Lily Says The F-Word

Picture copyright ABC studios

As a “non-parent” I don’t have a well-developed, or fine tuned, sense of what is age appropriate behavior for kids.  I probably would have taken a 7 year-old to see the Lord of the Rings, thinking it would be fun…

and been responsible for the ensuing host of nightmares.

On top of this, I have a hard time determining a child’s relative age. I will often say things like, “That kid is an amazing violinist, I couldn’t have done that at 9”, to which my wife will kindly reply, “That kid is 14.”

What I do know is that it isn’t appropriate for any kid to be using swear words.

Which is why it’s so funny to the rest of us when your kid does it.

In front of



Sunday School teachers,


Police officers



The humor in this is actually twofold:

1.) The child isn’t usually aware of the “meaning and significance” of the word they just used. They’ve simply “parroted” a word that they’ve heard from another person. Using it in an incorrect social setting, or conjugation, causes a shock to the hearer, which is usually disregarded with humor to avoid embarrassing the child or parent.

2.) The child has usually just given you up as their “unidentified source” regardless of your, “I bet they just picked that up in the neighborhood or at school” comment.

You see, it’s not just that “Kids Say The Darndest Things”, it’s that they say them at the darndest times: usually when a disapproving pastor or persnickety mother-in-law is present.

Tonight on ABC’s Modern Family, 2 year-old Lily drops an “F-bomb”. Needless to say, this has already been a cause for concern for some conservative interest groups and social watchdogs.

While the child actor doesn’t actually use the real F-word, and her mouth is pixellated while the word is “bleeped”, many people have concerns about the depiction and implication.

Since Modern Family deals with many of the problems that parents face while raising their kids, it’s not necessarily a departure for the program. In fact, the show has dealt with larger and less common issues than this.

I think the problem is that this is happening on Modern Family; a show where two gay men are raising an adopted daughter together.

I have a hard time imagining that anyone would raise an eyebrow if DJ Tanner or Rudy Huxtable embarrassed their parents by innocently swearing at a wedding. Is this because it’s easier to see ourselves reflected in The Cosby Show or Full House?

Regardless of whether or not you believe that a gay couple should be raising a child, gay people are human people and they experience most of the same cultural situations that straight people do. This means that if you look into their lives honestly, you’re likely to see bits and pieces of yourself reflected back at you.

…and in the same way that it’s OK for a Christian to have things in common with an atheist, a Canadian, or a left-hander, it’s OK to have commonality with a gay person.

It doesn’t endanger, or cheapen, your relationship with Christ.

Christians live like Christians regardless of whatever everyone else is doing.

All human beings are hypocritical by nature, none of us ever achieves consistency with our beliefs, words, and actions, but hypocrisy is especially dangerous for Christians who refuse to tolerate things in other people that they themselves are guilty of.

If you have a kid, they’ve probably let a “family secret” slip.  Maybe it was a bad word, or a “yelling disagreement”, or mommy’s age. It happens to all of us regardless of gender, age, nationality, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation.

It’s a point of human commonality.

Laughing about it doesn’t betray anyone, or anything, it actually helps us come to understand one another and build the relationships that it takes for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to spread the way it was intended to be spread, from person to person… as opposed to competing belief systems.

AND a kid reflecting their parents vocabular peculiarities isn’t without precedent in the history of entertainment:

Let’s not forget that a beloved youngster, raised by a traditional family, drops a Fudge-bomb almost every two hours, every Christmas on TBS… and we love and celebrate it with a marathon.

We even call it a “Christmas Story”.

Tonight’s episode of Modern Family isn’t unprecedented, and it probably won’t be offensive. You’ll just have to tune in tonight if you want to find out for yourself.

That’s what ABC is hoping for anyway.

I’d love to hear about a time, or situation, where your kid said, or did something, that embarrassed you in public. Since I’m kidless I’ll share something that I said, as a 4th grader, at a family dinner party:

“The camp brochure says that we all have to wear one-piece bathing suits to the pool. If a girl only has a two-piecer, I bet she could just wear the bottoms and be O.K. though, right?”

Begin sharing now:

15 Responses to “Lily Says The F-Word”

  1. Kimberly Kyllo January 18, 2012 at 11:35 am #

    HILARIOUS!!! LOVE THIS!!!! Always love reading your blogs…cuts right through the bull ****!!! lol Thankful for your humor and insight and the ability to put it all into words. There are countless things my 4 kids have said….one that comes to mind is my son asking his grandma(my mother in law) “Do you like my mama? She said you don’t!” Upon my “uh- hum” and “well now there you have it!” and “look over there at that elephant running down the street!!” He persists…to the absolute silence of my mother in law! Personally….I saw it as a wonderful opportunity to object! She didn’t! Go figure…..HAHAHA!!!

    • Jon January 18, 2012 at 11:49 am #

      Sooo good. Love it. Those awkward moments that spring from a child’s inability to understand social norms could be an actual reality show!

  2. Leslie D. Martin January 18, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    “The child isn’t usually aware of the “meaning and significance” of the word they just used. They’ve simply “parroted” a word that they’ve heard from another person.”

    Yea…if they are two years old. That theory get a bit shaky as they get older, however!! :)

    • Jon January 18, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

      especially teenagers… but remember that they learn context from the adults around them

  3. Jeff Patterson January 18, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

    This is why we HOMESCHOOL!

    Just kidding. We have other reasons for that.

    Looking forward to hearing the firestorm in the next day, and I wonder if all of us frustrated ones will have honest conversations about why this upsets us so much, not just say that it does.

    Our kids haven’t dropped a bomb like this, but there have been a few awkward moments of getting their parents in trouble for the things we’ve said. I should reward them more for that.

    • Jon January 19, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

      I love that you want to reward them!

  4. Amee Lihme January 18, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

    I’m at a stop light when I hear “Ma’am, when the light turns green, pull over!” My three year old in his car seat says, “Mommy, what was that?” I reply, “Mommy’s about to get a ticket from a policeman.” He says, “Oh shit!” Needless to say, that was worse than the ticket! But at least he used it in the appropriate context!

    • Jon January 19, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

      That’s fantastic. He clearly understood the gravity of the situation and responded. I hate when the cop uses the loudspeaker, we should be able to loudspeaker back…

  5. Teri January 19, 2012 at 7:46 am #

    I was a somewhat protective mother with my first Child. We limited TV programing, only allowing things like “super Book” etc. He was not in Pre-school, we were considering home school. But I was mortified when Chase’s Sunday school teacher told me that Chase was constantly talking about killing people and cutting off their heads. I was baffled as to where he would pick up such and awful thing, then it dawned on me. It was from the bible! Particularly the story of David and Goliath! Being a boy, the part of the story that he latched on to, was where David cut off Goliath’s head!!

    • Jon January 19, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

      I love that he got it from the Bible. I think we can forget that even the Bible teaches that the world isn’t safe at all.

  6. Teri January 19, 2012 at 7:54 am #

    Oh and I just must say one thing about Gays adopting Children: If Christians would do it, there would be no need. As a foster parent, I learned that there are many gay couples doing foster care. I feel that this is NOT ideal at all for an already confused child. However…. There are very few Christians who are willing to take a strange child into their home and give them the love and security that they need. The reason there are foster parents with 5 and 6 foster kids, is because no one else will do it. This is my personal soapbox. The bible says that pure religion is to take care of orphans and widows. There are hundreds of foster children, particularly teenagers who need someone to show them the love of Christ. Right now my former foster daughter Courtney is in a girls group home because there is not one home willing to take her in. It breaks my heart. I can not take her because I currently have a boy of the same age in my home. So if the gays want to do it, I can not complain because my Christian brothers and sisters refuse to do the work.

  7. Patrice January 19, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    One of my children (who will remain nameless to protect her from embarrassment!) was with me at my place of employment one day- she was about 3. We were in the elevator, alone, except for a man who was overweight and carried most of it around his “mid-section”. She looks at me and says “Mom, does he have a baby in his tummy?”. Mortified silence ensued until one of us (I don’t remember who) got off the elevator.

    BTW, we do love this show- warts and all. Haven’t seen this week’s episode yet, but it’s recorded and waiting : )

    • Jon January 19, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

      Sooo good Patrice, that is sitcom worthy!

  8. Amee Lihmr January 19, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

    I don’t know you, but as an adoptive and foster mom myself, I “hear hear” your comment. Orphans and widows- Amen!

  9. Aaron January 20, 2012 at 11:45 pm #

    My youngest brother used to babble in the back seat of the car when my Mom would take us to school. He’d just make up words and songs, and it was all pretty non-sensical until one day, out of the blue from the back seat he blurts out, “Whoopief***er!!!” It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard in my life, we laughed for days

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