He does it right in front of his kids -- and MINE!
Guest blogger Eve: My husband and I are selective in what we allow our children to watch on TV. Anything R-rated is out of the question (as are some PG listings) because of the violence, sex, nudity and inappropriate language for children. We're pretty adamant about keeping our kids kids as long as we can. They don't need to grow up any sooner than necessary, and they certainly don't need exposure to unwholesome things at a time when they're easily influenced.
So what kind of message had we been sending by letting them hang out with an uncle who cussed a lot? I'm certainly guilty of letting a few F-bombs slip in during my tenure as parent, but my brother-in-law uses the word as his choice adjective for everything. It's ridiculous. He simply has no filter, and my husband and I had given up telling him to rein it in when our kids were around. He was just "crazy Uncle Bo,*" and my kids knew that just because he cussed, it wasn't OK for them to do the same.
Well, that was then. Last weekend, when Bo's three boys (7, 8 and 10) spent the night with us, we took them out for pizza. Reaching for an empty plate, our waitress accidentally knocked over a glass of water, and the oldest of Bo's boys shouted, "WHAT THE F***!?" My husband and I were mortified (MOR.TI.FIED.) and realized we had to do something, if not for the sake of Bo's kids, then for our own. They were at dinner that night, too, and heard what their cousin had said (so did the whole restaurant -- yeah, good times), and since they consider him to be the coolest kid ever, we knew we had to make the situation one heck of a "teachable moment." Very firmly, we let them know that it was absolutely NOT OK for children (or anyone) to speak that way to waitstaff (or, again, to anyone). Furthermore, we told our nephews that if they ever wanted to come to our house again, the cussing would stop then and there.
My husband also had the difficult task of telling his brother to start acting like a responsible dad (and uncle), or his time with our children would be limited as well. Bo is a single dad, and raising three young sons by himself hasn't been easy (and to his credit, he is a loving and involved parent), so it broke my husband's heart to say this to him. But we realized that by allowing our kids to be around a person who frequently cussed -- and someone they looked up to at that -- we were being irresponsible, too. Our discretion had involved movies and TV, and now had to be extended to loved ones. It makes me sad to say that, but ... oh well.
Thankfully, Bo was apologetic and promised to fix things. We haven't seen him or his boys since, but the next time we do, my husband and I are prepared to stick to our decision -- if it comes to that. I hope it doesn't.
Has anyone out there had a similar situation happen to them? I'd appreciate your input.
*Not his real name.