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Precursor of Things to Come

Sue Duffield

Laugh Lines

Joey, a precocious fourth-grader, was recently reprimanded and grounded by his parents over his inappropriate language. He became infected with a whole new gutter-speak from his playground peers. After weeks of guidance, grounding, correction and discipline, Joey seemed to get his choice of words under control. His parents were relieved with his progress and slowly reinstated some privileges.

 Imagine, then, the shock and surprise echoing through Joey’s brain when his teacher announced to his class that all homework assignments and theme papers must be in cursive writing. Joey, thinking he heard “curse” writing, raised his hand and said, “Mrs. Jenkins, this’ll never work! You’ve got to be kidding, right?”

 Mrs. Jenkins responded, “No I’m not kidding, Joey. Practicing and knowing how to do this well will be very important as you grow up. You’ll see one day how effective it can be.” Joey answered, “You’re tellin’ me. It’s effective, alright. It landed me in my room by myself for four weeks with no TV, no computer games, no snacks, no nothin’.”

 On a side note, cursive handwriting instruction may unfortunately be dropped from the curricula of many schools across our nation, (, but that’s a subject for another time. In the meantime, the prolific casualness of cursing—and tolerance of it—has taken on a whole new public level. I’m not a linguistic professional, but I agree with the pros—profanity and its cultural acceptance is at an all-time high. And that’s an all-time low when it affects the very young.

Take this as a Pre-cursor!

1. If you’re a parent, grandparent or guardian, remember children will do as you do and speak what you speak. It’s important to remain calm and collected when hearing something off-color come out of your child’s mouth. Your quick reaction and firm response is vital.

 2. Teach children that profanity hurts and destroys. You may have to impose a heavy penalty until it stops. Child psychiatrist Kevin M. Passer suggests, “After an episode, send your child to the bathroom and close the door as a correction for his ‘Bathroom Talk’. It works.”

 3. You’re in charge, of both what comes out of your mouth and your child’s mouth. Also be reminded that children are struggling to fit in, look cool and appear grown up. The child’s peers are a huge influence, but despite what you may think, you (the parent) are still the most important influence in his life.

After an embarrassing speaking moment where I stumbled over a word that came out sounding inappropriately, a little girl came up to me afterwards. She consoled me and said, “It’s OK, Ms. Sue. I think that word you said is in the Bible anyway.”

  “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be” (James 3:10).



SUE DUFFIELD is a heart-warming and honest storyteller, singer/songwriter and freelance writer who travels extensively sharing her faith, music, and comic relief. She and her husband of 35 years, Jeff, travel in and out of the country doing retreats, conferences and special events. Visit her website at, follow her on Facebook at, or follow her on Twitter @sueduffield.

   © 2011 National Women's Department, General Council Assemblies of God

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