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August 27, 2008


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I don't care what anyone says, Xeroxing your ass is always funny.


I don't have a kid of my own but I will certainly mix your philosophy with that of my parents. I will not tolerate crap from my kid. I don't want my kid to grow up to be an entitled asshole or douchebag. Fear is an awesome weapon on a kid.

the mad momma

Okay - when you visit India I shall fall at your feet and worship. EXACTLY what I feel. I can tell my child to behave well. But if yours acts funny with mine despite a politely worded request - God help him.

the mad momma

So I am thinking of starting a Cult of Metrodad, here in India. We shall worship each morning.

Awesome post and exactly how I feel about the issue.

And oh - my husband is totally okay with this huge crush I have on you!


My sons are big and "foreign", so I taught my older son for many years, "You are bigger and new, and if you hit back, YOU will be the one blamed by the school, etc... don't hit back. Tell the teacher!" I had such naive faith in the abilities of the teachers to solve the problems and make the school a wonderful little world where the bullies were reformed by early intervention.

Fast forward to 6th grade, and we found ourselves parents of a big, "foreign" child who everyone knew would not hit back, who often cried instead, and who was not very strong emotionally.

We decided we had made a mistake, and it was time to hit back. It took a weekend of intensive reprogramming to convince him that our previous advice (of many years) had been a mistake and had not worked out well. Yes, a couple of teachers balked when he started hitting back (because of course it causes the teachers more trouble when two big 6th graders are fighting - it is much more convenient for them if one just cries and doesn't fight back). However, the problems immediately lessened, and we could see the increased confidence in our son and the increase in respect from the other kids. So from the start we have taught our younger son to fight back, and my husband even bought younger son a punching bag! Funnily enough, just practicing on the punching bag at home was enough to reduce the bullying at school - I guess the bully could sense the increased confidence.


Why would anyone not teach their child to defend himself/herself? I just don't understand that train of thought. I have two girls and from a young age we have taught them when conflict arises to try talking to the person, walk away etc., but when it comes down to it if these things don't work you have the right to defend yourself from bullying - whether you are a child or an adult. I don't believe that is condoning violence, it's self-preservation. I'm very thankful for parents who taught me that lesson and really feel badly for kids who aren't taught it's ok to defend yourself. Why would anyone want their kids to grow up thinking anyone can bully, hit, terrorize them and they have no right to stand up for themselves???? Boggles the mind.


yeah! Amen too!
Husband and i have the similar mindset/ philosophy for our kids in future, we were brought up this way therefore it's our duty to bring it on to our future generation...

Captain Dumbass

I'm writing this down so I don't forget it. I do use "use your words" on my monkeys, but only when they're mindlessly screaming and pissing me off. Then they can turn their blind rage on daddy and stop trying to kill each other for five minutes. It's a flawed system, but it's ours.


My 4 year old is one of the most passive little girls ever. I have never seen her hit another child EVER. I have actually told her to hit her sister before, but she won't. She is truly the most sensitive and caring child I have ever seen. I fear for her once she starts elementary school. I know kids are cruel and I am just waiting for her to get run over and teased. I just hope with the sensitivity I have instilled enough toughness to get through the hard times.

My two year old on the other hand, totally gets the "hit her back" approach. Bravo.


i agree wholeheartedly. i was that kid who was picked on. i was told to talk to the bully and let them know that i didn't like to be pushed to the ground. i tried it that way for weeks and it never worked. the minute i pushed back i was left alone. im not a believer of starting the fight but i do believe in standing up for myself and protecting what i respect.

MD thank you for sharing what happened to the Peanut and hopefully that boy leaves her alone now. I'm shocked at the mothers response - yes i understand it's her child thats crying but after witnessing him disobey her not only with pushing the Peanut again, but to HIT her as well? I don't want to think about what my parents would have done to me if I had ever done such a thing


AMEN, brother, AMEN!

When I have kids I'm teaching them this method because I truly believe in it.

dave cherry

no where is the problem of the "use your words" philosophy more dramatically evident than in the april 16th, 2007 massacre at virginia tech, perpetrated by gunman Seung-Hui Cho.

the fact that able-bodied college-aged men and woman allowed this individual to kill 32 of their peers, with no one rushing cho, tells the whole story.

while i believe in the use of peaceful conflict resolution when possible and viable, i too have taught my children to defend themselves and others.

when i was college-aged, this perpetrator would have been stopped by other students.

compare the inaction of the virginia tech students to the actions taken by the passenger and flight crew (who were much older)of united flight 93.

if this trend continues, our children and grandchildren will eventually lie down and allow those with a propensity for aggression to run roughshod over them.


Tyler @ Building Camelot

Could not have said it any better - kids these days (boy, does that makes me sound old) are a bunch of weenies.

Like @Nonlineargirl, we tell our oldest to use her words because daddy doesn't understand winy toddler speak and finger pointing.


I'm with you MetroDad, all except for the using "pussy" as an insult. I'm single handedly trying to change pussy to mean something good. Like, that was so pussy when you sank the 8 ball and won that game of pool! It was really fucking pussy when Peanut shoved the bully in self defense and made him stop bullying.

Self defense = fine
Confidence = great
Patriarchy = crappy and not very pussy at all.



I find this whole discussion utterly appalling.

When I was a little girl, my father taught me to fight, the same stuff he learned in the military, actually. My brother has Asperger's, but was not diagnosed as a kid, so I spent a lot of time using those skills in his defense, as well as the defense of any other kid who asked (since I'm female, I guess that makes me a pussy--c'mon, MD, I expect better of you than that shit). By the time I was 20 I was in more fights than most men have ever been. I never once got in trouble because every time you could define what I did as self-defense. I never hit first and was kind enough to always give a warning.

But you know what? I can't solve my problems that way now without going to prison. So why is it okay for me to teach my kid it's all right? This eye-for-an-eye crap is no cuter on a three year-old than it is on a Latino teenager in LA, and especially not cute in their parents. If you don't hit back you're weak? So Gandhi and MLK, Jr. were weak? Little kids don't always listen the first time. That's why we are around to help them find better solutions to dealing with bullies who know better (or hey, maybe little kids who are taking longer to grasp empathy and to follow rules). What happens when Peanut pushes a kid back who is bigger and more angry? Or she pushes a kid that gets hurt? You're going to gloat over a three year-old with a broken tooth? You know, those kids that still don't know how to read, much less always control their frustration?

My older kid is physically disabled, and as such she is 15 pounds lighter and a head shorter than the other kids her age. She will never win in a push fight with another kid. She can't even catch herself so her head doesn't crack the floor when she falls down. Believe me, there is no one who is more afraid of my kid getting pushed around than me, because it's a lot more likely for her than it is most kids and she could easily end up in the hospital from getting shoved. So she's learning to use her words to let other kids know she's not scared of them and that there'll be hell to pay if they mess with her. I have taught my daughter that she does not need to put up with someone trying to hurt her, and it is ok to do what she needs to do to get away from someone who does. But that does not always have to involve a violent response.

And as for the *preschool teacher* who is proud of his kid for pushing another kid because he didn't like something that kid said, thank God you aren't my kid's preschool teacher. After all, now you've said something I don't like, so I am completely justified in beating your ass if you ever do it again.

Liberal Banana

I definitely agree with you, MD. I wish I would've been there to see the "You know what to do." scene unfold! You're so awesome.

By the way, I wrote about my lovely trip to NYC two blog posts ago, so if you get some time to stop by, check it out. It's called "I'm gonna blame this all on Starbucks." (But no, it's not all about me admonishing them for opening stores across from existing stores or charging $80 for coffee drinks.) Just don't be eating anything while you read it if you become queasy easily...


As a little girl, I was taught by my grandfather(who was a peace-loving Elementary School principal, btw) that if someone hits me I am to in turn "knock the fire out of them". I've never been hit, probably because I announce to people that have that look in their eyes that if they choose to hit me I will hit back.

I tell my 4yo daughter to "use her words" when she is either whining, hollering, pouting, or speaking baby-talk at me. I will not dignify a request not spoken in the English I know she's capable of. Gosh, aren't you glad you're not my child?!

We haven't had the "don't start, only finish" conversation yet because it hasn't been necessary. We have, however, spent years telling/showing her that there are consequences to each and every choice she makes. We also have lots of discussions about how it's ok to be mad or disappointed but it is not ok to take that out on someone else.

So amen, MD! And I'm off my soapbox.

Liberal Banana

Although Carrie does make some excellent points... Hmmmm... Guess as someone who's not a parent I didn't think this one through all the way! I guess the issue is that all of those parents who don't discipline their children well enough need to get with the program. When your kid does something mean they need to be taught FIRMLY that it's not acceptable!


Ah..yeah. Sorry, almost all of my comments are in the context of education but I remember getting the Honor Roll when I was younger. As a clueless kid, I had no idea what this was for. It wasn't until middle school that I realized that it was for good grades and all throughout elementary, we would be called up during a little ceremony in front of the other students and awarded our certificates. However, I've read that there have been schools that got rid of the Honor Roll because the kids who couldn't get on it were "suffering" from low self-esteem. I thought that was BS. This is akin to the schools who have a gazillion valedictorians. It's stupid.
On a tangent, have you watched "The Incredibles"? There is one line by a character, the son, who says, "If everyone is special, then no one is." I thought that was very applicable to our society.


Hey MD, you've got some crazy-ass readers. The internets tough guy who armchair qb's and condemns the Virginia Tech victims for getting shot up, wow, that's just beyond the pale.


I was raised with the same philosophy and it has served me well. My brother and I were tiny kids and my lovingly tough father was worried about us growing up in a rough area. So he made some rules for us.

The rules:
1. You get in a fight that you started, you are grounded.
2. You get in a fight that they started and you get beaten up, you learned that you need to toughen up or find a way of getting out of the incident before it becomes a fight.
3. You get in a fight that they started and you win, your allowance is increased because you demonstrated that you could stand up for yourself.

Example: Michael Brown kicked my shins all morning long one day in 6th grade. I warned him that I didn't like it and I was going to hurt him if he did it again. One more big kick from Michael and I clobbered him with my trapper keeper. Allowance raised from $1 a week to $1.50 and Michael didn't bother me any more.


I was raised with the same philosophy and it has served me well. My brother and I were tiny kids and my lovingly tough father was worried about us growing up in a rough area. So he made some rules for us.

The rules:
1. You get in a fight that you started, you are grounded.
2. You get in a fight that they started and you get beaten up, you learned that you need to toughen up or find a way of getting out of the incident before it becomes a fight.
3. You get in a fight that they started and you win, your allowance is increased because you demonstrated that you could stand up for yourself.

Example: Michael Brown kicked my shins all morning long one day in 6th grade. I warned him that I didn't like it and I was going to hurt him if he did it again. One more big kick from Michael and I clobbered him with my trapper keeper. Allowance raised from $1 a week to $1.50 and Michael didn't bother me any more.


I was raised with the same philosophy and it has served me well. My brother and I were tiny kids and my lovingly tough father was worried about us growing up in a rough area. So he made some rules for us.

The rules:
1. You get in a fight that you started, you are grounded.
2. You get in a fight that they started and you get beaten up, you learned that you need to toughen up or find a way of getting out of the incident before it becomes a fight.
3. You get in a fight that they started and you win, your allowance is increased because you demonstrated that you could stand up for yourself.

Example: Michael Brown kicked my shins all morning long one day in 6th grade. I warned him that I didn't like it and I was going to hurt him if he did it again. One more big kick from Michael and I clobbered him with my trapper keeper. Allowance raised from $1 a week to $1.50 and Michael didn't bother me any more.


Violence has a way of escalating. And while it's cute and empowering when a pre-school-aged child defends herself with physicality, what happens at 12? At 14? At 18? What happens when a child is naturally aggressive and we've fostered the opportunity to stop using words and start using violence?

It's a slippery slope.

Your story here was endearing and girl-power-y but honestly when my son is screaming like a nutbar at me or hitting, and I ask him to "use his words," nine times out of ten he will at least try to explain his frustrations to me.

We have a hitting/yelling problem because we made the critical mistake of A. yelling at him when he did stupid shit and B. swatting his butt after he hit people. We taught him, by example, that these are okay alternatives to using words. And now it's a major pain in my butt to try to un-do what we did.

So yeah. Mama tries to use her words now, and I expect my son to do the same--regardless of the circumstances.

MD, I totally agree. I was raised with this EXACT mentality and I thank my dad all the time for doing so. (I'm a female, by the way).

He NEVER advocated violence, and I was never to start things. He always encouraged me to vocalize, compromise, all of those great things. But, if push came to shove, and I was continually targeted, I knew that if I defended myself, he wouldn't hold me at fault - even if it meant suspension from school or some other consequence. He always said, if someone knocks you down, and you are left with no other choice, make sure they don't get back up.

Teaching kids today to defend themselves is an important lesson. That child that pushed Peanut is exactly the kind of bad parenting that other children have to deal with. Why should the well-behaved children have to put up with it?


I have taught my kids this same thing, except they have to "use their words" 3 times before they push back. Unfortunately, it didn't go over well at pre-school. And my daughter told me the other day that she doesn't like to push people anyway, no matter what.She doesn't mind if they push her. So. Um. something's not working.


Word. We all survived without "using our words" back in the day. (Though, like many commenters, I use the phrase to circumvent tantrums so I don't require two Aleve and a Vodka Collins to rid myself of the ensuing headache.) I'm sick to death of parents who won't take responsibility for the monsters they're raising. If children don't learn how to deal with conflict on the playground (let's face it, it's physical at this age) they'll never successfully handle conflict in the workplace. Farmers don't raise seeds, they raise corn. I decided a long time ago that I'm raising adults, not children. Society will not have to worry about my children because they know how to face problems - with or without their words.

"Hey MD, you've got some crazy-ass readers. The internets [sic]tough guy who armchair qb's and condemns the Virginia Tech victims for getting shot up, wow, that's just beyond the pale."`ka jun

ka jun,
you either misread my comments or are deliberately spinning them. i did not criticize the victims. i indicated that able-bodied individuals (who far outnumbered the shooter, by the way)took no action to stop the shooter. i think i was pretty clear in stating that this was, imo, due to the faulty "use your words" philosophy that was taught to them as children.

armchair qb? maybe you've never been forced to confront a potentially violent perpetrator in defense of another individual. i have.


my son has been taught from an early age that it is NEVER ok to start something but if someone messes with him he better finish it. So far so good with that as well. and like the previous post we used the "use your words" when he was whining which thank god he grew out of


Dude, you're the coolest dad ever. I mean it. I love coming here not only because you totally put much needed smiles on my face, but because I think you're on the fucking money with this stuff. Peanut's gonna be just fine.


When my husband was about 13 or so he got jumped by a kid. He went home nursing a black eye and asked Old Man Mueller what to do. He said, "Put a brick in a sock and swing it."

Mama Nabi

To be honest, I think Peanut should have shoved the boy's mom down. Dude. IF I were standing there and my child pushed another kid? LN would have been promptly removed to think about what she's done. (At the age of 3, tantrums and whining aside, other bad behaviors she exhibits that negatively affect others have a lot to do with MY poor parenting tactics. Or, more aptly, her daddy's poor parenting tactics. Oops. Did I say that?)


Whoa my comment disappeared. :(


My husband taught our daughter to say,"Stop hitting me or I'll lay down the MACK hand." Which comes out as "No Hit or Mack Hand" with a gleeful impish smile.

I have to say that you handled that quite well and have taught the Peanut a great way to deal with bullies. I'm going to have to let my husband run with this one and teach her how to deal with bullies his way.


I couldn't agree with you more on this one!! Way to go Peanut for not taking shit from anyone!! We have always taught our son the same thing. Last year, he hit a kid at school who kept taunting him and wouldn't get out of his face. The story we got from his teacher is that she didn't blame him...but, she punished BOTH boys and as you would expect she did the whole use your words crap and that it's not appropriate to hit. He did NOT get in trouble with us and to this day that kid has been nothing but nice to my son!


every time i hear "use your words" i want to punch the person who said it in the throat. just saying.


Erin, you're teaching your kids that someone with more power than them has the right to hurt them physically when they don't act how you want them to.

How can smacking someone small teach them to deal with their frustration by not smacking the object of their frustration?

They will learn fear and humiliation, and maybe even pick up a little spanking fetish. And sure, they'll learn to obey your rules so as not to get hit.

There are more creative, less violent ways to get your message across.


Wow, I can't believe so many of these comments are in full support of this. It's so offensive that you keep using "pussy" as the worst thing a child could be. All of the shameful names to call a boy are, essentially, a girl.

It's not okay to hit when you're frustrated; at what age is your daughter going to know when it will become (even more) socially unacceptable to slug someone when you don't get your way? I know plenty of violent adults, and I really don't think they're parents told them to "use their words."

I was a fan of yours up until now. You're condoning violence as a tool for problem solving!?


I think it's important to note that MD is talking about toddlers. Not teenagers. Not college students.

Honestly, every time I go to a playground with my kids, I'm shocked to see how many children push other kids around while the parents just sit there and watch. It's incredible to see that bullying can start so young. Personally I think a lot more of these kids need to be taught the lesson that they can't push other kids around.

While I don't believe in parents hitting or spanking children, I ardently support the idea of teaching kids to defend themselves and help those who are too weak to defend themselves.

Amen, MD. Amen.

Emily J.

Carly....I think you're missing the entire point. MD is NOT condoning violence as a tool for problem solving. He's reenforcing the idea that actions have consequences and that, at his daughter's age, she shouldn't allow herself to be pushed around by bullies.

Kids get away with murder these days. Parent and teachers don't seem able to control kids and teach them the right lessons. Those who don't defend themselves will be bullied all the time.


Awesome. If it makes you feel any better, there are quite a few parents teaching their kids to not be pussies.

Now granted I live in the South and we're a little less PC, but I still see a lot of parents trying their damndest to teach their kids how to be punching bags (emotional and physical) for the rest of their lives.

Which really only means my kids will have an easier time at being successful, so that's fine by me.

mac daniels

Wow. I'm surprised to read this from you, as you probably expect. But, it's a pleasant surprise. The first time I heard (read) such unconventional wisdom was in John Edredge's Wild at Heart, which surprised me, since the advice was coming from a Christian parent who was giving "turn the other cheek" the middle finger (and putting it in its proper context).

In any event, a nation of pussies serving a Nanny State is certainly no direction for us to head. And that's coming from someone who's deployed in support of OIF 3 times and practices law all day. Meaning, I see both sides of the tipping scale and don't like the direction in which it tips.


Well done!


Honestly, no. I want my kid to walk away because he's learned that pushing and hitting are wrong, period. I think if "use your words" works, we raise a nation of articulate people. What that mom should have done is drag her kid away and told him that he doesn't get to play with anything if he acts like that.

I guess I would teach them that they can use physical force if they had to, but the oldest is six and hasn't had to yet because he stays away from kids who don't play nice. I've heard him tell kids "I don't want to play with you because you take my toys and don't play nice." Seems to work for him.

The little one just screeches. With him we say "use your words" because the alternative shatters glass.

Yarn Hungry Hog

When my son was younger, I've told him NEVER START A FIGHT. If for any reason, he got himself into one that he did not start, I told him he can give a verbal warning. If the other person kept hitting him, he can then whack the hell out of that person, with my blessing. I don't go with 'use your words'. I go by, even to this day, 'IF THEY HIT YOU ON ONE CHEEK, DON'T OFFER THEM THE OTHER'. It applies not only to physical encounters but also verbal ones.
So far, my son never had to be extricated from fights. Somehow, he had learned to avoid them, without physical efforts either. He also learned to just call on petite mom to 'give them hell'. Mind you, I had. Even one evil look from me can be sufficient enough that anything past that look will be a painful encounter.


I run into this bullshit all the f ing time at the Manhattan Childrens Museum -- talk about Ground Zero of asshole parents and nannies. My 2 year old has to hear me say in front of a bully swiping a toy from him, 'take it back. just because someone bigger than you is pushing you around doesn't mean you have to accept it'. And then I hear the disaffected nanny in the background not even up from her texting, saying 'play nice, Spoiled Brat'.

Recently, a weird lord of the flies situation happened in town though -- my kid and his playdate/my friend's son were running around and these two kids about the same age but slightly older were aggressively teasing them for no reason, and this confused the boys. But then it started escalating where the other kids started to move into my son and push a frisbee to his NECK and he couldn't move, he just froze. Teasing is one thing but physical harm? So I intervened yelling at the kid to stop. He was stunned that someone actually told him to do ANYTHING and I continued to yell at him, saying, "do YOU LIKE IT WHEN SOMEONE PUTS A FRISBEE TO YOUR THROAT???" and when he said no, I continued, "WELL THEN WHY ARE YOU DOING IT TO HIM?!". The bully in training ran off to his nanny and I yelled back to him "BTW I'M HIS MOTHER NOT HIS NANNY, IF SOMEONE DID THIS TO YOU, YOUR MOTHER WOULD DO THE SAME THING I DID!!!". I think I heard the dissaffected, "play nice" from the nanny in response.

Ugh so dreading nursery school in September. But counting down the days until I can enroll him in taekwondo.


I don't tell my kids to shove another kid. That other kid might accidentally hit his head against something and die. Then what?

I tell my kids to get far away from the bully instead. Flight, not fight. I don't mind if people think we're cowards. I'd rather that than stoop to their level.


I have some suggestions on how she could respond if this happens again. They are not a criticism of the Peanut.

"When she kindly asked for it back, the boy pushed her."

Well, instead of asking for it back, she could have just taken it from him. It was HER toy, after all.

At that age, words can only go so far. So she could have pushed him back.

"The Peanut then turned to the boy and said, "Please don't push me. I don't like being pushed."

I think asking him not to push her is a weak response. She shouldn't have to ask. It is her right to be left alone.

"What does the kid do? He hits the Peanut and pushes her again! Before the boy's mother can do anything, I calmly turn to my daughter and say, "You know what to do, kiddo."

The Peanut immediately runs up to the boy and shoves him so hard, he falls down on the ground."

She did the right thing by getting physical with him to give him the message, "Don't mess with me or I will deal with you." But even if she had the right to push him down that hard, that can have severe consequences. She could have given back what she got from the boy and maybe a little more.

I think the point is to teach kids to be smart and effective in the way they defend themselves. Sometimes, it's through words. Other times, self-defense is necessary. But you have to be smart when getting physical. Use it only when words can't help and use it conservatively.

As Peanut grows older, she needs to be cognizant of the fact that violence can have severe consequences like someone ending up in the hospital or going to jail. Sometimes, it's better to walk away even when you have the right to fight back. She just needs to know when to quit and when to get involved in a confrontation.


I don't see how anyone can read this post and think that MD is promoting violence. It's not about creating a bully, it's about protecting yourself when "words" don't work. If someone broke into your home and you had the means to stop them would you just turn away and let them come in and take what's yours or harm your family???? Why is standing up for yourself wrong????


I totally get it and couldn't agree more.
My daughter (3yo) is somewhat a wuss. We've been trying to teach her to defend herself against another little girl b/c she is constantly being harassed, scratched and hit by this girl. So we've tried to teach her the philosophy of "hit her back" if she throws the first punch. So, every day we would ask her, did you get in a fight? And one day she said that this little girl "hit me, but I hit her on the back". So much for parenting.
Another huge pet peeve of mine is when parents call their kids "buddy". They are NOT your buddy, they are your child. I think so many kids are not disciplined to respect their elders. It's an epidemic.

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