stages are more fully discussed. Essentially, teen-agers have a strong desire for increased power and freedom during their adolescence. Apparently your son has chosen swearing as one way to follow these urges.
Just because your son has chosen swearing as his way to increase his sense of power and freedom doesn’t necessarily mean that you are happy about it. I bet you already have experienced no success by attempting to externally control his behavior. Threatening to ground him, or punishing him or fining him will not succeed. If you have tried these methods you already know that he can and will continue to use foul language if he chooses. During our children’s adolescence it becomes very clear just how little control we have over our children’s behavior.
I have two suggestions that might be useful. First, explain to your son your objection to his language. Explain why you feel as you do about it. Further explain that you are well aware that you are unable to make him stop. Telling him you can’t control his behavior may help him have a greater sense of power and freedom. Simply explain what your desires are regarding what is acceptable and not acceptable language to you.
Next, at a different and separate time from the above request, have an open discussion with your son regarding swearing. Is there ever a time where swearing is inappropriate? Is there ever a time where swearing is appropriate? How do you feel about your own language use? How does he feel about your language use? You might even share with your son that you appreciate that he swears with his friends but not to teachers, relatives, etc. Is there any liability to using foul language on the internet?
Essentially what I am suggesting is that you engage your son in a conversation where you are not trying to moralize or preach. After all, he is of an age where he is going to be making increasingly difficult choices regarding his morals and ethics. Why not keep the conversation and connection an open exchange between you? This will have a much greater positive impact on your relationship with each other than any attempts on your part to “make him stop. ” Asking him his opinion and to self-evaluate will also more likely lead to him making better choices about his language – eventually.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nancy S. Buck, Ph. D. established Peaceful Parenting, Inc.in 2000 to bring her knowledge and experience with effective parenting to the greatest number of parents and other caretakers of children. She developed the Peaceful Parenting ® program from her 25 years of experience as a developmental psychologist, trainer and educator with The William Glasser Institute and as the mother of twin sons. Her genuine, warm and authentic teaching style is clear and concise, helping learners move from the theoretical to real life situations.
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