I was taught by my parents, as a young boy, that I should never hit first, but that if anyone hurt me, I should hit back, to show them I wasn't worth messing with. This is basically how I dealt with violence until the fifth or sixth grade; I don't remember ever starting a fight, but I was picked on often because I was bilingual, and when push came to shove, I shoved. I always got into trouble with teachers when I fought back, and came to believe that they supported bullying because they never helped me when I was being bullied; I felt alienated, and didn't trust the teachers at all. Yet I remember what happened when I stopped hitting back, and just turned the other cheek: nobody helped me then, either, and I found myself defenseless against bullies who harassed me because of my bilingualism and my good grades - and because I was a "pussy" who wouldn't hit back.
My girlfriend and I recently had a frank discussion about our future plans, and we would like to have children in the next few years, if finances permit it. I find myself wondering what to teach my own children, when the time comes. I don't believe violence is right and proper, and I don't want my children to turn into bullies or otherwise violent people - but I don't want them to be defenseless, and I don't want them to be made fun of or picked on because they restrain themselves. I need to balance my belief in peace and discussion with the fact that there are a lot of nasty kids out there who might harm my children. How can I do this? Should I teach my children to turn the other cheek, or to work things out an eye for an eye?