A good general rule of thumb
The teacher then said, "When it comes to the language you use, you can always guarantee that it is safe to use an expression if you've heard your parents use it."
Now, obviously this only worked because the teacher knew this students' parents. But it remains a pretty good rule of thumb (depending on your parents).
What hurt is realizing some of the things my kids might say that they could honestly tell their teachers they HAD heard come out of my mouth. It made me a little nervous about how I talk to/about people and some of the phrases I employ at times. While I am not one for much swearing (a few gros mots slip out every now and again), I often employ other terms that are not the best.
One my son has picked up on is the word idiot. I've heard him use it occasionally and realize that I'm setting myself up for that classic retort that comes from the first anti-smoking commercial I believe I ever saw - "I learned it from watching you!" I've since tried to eliminate my use of that word (stupid is another word we are working on).
For most this may seem rather innocuous, mundane even, but in my efforts to be more civil (see previous post), I am attempting to eliminate those words from my vocabulary that really do nothing to add any substance. Hopefully, then, some day I'll be able to be sure that my kids won't return home from school with a note explaining some phrase they used at school knowing full well that they learned it from me.