Is it Now Socially Acceptable to Call Our Kids Assholes?
I’d like to know when it became socially acceptable to call your kids assholes, jerks, bitches and other wonderful words that we raise our kids NOT to use.
I’m definitely not suggesting that any of us can really relate to musician Tommy Lee, but on Father’s Day, he vented on Instagram, writing, ‘I love my boys but they can be a*sholes too…and that’s the truth (cue Honest Guy Music.)” His post made his already-fraught relationship with his son, Brandon, even worse, as his son retaliated with some pretty harsh words about his father. Still…
I have been guilty of calling out my 6 year-old son for acting like a ‘jerk’ and also calling him out for acting like ‘a bit of an asshole.’ I haven’t done it on any social media platforms (I don’t think!) just to other people and friends. For example, if someone tells me that my son is ‘so adorable,’ I’ll usually respond with a, ‘Yeah. He really is adorable, but he can also act like a real asshole too.’ People usually laugh at my response, or maybe they laugh because they are uncomfortable with my honesty, and that I just used a bad word, describing my son. Or maybe they simply think I’m joking. I sort of am. I’m sort of not.
My son is adorable but he can also act like a real jerk, when, for example, he throws tantrums if I don’t give him chocolate milk in a green cup, when he’s in the mood for a red cup. My son is also super stubborn, so often he will act like an asshole. I mean, it’s an asshole move to fling thousands of tiny lego pieces across the room, in a fit of rage, because it’s bedtime, isn’t it? But, before you cue the judgement on me for sometimes describing my son’s actions as asshole-like, I’d like to mention I’m far from alone. Almost every day, in comment sections on Facebook, or private groups, I’ve noticed that many, many parents are calling their kids, little assholes, little jerks, and little dickheads.
Personally, I think it’s funny when I hear or read a parent saying their toddler is acting like a little asshole, especially if it comes with a photo of said kid lying on the floor in the middle of Costco having a tantrum, surrounded by massive tins of olives and stacks of toilet paper.
First, us parents aren’t saying this to our kid’s faces (I hope!). Most of us are just venting and, yes, a kid who is in the midst of a 45-minute tantrum, all because they lost a dandelion, would make most of us mothers eventually think, ‘Yes, you’re acting like a jerk.’
Let’s be real: Mothers know that kids can and do sometimes act like assholes, and it’s so much more powerful, when venting, to say that your kid is acting like a ‘jerk’ as opposed to, let’s say, describing them as being ‘a handful.’ It gets right to the point.
I also think many of us parents need a quick tutorial of Grade three English, when it comes to adjectives versus verbs. An adjective is ‘a word or phrase naming an attribute, added to or grammatically related to a noun to modify or describe it.’ A verb ‘is a word used to describe an action, state, or occurrence, and forming the main part of the predicate of a sentence, such as hear, become, happen.’
So while I would never, ever say, or write, that my daughter is a bitch I’m not opposed to telling her she’s acting bitchy. There is a BIG difference in saying your child is an asshole, as opposed to saying they are acting like an asshole.
Parents certainly have opinions on whether it’s okay to call your kid an asshole or jerk, or even describe their actions as being jerk-like or asshole-like, while venting on social media, or to friends. A lot of us, who have maybe a darker sense of humour than others, find it just fine to describe our kids to strangers, in what was once considered unthinkable. But these days, many parents are fine with it and find it funny, especially since us parents can ‘lose our own funny’ when our kid knocks over grape juice on our white carpet in the living room, after we specifically told them that, under no circumstances, are they to drink their juice anywhere but in the kitchen.
In any case, this mother and author justifies her reasons for using swear words when describing her kids on social media platforms in this funny blog. She begins, ‘Okay. Let’s clarify. I have never called my kids assholes to their faces. I wouldn’t say I condone that. In fact, I have been pretty successful with controlling my potty mouth in front of the kids. But behind their backs? When I am talking to other grown ups? That’s a whole different story…Perhaps I could say, “The kids really gave me a run for my money today.” Or “Yikes! My kids were little stinkers today!” But I’m sorry. When your 4-year-old takes your brand new phone, whips it out the car window and smashes it on the driveway less than 24 hours after you got it, when you find out your teenager has been flat out lying to you for weeks, when your three-year-old flushes a pair of scissors down the toilet, when two of your children won’t stop attempting to beat the living shit out of each other, well, ‘Today my parenting skills were really challenged just doesn’t cut it.’”
Thus, her status updates may read something like, ‘My kid’s being an asshole.’ (Again, I’ll point out that she writes that her kid is BEING an asshole, not that her kid IS an asshole. Yes, I know, that’s enough of an English lesson, Ms. Eckler.)
In another blog entitled, ‘I Really Hate It When You Call Your Kid A Dick,’ it doesn’t take a genius to guess what the author’s take on this is. Like me, she begins with saying she’s seen this kind of descriptions of kids on social media ‘more and more’ and it makes her ‘cringe every single time.’ She writes that she’s seen, ‘Mums publicly calling their kid an asshole, dick, bastard, twat, bitch and even a little c*unt.’ While some of us may laugh, it really pisses this author off, even when her good friends do it.
‘Many of the people calling their kids names are actually people that I like a lot. They are good, kind, smart people, so it’s a bit of mystery to me why they think it’s okay to put their kids down so much. Usually I try to stay well away from the judgey-parenting movement – you parent your way, I’ll parent mine. But in this case… no.’ She then goes on to ask, ‘Would you call them names to their face? Would you whisper them under your breath as you walk away? How would you feel if your kids heard you say it or saw you had written it on social media? Would you feel proud of yourself? Proud of your parenting?’
First of all, many of her questions must be rhetorical, right? Of course we would not call them names to their faces! Of course we would feel awful if our kids saw it! I wouldn’t say that writing that your kid is acting like a dick is a proud parenting moment, but it’s not exactly the end of the world, is it? And let’s not forget that most of us who say or comment that our kids are acting like jerks, or dicks, are parents of young children; children who are still taking naps and can’t read and can be distracted by bubbles for hours.
Calling out your toddler for acting like an asshole or jerk makes me laugh, much like when a three-year old says “fuck” out of nowhere. It’s less funny when a 15-year old says that word. The former? Adorable and we can’t wait to tell our friends how our three-year old said “fuck” in the middle of a crowded elevator! The latter? Not so much, and we’d probably tell our teens to stop swearing.
I agree, to a certain point, that it is much cuter to call out a three-year old for acting like a dick, or asshole, than it is to call out a teenager on social medial for acting like an asshole, like Tommy Lee did. His son, after all, is on Instagram. His son is old enough to read. But my six-year old doesn’t have a clue what Instagram is and by the time he really learns to read, I’m not even sure Instagram will be a thing anymore.
The offended author, who hates when you call your kids a ‘dick,’ ends her post by asking, ‘I’d be mortified if anyone ever thought my own behaviour warranted calling me a name like that. Wouldn’t you?’
Well, what can I say? I may not be a bitch, but I certainly have had my bitchy moments. So while I may not be a bitch, I can certainly act like a bitch.
So, do we find calling out our young kids on social media for acting like jerks, dickheads, or assholes, kind of funny? Or, for lack of better word, is it a ‘dick’ parenting move?