Motherhood

When Did Stupid Become a Bad Word?

You step on your kids hot wheels lying in the middle of the living room floor and nearly trip and fall. Frustrated you say to your son, “Will you please pick up your stupid cars before someone kills themselves?” Despite the tone in your voice that indicates you are angry, he replies with “Daddy, why did you say a bad word?” WTH? Or, you are talking to another adult and refer to something as stupid, only to see your young and impressionable child’s mouth fall open? Or you cannot open the pickle jar and hand it over to someone else calling it a ‘stupid jar.’ No big deal, right. Each and every day each of us are faced with stupid things. Calling these things stupid isn’t like you just dropped the “F” bomb in front of a room full of 1st graders.

Seriously, when did stupid, become a bad word?

According to the dictionary, stupid is an adjective which means, “Lacking common sense or intelligence.” It’s synonyms are obtuse, dense, dull, fatuous. The dictionary doesn’t refer to it as a superlative adjective, that requires exclamation points – and it says nothing about it being slang or a curse word. Yet today, with political correctedness being at the level that it is – stupid has fallen in line behind the other words that are considered ‘not nice,’ to say. And that’s just stupid, especially considering that it can easily and innocently take the place of some other serious words that may cause ‘real damage’ so to speak if said aloud within ear shot of young kids.

For one thing, it is important for our children to recognize stupid. At some point in their life, they need to understand that something they did lacked intelligence, or was void of common sense. If we continue on the path of continually telling them that they simply ‘made a bad choice,’ or ‘could have done better,’ we avoid calling a spade a spade. Instead of telling our teenager that they did something stupid – we try our best to cover it up with nicer words, in order to save their feelings, and avoid outing the reality that their actions were just plain stupid. What good does this do? Saying, “You made a bad choice honey,” certainly doesn’t carry the same sting of consequence of saying “That was a really stupid thing to do,” does.

Certainly, none of us want to raise kids that run around calling everyone and everybody stupid. But kids shouldn’t have their mouths washed out, or lose respect for their parents simply because the word stupid slipped from their lips. It also isn’t considered a good parenting choice to call our children stupid, lest we be blamed for bashing their self esteem. However, their actions – and some of their decisions in life really are stupid. It truly is the best word to describe it. If we called them fatuous, they would have no idea what we were talking about. It wasn’t a bad choice; it was stupid – by definition, which means their decision lacked common sense or intelligence. Stupid is as stupid does.

The point is that there are many things in this world that are just plain stupid; including the new age belief that stupid is some outrageous, self inhibiting word that should never be uttered by a single pair of lips. When used properly, stupid is a very mild word that can help people express their emotions. For instance, saying things like ‘the stupid lawnmower is broken again,’ or ‘the stupid neighbour let their dog poop in my yard,’ or the stupid teacher messed up when she graded my test.” All these things are examples that lean toward lacking commonsense, or intelligence. And none of these things are meant to intentionally harm, hurt of bully another.

The reality is that bad language is part of this world. You can hardly turn on the television, even at primetime without hearing words or innuendos that are certainly more implicative than ‘stupid.’ We grew up in a world where stupid was on such shows as Leave it to Beaver, and you cannot have watched an episode of The Roadrunner, without thinking that the coyote was stupid. Yet, by today’s measure, the “S” word is considered foul language and constitutes a good mouth washing with soap.

Would you rather see an 8 year old who can identify stupid when he or she sees it, who may use stupid as an adjective to describe a situation or an 8 year old who gets away with stupid day in and day out because the adults in his or her life are too afraid to speak the truth?

At the end of the day, there are far more serious things to worry about than stupid. In my book, stupid is still a rather benign word compared to the words of the world being utilized today.

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