Taylor Swift's Mom Blames HERSELF In Groping Trial — What ALL Parents Can Learn

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Politeness can be dangerous. Here's what to teach your girls instead.

Taylor Swift's mom, Andrea, broke down crying in court recently when she talked about DJ David Mueller allegedly groping her daughter in a meet-and-greet back in 2013.

(Taylor Swift was in court this week, testifying in a lawsuit against Mueller. The DJ is suing Swift for three million dollars after losing his job following reports of the allegations. Swift is counter-suing Mueller for $1.)

But Andrea's grief was about a LOT more than what the DJ did to her daughter

It was also about her own guilt, a mom.

According to a report in Teen Vogue, Andrea Swift testified, "[Taylor] couldn't believe that after he grabbed her, that she thanked them for being there... It was just destroying her that she said that... as a parent it made me question why I taught her to be so polite in that moment." 

But we all know it was not Andrea Swift's fault David Mueller allegedly groped her daughter, or her fault that her daughter didn't immediately stand up for herself. 

The story is the kind that the media loves, because it features a huge star and an older guy who seems (based on this VERY clear photo of the DJ grabbing Taylor Swift's butt) to be guilty of EXACTLY what she said he did: reaching under her dress. 

But there's a LOT more to this story than just one creep who probably did something disgusting. And her beauty and fame are secondary to why it matters SO MUCH to so many of us. 

Because we — as women — are all T-Swift in that photo. Most of us know how it feels to have a guy try to grab, grope, or harm us. Even if we aren't famous.

And as a mom and aunt, I feel like I am Andrea Swift, too. We all are. 

We want our kids to be "good". To be polite. To respect their elders. And they should be! Being polite is part of respecting other people, which is a key building block to a fair and just society. 

But what happens when we teach our kids to be polite, like Andrea Swift did, and someone else exploits our "nice" kids' sense of honor?

This isn't just about Taylor Swift not wanting to cause a scene.

Though I feel terrible for both her mother and Taylor. This is about what we expect of our kids, our girls, in particular:

Goodness. It's a myth, you know. 

Nobody is "good." Everyone is both a mix of good and bad. 

And, while we owe people respect, we don't owe ANYONE access to our bodies or our dignity.

This comes into sharp focus as we hear that Taylor smiled for the photo and thanked the DJ for coming to her show, all while understanding that he had just harmed her and taken advantage of her reputation as a sweetheart who is generous with her fans.

She thanked him. 

Why didn't she yell at him, smack him in the face, kick him in the shins or even nicely move his hand?

Life Coach and Parenting Expert T-Ann Pierce explains, "Our daughters are resilient and brave. They excel in the classroom and on the playing field, but in the face of danger, even adult women revert into polite girls who don’t want to draw attention to themselves."

Taylor is also a public figure who has been famous since she was a teen. She has been taught that cameras are always watching, and there were cameras all around them. 

Second, and more importantly, because none of us react how we think we are going to react in these types of moments.

You cannot plan for it. Sure, you can try to imagine what you'd do. You can take self-defense courses and assertiveness training. But in the moment when you are surprised and shocked — and maybe scared — you just might freeze.

You know that "fight or flight" reaction? Well, the third element is "freeze," and experts around the globe agree that it's just as important to recognize as fight and flight. 

She may have just frozen and continued as she knows how to do. As she does before every show dozens or even hundreds of times, with her guests and fans.

Or maybe she was being polite, as her mom says she taught her to be.

So, what do we do, as parents who want the best for our kids so that our kids don't choose politeness or "goodness" over their own safety and well-being?

First, we forget the notion of goodness. There are healthy choices, helpful choices, thoughtful choices, and there are bad choices, dangerous choices, and hurtful choices. None of them make your kid overall "good" or "bad." So stop that whole thing right now. 

Second, do not tell your kids that they should "always" be polite or "always" listen to their elders. 

These conversations should have specific examples and caveats.

For instance, "We should try to be polite because it is the kind thing to do and shows respect. But there are times when being polite is not the best choice. Like if someone is being mean to you or hurting you. Then you do not need to be polite. Then you can tell them 'no' or ask them to 'stop' and go immediately to another grown-up and ask them to help you figure out what to do next."

We also need to STOP blaming victims for being harmed and always put the blame squarely on the person doing the harming. Even in minor, everyday circumstances.

If one child hits another, and you ask why it happened and it turns out the hitter was being teased or egged on by the other, you need to make clear that hitting was still the wrong choice.

Too often, we say, "Well, Sally, you should've have called your brother a name. That's why he hit you!"

Instead, have a conversation about how hitting is ONLY to be used when you need to protect your body from someone who is trying to harm you. Hurt feelings DO hurt, but you still do not have a right to hit or touch somebody's body to hurt them.

This seems like a minor nuance, but it can mean everything when your child is the one who accepts the blame for being hurt — when, in reality, nobody is to blame for someone else targeting and exploiting them. Our girls need to be empowered to believe this and act on behalf of their own safety, when possible.

So stop teaching your kids to be polite to everyone. Not everyone deserves it. Help empower them to say "no," ask for help, and speak up for themselves. 

T-Ann Pierce goes even further, explaining, "In an emergency situation, personal safety must be our gut response, not manners. We must instill a mindset of personal safety over manners. We must give our girls permission to listen to their gut."

All kids deserve to feel safe, and they should also learn to be kind.

But as Pierce says, "Politeness as a habit is a dangerous behavior."

The wonderful thing about this story is learning that Taylor Swift has a powerful source of support in her mother. She went straight to her mom and told her what happened, and found love and even help. Mueller was kicked out of the arena because her mom helped her raise her voice. 

If these allegations against Mueller are correct (and I have no reason to doubt that they are), then Taylor did NOT do the wrong thing by staying silent until she saw her mom. There is no WRONG reaction to someone else choosing to hurt or exploit you. 

Hindsight is 20/20, but the best thing we can all do now is to learn from Andrea Swift's words in court and teach our kids that they NEVER have to be polite to someone who has chosen to hurt or exploit them.

Joanna Schroeder is a feminist writer and media critic whose writing has appeared on sites like Time, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, BuzzFeed, Babble, Everyday Feminism, and more. She serves as Senior Editor, Experts Division, at YourTango. Follow Joanna Schroeder on Twitter.

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