I promised I’d follow up on this topic at the end of the “My ex has someone new“ post.
Many of us steer clear of this issue because a) we’re guilty of using foul language ourselves, and b) things have deteriorated so badly “out there” that hardly anyone wants to look hypocritical or self-righteous – and end up wasting their time anyway.
Having said that, most of us still think we ought to try to shield little ones from too much, too soon, when it comes to raw obscenity. That’s a good thing.
In the situation where standards regarding swearing may be different (lower) in the other household, there’s no getting around the need to approach the topic diplomatically with the ex. Example: “Weren’t you and I always pretty good about trying not to just toss the F bomb out there in front of the kids any time we felt like it? Am I remembering that right? I’m hearing that’s not quite true over there with you these days. Have I got that wrong?”
The point is to present it as a conscious choice and remind everyone that they should at least think about what the kids are hearing, and whether they actually think it’s okay to just come out with that stuff whenever.
What probably won’t work is to sound too indignant or self-righteous, and have it mostly come off as being an opportunity to take a shot at the new partner. The ex usually backs the new partner, but there may be a way for him or her to bring it up as if it was their own idea.
I’m aware this might sound wishy-washy to some, but the phrase “choose your battles” comes to mind, and I’m known for coming down on the side of saying something, communicating rather than not, and requesting (respectfully) that the right thing be done.
Yes, sadly, kids see and hear horrible things way too early, and there’s not a lot to be done about it. True enough, kids are resilient, but they also notice whether you’re noticing. Children appreciate that you’re at least trying to protect them – and also whether you live by any code or have any basic standards you live by yourself.