Brooke Shields Deals With Rowan's Potty Mouth

12/16/2008 at 08:00 PM ET
Hector Vallenilla/Pacific Coast News

Returning to her hometown of New York City has been a dream come true for Brooke Shields. She tells the Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson that while the move has been "an adjustment," it has ultimately been good for her two daughters Rowan Francis, 5 ½, and Grier Hammond, 2 ½. With her older daughter now enrolled in school, Brooke adds that even if her show Lipstick Jungle — the future of which remains uncertain — goes on to officially be canceled, she and the girls will remain in the Big Apple.

Rowan has "picked up some good New York language" during her brief time there, however, according to the 43-year-old actress. On one recent car ride Brooke was shocked when Rowan casually exclaimed from the back seat, "F-ck, f-ck, f-ck, I want my window down, f-ck." Trying not to overreact, Brooke put on her best "Botox face" and acted as though she was unaffected by what she had just heard. "[I was] like, ‘I don’t know what you mean. You want your window down, honey? Sure,’" Brooke explained. The incident was a sign of things to come! Not long thereafter, recalls Brooke,

"So we’re having a playdate and this very prominent, very wealthy, lovely woman comes over to pick up her daughter. They’re playing in my kid’s room, and Rowan, without missing a beat, looks at her and goes, ‘What the f-ck are you doing here?’ I’m in cardiac arrest, there’s no way to explain it. At which point she turns away, [sighs] and goes, ‘Oh f-ck.’"

Brooke insists that she isn’t to blame for Rowan’s newfound potty mouth, joking "she actually learned it from my mother…That’s why I’m also in therapy." In any event, with the fate of Lipstick Jungle up in the air, Brooke has plenty of extra time to devote to the situation — and the upcoming holiday! She said that "as soon as" she was told that the show was possibly being canceled, she turned her attention to Christmas shopping and is now back to being "super mom."

Rowan and Grier are Brooke’s children with husband Chris Henchy.

Source: Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

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Stéph on

I think I would have said something, I would have told my kid that it’s a bad word and that it’s not something she is allowed to say and if she does it again I would put her on the naughty chair. Kids don’t learn if you don’t tell them and punish them.

lele on

total shock.

Courtney on

Ok, that cracks me up! Only because I have so been there!

We have 4 kids and i think all of them have said a bad word a couple times. We explain that its a mommy and daddy word and not for little girls to say. They associate it with smoking cause thats a grown up thing too…(even tho we don’t smoke…lol). that was all we needed to do…they never went on and on with it.

Nikka on

Well i kind of find it hard to read that she didn’t addresss her daughter’s faul language and instead gave her what she wanted (the open window) So what Brooke just taught her daughter is that using the F words will indeed get her what she wants and still expect a nice behaviour from others.

MB on

maybe she was worried that if she made a big deal out of it, rowan would become more interested in the word? some kids are like that.

jasmine on

That made me laugh out loud! Wow! I really hope she said something eventually…I would have said something the first moment the word was uttered!

Brooke seems like such a funny gal!

Anna on

Wow I would be absolutely mortified if my child would say something like that to a guest, or to anyone. I wouldn’t be surprised if her friend can no longer come over.

Of course children will pick up bad words but this is more than that. She really needs to correct her, ignoring it won’t teach her daughter anything.

Cait on

MB – I thought the exact same thing! Some kids, if you acknowledge it, will just continue on and on with it because they know it’s something that you don’t like!

Kerri on

MB – I agree. It sounds as if she wasn’t trying to make a big fuss about it so that it didn’t explode from there. Some kids will completely run with it if they get a reaction.

Lauren on

MB, totally agree with you. Many times showing your outrage just encourages the kids, intrigues them, etc. I’m sure it’s not like Brooke and Chris let their girls run around saying that word all the time. Sometimes less attention to a word or behavior is better, it devalues the kid’s ability to shock you and they move on. Just a thought!

Nikka on

I do agree, but I would imagine that after 5 years Brooke knows her daughter enough to be able to predict most of the reactions. Rowan seems to be an extremely sweet and gorgeous child and i dont think she was looking for attention, hence i dont think that addressing it would cause the opposite effect. If it was addresssed she probably wouldnt say that to the wealthy woman brooke mentioned. She should have said something and explain Rowan not to use these words as Rowan didnt know any better and probably thought its just funny

SY on

I agree that she shouldn’t make a big deal of Rowan saying the F bomb the first time, but when it’s a guest and she uses the word more than once, I’d definitely make a point of telling her it’s not a word that’s used. I have a 5 year old and I know he’s never used that word nor has my 7.5 year old. We make it a point to tell our kids that there are strong words that people use and by using them they can hurt someone’s feelings. I am disappointed that Brooke isn’t trying to handle it better (or was she just trying to impress Craig Ferguson)

Viv on

Any parent who would prevent their child from playing with a five-year-old friend because they said an inappropriate word (which is completely normal in that it is simply imitation of language, right on target for a five-year-old who is trying to learn more complex communication skills) would be under some a serious misconception that their five-year-old does or has not done the same thing. I have been in early childhood education for over ten years and I can’t tell you how many times a parent has remarked on either another child’s infraction in a way that insinuates their own child’s excellent behavior or just outright stated that their child would never do such a thing. Let me tell you, they all do something at some point in time that some people would warrant worthy of ending their child’s friendship, whether it’s bad words or biting/hitting/kicking or what have you. Whether or not these parents are choosing to ignore the behavior or simply blocking it out in order to preserve their image of their child, I have no idea, but they are wasting good energy (because they are good parents, to be sure) in worrying about something so common and, when handled appropriately, fleeting.
The meaning of curse words is socially constructed, something young children don’t understand. A child saying the F-word simply does not have the same implications as an adult’s public use of it. I think it was a good idea for Brooke to initially ignore the behavior as it was just her and her daughter and reacting to it makes it clear to a five-year-old (who probably likes to get a reaction out of the adults around her as she navigates boundaries) that inappropriate language will get the attention of adults. After it was said in public and it was clear that the word was becoming a regular part of her vocabulary, then calmly talking to Rowan about why the word was not ok to say as it makes people uncomfortable and is not considered a very nice would probably be the best way to go.

Kat on

my kid picked it up from someone at a convenience store.

The first time she said it, I turned to her and told her that it is a bad word, that we don’t say it. She’s only 4, but she knows better as she has repeated a word before and we’ve made sure she understands what is bad.

I used to tell her Don’t say ____, say _____.

Now, at age 4, I tell her… bad word… say _____, instead.

She will tell me she’s sorry, then say… “that’s a bad word. No more of that word.”, and then say the word I give her.

I think it’s important to go by the age. My boys are at the age that they want to know what words mean. When I told them that word (the one Rowan says) means what it does (well, the basic version of that for their age appropriateness… making babies), they immediately understood why it was wrong and were shocked that ANYONE would use that word that way.

I also encourage them to watch friends and family… if they slip up and say a bad word, I’ve given them the ways to KINDLY and POLITELY correct it with the respect.

I would encourage Brooke to, if she hears it, not ignore it… immediately pull her daughter aside and inform her that it is a naughty word/bad word…. that it is NOT for children to use and that adults shouldn’t even use it, and then tell her a word she can say instead.

We say fudge or even fudge-buckets.

naturally, fudge is not only not a cuss word, but since it means a chocolate candy, it is anything but. It still gives them something that gets their frustration out easily.

we also say sugar and crud instead of other bad words.

I think providing them an alternative really helps.

g!rocks on

My daughter picked up the word sh*t at 5 yrs.old! i corrected her and said it was a bad word and she stopped using it. Brooke should of told her it was a bad word!

twostrikes on

my parents would never have allowed me to curse and i was never spanked so it must have been something else that kept me from repeating curse words.

Michele on


I have an extreme objection to your idea that all children purposely curse at one time or another. Our family doesn’t swear. Period. And children can only repeat what they hear. So, no, none of my children would be going over for a play date with a child who does so. Because a. if the parent or guardian won’t censor their language around their own child, they most likely won’t for mine and b. if a parent is not correcting that behavior, I have to wonder what moral standards they have or if they’re neglectful.

People on this board need to stop making assumptions about what other parents would/should do and realize that their own experience is not the gold standard.

Devon on

It really all depends on the child. With my 3 year old cousin, he said the F-word casually at home when getting ready for bed. My mum and I didn’t know what to do, so we just ignored it thinking it was a one-time thing. However the next time we heard it, when it was more audible that it was indeed that word, we let him know that it wasn’t an ok thing to say and he understood it.

Some kids if you jump on it, as he would be, would be more inclined to say it again to get a reaction. Sometimes not reacting is the best way to deter.

Tan on

Thats just like a child trying to eat their boogers.They pick it up from someone else.Its like a cycle.Kids at least some will try you when it comes to cursing.

That was a funny funny story…”She said I want my window down f*ck,lol.Oh my…too funny.I can only imagine what Brooke was thinking at that moment.

sarah on

Ignoring tends to work better when very young children come out with it. i think people are being quick to judge on this one. brooke may have thought that if she ignored it maybe rowan wouldn’t use it again (which works with some children) and then she did so now brooke will probably reevaluate how to deal with it if it happens again. different approaches work with different kids and sometimes you have to go through several before you find one that works. my friends child uses it and telling him its bad makes him say it even more. he said f-ing hell when i was caring for him once and i told him that was bad so he danced around the room singing f-ing hell, f-ing hell, f-ing hell, f-ing hell. they tried ignoring, time out, telling him its a bad word and giving him an appropriate word to use until they finally worked out that with this child its more effective to say to him: ‘i dont want to play with you at the moment because i don’t like the way you are talking to me’ and just walk away from him…

phoebe on

There are different ways of dealing with this kind of thing, none are right and none are wrong. Perhaps Brooke is trying to deal with it this way at the moment, but if it doesn’t work out, I’m sure she will try something else.

I just wanted to also ask whether anyone knows if Chris would join them in NYC if Brooke does stay? Or are they actually separated? I don’t want to upset anyone by asking, but I found it odd that it hasn’t been mentioned before!

Laura on

I agree that it happens more than one might think. I am a first grade teacher and I have caught multiple kids over the years not only trying to say these kinds of curse words, but trying to write/spell them too. It is all a part of their learning/exploring communication. I never make a huge deal out of situations like this because it’s true, if they know it upsets you big time, they’re more likely to do it again. Instead, I explain that it is a “not-so-nice” word that can hurt people’s feelings if it is used. I tell them not to say/write it again firmly, but yet not making it into a federal case. Then, it’s dropped. I’ve actually never had a problem with the same child doing it again.

That all being said, I think Brooke probably said something to Rowan. Not sure how anyone would ignore that behavior twice. It was a funny late-night show she is sharing this story on and I’m sure she left out the main details to keep it funny. Brooke does not seem like the type of person to let her 5 year old daughter have a potty mouth.

Just my 2 cents.

kaya on

haha, I thought it was funny and I LOVED her “botox face”-comment, hahaha

Jane on

Wow! I find it most interesting that she is using the F word in a completely correct context — most kids kind of say it haphazardly or just exclaim it with delight because it’s a new word..
but the way she is using it is the way in which an adult would use it– with anger and frustration.
What kind of disturbs me most though is the angry expression with which she greeted the woman- “What the F are you doing here?” – that’s harsh for a 5 year old. Even just “what are you doing here” is a rude thing to say. Even without the F word, I would correct that behavior!! It’s just so impolite. Sounds like there are bigger issues to address than the F word. She sounds like she has some anger to deal with.

Hea on

I bet she did exactly the right thing for her kid. I immediately thought: Rowan is probably one of those kids who won’t stop just because it’s a “bad word”. She would maybe enjoy saying it even more if she knew.

kelpy on

That story is so so funny but sadly true for so many of us!
Brooke’s absolutely right of course – (in my experience as well) pay attention to the word and the word becomes a BIG deal.

brannon on

I’m sure Brooke knows her daughter and has obviously determined that ignoring it will be the best way to go. I’m also sure if it persists she will stop it. Not sure I understand the alternative word though..isn’t the intention the same? Kids obviously don’t know the meaning of curse words – neither do I for that matter(some of them) and other words – damn for example is also a legitimate word – so shouldn’t we teach them to hold their tongue? Is saying “fudge” really sensical when they are using it in the same way? After all, curse words only became inappropriate because of they way they are used? Just a thought… (recently had this discussion with my father who slipped around my 2 year old and said “damn” – told him he should say darn. Now my two year old is constantly saying “darn it.” Isn’t it the same thing?) Tricky area. At the end of the day though, kids are kids and we all know what’s best for ours (personally, ignoring my son is the sure way to make him stop. attention called to it will obviously make it persist)

Krystal on

I think it’s great! My daughter goes to a religious private school and picked up the word and I made a big deal of it! HA big mistake. She’d say F*** and be like oh that’s right I am not allowed to say F*** sorry I said F*** mom 🙂 It’s nice to know I am not the only one 🙂

Jen DC on

I think Brooke was trying something that had probably worked for her previously – ignoring the behavior or directing attention away from the behavior to the source of the frustration. I do understand the protest that this seems to confirm Rowan’s use of the word… but since I don’t know Rowan, I can’t say. I do think that if she realizes that her method isn’t working, she’s bound to try something else.

And to Michele… Your kids aren’t with you 24/7 – there’s no real way to confirm that they never have nor ever will curse while outside your presence. As the teacher and child therapist (right?) have said, they hear things in the classroom or on the playground, etc., that naturally you’re not privy to. That’s not to say that you’re not a good parent or that you are inattentive or that your children are bad or even that they need to stop playing with other children who have also said it. It’s kids being kids, hearing things, then repeating them. They are out in the world; who knows really, all of what they have heard? The things you may block out as an adult, they may hear and incorporate into their vocabulary. I can’t control what the guy at the grocery store says; or, as Brooke jokingly noted, necessarily what our own relatives say. Whatever your feelings about cursing, kids say the darndest things and who can say from where all their thoughts and experiences arise?

madison on

I know the point of this article is cursing, but I was more surprised by the fact that she says she and the girls are staying in NY regardless of the outcome of her show. Just given the fact that her husband’s job is primarily on the west coast. I hope he is able to move east as well.

MB on


I get what you are saying, but kids learn words elsewhere too. My parents were very particular about the words we were allowed to use. I got my mouth washed out with soap once for saying shut-up. However, when my brother was in 2nd grade he got in trouble for saying the F word at school. Who knows where he picked it up? My parents did immediately have a talking-to about it with him, but he was one of those kids who found it funny when adults got upset over something, so it took awhile to break him of saying that word. My poor mom was so embarassed, thinking someone would assume she taught him to say that!

Olivia on

Here’s the thing. None of us were in the car with Brooke and her daughter. So none of us know how she actually handled it. She was telling a story, a story that she thought was funny and was trying to retell it so that it was still funny. Telling everyone how she disciplined her daughter afterwards kind of takes the funny right out of it.

And Michele? Your kids are probably going to hear some swear words even if you don’t swear yourself. For someone who was yelling at a previous poster for thinking that the way they raise their child is the gold standard, you kind of have a little bit of a pot calling the kettle black thing going on. Chill, just a little bit.

Anna on

The word in the car is one thing, I agree that can happen with any child (personally I would correct it right away).

What her daughter said to her guest was far worse, even without the f*ck words it’s very impolite. I guess that also means her tactic of not paying attention to the word didn’t work (although some commenters on this site seem to think it did work!?)

Jane on

People can say that Brooke should have done this, or should have done that, in this situation, but we are not the ones who know Rowan, Brooke is. For all we know Rowan could be one of those kids who is saying it to shock people, or to try to get a reaction, and Brooke thought that it was best to give no reaction. If you give a kid a strong reaction, sometimes, they’ll run with it.
Obviously it’s something that Brooke and Chris need to reign in, and I’m sure they have/will as Brooke did seem really embarassed at what Rowan said to her friend’s mom.

Michele on

Jen DC —

I am a SAHM and home-school my children. So, yes, for the most part, they are with me 24/7. Going back to what I said about assumptions…

Michele on


You obviously missed my point, which was that other parents cannot assume that because they raise their children one way, all other parents do the same. I am tired of hearing that swearing is “natural” or that if I had all the money in the world I would buy my children ridiculously expensive things. I am sick of being told how I should/would parent my children. All I was saying was that people should stop assuming these things, because no, not every child is exposed to foul language and not every person would buy $300 coats for their child if they could.

Stephany on

Anna, just what I was about to say! Obviously, ignoring the word didn’t help as now Rowan said it in front of a guest! And in a very harsh context, as Jane pointed out.

I wish she would have said what she did after Rowan cursed in front of the guest. In my very humble opinion, I don’t think that would work. She knows the word, she uses the word, and she obviously doesn’t know what she’s saying. I would think it was time to let Rowan know the impact that simple word has in our language. She needs to learn that’s not a word children should say. Bottom line.

I don’t really understand the ignoring it argument. How are they going to know something is wrong when you just let them keep doing it? They’re going to think it’s fine. If your child hits another kid, do you just ignore it and hope by ignoring it, it doesn’t happen again? No, you let your child know that they shouldn’t hit people and why.

I do hope Brooke did explain the word to Rowan. As other posters have pointed out, Brooke was probably trying to keep it funny and simple for late night TV. I can’t see her simply letting Rowan go around saying that word whenever she felt like it.

g!rocks on

jane, i agree with you that Rowan should be corrected when she talked so rudely to the woman ” what the f are you doing here? it’s not only about the f word but that rude statement! Rowan sounds like she’s a handful! lol.

Nikka on

Well, you all got good points, especially about ignoring the word by not making the big deal out of it, however, you don’t explain why Rowan still got her wish done. If you say Brooke did good ignoring it, she didn’t do good by granting Rowan’s wish under these circumstences so it sounds like you are contradicting yourself. If you think she should ignore it, she should ignore her request as well.

JM on

Oh my nephews are the KINGS of potty talk!! But I have to say my brother has horrible language in front of them and that’s the reason why. At first you laugh cause it’s unexpected, then you tell them it’s a bad word and explain to them why they can’t say it, it continues and then you punish them, and then you resort to what Brooke does by ignoring it. Nothing works!! These kids don’t care about time outs, being sent to their room, having toys taken away, or being talked to. They’re not bad kids by any means they just think the “bad words” are funny and no matter how mad you get they just don’t quite get it (perhaps cause they’re 3 and not yet able to understand why they’re bad words). My brother is the one who needs a time out!!! lol

Elizabeth on

Michele, I have to say that when you identified yourself as a homeschooling mom, it made me cringe. Hopefully most of the people on this thread know some reasonable, normal homeschoolers and won’t automatically assume that all homeschoolers are as you managed to present them in a couple paragraphs. For the record, there are plenty of young homeschoolers who are out in the world enough to pick up a naughty word here or there. And they have parents who are well adjusted enough to be able to deal with it when it happens.

GoddessPamela on

My sweet little 3 year old girl also had a f-ck moment one Sunday morning before dropping her off with the sitter who was taking her to church because I had to work, my lovely angel starts singing the F-word like a nursery rhyme…* Unfortunately she did learn it from me and it taught me just how much attention she was paying to me at every given moment.

Silvermouse on

your kids are going to hear those words anyway later on. Even so, they shouldn’t say it to guests, even though, Brooke’s story is hillarious. It reminds me of how I’m really open about my thing to talk about my (.) to my roomate while her boyfriend’s in the room. She overreacted and said, “Don’t talk about your period in here!” Then, he turned to her and said, my mom’s a OBGYN. Guys will know about that stuff eventually lol. (that didn’t relate, but sort of had the same message. I think parents should reprimand their kids, but be realistic about cursing. Their kids will hear curse words out in society when they get older. But I strongly disagree with it, (even though I’m twenty) However, I think using alternatives is sort of bad as well, because I’d be afraid that kids would think that that’s all those words meant. And it’s just weird hearing those words eject out of the blue. I think I will just teach my kids calming mechanisms haha.

Kay on

On the same subject, Heather Armstrong of Dooce blog fame wrote a post in September about the fact that they allow their 4 yr old daughter to swear at home, but not in public. I think this is a very difficult concept for a child (especially at that age) to grasp.
Explaining to your child that a potty mouth only shows people that you don’t know enough words to express yourself properly may curb the swearing. There are smarter words to show how you’re feeling, and people will like you more if you can tell them how you feel without cursing. It is better to teach them this early on before they are punished at school and shunned at the homes of their peers for being inappropriate.

Michelle on

Why does everyone always feel the need to be so self-righteous? I think most of you should spend a little more time with your kids and less time criticizing the other women on this board and celebrities who will never read your rants.

Kerri on

Michele – If any parent decided that their child couldn’t hang around my child because my child swore, well, then, they’re doing me a favor.

Sorry, kids are going to say or hear things at one point or another in their life, regardless of how involved you are. That’s the beauty of them being their own person. Only so much of it is in your control.

IMO, the occasional foul language is minor in the grand scheme of things. There are TONS of issues I’d put way above it with regard to my kids’ friends’ habits.

gianna on

I love brooke, and from all the stories she tells about rowan that little girl is 5 going on 15 lol. I’m sure she will stop her from using the F word, but yea speaking to a grown up like that is not good manners and it’s something to be taken care of now, because the worst thing is a kid with a fresh dirty mouth. Even when I was young, I have never liked curses at all. In fact not only don’t I curse in front of children, in general you will never hear me cursing. I think it’s tacky and just not my nature. I was also surprised she is staying in nyc, since chris works in CA. I saw a pic of her girls a few days ago, for the most part both favor their dad more and neither look much like brooke did as a child.

gargoylegurl on

Michelle, you are coming off as very self-righteous.

Some celebs actually DO read CBB.

The rants are for us readers, I don’t think anyone actually believes that celebs really care what we say.

I believe people have been critical of you comments because you seem a little judgemental. Sorry, but that’s how some of your comments have come off.

Molly on

I’m guessing Brooke had a talk with Rowan after the guest left – no need to humiliate her daughter by berating her in front of guests. She was probably trying to present it as a funny story, not a story about her parenting skills.

And it IS a funny story. I once heard a two year old tearfully tell a classmate who shoved him that he was going to kick his @$$. I had to run for it so he wouldn’t see me laughing.

kris on

Ok, here’s my 2 cents. Celebs go on these late night shows and try to be funny because that’s what the late show hosts want. They tell “funny” tales about their kids and everyone watching laughs (ie. Tina Fey and her Psycho story). When bits and pieces are reprinted the story never really comes across the same. We can’t hear the persons tone of voice or see their body language which, let’s face it, is part of the whole “funniness” of the story. So, I feel it really looses something when we just get a little bit here and there. If Brooke had gone on to explain how they deal with this issue it looses the “funny”.

Potty language in our house is actually “potty” talk. Fart, bum etc. is what my boys find very funny to say. They have never said any stronger works and I’m sure they’ve heard them at some point in their life (like visiting relatives who slip up when the kids are around). My husband and I do not swear in front of the kids (we don’t really swear much in general) so I guess the kids don’t really have a good context for those kinds of words. I would be more concerned with her attitude towards the friends Mom. I would also be telling Grandma (if that is who she hears it from) to watch the talk in front of the kids. And, to give a hand fixing the issue.

Carrie on

I had to laugh at this. Each and every one of us knows our child and how best to handle the situation. To those of you who laughed and sympathized, good for you! We’ve all been there. To those of you who are perfect and know how to handle every child and what is best for them, understand that we may not have gotten all that Brooke said or did about the situation. Go be perfect with the other people and leave us poor mortals who screw up sometimes alone.

Sometimes I hate being part of the human race…….

gargoylegurl on

Well said, Carrie!

Terri on

I don’t think it’s the F-word, so much as being rude to an adult that would bother me.