A letter to my teenage son — about swearing

My dear son,

When I am driving in Vancouver and I honk my horn at another driver, they get startled and respond immediately. Because drivers in Vancouver seldom use their horn.

In New York City, however, everyone is honking. After just a few days driving around, I have become numb to the taxi drivers honking at me.

Swearing works the same way.

We swear for a many reasons:

· Expression of pain

· Excitement

· Surprise

· Anger and Frustration

· To emphasize a point

· In jokes
 and my least favorite …

· To insult or harass someone

You are in high school now so I can assume you already have the full arsenal of swear words at your disposal. So here is how to use it properly.

Firstly let us look at the degree of offensiveness in relation to the company you are in.

Examples of mildly offensive: Darn it, crap, stupid, idiot

Examples of quite offensive: Damn it, sh!t

Examples of very offensive: F*ck, son of a b!tch, a$$hole

When you are with your guy friends, any degree is generally acceptable but be respectful of friends that do not like it.

With a mixed group of friends (when girls are around), keep it mild. Girls might drop an f-bomb here and there but they generally respect guys that do not. That is my experience anyhow.

When you are with your parents, teachers or people of authority. Nothing more than mild please. Anything above that can result in a “watch your mouth!” … or a detention. If you are using it to insult, it may even get you a smack on the mouth.

You are probably also wondering why we tell you to “watch your mouth” when you use the word “Freaking”. The answer is… I do not know.

I have always thought that the word “freaking” was a euphemism for the F-word. But apparently “freaking” is also a type of obscene dance. Also what is “phreaking”?

In any case, just remember context.

If you say, “This is freaking awesome!” I would probably let that slide. If you say, “This freaking sucks”, expect an unpleasant reply.

You must try to stay away from racial, ethnic and gender swear words. Even in jokes because they are always used to insult.

In the right company, swear words can be very effective to emphasize a point. Such as “I quite literally laughed my f*cking ass off!”

It can be a good way to express extreme surprise or fear. “Wow, I almost sh!t myself!”

But here’s the thing, like the honking taxi cabs in New York, use swear words too much and the effect is gone.



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