Advice To Parents: There Comes A Time To Have Our Children Stand Up To Crudeness by Robert Socha
In the summer of 2019, I took our four children for a treat to ice cream at one of the local favorites, The Udder Side. It was a beautiful sunny day, and we had walked up to the ordering window, perusing the posted menu board, before making the oh-so-important decision of which flavors to choose for our cones. The joy of the moment was shockingly interrupted by a group of four teenage boys standing in front of us who knew no other adjectives except those deemed curse words.
They were exuberant in their animated conversation, boldly declaring how well acquainted they were with certain 4-letter words. It was exhausting. As a rule, we do not exercise our tongues with offensive language in our home. In the unfortunate moment of passion when one does escape the confines of our lips, an immediate and proper apology comes forth.
What am I to do? For a moment, I wrestled within myself, enduring the savagery of their innocuous conversation, allowing my children exposed to their lazy, inept discussion. Should I intervene? Should I make a scene and confront these boys on their use of the English language and challenge them to improve their communication skills?
My mind immediately returned to an event my wife and I visited, where I did not intervene. We attended the President’s 2020 campaign kick-off rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on March 28, 2019. It was a fun day. We arrived around noon, four and one-half hours before the doors opened and nearly seven hours before the event’s scheduled beginning. The queue already stretched for blocks with thousands having arrived before us. The electric atmosphere was refreshing and inspired awe. Animated conversations kept the energetic spirit of the occasion alive.
All this was rudely interrupted by an enthusiastic entrepreneur who traversed the continually growing line peddling his wares. The particular item he attempted to gain some monetary reward was a t-shirt with one of the most offensive slogans boldly printed on the front and back.
It read, “Donald F-ing Trump” on the front and, “B-tch I’m your President” on the back. The offending articles spelled out for all to see. Not only was he holding this vulgar commodity up for all to see, but he was shouting the slogan at the top of his lungs for all to hear.
You could feel the cringe in the queue. The awkward shifting of weight as we all stood there withstanding the obscene barrage. Parents introducing their children to the political process scrambled to protect their innocence to no avail. The incessant rambling continued unabated.
To my dismay, deeming it worthy of their treasure and laughing off its absurdity, some in the crowd purchased the shirts. Then, like clockwork, they proudly adorned themselves in this depraved expression.
I whispered to my wife, asking her if I should intervene and face the man, urging respectability. We both thought that I should confront his indecency, but I shamefully remained silent. This act of cowardice haunts me.
We used to hold ourselves to a higher standard. Men might delve into lewd speech in other men’s company, especially when discussing sports or politics, but would hold their tongues in public settings, especially when women and children were present. That respect for the moral fiber of our neighbors has evaporated.
Scripture admonishes us to let no unwholesome or corrupting talk come out of our mouths. This standard provided our communities a base to judge civil conversations and the impetus to enact punishment should one choose their adjectives poorly. We voluntarily set limits on our freedom of speech to maintain a moral standard adamantly renouncing our fellow man’s cursing. We have abandoned these principles. Coarse language fills the air of offices, parks, coffee shops, and nearly every public place, piercing the eardrums with its insidious depravity.
And I have remained silent.
So I took these thoughts into account and confronted those four boys for their ineptitude.
I very sternly said something like, “Boys, I have endured your blatant disrespect for those of us in the sound of your voices long enough. It is not right that you have exposed my children and me to your obscenities. If you had even an elementary command of the English language, you would not debase yourselves with such disreputable babble.”
My children were shocked, and I think slightly embarrassed. The boys were incredulous, staring me down, trying to intimate me to silence. I stood taller and resolute, ready to engage their rebuttal.
There was none.
The four boys rolled their eyes, said some things under their tongues among themselves, but submitted to my command.
I am proud of my efforts that day. Where I previously remained silent, I took action and engaged. It was awkward and unexpected. I had to muster up the courage and fortify my resolve in the confrontation. I had to think about the consequences and consider what I was teaching my children through inaction. And I spoke up.
We would all do well to bridle our tongues, which so quickly run to evil. We would all benefit from setting a higher standard of conversation for ourselves and choose our adjectives wisely.
Can you imagine how good and pleasant it would be for our culture if we would prefer to respect one another in our use of the English language?
What if we would adhere to scripture and “let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29)
About the Author
Robert Socha, BIO Robert Socha (so-ha), was born in southern California. He served 5 years 3 months active duty in the United States Air Force; honorably. After his service he took an Associate’s Degree in Practical Theology, where, through his studies, developed a deep love of God and Country and sincere appreciation of the value of Liberty. Robert and his beloved wife of 21-plus years are raising 4 beautiful Texan children. They moved to Hillsdale, Michigan, in 2013, to put their children in Hillsdale Academy. Robert is a sales professional. He and his wife consider Michigan a hidden gem, and absolutely love this city and state (current political environment notwithstanding) they’ve adopted.