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Rape is Not a Dirty Word

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 Shouldn't we be able to carry on normal adult conversations in front of our kids?

Momlogic's Andrea: I totally get it. Parents shouldn't swear in front of their children. I've got that down. Instead of peppering my speech with expletives, I am very careful to use words like "freaking" and have even managed to successfully replace hollering "sh*t!" with "rats!" in front on my toddler. I thought that was enough. Apparently not.

Recently at the park, another mom and I were discussing presidential politics. While we talked I held my daughter in my arms.  The conversation turned to appointing Supreme Court justices and we were soon into Roe v. Wade.  I asked a standard question, "What about in cases of rape?"  The women freaked out! "Shhh!" she admonished me loudly, pointing nervously to my child, "What are you going to do now if she asks you what rape is?!"

Um, she's two-and-half years old. I doubt that any explanation would make sense to her at her age. And I really doubt I could explain to her the horrific act of rape any more clearly than I could tell her why the sky is blue. She's too little to understand. And truthfully, there are going to be plenty of words and concepts she's going to hear throughout her little life that aren't going to be pleasant. Besides rape, words like war, pollution, murder and pesticides aren't too nice either. Should I not say those words in front of her either?

If my daughter did ask me, "Mommy, what is rape?" (which incidentally she did not),  I would tell her "It is a bad thing," and change the subject.

Honestly, I think some parents need to chill out. The world is a harsh place and not everything our kids are going to come in contact with are unicorns, rainbows and Barney. Thank God. The more we shield our kids form the realities of life, the less able they'll be to cope with them when they get older. It's not that I don't want her to enjoy the innocence of childhood. I do. And yes, she just loves Barney. But certain words she hears will not scar her -- what will is having her grow up in a plastic bubble.

What do you think? Should rape be added to my list of dirty words?

next: Will My Son Be OK If He's an Only Child?
9 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kate November 3, 2008, 9:06 AM

If your friend is uncomfortable with you using a word in front of her children, then yes: you should censor yourself out of respect for your friend and the friendship.

Dorothy November 3, 2008, 11:39 AM

Rape is not a dirty word. It is a bad thing that happens to people sometimes and I think children should be told about what can happen if they put their guard down. Children need to be warned about the dangers in the world. I do not think at age 2 a child should worry about such things but in this crazy weird world we live in and we do need to educate out children of the harm others can cause them. There are a lot of sick people out in the world, and when children can understand, they need to be told about them.

phdinparenting November 3, 2008, 11:54 AM

I don’t think you should have to censor yourself. I would rather my children hear about these concepts from me and get MY explanation of them, then hearing about them on the playground and getting another 5 year old’s explanation of them.

Angie November 3, 2008, 12:04 PM

No way. My son is 8 years old and ever since he was old enough to understand (in his own way of course) I have talked to him about the dangers of the world. There is so much of it on the news anyway so why not. We have even touched on such subjects as religion, gay marriage, politics, drugs, sex, and yes, my son knows what rape means. I am very open with my son and he is very open with me. He is a very inquisitive child and I answer what I think he needs to know about in order to protect him in the future. He knows the dangers of drugs and how he is supposed to treat others and he is a very kind child. I feel every parent should be open with their children as this encourages their children to do the same.

Anonymous November 3, 2008, 2:24 PM

Rape IS a dirty word. There’s something wrong with you if you think you can say that in front of your child. If you said it in front of mine I would have told you off. I don’t want my children exposed to such mature ideas at such an early age and I don’t think yours or anyone else’s should either.

chris November 3, 2008, 2:43 PM

Anonymous - Are you crazy? The only thing “dirty” about rape is the rape itself. First off, children that young don’t really understand what you are saying and even if they do question, you give them a very brief answer and usually in a second or two, they are off playing again and completely forgotten what was just said. There is soooo much wrong with the world today and if you thing that not telling your kids the truth is somehow going to shield them then you are wrong. My six year old has heard things that I probably wasn’t even expose to until I was a teenager. It’s scary how young and fast kids learn these days and It’s up to the parents to educate them so they know what is going on around them. I wish my kids didn’t have to know about Bad man, drugs, cussing, homosexualitly and many, many more issues but sometimes there is no way to avoid the subjects when it’s put out there in front of them. I just do my best to explain to them base on their age and maturity level.

AK Mom November 3, 2008, 4:20 PM

I agree with Angie… Being open and honest (of course with age appropriate information and consideration of the individual child’s maturity) leads to children who are open and honest with their parents. I always try to be as open, honest and informative with my kids as I can possibly be. Now that my oldest is in high school I see that that was the right thing to do. We have a great relationship and he can and does talk to me about everything. We do not have the tumultuous relationship that other parents and teens sometimes have. Is the reason for that because of my willingness to be open with him? Maybe not entirely but it probably has something to do with it.

Jennifer November 14, 2008, 1:04 PM

My Mother was always open and honest with us about sex, rape, kidnapping, and every other harmful thing in the world. As a result I was never afraid to ask a question and I was always informed by someone I trusted. It wasn’t some kid with bad information on the playground.

I plan on doing this with my kids. There is a way to approach these subjects and still keep in mind the age of the child.

Luis Ramos June 18, 2010, 3:39 AM

To those who feel it’s necessary to censor words that adults are known to use while in conversation with another adult simply because their children are ear shot away is obscene. This world has a lot more uglier things to offer than just words. If you feel that the brutal words are enough to damage “their little fragile mind” then you should consider a extremely late term abortion for them and save them the agony of living in a world where words that YOU think are inappropriate will be used on a daily basis. Words are just words and as an adult people have the right speak in the manner that expresses the message they hope to convey.

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