Say this, not that.

I’m continually confused by the popular wisdom on what words are kid-friendly. I know the obvious words to avoid, but I was informed by a little fellow that jealous is a bad word. Come again? First, little man, I was speaking to my friend, not you. Second, I am jealous of the weather that they are having and wish we had warm weather, too. I can use a different word such as envious or covetous, but the meaning is the same. So, are we looking for a moratorium on the sentiment? If so, you want to convey that it’s not a nice way to feel instead of just eliminating the word jealous from my vocabulary without some further explanation. Because, dude, SYNONYMS!!!

My personal philosophy regarding words I do not use in front of my kids hinges quite simply on whether the word is likely to draw attention from the school principal. If a word doesn’t appear to automatically generate a phone call from the school, then that word is given full vocabulary privileges. The word stupid has been given vocabulary privileges in our household with no issues. My daughter was informed by one of her friends that she couldn’t use the word stupid in the following phrase: Mosquitoes are stupid. Since she didn’t call the kid stupid, I fail to see the problem. I’ve taught my kids how to use the word properly, and I think we can all agree that mosquitoes are stupid. What are they really accomplishing? All flying around biting people and sucking their blood. Have you ever seen a mosquito attempt to solve a complex word problem or be able to speak intelligently on the social issues of today. Exactly! You have not. Thus, mosquitoes are stupid. Now obviously, if you are using the word to denigrate another person, you should do it in a whisper making it much harder to hear. Then when you are asked what you said, you can come up with some clever cover. This helps builds your imagination and ability to think on your feet. “I called you cupid.”

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