F1NLsxdQaRRev. Fr. George A. Kelly, The Catholic Family Handbook

What about “dirty words”? It may surprise some parents that the use of what are commonly referred to as “dirty words” generally does not involve any moral problem. It is a sin only when the name of the Lord is taken in vain.

Most words which are offensive in our society have respectable origins and have become objectionable only through usage. If your child returns home and uses gutter terms which usually consist of four letters, he probably is merely experimenting to learn what effect his use of them will have upon you.

More often than not, he lacks even a vague idea of what they mean. When and if he uses such words, firmly point out that the expressions are not tolerated in polite society. As with his genital experiments, his experiments with “dirty words” will probably end more quickly if you do not attach undue importance to them.

Blasphemous use of the name of God the Father, or Jesus Christ, or of the saints must not be permitted, of course. If your child uses blasphemous expressions in your presence, he probably has heard adults use them and considers them suitable, or he is bringing them home as an experiment.

You should tell him that our love of God must be so strong, and our gratitude for His goodness so great, that we must never use His name in any but the most respectful way.

A child should be punished if he continues to take the Lord’s name in vain after you have explained why he should not do so, for reverence for God must be the cornerstone of our religious belief and practice. Without it, true Christian lives will be difficult to achieve.

If, in spite of punishment such as the deprivation of privileges, your child persists in blaspheming God, look to his environment.

It is almost certain that he is in contact with an adult who blasphemes as a matter of habit. If you cannot remove your child from this influence, ask the offending adult to stop his habit because he is exerting an extremely harmful influence upon your child.

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