Raising a Teenager

(Every year I have at least one of these students, intelligent, bright and possessing a colorful vocabulary.)

Reasons Why Teenagers Should Not Swear

  • Whatever you say immediately afterward will be ignored
  • You will be cataloged as impulsive and immature, whether the label is justified or not.
  • The Law of Unintended Consequences
  • Swearing is just lazy and boring.

So, Mrs. Able is a bitch. The accusation means nothing except that you, the oracle of Mrs. Able’s character, are angry. The statement uttered is meaningless. If said woman is malicious, feckless, tyrannical, or vicious, then there is a story to tell. Further, calling someone by a curse is the same as giving the conclusion before giving the argument. If someone has done you wrong, there is a story to tell. “I can’t believe what just happened . . .”

Tell the tale up unto the last detail of the encounter and let your listeners give their judgment. If they decide Mrs. Able is a bitch, then they did your swearing for you. Instead of being ignored, your listeners hold on to every word. While a story may have impulsive elements, a storyteller is rarely considered impulsive. Moreover, there are times when your judgment is faulty and your conclusions may be mistaken. In such a case, you become what you labeled (libeled) others.

The Law of Unintended Consequences is that stuff happens that no one can predict no matter what comes out of your mouth. When cursing one can reliably predict “nothing good” will emerge even if the listeners are sworn to secrecy. If one sticks to the truth while avoiding certain nouns and adjectives but also avoiding stretching certain elements for the sake of looking good, then one can mitigate the outcome.

Some people are difficult, narcissistic, sadistic, haughty, or condescending. Some people go out of their way to make others miserable. They deserve all the condemnation and scorn one can conjure. The worst mistake of the scorned recipient or the witness is to imitate the antagonist by stooping to name-calling when a description of the contemptible behavior is the best communication and puts the speaker in the best light as well.

Swearing is a lazy and an easy habit to adopt. Even among your peers, it is one of those habits that sets you back rather than taking you forward.

By Glenn Jacob

Rabbi, Community Leader, Fundraiser, Board Development, Non-profit management, strategic planning, educator, writer, and editor.

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