Three Naughty Words You Won’t Hear At My House…Or Else!

      If you know me personally, you’ll know there are three four-letter words I just won’t tolerate. I ban the kids’ friends from using them and have been known to correct adults who use them in my house. They aren’t euphemistic swear words, which I generally frown upon. They aren’t “real” profanity, which the children are not permitted to use, either. They are, however, powerful words. Words which carry deep meaning, have shaped history, and quite frankly seem to dominate our modern lives.

You said WHAT?

Naughty Word #1: Hate

     This word, when used casually, really irritates angers me. All the destruction, the lives lost, horrors, and violent acts that have occurred out of hate, and people still use it so casually. “I hate avocados.” “I hate it when she does that.” “I hate you. Tee hee.” It is not funny. It is not okay. We should not desensitize ourselves to hate. Are you kidding me? “Oh but I don’t really mean it,” you say. “I just mean I don’t like it.” Regardless of how we define the word in our lexicons, hate doesn’t really mean dislike, inconvenience, or “you suck, tee hee.”  Most philosophers and psychoanalysts believe our feelings of hatred relate to something we wish do destroy. If you must use that word, use it sparingly, and be careful where you direct that hate. Karma is a bitch.

This is what hate looks like.

Naughty Word #2: Can’t

     Can’t never could. Think on it for a moment. Can not. I can NOT do this. Really? No, not really. Actually, you can. You may need knowledge, help, time, or any number of things to make it possible, but can you? Yes, absolutely.  I don’t allow children to use this word around me. It is such a defeatist word. So final and dismal.  Can they do ALL things. Of course not, but I encourage them to use alternative phrases.  Don’t say “can’t” when you mean “not allowed,” or don’t say “can’t” when you mean “not right now.” If we teach our children they can if they work to make it happen, there really is nothing they cannot accomplish.  Like balancing budgets, finding cures for disease, and creating renewable alternative energy that is not cost prohibitive.

This is what can’t looks like.

Naughty Word #3: Want

     I’m pretty sure desire is the root of all evil. I want that so I’ll take it. I want you dead so I’ll kill you. I want power so I will do whatever it takes to get it. Buddha taught us that desire is the cause of all unhappiness.  We want something and it makes us unhappy until we get it, but there is always something else, something more, something new and shiny to attract our attention.  Yes, of course you want that junk food, but does your body need it? Do you need a treat? (Sometimes we really do).  You want that toy now, but there are millions of toys you haven’t even discovered yet, and you’re going to want those, too.  You want a million dollar right now, but do you need it? What do you need.  We have to take care of our needs, and a “wan’t” that is not also a “need” is not going to help anyone achieve happiness. So, “I want” is verboten at my house.  

This is what want looks like.

We’re Not Perfect

     I hope I don’t come off here sounding high and mighty.  We aren’t perfect and we all let these words slip from time to time.  I’m just presenting this as something near and dear to my heart, and while I’d love to know my words have a positive effect on your life, I know my way is not the only way.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.  How do you combat inappropriate expressions of anger, boost the self-esteem, or combat materialism with your children?



  1. I love your thinking! I have a problem with the word try. “I’ll try” I tell my kids, in the immortal words of Yoda, “Do or do not. There is no try.” To my thinking, “trying” is just giving yourself an excuse to fail. I also banned “shut up.” It’s just so ugly and rude. Great post!

    • I know what you are talking about. But sometimes, you just have to try and if you fail, you get up and dust yourself off and try again or decide it’s not worth it. Kids do need to see you try and fail and learn how to handle it…maybe. But that makes sense to me, lol. We also prohibit “shut up.” It’s like a slap in the face.

  2. We don’t use the word STUPID at my house. We don’t say “shut up” either. To me, saying “shut up!” is basically saying the same as “f#@% you.”

  3. I love this!!! I don’t let my kids use hate or can’t either. After reading this, I think I shall add the word want as well! Nicely done, as usual 🙂

  4. I love your words of wisdom! No, you didn’t come off sounding high and mighty. To me, you sounded like a responsible, practical, logical, caring, parent! Yay!! Thanks for sharing!

  5. great post!

    we don’t say “hate” “stupid” “shut up” “kill” or “suck” within an earshot of me. they know better. we say “the worst” “doofus” “pipe down” “zap” and “bummer” instead.

    someone asked me a few months ago, “what do you do when your kids call you stupid?” and i said, “nothing because they don’t. ever.” the read i got off this person was that her children calling her “stupid” was a common occurrence. she sorta crunched her face, paused and then said, “what about when they say they wanna kill you?” i looked at her and said, “you’re kidding, right? i mean, you don’t actually allow that, do you?” and she got quiet. her kids are all basically younger than mine. my youngest is 8; her oldest is 9. she allowed it; they must’ve witnessed it. i got quiet. children model what they hear. i’m not perfect either, but i get a “may i” and “excuse me” and “please” and “thank you” and “you’re welcome” and “yes mom/dad” and “no mom/dad” or no one gets anything. parenthood: it ain’t easy.

  6. Hey Miss High and Mighty! Just stopped over from YKIHAYHT! Lovin’ it!
    The potty talk is definitely banned in our house too, adding to your list “suck”, “stupid” and “shut up.”

  7. I love this post. It’s been a few years since I came to the same conclusion about the word “hate.” It’s used too freely given its horrible, harsh connotations.

    I’ve been cognizant of the word “can’t” since one of my martial arts instructors asked who could touch the ceiling. I was the only one who raised my hand. My instructor asked why and Is aid, “You didn’t put limitations on it or anything. If I go get a chair, I can be touching the ceiling within ten seconds.” I’ve tried thinking about the word in that light since. I try not to grit my teeth when I hear people say they “can’t” run a marathon. Probably not if you laced up and did it without preparing, sure, but with preparation, practice and patience, there are very few who can’t RUN a marathon. But even then, there are typically other ways.

    I’ve got to digest your third word a little longer. I use the word “digest” because I’m having to manage my diet very carefully now. I’m still early in, but I’m amazed how much better I feel when I don’t eat the stuff I want but instead the stuff that nourishes. Your example of food reframed this question for me. Thank you.

  8. Love ’em, especially the banning of “can’t.” The one phrase that drives me the most batty is “I don’t know.” It’s not an answer. It’s a cop-out. The Maiden is really, really intelligent, and when she says “I don’t know” it’s the mental equivalent of “can’t”–essentially saying “I don’t feel like thinking or bothering.” She already has to struggle with ADHD every day; I never want her to get into the habit of not bothering just because thinking and focusing are hard.

    We banned the word stupid a long time ago, and she still abides by that–I’m not about to change it! I don’t ban potty talk, but if she wants to use it she has to go sit in the bathroom, because that’s where it belongs.

  9. “Can’t” doesn’t bother me as much as “want” in my house. Though we try to encourage “can”, kids are kids and I get that they think they can’t do something, so we try to figure it out. But my oldest daughter has “want” just engrained in her little noggin and it drives me up a wall.

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