Mila Kunis: It was a parenting fail to tell my daughter to push a kid back


Mila Kunis recorded something called Mom Confessions for The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Tuesday. I’m not familiar with this new bit of Ellen’s but it’s cute. The person is asked a series of questions about parenting moments. The one that’s getting the most play from Mila’s segment is her answer to “What was your biggest parenting fail.” The reason is because Mila admitted that she told her daughter Wyatt to push a kid. In Mila’s defense, Wyatt had been pushed first. However, Wyatt’s dad, Ashton Kutcher, disagreed with Mila’s “advice,” as would pretty much every school district in California.

“Well, here’s a story that’s about to get me in trouble,” Mila Kunis said during The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s “Mom Confessions” segment posted to YouTube on Tuesday. The prompt was “What’s your biggest parenting fail?”, and Mila, 38, began to spin a tale involving her and Ashton Kutcher’s 7-year-old daughter, Wyatt. “There was a little kid in my kids’ preschool that wasn’t very kind and pushed my daughter. My daughter came back, and she was like, ‘Such-and-such little kiddo pushed me.’ And I instinctively said, ‘did you push her back?’ And my daughter’s like, ‘No!’ And I was like, ‘Push her back next time. Push her back and say, no thank you, and you walk away.’”

“And I turn around,” continued Mila, “and I see Ashton’s face and he’s like, ‘NOOOOO.’ But, I was like, ‘you stand up for yourself, and you say NO THANK YOU.’” Mila did clarify that she told Wyatt not to push anyone “off of a ladder or off a swing or off of a slide, but on the ground, even-steven? You push them back.’ I’d say that that’s a parenting fail.”

[From Hollywood Life]

You can’t push a kid, you just can’t. You’ll get in trouble. Having said that, I can tell you the Hecate household would be divided on this as well. I think Mr. H would side with Mila. And I back a lot of what she said too. I love the “No thank you!” and walking away part. How bad@$$ would Wyatt look doing that? But she’d get dinged if she laid hands on the kid. And then there’s the whole thing about self-regulation so she doesn’t push the kid so hard he cracks his head on the asphalt. I agree Mila’s is probably not the best answer, but it’s not as bad as the soundbites are making it out to be.

A couple of times in the segment, Mila said she was unable to lie to her kids because she has two. I never quite worked out how the number affected her ability to lie. It certainly didn’t affect mine. I’m still finding out lies I forgot to correct from their childhood. I’d forgotten I told my kids it was illegal to get married in California without a college diploma. I don’t mind that they believed that into high school, but they were angry it was their college counselor that corrected them. And I’m not saying you should lie, just that you can. Even if they are two. Or, you can be totally honest like Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard and tell your toddlers that Santa Claus is fake. Merry Effing Christmas, babies!

Here’s the full clip of Mila’s Mom Confessions. The Parenting Fail is the first question:


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Photo credit: YouTube, Avalon Red, WENN and Getty Images

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69 Responses to “Mila Kunis: It was a parenting fail to tell my daughter to push a kid back”

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  1. Becks1 says:

    I think her response is not the “correct” response but its certainly the gut response, lol. You want your kid to defend themselves. But of course there are other issues involved (such as “keep your hands to yourself at all times” and “violence is not the answer”) plus, as my husband always says, the one who retaliates is the one who gets caught.

    So no, don’t worry Celebitchies, I don’t tell my kids to push back, but I can understand why that was Mila’s first response, lol.

    • Merricat says:

      We taught our girl to say “Don’t put your hands on me!” in as loud a voice as possible. That alerts everyone to a situation, and if the teacher isn’t there, there’s always a kid who will run to find one.
      It’s so not easy. I felt so many violent emotions at the thought of anyone, even another child, hurting my child.

      • Seraphina says:

        @ Merricat. Very good advice. Works for adults too. Had a man (who thought my husband tried to take his parking space) follow me into a convenience store. Followed me around for a couple of minutes while mumbling aggressively about the damn space (which he parked in). I loudly and clearly said: I told you to leave me alone. Worked like a charm when the entire store looked his way.

      • Bettyrose says:

        I LOVE that. I was conflicted by Mila’s response. Pushing the kid back is gonna get your kid in trouble but teaching girls to be passive when bullied is all kinds of wrong. So yeah loudly saying don’t touch me is great. Be assertive while calling attention to the situation. I also think girls need the message that it’s okay to be a nice person. Like, you don’t have to establish your spot in the hierarchy through stepping on others. It’s hard navigating being strong and assertive and also kind and compassionate. But I think I’m off topic here.

      • DuchessL says:

        That’s great advice. I also think that defending yourself is not a bad thing. I taught my kids never to hurt anyone. But if someone hurts them, they can push back and defend themselves. I will not teach my kids to depend on an absent adult to take care of things because from what we’ve seen, adults dont care as much when it’s not their kids, or dont take things seriously when it about children bickering. Unfortunately that’s the truth but things are changing.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Real moment – we were at a park and a boy pinched and then pushed my daughter (because she was “in the way”) and I couldn’t get to her to find out what happened until she came off the elevated rope area she was on. My gut reaction was to ask what Mila did: “Did you push him back?” She said no – and that’s what we’ve always taught her – don’t hit, push, bite, etc. But in that instant I instinctively said “next time stand up for yourself and push back.” Then it hit me what I said. She was still crying and I had to take a minute to collect myself as I was also emotional since someone hurt her (she’s 4).
      Later we had a good talk about right and wrong and how she needs to use her strong voice (and boy does she have one) to say “No! You don’t push me/pinch me/hit me/etc!” Then go tell an adult if the kid doesn’t stop. I told her I was wrong for saying she should push back. But all this to say – I get where Mila’s coming from. Not that it was right for either of us – but I get it.

  2. jbyrdku says:

    Eh, I don’t know. We teach kids to use their words, but in reality, you do have to learn to stick up for yourself.

    • Valerie says:

      Well-timed and strongly-worded insults may be enough when you’re older, but when you’re a kid in that position, you’re not always able to find the right words in time. It was always after that I would come up with something that I thought would decimate them. By then, it was too late. So, I think sometimes, when words fail you—and when reasoning with them doesn’t work—sometimes you have to resort to getting physical.

      I hate to say that because a lot of bullies are themselves, victims of abuse, some of it physical, and reinforcing it outside of the home, doesn’t help matters. But no child can teach another proper coping skills, especially not when they’re being harassed by them, and sometimes you just have no other recourse.

  3. mindy_dopple says:

    This is such a hard one because bullies and rude people in general need a little push back too and defending yourself is important. Our household would be divided too. My gut instinct would be to say push them back, but perhaps just a strong “don’t push me” in their face would suffice. But what if they’re pushed again!?! 😂 oh boy. (as I stare at my 3 month old in his crib)

  4. ElleV says:

    My proudest moment as a child was punching a bigger kid in the nose when he pushed my little sister to the ground on her first day of kindergarten. I got caught and served detention but so what – it was just, he never bothered her again and she felt protected. Sorry, not sorry.

    • Mcmmom says:

      Ellev – when my son was a 4th grader, he got into it with a 5th grader who was talking smack about my other son (who was also a 5th grader, but a gentle giant of a boy who was a little awkward at the time). My tiny 4th grader marched up to this bigger kid and said, “you can’t say that about my brother.” The kid said, “I don’t have to listen to you” and then kicked my son. My son kicked him back (so much for the two strikes rule) – and that kid never bothered either of my sons again.

      This all happened on the playground after school, so no teachers were aware and no one got in trouble.

      I bet you were your sister’s hero, though.

    • NIlestheninja says:

      YES! I am so proud of this. When my brother was like 6, the neighbor kid that was older who he looked up to-had a friend over who was not nice. I caught him pushing my brother onto the ground. I said, “do NOT push my brother down again!” What he did not know, was that my Dad had been teaching me how to punch properly (straight forward, not over-arms, if that makes sense) in the basement for months. He looked right at me, and as soon as David (my brother) stood up-he pushed him right back down. I walked to him, punched him square in the face, and he started crying. My Mom ended up walking me down to his house and his nose had bled and he apparently told his mother he stepped on a big stick. I am still proud to this day and I think my brother knew from that day forward that I had his back. Not saying teaching your kids to “hit/push” back is always the right choice, but I feel that empowering them certainly is. Way to go, ElleV!

  5. Watson says:

    Pushing the kid back isn’t the pc response but in reality it may be the best response if using your voice and telling the kid off and telling a teacher hasn’t resolved the issue.

    • Lyds says:

      It’s not the right response, but honestly? It’s not always an out-of-line response. I believe that what we teach kids should reflect the reality of life: if you are attacked, you run away and tell someone with authority. However, if you’re cornered and no one is around, defend yourself enough to get away. I would never teach my kid that hitting back is NEVER the right response, especially when they’re older. Real-life bullies/assaulters feel emboldened to act that way assuming that there would be no response — proving them wrong is often (not always, but very often) a deterrent.

  6. Mcmmom says:

    I had a similar discussion with my kids (of course – this is a standard parenting moment).

    When my younger son was in elementary school, he said someone pushed him. I asked, “what did you do?” He said, “I pushed him back.”
    I said, “you can’t do that – you have to walk away.”
    -“But mom!”
    -“No – you have to walk away.”
    – “What if he comes after me a second time?”
    -“No, you have to walk away again.”
    “AGAIN? But what if he comes after me a third time?”
    -“A third time? Then game on.”
    -“Yes – you MUST try to walk away first. But if he comes after you twice, you can defend yourself. You NEVER throw the first punch – but you can absolutely throw the last.”

    I also told my kids that if they ever saw another kid getting bullied, I expected them to step in and do something – and that while they might get in trouble with the school, they would not get in trouble at home if they were defending someone. Bullies will almost always back down if other kids step in, so I taught my kids to be that other kid. Fortunately, their school taught about the difference between bystanders and upstanders, so this was never an issue.

  7. Anita says:

    “I’d forgotten I told my kids it was illegal to get married in California without a college diploma. I don’t mind that they believed that into high school, but they were angry it was their college counselor that corrected them.”
    LMAO!!! Excellent lie!

  8. Aang says:

    I was in school in the 80’s and spent my childhood getting into literal fist fights until about age 12. I’m glad things are different now. The playground was like the thunderdome when I was a kid.

    • Twin falls says:

      I also grew up in the 80s and kids fighting at school was so commonplace where I lived.

      Violence between students is so rare in my son’s middle school that an altercation between students (no weapons) prompted a same day email from the principal to all the parents.

  9. Gil says:

    American way of thinking it’s so different when it comes to this subject. When I was a child I was taught I should punch back any kid in school. And I did. I stood my ground and I was never bullied because of that.

    • Becks1 says:

      I don’t think its American per se as much as a different time. We were always taught growing up to never throw the first punch but self-defense was perfectly fine.

      I’m wary of it now as a lesson for my kids because of school discipline policies etc.

      • BothSidesNow says:

        That’s true. Never throw the first punch, but let yours be the last. I hate the fact that bulling has become so common place now. It doesn’t matter the age, it has become acceptable and we are all the worst for it.

  10. Malificent says:

    In fourth grade, my mom told me to go fight my bully and it worked. She and her minions never bothered me again. It was on the playground right after school with an audience of several dozen kids in a circle. So I’m almost positive that someone on staff saw it and chose not to intervene.

    My son knows that he better not be the one to hit first. But he has my express permission to physically defend himself and take the second hit. And he knows that I will support him through whatever punishment the school metes out. And that includes the girl in middle school who kept kicking him in the balls and yanking on his backpack while he was standing on the bleachers.

  11. Brooke says:

    My dad grew up in a very abusive home so he learned very young to “push back.” He was then a very angry adult who never learned to process his anger and that got him into a lot of trouble. Jail time trouble. He was thankfully able to see that it wasn’t getting him anywhere and he turned his life around. He wanted his future kids to have a better life than he did.

    So I grew up in a home where you did not put your hands on another person. Unless they were really trying to hurt/kill you, you do not fight back. You get a teacher, an officer or a parent to help. Even though you really want to fight, you need to respect the other person and yourself enough to walk away. Pushing back feels really good in the moment but you don’t learn anything from it. A lot of my friends call me a pushover now but I feel like because of that advice, I can pretty much face anyone or any situation without getting upset or lowering my standards.

  12. Mastery says:


    Schools care about their own asses & liability. It’s not about your kid, it’s about them not being legally vulnerable.

    If somebody assaults you IRL, you’re legally allowed self-defense. The only reason schools are different is bc they don’t want to get into trouble so they shut both kids down with punishments. That’s not right.

    If a kid gets pushed, the kid deserves to defend themselves like they would IRL. Most schools just sweep bullying under the rug & getting both kids in trouble is argued as a deterent but it just encourages bullying without consequence.

    Tbh if you’re teaching your kid to just suck it up & not fight back, they’ll have other issues down the road unseen now. The school is about covering their asses – nothing else.

    • J says:

      Yes! My sister had an argument with her son’s school because her son had hit back when punched. They told her that her son couldn’t hit back. She didn’t back down. She said listen, I tell my kids if they’re hit, they can defend themselves and hit back. You can say whatever you want, but this is what I’m telling them at home, end of!

  13. Willow says:

    Yes, don’t hit, kick, or push first, but absolutely defend yourself. However, never, ever, put your hands around anyone’s neck. That’s what I taught my kids. Oh, and no biting.
    Those are pretty straightforward rules for younger kids.
    As they get older, then you start having the conversations about walking away, standing up for others kids, peer pressure, etc.

    • Indywom says:

      I get what you are saying. When I was a kid, you could fight and go on about your business but now a days a lot of kids are armed. As a former educator I once broke up a fight between two girls later to find out that one had a knife. The other incident included a good student who got into a fight with another student and cut her with a razor blade. There are lots of ways to stand up to a bully, but I would not recommend fighting. The school is not liable if your kid gets injured during a fight they participate in and the rule is if you can walk away then you do so. Think about all the teachers who suffer injuries some with lifelong disabilities because you don’t teach your kid to find another solution. Do you think they can physically attack an abusive boss or any one adult who is a bully?

      • LynnInTX says:

        Indywom – “Do you think they can physically attack an abusive boss or any one adult who is a bully?”

        If that abusive adult is PHYSICALLY abusive first, then yes, I do think so. Self-defense is a thing. I don’t think anyone here is talking about verbal abuse/harassment; while that is it’s own form of abuse, I absolutely advocate for different solutions there. However, physically laying hands on them is a whole different situation, with it’s own solutions. If any adult did that, I’d made sure they know to (and know HOW to) end the abuse, before calling the police and pressing charges for assault and battery. Actions have consequences – especially for the instigating party.

  14. Amy T says:

    I was the eighth grade girl wearing a D cup bra and spent most of that year being asked for Kleenex on the regular by what felt like every boy walking down the hall. At the end of the school year, we were putting on a play and the teacher asked a group of us to go and do something on the stage. It was me and six or seven boys and as we stood there, the biggest one (think 6’4″ and built like Frankenstein’s monster) came around and grabbed me from behind to settle the question of whether I was really stuffing my bra.
    I told my daughters, also generously endowed by middle school (one says that the Breast Fairy got crazy with her wand) that if a boy did anything like that, they were to deck him and I would be there to back them up. The day it happened to my youngest, it was a substitute teacher with his back turned, so he missed the boy copping a feel and the girl kicking him in the crotch. No one ever messed with her again.
    I also told my kids to never start a fight, but if they had to, to finish one.

  15. Doodle says:

    In my experience, the teachers don’t do much to intervene. So yeah, tell the teacher first to “play by their rules”. Then when the bullying continues, and someone lays their hands on your kid, your kid has the right to defend themselves because the admin sure as hell didn’t when they had the opportunity to. Speaking from personal experience for myself as a kid and my daughter, and now my son.

  16. Seraphina says:

    When I was pregnant with my first I made several promises about how I would be as a parent. One of which, that I would not lie to my children. That flew out the window very very quickly. Best of intentions.

  17. salmonpuff says:

    My son was the target of a kid from kindergarten until third grade. He reported the behavior to teachers, begged the kid to stop, and nothing happened. He finally lost it and shoved the kid in the cafeteria…and my son was the one who got in trouble. But the kid never bothered him again.

    I’m an advocate of non-violence, but there are limits. And I wouldn’t generally depend on school admin to handle bullies any better than they did when I was a kid.

    • kgeo says:

      This happened to me way back in the 80s. The bully actually begged me to say sorry to him so we could get out of detention. I’m sorry you kept touching my crotch and I hit you for it? Never happened again though.

      • salmonpuff says:

        Yeah, before this happened, I always told my kids to walk away. But my son (and the school’s complete mishandling of the entire situation) taught me that isn’t always the right solution. We can have compassion for the bully without putting up with their crap.

  18. Amanda says:

    I teach mine that you can’t start the fight, but you can finish it.

    • Kcat says:

      Yeah, I have no problem with Mila here. One of my kids was constantly getting hit or kicked by a kid on the spectrum, so he never received punishment. The school tried to do “healing bridges.” I eventually told my kid to hit back and I wouldn’t care about a detention or punishment. He hit back a couple times and the kid moved on to another victim.

  19. WonderLady says:

    I had a neighborhood “friend” as a kid who used to push and hit me a lot. If I asked her not to she would think it was funny and do it more to upset me. Finally, one day, I got so mad about it I turned and slapped her across the face. She never laid a finger on me ever again. I know it’s not the right advice because if things go sideways it can be very bad, but it does often yield the desired result.

  20. kgeo says:

    I think kids are different than adults. Of course we should teach them how to handle their emotions and that other people being crappy isn’t always about them. However, sometimes kids need to catch hands (from other kids) before they’ll stop. It’s not what we want, but wrestling, getting your adrenaline up, getting so angry you don’t know any other way to express it are all part of most kids experiences. I’m not saying encourage it, but I learned a lot about myself the two times I defended myself from bullies, and I hope they learned a lot about themselves too. I will say, I told my son to ignore a bully once. He did it and the bully ended up crying. My son actually felt bad for him, so that was a good learning experience too.

  21. Krystina says:

    I’ll admit, I told my firstborn when he was a little kid that if someone pushed him, he should push them back. Not my best moment, but the mom-rage was out in full force at that moment. No one’s a perfect parent, lol

  22. ME says:

    I remember as a kid telling my mom the kids at school were being racist and mean to me. She said to just ignore them. I mean, even if she said to say something back, what is a racist thing you can say to a White Kid? I just always kept quiet, but that made them bully me even more. This is why never put your kid in a school where they will be one of the only non-White Kids. It’s cruel to do so.

    • Chimney says:

      This! The rules are definitely different when defending yourself as a minority in a white space. Especially if you do “the right thing ” and tell the teacher who, from my experiences from childhood, we’re just as bad/racist. You have to stand up for yourself

  23. Stan says:

    Clarification: Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard have talked many times about how they lie to their children. You picked one article where they said they did not. They lie about lying.

  24. LynnInTX says:

    I never started a fight when I was a kid, but I damn sure finished a few. After one incident, I was in martial arts classes and one of the things I was taught was to end it by non-violence if at all possible; if not, then to end the fight quickly and with the least amount of force it takes. My most memorable incident involved 3 high schoolers (9th grade) harassing my (6th grade) friend on her walk home most days. She was crying about it one day. I had enough, asked my mom to pick us up late and started walking to her house with her. They came out, started shoving her around and I let loose. Kicked one in the balls, hit one in the mouth, and the final one started running. When we told my mom, she just went “good!” The guys never bothered my friend on her walk home again. I’m damn proud of that.

    I am a firm believer in the adage “treat others how you wish to be treated” – but I also firmly believe in the flip side of that, that others SHOW YOU how THEY wish to be treated. I’ll de-escalate things if at all possible. I’ll give someone the benefit of a doubt about having a bad day. But if someone is physically laying their hands on me, then they must be wanting a fight. And I’ll finish it.

  25. Summergirl says:

    Interesting all these anecdotes from women who stood up to their childhood physical bullies who were also girls (though also boys). In my experience of life, female bullying is not usually physical in nature. It is much more psychological, and therefore much harder to push back against.

    • Kate says:

      Yeah I was only ever verbally bullied by other girls and I still remember getting so angry in maybe 8th grade and shutting one down by telling her to “shut the f– up”. She was so surprised and immediately told the teacher but the teacher [also knew she was a brat and so] was not interested in adjudicating so I didn’t get in trouble. It felt hella liberating and she never bothered me again.

  26. schmootc says:

    My nephew was in grade school and said to me once that parents had to get married to have children. I said uh, no, that’s not how that works. I mentioned it to my sister and she said why did you say that?! I said what was I supposed to say? She said ask him why he thinks that. Like get to the deeper issue of where he heard it. I’m an aunt, I have no kids, I don’t know how to handle that stuff besides tell them what’s what!

  27. Kkat says:

    I raised two boys in Southern California school districts, and for a couple years up in the east bay (San Francisco area)
    My policy is you don’t hit first, ever.
    But you can sure as hell hit back and defend yourself.
    This has always worked for me, and I was always very upfront with the school admins about my policy.
    My position was if they supervised the playground better my child wouldn’t have to defend himself.
    My kids punched back a number of kids and never got in trouble, because they never hit first.

    My youngest in 4th grade punched a 6th grader who was beating up a 1st grader on the playground before school started and got praised for defending the little one by the principal.
    They have always been in schools with zero tolerance policy.

    So it very much matters who hits first. And you need to be very involved in their schooling as a parent.

  28. Mel says:

    Was it the PC thing to do? Nope, but I would have told my kid to do it also. Once you let someone think they can push you around, they’ll keep doing it.

    • Valerie says:

      Yeah. I used to fight back with words all the time, but then I’d also get in trouble for it. That didn’t stop me because I wasn’t about to let someone harass me all day without trying to defend myself. Sometimes I think that if I’d landed a good punch on one of them, that might’ve solved things, lol. It might have earned me a suspension, but at least they’d know enough to leave me alone when I got back.

      • Mel says:

        I got mixed messages. My Mom told us to tell a teacher, my Dad said to fight back and then tell a teacher.

  29. Valerie says:

    Honestly? I wish I’d thrown a few punches when I was in school. The girl who slammed my head against a brick wall deserved at least a smack across the face. As I recall, she never got in any real trouble, and all I got was a flimsy, forced apology.

    I was bullied severely throughout elementary school. I was always the good girl, always the rule-follower, which was occasionally to my benefit, but not much. It didn’t matter when teachers enforced a zero-tolerance policy or said that they didn’t care who started it. I wish now that I’d had the courage to challenge their authority more and to stand up for myself the way that I’d wanted to.

  30. Ana170 says:

    My parents told me to ignore bullies. Every school day for nearly 4 years, when I inevitably came home bawling, that was their default response. I wish I’d been taught to push back. IMO, any response other than “ignore” is the correct one.

  31. Nope says:

    Age matters quite a bit here. I was bullied a lot as a child and I have a very visceral response to the idea of my child being picked on.

    What I found out once he was in preschool is that kids this little aren’t bullies yet. They have emotional regulation issues or there is a misunderstanding between them.

    When they are little, using words and talking about feelings is the way to go. In kindergarten my child was punched by another child. This other child had frequent emotional regulation issues that were clearly the result of trauma or abuse. He threw things when he panicked and the room had to be “cleared” several times that year. The teacher facilitated some time for them to talk quietly together about how my child didn’t like being hit, and they had a sincere conversation and came to an arrangement that lasted all year.

    This was possible because they were 5. It’s still possible at age 7–as I probe I find out his clashes are from misunderstandings and not spite on either side, though my child has thought it was spite or himself came across as being deliberately mean without having that intent. I think this may last for another year or two before he reaches the age when kids practice deliberate malice. When that happens he’ll be ready to enjoy and really get “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. Kids his age don’t quite grasp schadenfreude yet. That won’t last much longer though.

    Back to the kindergarten situation, I was so proud the day the teacher told me that my son had approached her and said that he thought the other little boy needed to have some time in the quiet play area “all by himself or maybe just with me”. And the teacher agreed and my kiddo helped this other one emotionally regulate himself.

    If he’s in a situation where he needs to hit back, I want him to be prepared to and feel confident and supported. But I also want to be teaching him the emotional skills and conflict resolution skills that will allow him to defuse . . . what I’d call a good-faith conflict. Hurt feelings and anger based on misunderstandings. Resorting to hitting in those situations only causes more harm.

    We’ve also encouraged him to stand up for other kids when needed, using his words. In kindergarten before lockdown he reported having done this once or twice on the playground. Sometimes it involved a physical component, which we tried to strike a balance with–gently discouraging it and encouraging an appeal for teacher intervention, while praising his commitment to standing up for what was right and following his instinct to protect another person. It can be a really fine line.

  32. Ameerah says:

    I’m Team Mila on this one. It was the way I was raised. Never be a bully. Never be someone who starts fights. But if someone has the audacity to put their hands on you, you have every right to defend yourself. My Dad used to tell me “lay them out so they never forget and they will think twice about not only messing with you but messing with anyone else.”
    And I think that’s something that MOST bullies never get. They never get challenged and they grow up to be adult bullies.

  33. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    This is a slippery slope, because unlike when I was a kid, today’s verbal and/or physical escalations come with cameras, video, social media and even crazy parents. I was the only white girl for a long time in very large schools and contended with angry and jealous girls who always thought I was after their boyfriends or something else equally stupid. There was a time I had invitations to fight after school notes left in my locker daily. I never fought. They accused me of being scared and I’d agree lol. And in the end, my circle of friends always grew. Mostly.

    After three boys, 90s, 00sand 10s, things are a bit more nuanced. My 90s kid had to stand up for himself just a few times around 5th, 6th and middle schoolish, but no fighting necessary. Sometimes rising against a bully can be as simple as embarrassing them in front of their friends. They’re usually idiots anyway and don’t have a decent grasp of the English language or vocabulary. But whenever my son would respond, he’d incur some consequences as well which is how schools handle behavior these days. Guilt by association.

    My middle son never had one issue. It’s crazy. Not one visit to the principal. Not one teacher or parental complaint. It was absurd. Now he’s this ‘metro man’ suffering through zoom dates lmao. He’s a linguist in the Air Force and hears middle eastern horrors 24/7 which he can’t talk about so the fact he likes to dress hip and take cooking lessons online is comforting to this mother lol.

    But my third kid went through a horror in middle school which is a lesson to us all. He was being bullied daily, pushed into lockers, etc. All my lessons of being verbally superior weren’t working. Teachers did nothing. I told him to frak the teachers, and next time he was pushed into lockers, push the motherf@ckers back. He did. Only their next move took things to another level. They video taped him in the restroom. And that was when I went ballistic and the school district and school board never saw me coming. Teachers were scared. Administrations were scared. And the three boys responsible, and their families, had to endure criminal charges. My third child is an odd mixture of being funny, shy, precious, loud, obnoxious and endearing. It takes some children longer to fully realize their place in the grand scheme of school, friendships and online behaviors. Social media isn’t just a thing or a problem or some hobby. It’s a living, breathing entity with its own temperature and it demands not only respect but complete and consistent awareness. It requires a backbone, maturity and above all else… restraint. .

    I don’t think hitting back is a fully realized response anymore. As a parent, each and every incident which arises needs its own separate analysis. And that means we can’t become complacent, ignore or handle with one sentence and then walk away.

    Sorry so blabby lol.

    • Nope says:

      Junior high was Lord of the Flies for me too. The one time I fought back I lost and it made my life absolute hell for the remainder of the school year.

      It’s infuriating that we can have zero-tolerance policies and kids still have to endure this. By junior high the torment is absolutely sadistic and often contains a sexual harassment element too. I was a late bloomer and received the “no one will ever sexually desire you and just having to be near you is disgusting” form of harassment on the daily. I was on the verge of self-harm from coping with it. I had a lot of anger and my authoritarian parents cracked down on that instead of recognizing the traumatic situation I was in. They felt powerless to do anything with the school so they didn’t try.

      Thanks for giving your kid’s story a better ending than a lot of us got. I’m going to do the same for my kid too, if he has to face this.

      • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

        I’m so sorry you had to endure such harshness on many levels. My mom was authoritarian and anytime there were social teachable moments, she tended to throw me in the center of a large prayer circle at the church. So fun! But in all seriousness, as parents, we can’t yell. We can’t storm into offices waving threats around, because we’ll look like the millions of other screaming adults and get nowhere fast. I was so so mad, it took everything to sit my ass down and think how best to fight for my son. So I started writing. Press releases, letters to school board members and the media. And trust me, everyone was copied so from the teachers to admin to district to police to media….nobody could claim they didn’t know, or that it was handled, or blah blah blah. And I did this every step of the way, until the last round when I followed up with a thank you and let this be a reminder and teachable moment gibberish. It’s important we cover our assess as much as everyone else is lol.

  34. Nope says:

    The “hit back” advice also backfires if your kid loses the fight. Sometimes the bully is too much bigger/more skilled or has too much support.

    Then they both get in trouble with the school and you have a harder time advocating for your child because they are viewed as having brought it on themselves by not being the perfect victim.

    One of the nice things about being an adult is that no one is legally allowed to hit me or shove me around or taunt me about what they think my genitals probably look like or call me names, and if they do I can sue their asses for it.

    I’m not saying that women don’t suffer sexual harassment at work and abuse in relationships that the legal and justice system don’t adequately address, by the way–just that as an adult woman I have more agency than I did as a child:
    I wasn’t allowed to change schools or teachers.
    I couldn’t formally appeal a decision.
    I couldn’t sue anyone or file a police report.
    I didn’t have adult friends in my corner expressing outrage and helping me brainstorm solutions.
    I was entirely dependent on the level of advocacy my parents decided to bring, and not on my own frantic desire to escape or protect myself. My determination meant nothing then.

    When adults suffer this kind of abuse there’s a general cultural acknowledgement that it’s not normal or acceptable. My coworkers aren’t allowed to shoulder me into a locker while other people ignore it or laugh.

  35. Athena says:

    I came to the U.S. at the age of nine, my first week of school my mother walked me there and picked me up. My second week of school the kids in my class noticed that I was walking home alone and surrounded me, kicking, punching, calling me frenchy and to go back where I came from. I was rescued by a teacher who walked me home (I was suppose to go to the babysitter). Living on the ground floor was the landlord’s Vietnam vet, drug addicted son. I was lucky he was clean that day, him and a friend of his gave me a sandwich and between their broken french and gestures showed me how to fight. The lesson I learned was if someone pushes you, you push back, if they hit you you hit back, otherwise they will continue to do it. That lesson has served me well.
    I taught me children the same, if someone hits you, you hit back and you hit back harder. And if you get in trouble for it I will support you.
    This is not limited to a physical push, people can also emotionally push you and will keep at it if you don’t stand up for yourself.
    I think Mila original response to her child was the right one.

  36. Gah says:

    So there was a girl in my child’s three year old class who outweighed my kid by 20 lbs and pushed my kid literally every day.

    Mine was not the only target however and another couple had a lawyer send a letter (this was a progressive NYC preschool w ineffective leadership).

    It was terrible how out of control the child was and the parents just had no clue what to do about it.

    Still it got to the point where I was like you need to yell in her face stop pushing me and push her back.

    So I get where Mila is coming from

  37. Melly says:

    I think Mila did the right thing. I was severely bullied when I changed schools at 8. One of two black girls in my raggedy school. I remember being punched in the stomach by a boy no less, telling a teacher who told me “not to tell tales”

    I’m 50 and still remember the names of all my bullies and that ain’t shit teacher. I told my Gran, a no nonsense Jamaican woman who told me to fight back using anything I had.

    I’m glad I took her advice. Heard many years later the guy who punched me became a coke head and the teacher died in her early
    40s. Oh well!

    Stop giving children the message to take the high road. They have a right to defend their boundaries and physical and mental well-being.

  38. Lola says:

    I disagree with the majority of these answers. It’s critical for girls to develop an instinct early to PHYSICALLY fight back to a physical assault. Years and years later women try to unlearn the “freeze” instinct in personal defense classes and it’s extremely hard for many women by then. Why is it okay for women to try to learn PHYSICAL personal defense in their 30’s and older but wrong for little girls to? I’ve never had a little girl but if I did, I’d be teaching her to fight from day one. My nightmare would be a scenario where someone was assaulting her and she lay there frozen in fear.

  39. Mcmmom says:

    A little off topic, but as a parent, I was also very aware of what made a child a target for bullies and tried to preempt it. I got all of my kids into sports because I knew they were less likely to be bullied if they were part of a team and (like it or not) athletes are often given a higher social stratification in middle school and high school. It worked and I’m pretty sure sports saved the life of at least one of my kids (I mean that metaphorically, but not entirely).

    Also – please teach your kids the importance of being an upstander. Bullies will back down when they are challenged by their peers. Bullies don’t target everyone and they look for the path of least resistance – so if other kids make it harder for them, they WILL stop.

  40. Cee says:

    I know I’m a day late but when I was in K2, a boy used to bully me all the time. He would hit me and scratch me. So, one day, while our parents were visiting, and he kept pestering me, I decided enough was enough and I pushed him away from me. From a top the playground’s play set. Thankfully we were very close to the ground. He never touched me again.

    So, yeah, sometimes you do need to push back. Some people don’t understand words and some teachers really do suck at identifying bullies and doing something about it.