Get ready to be furiously opposed to everything you’re about to read, or to nod your head so hard it falls off your neck. It’s gonna for sure be one or the other. Guest posting for us today is the hilarious, opinionated, occasionally foul-mouthed ($0.25 per swear) yet oddly sweet and adorable mastermind behind the blog Mommy Needs a Swear Jar. She’s not trynna to butter anybody up with a bunch of politically correct shmoopy hogwash. Homegirl is keepin’ it real, and I totally adore her for it:

— — — — —

No matter how mad you get at your kids, there are two words that every single mother – even me, Mommy from Mommy Needs A Swear Jar – knows that you just never, ever, under any circumstance, say to your children.  Those two words are:

Shut up.

But why?  Why can’t we tell our kids to shut up? Sure, in a perfect world, I’d use every interruption as a teaching opportunity.  I would kneel down to my child’s level and put my hand on her shoulder to make a physical connection, and I would patiently explain that I very much want to know what they have to say (lies!), but interrupting is rude, and if my precious darling would wait just a few minutes, Mommy will have plenty of time to hear all about the eighteenth rainbow unicorn she’s drawn today.   Then she would come back when I’m ready to give her my undivided attention.  And then somebody would turn this model of parenting into a Precious Moments tableau.

But I live in the real world where one of my children demands my attention every eight seconds and it’s just not realistic to go through this rigmarole every time one of them wants to share with me a thought or impulse.  I genuinely want to hear what they have to say but I’ve got stuff to do – 99% of it is for them – and I don’t always have time for a more elaborate response.  Sometimes they really just need to shut up.

On a typical morning, I sit down at my desk to get shit ($0.25) done.  I pay bills, go over the calendar, sign permission slips, call doctors, fill out forms, make menus, plan dinner, and shop on-line (not the fun kind, the kind where you buy toilet paper or crap for people who aren’t grateful). I give my kids a TV show or an activity to keep them busy and they are usually content to watch the idiot-box while I work at my desk.

That is, until I need to make a phone call.  At that moment, all of them are simultaneously overcome with an urgent need to tell me something loudly.  I’m hungry. I’m thirsty. I don’t like this show. When will you be done?  She’s touching me.  This smells weird. Is it my birthday yet? I peed on the couch.  None of this breaking news is ever truly urgent, but they roll up and shout it at the side of my face the instant I put the phone to my ear.

Now, bear in mind that I prepare for these calls, because I’m almost invariably calling to bitch ($0.25) somebody out for sucking at their job.  I have reviewed my emails and notes from the last time I called and I’ve searched the far corners of the Internet for other people who are complaining about the same damn thing. During that time, I work myself up into a furious rage and develop a brilliant tirade that I will unleash upon the Next Available Representative.

But instead of opening with my snarky-barb, I begin by politely asking the Next Available Representative to please hold as I place my hand over the phone and whisper at my progeny to shush! so Mommy can talk to the nice man on the phone.  This keeps them at bay for a maximum of thirty seconds before they trickle back towards me and start in again.  By this point I have, at best, gotten halfway through orienting the customer service jackal on what happened the last time I called.  Clearly annoyed, I skip asking and just tell the dude to hold on, cup the phone and with a clenched jaw tell my children to be quiet, stop talking and go play. This buys me maybe another minute before somebody wanders back and interrupts me to ask the question that always comes immediately after breakfast: “when will it be lunch time?”

Folks, this situation demands a shut up.  It’s an elegant and highly efficient form of communication that lets your kids know they need to stop talking this instant.  My kids know what a phone is and how it works.  They even answer the damn thing from time to time (despite being told not to) so they are aware of what’s happening when I hold that gadget to my face.  So, when they interrupt me anyway, they’re just being dicks ($0.25).

Just two syllables – shut up – and you can concisely convey the concept: If you don’t shut your fucking ($0.25) mouth right now and go away, I’m going to lose my mind, twist your head off and football spike it into a nightmare you can’t even remember.  I will dance with you inside the six-sided ring of fire unless you move from this area far and fast.  NOW!*

shut up

I used to feel guilty about this tactic but I am exhausted from coddling my children with language.  There is a time, when they’re toddlers, that they need a softer approach.  But I don’t think I’m doing them any favors by padding the world for them so that their delicate sensibilities are never exposed to sharp language.  There’s keeping your kids safe and secure, and there’s kowtowing to them until they are insufferable brats.

I’ve learned that it’s okay for kids to understand that, at least some of the time, they’re not the center of the universe.  It’s okay for them to be rebuked, and feel uncomfortable, when they’ve acted like assholes ($0.25).  The direct approach to communication helps everyone know exactly where they stand because kids will use any and all ambiguities to steam-roll right over you.  I don’t break out shut up often but, when I do, my kids know to cease speaking immediately unless someone is missing or bleeding and, for my money, that’s a good skill to have.

Total owed to the swear jar for this post: $1.25

*Credit to Chris Farley in Black Sheep for inspiring this brilliant diatribe

— — — — —

mommy swearMackenzie is a SAHM to five beautiful, hysterical, annoying-as-fuck-sometimes kids. She worked so super hard in her twenties to get an MBA only to retire and become her kids’ bitch. Now she spends her days dashing into the fray and taking power naps.

You can catch her throwing quarters into her swear jar on her blog and Facebook. She continues to be confused by The Twitter.


  1. Ha! I use “shut up” in dire situations too. A moms gotta do what a moms gotta do, ya know?! The words that I think NO mom should use are “you’re being a little bitch”. Now THOSE words make me cringe for real. And yes. I have heard them spoken. Usually at Walmart, but lets not go into stereotypes here….

  2. The struggle is real! It always starts with a sheepish ‘Shhhh, momma’s on the phone you sweet little thing..’ to ‘Ok, seriously, please be quiet’ that inevitably escalates to ‘I AM GOING TO LOSE MY FUCKING MIND, PLEASE SHUT IT!!!!!!!’ Sometimes I fake cry. It worked for the first five years but has slowly lost its power.

  3. Before I was a mom–you know back when I knew everything there was to know about parenting–I swore that “Shut Up” would never, ever come out of my mouth directed at my child. I thought it was a horrible thing to say to a little child that I would love and cherish and care for! And then…then I had a child with ADD who would sometimes talk endlessly just merely to hear the sound of his own voice even though absolutely no one was listening and I was trying to do 942 other things that demanded my attention.

    Yeah…total fail.

  4. I honestly can’t agree more! There’s words in my home that I just don’t use which are hate, dummy, or stupid. My kids have learned to replace them with “I really, really, don’t like,” or “silly head” or “silly face”. But when a loud “just shut it!” comes out of my mouth they know they’ve emptied my patience bucket!

  5. I tell my kids (well, mostly my son b/c he never stops talking) to shut up all.The.Time. In fact, that may be my most used phrase with him, but he deserves it. B/c you’re right: “it’s okay for kids to understand that, at least some of the time, they’re not the center of the universe. It’s okay for them to be rebuked, and feel uncomfortable, when they’ve acted like assholes ($0.25). The direct approach to communication helps everyone know exactly where they stand because kids will use any and all ambiguities to steam-roll right over you.” Amen.

  6. What’s funny to me is that my husband views “shut up” as worse than saying “fuck off.” I’m serious! He grew up hearing that “shut up” was the worst thing you could say to a person, so now I can’t even say it to HIM, or his eyeballs bulge and his head pops off. And I desperately want to say it to him, to the kids, to the mailman, whoever. Because it’s verboten. And it feels damn good to say it, even if it weren’t verboten! So anyway, this post was hilarious and I loved it. P.S. SHUT UP!

  7. THANK YOU!! I actually feel it’s completely irresponsible of me -as this child’s only true cheerleader and all around teacher – to not allow him to think he is entitled to anything in this world except my constant love and that sometimes starts with “shut your mouth right this instant.” And anyone who says otherwise is most likely not a parent of anyone over the age of 3.