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In the past few years, political correctness has become one of the biggest issues of our time. You can credit bullying, shaming and everything else done to make people feel like crap. Most of all, you can thank our collective need to be “heroes” without the extra effort it takes to actually be one.

At some point, being overly politically correct has become chic and now every word spoken in public must be scrutinized and sanitized out of fear of potential backlash. People lose jobs and reputations are destroyed over any words or speech that could be perceived as being offensive. This culture of hardcore PC monitoring has spawned two camps of opposing jerks who yammer at each other with same vile hurt speech that we’re all trying to tame.

No one wants their kid to be a jerk, but how much political correctness can you squeeze into a kid without them being able to freely express themselves? I’d hope that we haven’t gotten to the point where someone would accuse a toddler of being misogynistic but hey, you never know. Whenever a kid does or say something inappropriate, people instantly look at the parent like, “What the hell are you teaching this child?”

When my son was first starting to flaunt his newly learned social skills, he wanted to talk to any and everyone from church women to junkies in the street. One day, he saw a woman walking past and waved to her. The woman was in her own world and didn’t notice. My son began to yell at her, “Hey girl!” By today’s rule of social engagement, that would be treading on harassment territory. I quickly corrected him, “No son, her name isn’t ‘hey girl’. That’s called street harassment.”

My son paused with the same expression as Baby Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy when he was messing with the bomb. Big mistake. I had taught him that the wording was wrong but didn’t explain exactly why. Finally, he yelled again at the woman now down the block, “Hey, tree hassman!” That wasn’t the last time my toddler broke the PC mandate.

I was walking on eggshells whenever my son and I would happen to see a little person (he thinks they’re grown-up kids) and anyone in a wheelchair who “needs to walk too” since he can’t ride in a stroller anymore. We now have an ongoing conversation about what’s OK and not OK to say and even more importantly why. So far it’s been working well but there will surely be an updated convo when he starts school and learns the many bad habits of his peers.

Young children don’t usually have the vocabulary or social maturity to be on the advance woke level of our favorite social justice warriors. Fortunately, they’re generally more empathetic than adults so pushing a political correctness agenda may not even be necessary.

I say let’s teach our kids how not to be little douche babies in general. With that approach, kids learn that intent is even more significant than words and terminology. Hurtful words change over time but when a kid learns that hurting others is bad, it doesn’t matter what the latest verbal slight is. They have the understanding that it’s wrong and won’t need an internet meme or celebrity to tell them.

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Larry Hester is a Brooklyn-born writer who’s written for Vibe,, The Source, Complex and more. He now resides in Newark, New Jersey with his wife and son. He welcomes any parenting advice or encouragement. Check him out on Facebook and Twitter @almostcooldad.