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March 06, 2013


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Wanda Mae

It is THAT kind of tomfoolery and more, that I homeschool my children. My 8-yr-old's has a favorite vegetable and it's nothing lame like potatoes....it's broccoli. My children can tell you that a tomato is a fruit. They dissect every meal, identifying proteins, grains, vegetables, etc. Combine all of the running they do in and out of the house with walking to and from the library several times a week, AND rec. dept. classes like swimming, tumbling, and cheer, they easily triple the "recommended" exercise requirement. I am not worrying.

Christina Owen

Good for you! BMI is a load of crap.


That is a crock. While I am well aware that an overwhelming amount of young kids have crappy diets and plunk themselves down in front of the TV/video games/computer every day, it is not the school's place to involve themselves in parental decisions. It is furthermore reprehensible that the school take punitive action against a child whose parents may be working two jobs and forget to sign a stupid piece of paper, or whose babysitter fed them chicken nuggets that day.

This reminds me of my own kids' charter school. When my oldest was in 6th grade, she had already skipped a grade and was reading on a upper high school level. Our rule on what the kids were "allowed" to read was, "Mom and Dad will decide if a book is out of bounds for now". This applied only to serious stuff like graphic sexual text, graphic violence, etc. At age 11, she didn't need to be reading Steven King. =) But the librarian (a mom who spent so much time crawling up the school's ass that she got herself hired) decided that Jay was forbidden to read certain books in the school library (the school was a K-8) because they were "8th grade books". I very politely wrote a letter and told her that she was not to restrict my child's book choices AT ALL, as she had not given birth to her. She was not Jay's parent; Bear and I were. We would decide what was appropriate for our kid - no one else.

Oh. And don't even get me started on that Accelerated Reader crap. Holy f*** did I go to war on the school for that one.


UGH UGH UGH. It is not the school's responsibility to have any of those conversations! Nor is it any of their business to do BMI testing. Seriously. This is how eating disorders are started: shame children into thinking they're fat at a young age. That's such a damaging program! I hope it gets nipped in the bud.


I agree with you...I wouldn't particpate either, and the BMI letter is outrageous.


Good for you. If it were me, I would not participate and take my child out of school during those "field trips" to go do something educational and fun. The amount of control this administration has is astounding. Way to go on putting your foot down. Perhaps a move to Texas wouldn't be such a bad idea :).


That's unbelievable. I understand teaching children about healthy eating and food groups and what not. But it's certainly none of their business what you do at home.


I am the mom with the 6 year old son who has pectoral muscles and walks like a brick shit house because he is so broad. He is the kid that looks like he is 8 or 9 because of his size. In other words he is SOLID.

I am also the mom with the 8 year old daughter. He has played soccer since she was 5 and has thighs of muscle. She is also almost 5 foot tall already! In other words he is SOLID.

Thankfully we have a doctor who looks at them in the whole and not just the BMI otherwise my kiddos would be considered OBESE more than likely.

I think this program is CRAP.
THE MOM with kids who can kick butt!!!


I completely agree with you ... I'm kind of against the whole PE system in general. I don't think physical education is something that the school should be doing, it should be the parents. I still have negative feelings and flashbacks regarding my own PE experience. I think PE actually does more harm than good for young girls and their self esteem. Forcing them to change in front of other girls where they are judging everything about themselves... Having to be physical when girls are having their period at a time when it's still new and uncomfortable. There is just so much wrong with the system.

Good on you for standing up, I hope more parents follow your lead.


I can't say I'm surprised.

I wouldn't participate either. You did the right thing and I hope others do the same.


This is a major concern of mine because my kids are SOLIDLY big kids who are at the top of charts for both weight and height. I worry about programs like these just escalating over time. Good for you for shutting it down. Too many people are involved in the wrong things, and it's getting out of hand.


Good for you! You know better than the school what your child needs. That program sounds ridiculous, and way too "big brother" for my taste. I homeschool for many reasons, but if I didn't already, and my kids were in that school, I would start because of that. Good luck in your fight against government overreach! You're gonna need it...

D HArza

I totally agree with you. I understand we need to encourage our kids to eat healthy and exercise but the school sound like the iron fist here. The responsibility should be the parents with the school encouragement. Parents and school should work together but the parents should be the lead not the school.


This sort of thing ENCOURAGES eating disorders! You know who tracks their food intake? People who are trying to lose weight. And that should not be something a 3rd grader should have to worry about. And you're right. I shouldn't be shamed for what I feed my children. My daughter is very small... she was born very small and I dread the day someone else tells me I'm not doing what I should as a parent when I do EVERYTHING I can. What happened to Health class where they show you the food pyramid (or the food plate now)? This is ridiculous!


I am going to preface this by saying I actually do not agree with you on schools being involved in the health and nutrition of kids. This is no surprise to me since we have a very different opinion regarding the role of government in general :-). While your kids are lucky to have parents that have the knowledge and means to provide healthy food and activities for their kids, many in this country do not. I do not necessarily agree with your school's particular approach, but I don't know all the information. I live in MA and do not disagree with the BMI letters. I do think some schools hand them out in a bad fashion and I have issues with the BMI chart in general. But I also know there are too many kids in this state that do not have good doctors that will address the issue with parents. Some parents may actually be grateful to have this brought to their attention. Again, I feel this information could be given in a better way, so as to not cause psychological harm to the kids. (Also, I believe you can opt out of that BMI letter program).

However, I don't believe you are "that mom". No matter what your political/religious/social beliefs are you have the right to fight for what is right for your own kids. You know what is best for them and obviously have the knowledge and means to keep them healthy. And the kids should not be penalized for not participating. However I also do not think that your problems with the program should prevent others from participating if they so choose. Again some parents may be happy to participate to help educate themselves as well as their children. If the program is not designed in a good way, perhaps parents can offer some constructive criticism.

No matter what your political beliefes, you are never "that mom" if you are doing what is best for your kids and your family. It doesn't make you a bitch, it makes you a good mom.


Oh hell no. I'd have done the exact same thing, and did my own. "That mom" thing over the fat letter we got too. Threw a huge email hissy fit and got the policy changed so my child won't be getting those letters anymore!

Leigh Ann

So this is where we are headed. Shaming kids into eating "healthy" and exercising. I see it only creating a hatred for forced exercise, not a healthy view of staying active and fit.

When I was in elementary school I always failed several parts of the physical fitness test: specifically the flexibility test, the chin up test, and the stupid test where they pinched your fat with calipers. My mom wrote a letter and asked that I be excused from the caliper test because it made me feel terrible about myself. As a note, I also played soccer and softball, so I was an active kid. But my family ate like crap. So something tells me the food diary is more about the parents than the kids. 25 years later, I have a healthy view of eating and exercise, I've completed a Tough Mudder challenge, and I'm about to run my first half marathon. Because I WANT to, not because someone shamed me into thinking I had to.


I don't have a problem with the idea of charting food consumption because it can be helpful to see your eating choices over a week (but you make a good point that they are not the ones in charge of what they eat, so the beneficial aspect of it is really limited). Because the kids aren't in charge of their meals, maybe charting snacks, where many kids have more leeway and often make unhealthy decisions, would be a better idea. I really don't see a problem with healthy eating/living being part of a PE education...hell, it's more useful than having to learn how to play football...But tying it to a field-trip seems ridiculous and I likely would have sent a similar letter.

The BMI thing is ridiculous. We have a monthly "wellness" phone call because of our health insurance (wellness is not what it should be called...irritating is what it should be called) and they want to talk to me about my BMI at the beginning of every call. I stop them and tell them that I reject BMI has an indictor of health and they can save their breath. I am not unhealthy (nor am I fat or too thin...)


You did exactly the right thing, Kit. Although Samantha believes that, because many parents aren't parenting that is okay for the schools to do it, I maintain that that is what has put us in the shape we're in now...no one wants to take responsibility for their actions. The BMI letter is a superb example of what happens when government gets involved...there is no common sense!

Keep doing what you are doing...Mom of the Year in my opinion!!

Mel @ Trailing After God

Good for you. I would also opt your children out of the BMI crap they are doing each year. You can opt them out of any of it. School's are so uneducated in this area, it is not up to them to push this garbage and yet, our govt thinks it is. If they don't allow him to go on the field trip, go do something fun with him that day. I would also try to gather parents together and petition the school to stop the BMI and gym nonsense. Worth a shot. We still have rights as parents even though the schools try to make us feel like we don't. We just had a nightmare situation with my first grader at our school last Friday. Our school is feeling the financial pinch from their actions and the parents they angered. Not smart. Good for you for standing up for your children. We have to be their advocates!


I am also "That Mom" and my kids know that if there is any nonsense at school, their mom and their dad have their backs (e.g. my youngest was put in ISS for wearing neon green tights. She isn't a troublemaker, but the look of defeat on her face when I interrupted my day to bring her a change of clothes was enough to make me postal). There is more bureaucracy in the schools than there ought to be; and unfortunately the burden of common sense falls on our shoulders because everyone else is looking to save their own asses. Good for you for standing up to the principal and the gym teacher; and best of luck. The fight isn't easy, but you aren't alone.

Don Crowder

I think your anger is a little out of place. Obesity is a growing problem with Americans of any age. It's more than a little bit out of control. The fact that your child is healthy, eats a balanced diet and gets ample exercise makes him an exception to the norm and that's great but it doesn't change the facts. The program is a drastic measure but drastic measures are required if we're going to get a handle on this problem. The field trip is the carrot they're using to "persuade" kids to go home and insist on participation. I'm not saying you're wrong to be angry but neither am I saying the program is wrong. It is what it is and it's called for. Your reaction only means that you're not part of the solution.


Looks like you're not alone in this sentiment! http://news.yahoo.com/video/fat-letter-sent-parents-10-222644135.html


Whether obesity is an issue or not, measuring BMI is completely flawed. Well, unless you think Tom Cruise is obese, because he is according to his BMI. And yes, that isn't going to help the situation. It's going to make it worse.

I was fat growing up. Actually, I'm still pretty fat now. I also was born with a birth defect in my legs and couldn't walk until right before I went to school. While my brothers all went to college on athletic scholarships, I studied and read because physical activity was hard for me. Now I plow through it because I want to be healthier, but the psychological scars of my youth still make it a challenge for me. I always feel like people are staring at me and judging me.

Yes, some people feed their kids junk. And yes, lots of kids play Nintendo instead of going outside and getting some fresh air and exercise, but the fact that schools measure BMI and send home letters is mortifying to me. I'm pretty sure had they done that when I was a kid that I would've begged to be homeschooled.

Thanks for standing up for your kids. In this case, I think you are in the right. I hope he still gets to go on the field trip.

Apryl R

Good for you standing up for your rights as a parent. The school is completely out of line and, sadly, probably being forced to do it for their own funding. Way to go, Michelle! Thanks for creating this nightmare! Let's move, indeed...


Well done you for calling BS. I read this out loud to my husband (who is usually all for health/fitness/diet/etc) and even he said it's borderline child abuse to label kids as fat based on their BMI and send them home crying.

One thing I'd like to point out... as an adult, before entering a fitness diet regime, do they or do they not recommend seeing your doctor for approval first? So have they done that for ALL of the students participating in the programme? I'm guessing not. Because that would be too similar to a legitimate programme.


I think you totally did the right thing. The school has no right to do this. I would have totally done the same thing.


I did the EXACT same thing with my child (in another school district) last year. They are taking the program way too far in some schools. Not only did they base a party on the journal participation (which my child ended up being able to attend even though I refused to fill it out, heh), but he also gets the BMI letter (my child IS chunky, as ten year old boys who are about to grow tend to be. He's also 5'5" in 4th grade with broad shoulders, a barrel chest, and muscular legs). They also sent him home with a backpack full of 'healthy' foods since I refused to participate (because, obviously, I feed him crap if I ethically object).

The kid's playing basketball and swimming this winter/spring. In essence, he gets about 4 hours of exercise outside of school recess, PE and after-school activities each week. If we were to take all of those into account, he's getting about 2 hours of exercise/outdoor play/practice time EACH day. As for what I feed him, I refuse to buy anything with growth hormone, wood pulp or sand in it, etc... so I guess you can say that the lack of processed foods means I'm feeding him well.

I understand that some parents may require resources, additional info, or perhaps a kick in the pants, but there's got to be a better way than this.

Leah Marie

This INFURIATES me...and apparently several of my friends on Facebook. You just went viral. AGAIN.


I agree, they are grading you and not the child. And athletes are "overweight" when you calculate their BMIs. There are many other factors that need to be considered in determining a healthy weight. Your school system sounds like a liberal boot camp! I'm probably taking this too far, but it reminds me of the Nazi kids. Are these children going to be required to "turn in" their parents soon?!


Congratulations 'THAT MOM' and great job!! The school has no business doing half of what they do today.
The amount of pressure this situation puts on the kids is totally unacceptable!
I'd like to know when it became okay for the school to take over for parents when it comes to teaching kids manners, morals, social issues, grooming, healthy choices etc. I send my kids to school to be taught reading, writing and math...I'll take care of the rest of it thank you!


The collective "WE" cannot "get a handle on" the obesity epidemic. We are a wealthy nation with the resources to eat ourselves to death and the freedom to choose to do so.
Short of rationing food and handcuffing our citizens to a treadmill we cannot force people to be "healthy."
We've seen that shaming people triggers unhealthy eating disorders.
The key to helping people get control of their weight is education and support.
It is not educational to track what people had for dinner last night. It's educational to show them what the best choice would be for tomorrow night.
It's not educational to force them to exercise because they will stop once the whip is gone. It's supportive to introduce them to 50 different exercises so they can find one they like and will WANT to continue.
I agree that the epidemic is TERRIBLE but as long as we say, "The government must do something about the obesity epidemic" it takes the burden of the problem off our individual shoulders and we sit there moaning about the government's lack of results while sipping Coolattas and eating french fries.
Let's educate our children so they can make good choices, not shame them into hiding or lying about their bad decisions. Let's support them by praising them when they exercise - not punishing them when they don't.
It's not that I don't want to be part of the solution it's just that I think a heavy handed approach is no solution.


I'm not sure how I feel about this. I get your point (and you are 100% correct on the whole BMI thing) but (to me) this is a way to engage kids in trying to be accountable for their health. Yes, holding off the field trip is BS but I think the school may be trying to find a creative solution to engaging children. No? Maybe this is a start to then introduce kids to nutritional value of foods so they make "smarter" choices with their meals. Do you know what/if there are "next steps" the school plans to use to continue this program? And keep in mind, yes, you may feed your child well, but I guarantee others don't feed their kids well. So if this program helps educate one child then (again to me) it is worth the attempt.


BMI = Bullshit.



Good on you for taking a stand!!! I totally get where you're coming from. If this is the direction that schools are going, I am very worried for my son (who is only 16 months old now). Like you, I am ALL for health education. Lessons on good nutrition, how to analyse what's in your food, how to prepare healthy meals, how to exercise correctly and ENJOY an active life. However, shaming and embarrassing both children and their parents will do nothing for society. It teaches children to become unhealthily obsessed with their weight, embarrassed of their choices in life, scared of judgement - and worst in my book - to judge others.
We should be inspiring our youth to come home full to the brim with their new healthy knowledge and want to teach it to their families. I'm afraid that weighing in, mandating food and exercise documentation and the shame (as well as everyone being annoyed and bogged down by the constant paperwork) associated with it will actually kill that motivation. We should do things because we're inspired, not because we're scared or embarrassed.


If public schools want to encourage healthy eating, they should look into serving farm-to-fork in their cafeterias. Please stay the "fork" out of our kitchens.


I agree COMPLETELY! Schools should absolutely be educating children about health and exercise and such--I believe it is part of a well-balanced education anyway, and in particular we have a growing obesity problem in this country. But the steps they take to address this should center around the way THEY feed and treat the children, what THEY teach in class, and how THEIR gym classes go. They could even send a letter home explaining what they're learning at school and asking for parental support at home (the way they do with homework). But making you document what you feed them and sending notes home with clearly healthy children saying they're overweight--based on BMI, which is total bullshit--is straight-up inappropriate. It's meddlesome! I don't blame you one single bit for that letter and I'd probably do the same thing. I'm pretty sure my mom, my sister, my cousin, and my mother-in-law would too. Good for you! A mom with balls of steel!


Also, while the points made about BMI are valid, I think the real issue here is government regulating what we consume and how much we exercise. It's just a little too Big Brother for my taste.


good job for making your position clear to the school, this is a better lesson to your children than issued bmi scores or personal dinnerplan discussions in the classroom


I am pretty sure we live in the same area. And I HATE the BMI letter. I hate that they put my children on a scale at all. I have a great dr who does that for us. My 13 year old daughter is a heavy duty dancer and has thighs of steel. She scores obese on that chart everytime. I NEVER let her see it. (I don't show them the MCAS scores either)

They are being sneaky in weighing the kids. My 11 year old son had a spinal check yesterday where they weighed and measured them. WTF? His straight spine has nothing to do with his height or weight. It is just the schools way of knowing info that they have no business knowing.

Young children have no control (well very little) over what a parent serves I don't see how shaming and let's be honest that is what is going to happen, is going to help them. If I serve crap (and I don't) I expect my kids to eat their dinner is it their fault?

Just another flawed program curtesy of politicians.


I love that you are "That MOM!" If you don't stand up for what you belive in then who will tell them they are nuts?

Brittney H

I've been a long time follower of your blog and I've only commented a handful of times but I feel this warrants my input...lol! This is a very infuriating subject! Not even getting started on BMI (which is the biggest load of crap ever!), this is just one more example of the government and school system butting their nose in where it does not belong. And because of the letters that the children are getting, it's causing more harm than good. I would be "THAT MOM" all day long every day because it means you care enough to stand up for your child and refusing to be pushed around. I commend you for sending that email! I am VERY curious as to what the school's response is.


I am not sure I understand the extreme anger on this subject. I am hearing that a lot of you think that schools should not be teaching healthy diets and exercise because that should be taught at home and the parents should be in charge of this topic. I have a very strong feeling that if the schools choose to eliminate health and phy ed. a number of you would be very angry with that as well. Where is the line of what the school should teach and what parents are in charge of. Should all reading and math not be taught in schools because parents should be in charge of that as well? We are extremely fortunate in this country to have a free, open to all, public education. If something as small as recording exercise and diet are making everyone so angry I am not sure what you want in a public education. Schools are not your enemy. They are not trying to harm your kids. No teacher went into public education to hurt and damage kids.



I agree completely! Teaching children a healthy lifestyle should be about class room situations where they can discuss healthy choices and healthy behaviours. And, yes, there are some parents who don't know, or choose to ignore, eating and behaving healthy, but wouldn't it make more sense (and have less "shaming") if there were pamphlets and letters sent home telling parents what they were doing at school?

And BMI is always totally off. My 6'2" brother is "morbidly obese" because he is muscular with massive shoulders.

Molley Mills

I am wholeheartedly on your side. My 2nd grade daughter came home in tears because they were weighed in gym class and the teacher gave her a frwony face when she told her the weight. I was furious and emailed the principal immediately. It's actually total bullshit because what they feed them at school has nothing to do with healthy food or choices and that they dare to shame parents is disgusting. It's all political hype anyway and if you child is omitted from the field trip, keep him home and do something fun instead.


Michelle and her Communist Crony (husband) are out to control everything we do, and to make it "palatable", they will enroll our kids early! As others before have said, this is pure BULL____!

Amanda Jillian

No you aren't doing anything wrong. That's horrible. I remember always being the curvy girl growing up. The school told me I was overweight. Which put me in a slight depression where I ate more and wore baggy clothes. I look back and realize I was pudgy true but I would kill to be that again since it didn't take in that I had a butt and wide hips and a DD cup. It's ridiculous. And I was in 8th grade! I was not built like a regular 8th grader. I can't imagine how a 3rd grade would feel being told his was overweight.

My Modern Country

When my kids were in elementary school, they both had straight A's....except for P.E. They were both super active, with well balanced meals (most of the time), but neither one could do enough chin-ups to get an A. What a load of crap!


Amen! Mine's not in public school yet, but I'd feel the same way about it.


I agree, somethings should not be taught by the schools. It is my right as a parent to teach my children, and I agree healthy eating and exercise is one of them I understand teaching it in schools but enforcing it is taking it a step to far.

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