Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)

In the past several months I have become aware of a truly disturbing development in our culture; parents routinely using curse words when speaking to their children.

While I grew up in a moral home, I didn’t become a Christian until I was in my 20’s and I confess I used plenty of bad language. When I was a young person I was very familiar with cursing and foul language. It is a very difficult habit to break.

I remember a now deceased comedian had something called “the six words you can’t say on television.” When we were raising our kids (not all that long ago!) culture dictated that curse words were said quietly, under your breath, or in the privacy of your own home. If we were out at a secular event you might hear a “mild” curse word or even people using the Lord’s name in a sinful way. Cussing was reserved for the really bad stuff. If you dropped a big, bad curse word in public, people around you would glare at you or make a comment about how inappropriate your language was. I recall the phrase “do you eat with that mouth” or something similar being said. It was not acceptable to utter a string of foul language like it is today.

What I am referring to goes way, way beyond what I used to hear.

Numerous times in stores and places literally all over the country have I heard adults using foul and filthy language – words not fit for public airing, and saying these things to small and young children. Little people in strollers and shopping carts, children walking the family dog with an adult, going through a parking lot at a store, or kids in line at Disney World are all being cussed out and cursed at by their parents or care givers as a part of normal conversation! If this is how the adults talk in public, what is being said in private?

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 (NLT)

This trend is distressing on a number of levels. Children are learning this is acceptable behavior, and understanding that these words are part of normal conversation. All of the curse words are demeaning and derogatory; they do not build up the child, they tear him or her down. These words are often used in conjunction with threats of beatings or included in insults of the child’s intelligence, character, personality, or physical appearance. It is clearly verbally abusive at the very least.

What really affected me was I observed little to no reaction from any of the children being spoken to that way. Some flinched a little, others looked momentarily sad before moving on, but most of the little kiddos showed no response whatsoever. I can only imagine the damage being done to their tender hearts and spirits.

Why, why would a parent or other adult speak to their child in such a manner? I believe it is all a part of the cheapening of human life and devaluing of children and the family that has gone on since the 1970’s. We are witnessing the fruit of absent parenting, lacking or absent morality, subjective ethics, removal of God from our schools, our culture, and our nation.

God help us as a society.