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Not in Front of the Kid

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Evelyn: Wow, my delusions of grandeur aren’t even original. A chosen one? What am I, Harry fucking Potter?
Finn: What's a hairy fucking potter?
Evelyn: Okay, no cursing in front of the adorably innocent fairy hallucination. I feel like a mom all of a sudden.

Something about a kid being present brings out the best in people. Even a hard-boiled, foul-mouthed sailor will go the extra mile to clean up his act when a little kid is in the room. Okay, it's not so much the best as embarrassment about the worst, but it suffices. Like when you stuff all your clutter in a bag and throw that bag in the shed when your relatives visit unexpectedly.


Of course, the reason for the censor doesn't have to be a kid. Sometimes it's the Team Mom, sometimes an authority figure, or a Morality Pet of some other kind. The difference between this and Think of the Censors! is that the latter involves Breaking or at least Leaning on the Fourth Wall, whereas this is justified in-universe.

Supertrope to Curse Cut Short and Censorship by Spelling. Y cuando se utilizan otras lenguas para ocultar la verdad a los niños. This may be a reason for the Swear Jar. It's also why characters Cover Innocent Eyes and Ears.

This is, of course, Truth in Television. See also Not in Front of the Parrot. Sub-Trope of Little Brother Is Watching.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • In One Piece, Queen Otohime stops the fishmen from releasing years upon years of pent up anger and oppression in a brutal massacre with one simple phrase: "The children are watching."
  • In the Pokémon short, "Pikachu's Vacation" it appears that a fight is about to break out between a gang of bully Pokémon and Ash, Misty, and Brock's Pokémon, Pikachu notices Togepi is watching, and proceeds to try and mediate. The Pokédex translates what Pikachu says as "Let's set a good example for the baby."

    Comic Books 
  • The Punisher MAX: During the Mother Russia arc, Frank and Delta Force commando Martin Vanheim, are attempting to covertly flee from a Siberian nuclear silo base with a six year old girl in tow when they are met by a pair of unsuspecting guards. Vanheim, in a state of panic, preemptively opens fire on them, swearing up a storm all the while. Frank quickly chews out his overtly anxious comrade for jeopardizing the mission and swearing in front of a child.
  • Watchmen: Rorschach starts to tell off his landlady for telling lies about him to the media, calling her a whore; she pleads with him not to say that in front of her kids: "They don't know." Rorschach pets that particular dog, because he can see a parallel between her kids and his childhood - except he was not shielded from his mother's profession.
  • In the 2016 iteration of Heroes for Hire, Luke Cage begins purposely weaving sanitized language into his vernacular after getting chewed out by his wife for swearing in front of their daughter.

    Fan Works 
  • Parodied in Bait and Switch when Eleya refuses to give her best friend and first officer any details on her one night stand because "there are ensigns present."
  • In 30 Minutes That Changed Everything McGonagall tells Hermione's parents, who are adopting a seven-year-old Harry and his year-younger sister, that the two kids have a rather sizable inheritance from their parents.
    Robert Granger: Bugger me!
    Rose Granger: ROBERT! CHILDREN!
  • In The Ultimate Evil, Nat makes dumb-blonde jokes at Valerie until she's about to say a more indiscreet joke, prompting Valerie to remind her that their current company includes Jade, who's a preteen.
    Nat: How do you get a blonde off her knees? Cu—
    Valerie: Ahem! I think that type of joke is a little off limits due to our current company! Don't you think?! *indicates towards Jade*
    Nat: Oh... Right. Sorry.
  • In Harry Potter next-gen fic Returning, one of the Ravenclaw prefects is a Sir Swears-a-Lot who often remembers too late to tone it down in front of the younger students.
    Imogen: (to the eleven-year-old protagonists) Don’t you two ever go in the Forbidden Forest without a teacher, okay? You’ll get your arses killed. (Cue reprimand from her friend.) I mean asses, you know, donkeys? If you take any with you, they will die. And so will you. So don’t.
  • In The Changeling Sequence, Dick very much disapproves Jason swearing when Damian is in the room. Jason is unrepentant, arguing the kid probably heard worse.
  • Evelyn from Do You Believe in Fairies? initially curses a lot but tries to tone it down after meeting the child-like Harvest Sprite Finn. This results in a lot of Gosh Darn It to Heck! and Last Second Word Swapping.
  • Alternate Tail Series: Pantherlily tries to get Gajeel not to swear in front Kagura (who is 13-years-old). Gajeel doesn't bother to censor himself.

    Film — Animated 
  • The Lion King (1994):
    Pumbaa: And I felt downhearted / Ev'ry time that I...
    Timon: Pumbaa! Not in front of the kid.
  • Toy Story had a slight variation but still the same idea:
    Buzz: I believe the word you're searching for is "space ranger".
    Woody: The word I'm searching for, I can't say, because there's preschool toys present.
  • Coco: Héctor noticeably alters some dirty lyrics in his Bawdy Song about Ugly Juanita at the last second, after remembering that Miguel is listening. When Chicharrón complains that those aren't the words, Héctor points out that there's a kid in the room.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Old School, Beanie criticizes Mitch for swearing in front of his son. You just have to say "earmuffs" and anything goes, man! Frank immediately begins abusing this.
  • On High Anxiety, Dr. Thorndyke is giving a conference and is about to discuss penis envy when a man comes in with his two kids, so he forces himself to talk about "peepee envy" and how it relates to the "woowoo".
  • For the DVD Commentary for Superbad, Judd Apatow brought his nine-year-old daughter Maude to its recording, and orders the actors not to swear in front of her. Jonah Hill restrains himself from cursing until halfway through the movie, and he proceeds to chide Apatow for "Bring Your Daughter to Work Day." After this argument, Apatow and his daughter leave to go attend a showing of Spamalot, and the remaining cast and crew begin swearing profusely immediately after their departure. Later the actors mention that she's still inside the studio. Whether or not this is true is unclear.
  • Watchmen: As in the original comic (see above), Rorschach lets up on his landlady after seeing that she (unlike Rorschach's own mother) is trying to protect her child from knowing that she's a prostitute.
  • Star Trek V: The Final Frontier inverts it. Kirk goes to embrace Spock in a grateful hug, and Spock interjects: Not in front of the Klingons.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Iron Man 3:
      Rhodes: You don't have to be such a dic (sees children)...tator, Tony.
    • In Captain Marvel, when Fury is scratched by Goose, he says his actor's favorite F-bomb... but not quite. He says "mother-Flerken" likely because there are children present.
  • In Payback, Porter has gone to interrogate Arthur Steggman about where to find Val Resnick. Steggman asks if Porter is going to kill him, but since they are outside and in view of a park Porter says that he will not kill him with all these kids around. He does, however, warn Steggman not to cause any problems, or he will come back when the kids are not here.
  • In Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, when filming the segment with the Roman Catholic family, Michael Palin as the father would say cleaned up versions of the lines (eg. replacing "cock" with "sock") in front of the child actors and dub in the real lines later.
  • In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, when John and the T-800 crash in on Sarah's aborted assassination of Miles Bennett Dyson, John takes Dyson's son back to his room to see the latter's toys while the T-800 takes the flesh covering off his arm to convince Dyson to listen to their story about Cyberdyne's future.
  • In Beasts of the Southern Wild, Wink becomes furious when the doctor at the shelter won't stop talking about his medical condition in front of Hushpuppy, despite his protests.
  • A variant in Hide In Plain Sight (1980) when the protagonist's ex-wife complains about her gangster boyfriend making a derogatory remark about her ex-husband as they're leaving the house.
    Boyfriend: You've said the same about him too!
    Ex: Not in front of the kids I don't!
  • Logan: Since the film is R-rated, Logan swears pretty much constantly. Charles tells him not to do it in front of Laura, but Logan is unconvinced.
    Logan: She just cut a guy's fucking head off, I think she can handle a few curse words.
  • In Kill Bill, the battle between the Bride and Vernita is interrupted when Vernita's little girl, Nikki, comes home from school. The two drop what they're doing and welcome her in. The Bride also has a thing about not murdering people in front of their children, a rule she unintentionally breaks when Vernita tries to go for a bushwhack against her.
  • During the filming of Clerks, there is a scene where Randall is on the phone ordering a rather lengthy list of some really dirty movies in front of a mother and child. Jeff Anderson was very uncomfortable with doing this, so to compromise, Kevin Smith shot scenes of him reading the list when the kid wasn't there and they did later shots of reactions.
  • Inverted in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation: Clark finds little cousin Ruby Sue up late, worrying about Santa Claus not coming to their home.
    Clark: Nervous?
    Ruby Sue: Shitting bricks.
    Clark: You really shouldn't say that word.
    Ruby Sue: Sorry, shitting rocks.
  • Kindergarten Cop: The only thing that stops Detective Kimble from beating up the abusive father of one of his students is that when he finally confronts the man there's a bunch of students, their parents and the Principal nearby with a clear view of what he's doing.
  • Punisher: War Zone. After Frank Castle shoots a Mafiosi who turns out to be an undercover federal agent, he goes to apologise to her widow, and makes no move to defend himself when she draws a gun on him. However she doesn't shoot because her daughter walks in on them. At the end of the movie after they've been kidnapped by Jigsaw, she gets Castle to untie her and her daughter so she can take her out of the room before Castle inflicts a Cruel and Unusual Death on Jigsaw.

  • In A Brother's Price some women talk about stillbirths and miscarriages in front of Jerin, and are told: "not in front of the menfolk!".
  • In Fire and Hemlock, Polly's parents try not to fight in front of her and often send her to stay with her grandma for this reason, but, of course, she notices anyway.
  • The hardened soldiers of the borderlands in The Wheel of Time series have a great deal of respect for Aes Sedai, and really try to watch their language. This causes some of them a great deal of difficulty.
  • Discworld examples:
    • In Thief of Time, Susan answers a question with "Does a bear poo in the woods?", and a footnote explains "Teaching small children for any length of time can do this to a vocabulary."
    • In Thud!, when Lady Sybil and young Sam spend time at Pseudopolis Yard, the officers begin combing their hair, speaking quietly and less coarsely, and wiping their boots at the door.
  • In a The Savannah Reid Mysteries novel, Savannah asks Dirk if he wants ice cream, and Dirk replies, "Do bears sh-" Savannah cuts him off, saying that there's a minor in the house and he should watch his language.
  • Salvatore "Sally" Sweet of the Stephanie Plum books is a walking Cluster F-Bomb until he gets a job as an elementary school bus driver, whereupon he starts wearing a rubber band around his wrist as a pain deterrent for when he swears.
  • Maureen Smith relates, in To Sail Beyond the Sunset, one of her many tactics for dealing with her many children. Retreating to another room for a serious discussion is futile; the children will hear. Better to simply speak in French. And when the eldest learn French, switch to Spanish. And when the next few learn Spanish, switch to German...
  • From the Aunt Dimity series:
    • In Aunt Dimity and the Deep Blue Sea, Sir Percy takes Lori and her five-year-old twins to his island castle. When Lori is asking a member of Sir Percy's staff about his experience with children, Sir Percy intervenes, saying, "Andrew's also had specialized training that fits him for the job. Damian and I will tell you all about it after Rob and Will leave."
    • In Aunt Dimity and the Family Tree, Lori tries to warn Bill off a secret topic by saying, "Pas devant les infants," only to have her son Will ask, "What's 'not in front of the children'?" His twin brother Rob informs her that Nell is teaching them French.
  • Ravensong:
    "Did you know, Jack, that the Waltons are getting divorced?" she said, her voice flat. Mr. S's face got tight. Here it comes, Stacey thought, he's going to bawl her out for saying something in front of the children. Stacey stared down at her plate, waiting for it to pass. This happened occasionally at the Snowdens' on Friday. Stacey could not understand why Mrs. S. had no more rank in her own house than the children. Her father's looks nagged at her. The possibility that her mom's rank was based on her accurate reading of her father's subtle looks tried to take shape but Stacey shook the thought down, away from her consciousness.
    "Cathleen. The children," Mr. S. childed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Subverted or played straight in the first episode of Arrested Development depending on whether its the tv version or the uncut version. When Michael is talking to his brother GOB about a magic trick he plans to do, GOB says "An illusion, Michael. A trick is something a whore does for money." He then notices a bunch of kids staring at him, jaws dropped. In the TV version, he quickly says "Or candy." However, in the uncensored version, he says "Or cocaine."
  • Arrow. Played for laughs when John Diggle has Baby Sara with him because his wife Lyla is elsewhere, and Oliver Queen doesn't want her down in the Arrowcave. Diggle points out that it's not as if a baby is going to reveal the location of their secret lair.
  • Castle:
    • One episode brought Castle's daughter, Alexis, into the precinct and subverts this.
    Javier Esposito: Found your stalker. Franco Marquez, AKA Frankie Markie. Hayley filed half a dozen complaints against him. Says here that he even tried to break into her apartment and when she filed against him he showed up in court and called her a...
    [stops, looks at Castle and Alexis]
    Javier Esposito: B I T C H.
    Richard Castle: She can spell, Detective.
    Kevin Ryan: Probably better than you!
    • In the first season blooper reel, Nathan Fillion (Castle) accidentally swears in front of Molly Quinn (Alexis). Although she's not really a kid, she is a minor, and apparently Fillion gives her a dollar each time he swears in front of her.
    • The commentary to the first season episode, "A Chill Goes Through Her Veins", includes a number of the actors and show creator, including Molly Quinn. Huertas (who plays Esposito) mentions a modelling gig in GQ with a fellow actor in the episode, and Quinn interrupts with "Minor!" and Huertas stammers, laughing, to a halt. It wasn't a dirty story. It was GQ.
    • Subverted in "Linchpin" when Beckett argues with Castle over an old flame of his, while Alexis was assisting Lanie in the lab.
    Castle: Okay, we slept together, a long time ago! What's the big deal?
    Beckett: No big deal, sleep with whoever you want, the more the merrier!
    Alexis(clearing her throat) I have those toxicology reports you wanted, Lanie. (Castle glares at Beckett, who looks suitably mollified.)
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • The third season had a blooper reel which gave us this trope. Cobie Smulders swore over screwing up a line in front of a six-year-old.
    Smulders: No, I'm gonna totally fuck...! [hand in front of mouth]
    Wide-Eyed Kid: ... Did you just say the f-word?
    Smulders: No, I didn't, I said, uh, "Frosted Toasty-O's"
    • This is played with all the time on the show, as Older Ted keeps censoring parts of the story for the sake of his kids. Thus we get things like the guys getting high on "sandwiches", Barney shocking a crowd by saying "kiss her" instead of the F-word (and then telling security to "kiss off! Who the kiss are you?"), and Roger Murtaugh's Catchphrase:
      Murtaugh: I'm too old for this sh—
      Narrator!Ted: Stuff! He said 'stuff'!
  • Friends:
    • Phoebe is feeling guilty about spending time with her biological mother and imagines that her mother has been reincarnated as a cat.
      Phoebe: I think someone's upset that there's a new mom at the B E A C H. [Beat] I just spelled the wrong word.
    • When Monica and Chandler are trying to have a baby, they babysit Phoebe's triplets. They start to make out and Chandler says he's not comfortable doing it in front of the B A B Y. Later, Joey comes in and says "You can't have S E X around a B A B I E!"
    • When Phoebe gets Monica and Chandler a Ms. Pac-Man machine as their wedding gift, Chandler wastes no time in making dirty high-score initials. With Ross bringing Ben over, Monica orders the dirty initials removed; when Phoebe fails her last attempt to remove the final dirty name with a high score, she launches a foul-mouthed tirade right when Ross and Ben walk in, forcing Ross to put "earmuffs" on Ben.
      Ross: PHOEBE!
      Phoebe: Oh, hi Ben—NO, DON'T LOOK AT THE SCREEN!
    • When Ross and Rachel think Emma's about to speak, they avoid swearing around her. Rachel tells the others to "get ready to hear a lot of 'boo hockey', 'gosh darn it', and 'brother pucker'."
  • Dexter: Debra won't swear in front of Dexter and Rita's infant son. She's dropped f-bombs on live television and in a hospital waiting room full of children, though.
  • There's an episode of Night Court in which a guy dressed as Santa Claus is brought up before Judge Stone for something involving a prostitute, and there's a kid present, so Stone has people do this.
  • On Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Loren often finds himself cleaning up his language whenever Brian is around. One ep had Loren telling some friends about a burlesque house where the girls lift up their...voices! To sing so beautifully!
  • When we meet Dawn on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, everyone spends most of a season trying to keep the slaying away from her. They don't talk about it in front of her, except insofar as they can do so in code (they mostly fail). They even trying spelling things on occasion, only for Dawn to remind them that she's 15.
  • On Greek, one character does this while he's discussing a Friends with Benefits relationship and sees a Nun: "Fu ... n Buddies."
  • In one of the sketches of Studio C, it's Bring Your Daughter to Work Day and the dads are cops at a murder scene, so they all have to change the terminology they use to make it child-appropriate, like gunshot wounds are "fairy kisses" and blood is "glitter." It backfires when one dad says "No, dear, the pony was totaled, it's gonna have to be compacted and sold for individual parts."
  • On Everybody Loves Raymond, Marie mentions that when Ray and Robert were growing up, she and Frank would speak Italian when they argued, so they wouldn't understand. (She claims that the boys know very little Italian, as this was their sole exposure to it. To the surprise of no one familiar with Frank and Marie, Robert confirms that they're near fluent.)
  • In Scrubs, Jordan gets annoyed with Dr. Cox for never filtering anything he says in front of their son, Jack. He explains he prefers to be honest with him. To illustrate her point, Jordan then reveals that when she was younger she had an abortion, she then hands Jack off to Dr. Cox and says, "Enjoy," as Jack repeats over and over "Mommy had an abortion!"

    Puppet Shows 
  • In Dinosaurs Fran and Earl get into an argument over Earl's refusal to change Baby's diapers. Fran gets very angry, but suggests they discuss it later because she doesn't want to "Lose her temper in front of the B-A-B-Y." Baby then uses the blocks he's playing with to write out to the audience "They think I can't spell." He then snickers to himself.

    Video Games 
  • In Mass Effect 3, Jack has become a teacher at Grissom Academy and has agreed not to swear for the sake of professionalism. This gets turned around when Joker snarks that they could probably buy a cruiser with her Swear Jar.
    Jack: Cover your ears, kids. Hey, Joker, f— (cue loading screen)
  • Mother 3: During Flint's Freak Out resulting from his wife Hinawa's death, one of the villagers pleads with him to control himself because his kids Lucas and Claus shouldn't see him behaving like that. His pleas go unheard.
  • In the Golden Ending of Undertale, Alphys and Undyne, after some egging on from a friend, are about to kiss when Toriel jumps in the way, saying, "Not in front of the Human."
  • Yes, Your Grace: The game includes a murder trial that can be resolved either by accusing a scapegoat or a False Confession from someone close to the Player Character. In the latter scenario, the Player Character's two youngest daughters are asked to leave the room.
  • In God of War (PS4), Mimir and Brok both refuse to tell Atreus certain stories because they're scared that Kratos will disapprove. Brok is still fairly crude anyway, but luckily for him it seems to fly over Atreus' head.
  • In Fallout 4, this is the reason why "Mayor" R.J. MacCready went from a foul-mouthed brat to someone who actively avoids profanity: Having become a father, he resolved to be a more mature person which includes cleaning up his language.

  • One-Punch Man:
    • Invoked. Metal Bat promised his little sister Zenko that he would not fight in front of her, which she deliberately used to break up his fight with Garou when she was nearby.
    • Invoked again later on when King, looking for a way to stop a mob of heroes from laying into an unresisting Garou, points out there's a child watching, backed up by his intimidating presence.
  • Sleepless Domain: In Chapter 20, one of the hospital workers is about to say "shit" while talking to the teenaged Vedika, but then changes his wording at the last second. However, one of the other hospital workers promptly enters the room and undermines his efforts:
    "Hey, Devin! Are you seeing this shit!?"
  • Attempted in Stand Still, Stay Silent. In the prologue, Veeti's parents are trying to shield him from The Plague going on and send him out of the room when they are about to discuss it with his aunts. However, the room to which he is sent has a television, and he knows which channel to find the news.

    Web Original 
  • In the episode of The Angry Video Game Nerd where he reviews the Halloween video game, The Nerd appears to subvert the trope by swearing like a sailor in front of kids and shitting in a trick-or-treat bag. However, a sharp-eyed viewer will notice that he never swears while in the same frame as one of the kids. The Nerd may avert the trope, but James Rolfe plays it straight.
  • Adorably, a little boy invokes the trope in this Not Always Right story.
  • In Dragon Ball Abridged: The Christmas Tree of Might, Chi-Chi shuts Goku down before he mentions oral sex. Also, Dead Zone Abridged points out that she doesn't allow him to swear, presumably also for this reason.
    Goku: So, what am I getting for Christmas?
    Chi-Chi: The same thing as last year, Goku.
    Goku: Ohhh, you mean that thing you do with your mouth-
    Chi-Chi: Not in front of Gohan!

    Western Animation 
  • Averted in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Old Wounds", in which Nightwing describes the events leading to his break with Batman and abandonment of the Robin identity. One of the last straws was Batman roughly interrogating a mook in front of his family, ignoring Robin's objections.
  • In Gravity Falls episode "Not What He Seems", security footage of Stan shows that he's been watching his language in front of the Twins with this line;
    Stan: (drops a barrel on his foot) Gah! Hot Belgian waffles! (Beat) Wait, I'm alone. I can swear for real! (takes a deep breath) SON OF A— (Dipper quickly fast forwards the tape)
  • Happens in the Coneheads pilot, when the neighbors bring over a ring-shaped coffee cake that Beldar thinks is an "edible senso-ring" and therefore inappropriate to show in front of his and Prymaat's daughter, Connie.
  • In The Crumpets episode "Croco-Deal", the show's Lady Swears-a-Lot Caprice says "crappy" and almost says "damn" in front of her baby brother Li'l-One before she gets scolded by their mother.
  • DuckTales 1987:
    • In the last episode of the "Time is Money" arc, when Scrooge is yelling at Glomgold and the Beagle Boys, Bouncer Beagle tells him to keep it clean because there are children present.
    • In "Metal Attraction", Robotica at one point hugs Gizmoduck and says several double entendres, which causes Gizmoduck to inform her that there are children watching.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Grandpa Simpson babysits Selma's adopted daughter and modifies his old war stories to be baby-friendly.
      I was just telling her how we chased the teddy bears into their cuddle bunkers, [in a creepy voice] then had to tickle them out with machine hugs and fun throwers! [sinister zoom-in] They say the more soldiers you tickle, the easier it gets. Well, sir, it doesn't.
    • Moe does a similar thing while babysitting Maggie, telling her a bedtime story which is a cleaned-up version of The Godfather. This was after he decided against reading her Alice in Wonderland, which he thought was a novelization of a porn movie called "Alice In Underpants".
    • In "Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part 1)", Homer sends Bart and Lisa out of the house before unleashing an Atomic F-Bomb.
    • In "War of the Simpsons", the morning after Homer gets drunk at a dinner party and makes an ass of himself, Marge drags him out to the car and turns on "The Mexican Hat Dance" so the kids don't hear them argue. However, Bart, Lisa, and even Maggie are very well aware of what's going on, and Lisa even comments how that song always sends a chill down her spine.
  • Steven Universe: In "Mirror Gem", Lars cuts himself off while calling Steven "you little—", looks over at Sadie looking concerned, and finishes with "Steven".
  • Time Squad: In one episode before Tuddrussel and Larry have a heated argument they briefly hold it so they can send Otto to go outside and play. Keep in mind, the series takes place on a space station, so "outside" is outer space.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: In the episode "To Bleep or Not to Bleep", Buster discovers the key to curing Fowlmouth of his swearing habit is that Fowlmouth can't bring himself to curse in front of young children.
  • One scene in The Weekenders of Tino with his mom ends with her losing progress in the tedious task she was working on, Tino saying he'll leave so she can swear, and his mom thanking him.


Video Example(s):


HJ Hank

When Moon first uses the CB radio, the first person he hears is someone named "HJ Hank" telling any listeners where to meet him for his "services" until Beef immediately shuts off the radio, leaving Moon clueless to what "Hank" is trying to do.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / NotInFrontOfTheKid

Media sources: