Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher, who married in 2015, might be one of Hollywood’s cutest couples. They have two children together, Wyatt and Dimitri, and despite their concerns about privacy they do speak about them sometimes. Recently, Bad Moms star Kunis gave an interview in which she mentioned the ways that the children were going to celebrate Christmas, and many people didn’t approve.
Since Mila Kunis is Jewish, we shouldn’t assume that she celebrates Christmas. Although she describes herself now as a non-practising Jew, her parents tried to bring her up religiously. But they found it difficult. The family lived in the U.S.S.R., which at that time was a hotbed of anti-Semitism and actively suppressed religious expression. They left the country in 1991, when Kunis was seven years old.
Kunis spoke about her experiences to The Sun in 2012. “After the Holocaust, in Russia you were not allowed to be religious. So my parents raised me to know I was Jewish. You know who you are inside,” she said. “My whole family was in the Holocaust. My grandparents passed [away], and not many survived.” It’s no wonder then that the family decided to leave.
It seems like the family found life much easier in the United States. And when Mila Kunis was nine, she began to study acting at the Beverly Hills Studios, which soon led her to roles in commercials. From there, she made small appearances in big shows like Days of Our Lives and Baywatch. Then at 14 years old – after lying about her age – she got an audition for That ’70s Show.
The producers of That ’70s Show soon sussed out that Kunis was 14, not almost 18 as she had claimed. But they decided it didn’t matter, and cast her in the role of Jackie Burkhart. It was on the set of That ’70s Show that Kunis met her future husband, Ashton Kutcher. In 2012, not long after both of them had come out of different high-profile relationships – Kunis with Macaulay Culkin and Kutcher with Demi Moore – they started dating.
At first, both Kunis and Kutcher intended to keep it casual. “I did [a movie called] Friends With Benefits, he did a movie called No Strings Attached,” Kunis told Howard Stern in 2016. “If we just paid attention to these movies, we should know that s*** like this does not work out in real life. Well, we clearly didn’t pay attention.”
By 2014, Kunis had given birth to the couple’s first child, a girl called Wyatt Isabelle. Then the couple decided to get married. In July 2015, they had a quiet wedding in in Oak Glen, California, making every effort to ensure the media weren’t present. The following year another child came along, Dimitri Portwood Kutcher.
The pair kept quiet, for the most part, about how they were raising their kids. Unlike many other celebrity families, they rarely even posted pictures of their children where their faces could be seen. But every so often they did reveal something. When doing the press tour for her new film A Bad Moms Christmas, the subject of her own Christmas traditions came up.
“I come from Communist Russia, where you’re not allowed to be happy, so my holiday traditions are ‘be quiet,’” Kunis told Entertainment Tonight on October 3. “Coming to America is when you realize Christmas has a magical quality to it… We come to America and we’re like, ‘Christmas is so inclusive.’ We literally bought a Christmas tree.”
She then talked about what she and Kutcher – who is not ethnically Jewish, but studies Kabbalah, a form of Jewish mysticism – did to celebrate the holiday. “So as far as tradition goes, my family’s big on any excuse to get the family together and get drunk. Whether it’s Easter, which we’ve now all accepted into our Jewish household, or Christmas, it doesn’t matter. It’s all family time.”
And then she dropped a surprising bombshell. “So far, our tradition is no presents for the kids,” she said. “Last year, when we celebrated Christmas, Wyatt was two and it was too much. We didn’t give her anything – it was the grandparents. The kid no longer appreciates the one gift. They don’t even know what they’re expecting; they’re just expecting stuff.”
“We’ve told our parents, ‘We’re begging you – if you have to give her something, pick one gift,’” Kunis went on. “‘Otherwise, we’d like to take a charitable donation, to the Children’s Hospital or a pet [or] whatever you want.’ That’s our new tradition.” But why? Simply because, as she and Kutcher have said, they want their kids to know the value of money.
In 2016, Kunis mentioned on the Kyle and Jackie O Show that she and Kutcher absolutely would not be spoiling their children. Instead, they would be “teaching them from a very early age that, you know, ‘Mommy and Daddy may have a dollar, but you’re poor.’” In fact, Kutcher and Kunis have more than just a dollar. Their combined net worth is a huge $255 million.
“It’s so important because we both came from pretty solid poverty backgrounds and grew up very poor, and [we] are very much self-made and are very aware of what a dollar is worth,” Kunis also said on the show. “Nothing’s been handed to us.” She and Kutcher are far from the first celebs to try to instil financial self-sufficiency in their children.
Reactions to Kunis’s statement were rather mixed. The BBC, in an article titled “Should we all impose a one-gift rule at Christmas?” called Kunis and Kutcher’s issue “a very first-world problem.” Redbook magazine went even further. “Don’t listen to Mila Kunis – spoil your kids at Christmas,” they announced. “It’s easy to forego gift-giving when your kids already have everything.”
Other people, commenting on the internet beneath articles like those, were actually very approving of the idea. Plenty of people said that they were doing the exact same thing with their own kids, giving them either very few presents or none. However, there was the odd critic in the mix, calling Kunis and Kutcher “stupid” or “selfish.”
Kunis soon found herself having to defend her decision. Appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live with guest host Shaquille O’Neal at the end of October, she did just that. “I’m not like anti-gifts. I just don’t over-gift my child,” she said, as O’Neal did a mock gasp. She went on to explain: “They get so many wonderful gifts from my family and my husband’s family, that he and I give literally one present.”
“That story got taken out of control, like ‘No presents for my daughter!’” Kunis said. Then she brought up her baby son. “My son is eleven months old, so he… you know… he gets boob and he’s fine.” The audience laughed. But a couple of days later, Kunis explained her decision once more when appearing on the British ITV show Lorraine with her Bad Moms co-stars.
She said that yes, her children were allowed gifts at Christmas, but “There’s something to be said for desire and want. When Wyatt is like ‘I really, really want that,’ I want her to have that feeling of need and want, and I also want her to earn it. Right now every gift she’s gotten has zero meaning. I don’t need her to become expectant of gifts in life.”
Her co-star Kristen Bell spoke up, saying “That’s called thoughtful parenting right there.” It seems, then, that more people approve of Kunis and Kutcher’s decision than not. That’s good news for any other parents out there who worry about buying sufficient presents for Christmas! Perhaps Mila Kunis should change the name of Bad Moms.