What mum hasn’t muttered those immortal words – go the f* to sleep – as we rise out of our beds to settle a baby, or take a toddler back to bed, or just lie there stiff waiting for the next ear-piercing wail from the nursery.
It’s the saying of that phrase out loud that’s got a few people hot under the collar.
A couple days ago Melbourne mummy blogger Sophie Cachia, the writer of the popular blog The Young Mummy posted a video to her Facebook and Instagram accounts showing her reading the cult favourite Go the F**k to Sleep to her two-year-old son Bobby. WARNING: Bad language.
It really is a satisfying read for parents – and it’s lilting, rhyming verse is also soothing to little ones. As the promo spin about the book says: “Go the F**k to Sleep is a bedtime book for parents who live in the real world, where a few snoozing kitties and cutesy rhymes don’t always send a toddler sailing blissfully off to dreamland.”
It’s quite likely that when Adam Mansbach wrote this best-seller he wasn’t planning on it being read to kids – or maybe he was even allowing parents to make their own call when it came to whether they swore in front of their kids or not.
So Sophie made the call and read it to Bobby, filmed the whole thing and put it out there in social media.
Well, a lot of people have had something to say – and it was mostly supportive of Sophie because if they’re a parent they will know too well the hell of a non-sleeping child.
Comments of support included:
*“Gooo mumma! I'm sure if my parents had this book when I was little, they would've read it to me. There's worse things in this world than swearing in a children's book but not all of us can be perfect.”
“Hahahaha oh the amount of times I've whispered this or said it in my head lol”
“Sophie - youre my mama hero!! You are as real as they get and i love how often you talk about topics with different stigmas about them. They will be around it hell even learn those words from kids at day care and as long as then know when not to use them - it is inevitable that theyll come across them often in life!!! Keep doing what you do- i aspire to be like you not just when i have kids but your outlook on life is very relatable.” *
But there also the responders who weren’t happy about swearing in front of a child:
*“I just don't think it's appropriate to speak in front of children like that.”
“I'm not keen on using this language around kids...no matter what age. It won’t be so funny when he's saying it when he's older either.”
“I hate this language modelling!?!”*
Want to hear the whole book? Here's the velvetty-voiced Noni Hazelhurst reading from the book. Hilarious.
This iconic book now has a hilarious companion title called You Have to F**king Eat, by the same author.
Is swearing in front of your kids so bad?
Cursing in front of of the offspring is always hotly debated in the parenting world. There are those who won’t even say “bum” in front of their progeny, while others who are perfectly happy to eff and blind no matter who is around. In the middle there are those parents who say a bad word every now and then.
Of course there is research on this. One study found that by the time a child is five they already know 42 taboo words (I’m not sure even I know that many).
But the big question is if it really matters. Amy Conley Wright, senior lecturer in social work at the University of Wollongong wrote about this topic in The Conversation last year .
She wrote: “The important thing is that children understand the context for their behaviour.
“There may be little damage from swearing in the playground, but thinking they can swear at their teacher is another matter entirely. Children need to be taught, through modelling appropriate behaviours, how to behave in various social situations and different contexts.
“No parent is a saint and we’re all guilty of dropping the f-bomb when stubbing our toe or when the shopping bags split. As long as your children know the f-bomb is not appropriate language to take to their first job interview, then they’re probably going to be okay.”
Wise words? What’s your call on swearing in front of the kids.
WATCH: Mum films a ghost baby in the cot next to her sleeping daughter.