Should I be concerned about this?

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from reindeergirl. Show reindeergirl's posts

    Should I be concerned about this?

    Somehow the conversation gets around to Twinkies, which my daughter's never had, and as far as I'm concerned that's just as well. The mom I'm speaking with, loves fried Twinkies and says, jokingly, she'll bring a box over in the morning. From Twinkies, we get to talking about gum, which I forbid, even sugarless.

    I have my reasons for forbidding gum (I don't forbid snack cakes) and I don't expect to change my mind about that anytime soon.

    The mom says that once our children get to middle school, my daughter will be ostracized because "all the kids chew gum." That is, when offered a piece of gum that she will turn down, she'll be marked as an oddball. The same with Twinkies, only not as much, because children are more likely to bring gum to school than snack cakes.

    I was proud of my daughter to learn that she has turned down gum, from other children and from this adult. Even though I wasn't present, she obeyed the rule on that.

    The other mom tells me all this in front of my daughter, including the part about my daughter being marked in the times to come over the gum thing.

    Daughter is allowed to chew gum during the MCAS, when the teachers hand out gum to help the children de-stress.

    Should I be concerned about this? Do I let up on my rule to prevent my child from being targeted and picked on? After all, one thing can lead to another - if she's picked on for this, the kids will find a way to bully her over other things.

    So - two issues:

    What goes on in school

    The other mom trying to undermine me (but I don't think that was her intent; I think she lacks the so-called social graces).

    How real is the threat of ostracization over gum-chewing?

  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from princess-cal. Show princess-cal's posts

    Re: Should I be concerned about this?

    Well, I don't have any children, so I cannot really answer your question.  However, do you really think your daughter is going to go through her entire life without ever having a piece of gum?  I would be more worried about other things that can go on in middle school and beyond, rather than a harmless piece of gum.
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from reindeergirl. Show reindeergirl's posts

    Re: Should I be concerned about this?

    In Response to Re: Should I be concerned about this?:
    Well, I don't have any children, so I cannot really answer your question.  However, do you really think your daughter is going to go through her entire life without ever having a piece of gum?  I would be more worried about other things that can go on in middle school and beyond, rather than a harmless piece of gum.
    Posted by princess-cal

    I get along very well with this mother, and we are supportive of each other as our daughters are both innocent types who have been bullied, sometimes relentlessly. We solved this (knock on wood) with mine by placing her in a martial arts class. It turned out to be true what I heard - she never had to use it at school, but the mean kids just knowing she has the skill, keeps the bullies away. Also, the fact that she has a certain gift in another area, and has been publicly recognized for it (as in, a newspaper article about her; and a class award). So these two elements are outsider status of another sort, but in a positive way.

    No, I don't think she'll be able to avoid gum. But why she should be the target of verbal bullying over it (as the mother implies she will be)? What is the difference betweeen saying no to gum, and not eating red meat? Plenty of middle school children are vegetarians (mine isn't). What is the difference between saying no to gum, and saying no to cigarettes? No, gum probably won't kill you, as tobacco will, but my point is that she should be able to stick up for her family rules and what she believes in.

    Last night, after I posted, I was trying to decide if I was more perturbed by the mother trying to force her beliefs on my family, and if that was a part of all this. I decided I wasn't. What concerned me was yet another question to worry about in terms of peer pressure.

    I almost decided to home-school, in fact (because our school district is so poor it really should be placed under state receivership), but I just don't have the money to stay home to do this, and she is still too young to be left at home for hours at a time. Gum, as you note princess-cal, is the least of it. But it's part of it. Why can't a family stick to its own values?

    Why do children need gum, anyway, other than to lose weight or de-stress during the MCAS (I let her have gum during the MCAS)? Even sugarless hum has plenty of sugars that can rot the teeth - ask any dentist.

    Plus, frankly, it looks crummy - to see someone chewing away. I think unless someone is trying to lose weight or quit smoking, gum chewing just looks impolite.

    Is middle school that stressful these days that kids pick on each other over these choices? I told mine to blame it on her dentist (who doesn't want her chewing gum) or her mother, or both. But I don't feel she should feel under the proverbial gun to do that. If it helps her to blame us though, she can.

    I do fear middle school, though (trying my best to hide this from her), for many reasons. We live in a frustratingly poor district, where teacher resources lack, and lots of children coming from financially-strapped homes in which a good number of the parents are either absent in their own way (working 10 jobs to make ends meet), or taking it out on their kids physically (I'm not making this up - we see it; it's documented). We can't afford to leave - not yet. I am making a career change in the hope of getting out of here. In my daughter's former school district, there was little to no peer pressure about even the choices which you might feel are picayune. Parents here don't talk to their kids - they insult them or slap it. I see it in the schoolyard; imagine what goes on at home.
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from ALF72. Show ALF72's posts

    Re: Should I be concerned about this?

    LMAO!  Your kid is not going to be ostracized for not chewing gum.  I don't chew gum and know alot of people who don't. I think it's a gross habit myself, which is why I don't chew it.  People look like cows chewing their cud when they snap their gum.  By the time your child gets to middle school, many kids have braces and other dental apparatus and they aren't allowed to chew gum either b/c it gets in the way of the apparatus.  I think your friend is just being silly. If you don't want your kid to chew gum, then don't let her chew gum. 

    One thing to bear in mind is that if you restrict certain foods from your kids, they will go out of their way to eat them when they are older.  My DH's mother restricted soda and sweets when they were kids and now my DH can't get enough of them.  We weren't restricted [other than having to have dinner first] and I don't drink soda and can have cake or cookies on the table or in the house and not eat them. If my DH knows they are there, they call to him.  I think teaching moderation is the way to go rather than restriction. It has better results in the end.  Good luck.
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from kiwigal. Show kiwigal's posts

    Re: Should I be concerned about this?

    I have been teaching middle and high school for about 15 years, and I have never heard of any student being picked on because s/he doesn't chew gum. There are lots of other things that kids, especially girls, get picked on for--clothes, development (either being ahead or behind), interest in the opposite sex (or lack of), etc. in middle school.

    My students are definitely gum-chewers, though, and I see a couple of reasons for it. One, it's an easy way to "rebel", as opposed to tobacco, alcohol, or sex. It annoys adults, but isn't as harmful as the other things I mentioned. It also doesn't come with any social stigma from kids. (Even though we adults may think it's crass and disgusting, they don't see it that way.) Gum is also a substitute for candy and desserts among girls who are beginning to become more preoccupied with weight and body image.

    I think that this is one of those decisions that your daughter has to begin to make on her own, knowing how both you and your dentist feel. (Honestly, I don't understand the "dispensation" for me, that sends a weird, mixed message. There are other ways to "relax" during a test.) It sounds as though she's not that interested in gum anyway. This might give her practice in responsible decision-making before the scary decisions about alcohol and sex begin to surface.

    While you may think that blaming you or the dentist gives her an easy out, I don't think it's very helpful in the middle school world. It may just make her seem baby-ish in a way. A better, more effective response is just to say "no" without feeling the need to explain. Or say, "no, I don't want any right now." Most kids I know wouldn't push the issue any further.
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from Notanewbie. Show Notanewbie's posts

    Re: Should I be concerned about this?

    I can't even begin to imagine why she would be ostracized for not gum chewing...and I definitely don't get the exemption for the MCAS test.  I went to Catholic School and there was no gum chewing EVER in school.  And to be honest, I've never really liked it anyway, probably because I didn't have access to it at school.
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from redsoxmoma. Show redsoxmoma's posts

    Re: Should I be concerned about this?

    My son's elementary school does not allow gum unless a child needs it to help focus. I highly doubt your daughter will be made fun of because she doesn't chew gum. Let the issue pass with your friend. If she truly is your friend then she shouldn't be offened if you stand your ground on your no gum rule. You have your reasons and she should respect that.

    BTW my kids have never had a twinkie either and no one makes fun of them!
  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from trl1717. Show trl1717's posts

    Re: Should I be concerned about this?

    As some other posters have mentioned, there are going to be tons of other issues that you will face as your daughter grows.  Maybe there will be a kid that makes fun of her, or she'll want to watch R Rated shows at the middle school sleepover, maybe all her friends at the school trip bring Red Bull with them to drink and you don't like all the caffeine. Maybe she wants to wear only skimpy "Abercrombie" clothes because every other kid is.  What your daughter just needs to learn is the confidence in the 100's of situations to affect a totally non-interested look and profess that a cigarette, stick of gum, pair of thong underwear, violent movie, etc  isn't what she's interested in.  When you explain or give a "my mom tells me no" response, it always invites an argument and challenge. It has to come from her.  "No, thanks" is all she needs to say.
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from movingtangent. Show movingtangent's posts

    Re: Should I be concerned about this?

    Do kids still chew gum?  Seriously, in the 70s everyone did, but I'd have to concentrate to think of a time recently when I noticed a kid chewing gum.  Nope.  Drawing a blank.
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from ash. Show ash's posts

    Re: Should I be concerned about this?

    I have a kid in high school and a kid in middle school and can tell you that this is probably not something your child is going to be ostracized over.  They can not chew gum in school anyway, so no one is bringing gum to school.  My kids do lots of things other kids don't do--drink soda, watch scary movies (well, one of them anyway), play video games, go to overnight camp and they are hardly ostracized for any of them.

    I think the other mother is overthinking this, and you are, too, probably because of the previous experiences your children have had with bullying. 

    You're the mother, you get to set the rules.  I don't really understand the opposition to gum, but this is a line you've clearly drawn and I don't think not chewing it is a big deal AT ALL!  You're not going to let her smoke and there's a chance she might get ostracized for that, too.  Is your friend going to encourage her daughter to smoke because everyone does?

    I think you are smart to go the "my mother won't let me" route on this sort of thing.  Now that my children are teens and tweens, I tell them its ok to add "and I hate her because she won't let me" for added effect.
  11. You have chosen to ignore posts from reindeergirl. Show reindeergirl's posts

    Re: Should I be concerned about this?

    Well, nothing like taking up a discussion almost a year later ... .

    First, thanks all, for reading and taking time to comment and posting your thoughtful thoughts.

    I thought the problems with this mother would fade with time, but they haven't.

    1) princess-cal

    That turned out to be moot, since the school doesn't allow gum chewing, and the only folks I've seen chew it since I created the thread are two moms (including the critic). Daughter is none the worse for wear for not chewing gum. She doesn't seem interested in it, while she is interested in other candy.

    But yes, I'd place restrictions on gum chewing for the continued while. There have indeed been other middle school issues, but that wasn't one of them.

    The mother is still trying to press fried Twinkies on me. The mother calmed down when she realized that yes, once in a while, we have a box of Yodels in the house.

    In the months since the thread, I have noticed that the mother has been doing some serious drinking when she brings up her critiques. In fact, she and I were on her porch when the cable salesman came by; she was having a Bud Light, and she felt it important to tell him, while he was delivering his pitch, that I don't drink. (I do, sometimes, but I don't sit around all day drinking.)

    2) ALF - Thank you. You're sweet.

    And I agree. It's the temptation thing. Fortunately, she's been able to say no when I'm not around.

    3) kiwigal - Thanks so much for your perspective as an educator.

    And for better or worse, it turns out that our district is so poor, that most of the students don't have money for candy. About 80 percent of them are on the free lunch program. They don't get allowances for the most part, either. A few exceptions, though. No child is demanding another classmate's lunch money, because there is no lunch money to extort.

    4) notanewbie - The exemption is to help the children relieve stress during testing. That's why the teachers give out gum (and other candy).

    I'm thinking of bucking my ex's objections, and putting her in parochial school. Not my first choice, but may be my only choice (ex objects because he suffered priest-abuse as an elementary school student). I just kinda like our non-sectarian household, but I know she'll get a much better education, and maybe a better social climate.

    5) Redsoxmama - Because the other mom has been so hyper-critical of my parenting style, I can no longer be friends with her. It's not just that she critiques me, but that she critiques my daughter to my daughter's face. How was I to know that children around here didn't wear bike helmets, that that would lead to mockery of child and mother alike? (Another issue, yet ... .)

    6) trl1717 - Yes, I've come to agree with you about her sticking up for herself. But there seem to be deeper issues now that I have the perspective for an entire middle school year. The parents here are neglectful or abusive or there is this or that problem with comes with the stressors of poverty, and the children take it out on each other. The parents take it out on the other parents. It seems like "every man for himself." I feel no sense of community, though I've tried. I can't even get the principal to start up a PTA.

    7) movingtangent - Wow, good question! Not as much as in "my day." I sure did back then [1960s - 1970s]  (and yes, folks, against my father's "no gum" rule).

    8) ash - I do like your last sentence, I had to smile (and I'm not belittling it). Yup, every family has its own style.


    So, she was almost beat up on the way to school yesterday (she did a fine job of defending herself with her martial arts skills), but I was still a little nervous. (Believe me, someone or more than one is being assaulted every day at that school.) Typically she walks with her friends. So today I decided to walk a distance away from her, but still where I could see her, to make sure the other bully's behavior had blown over. I didn't think anyone could see. But someone did, because this afternoon her so-called friend (daughter of Twinkie Woman) insulted her for it. Her friend knows her mom and I are friends no longer, but up until today it hasn't affected the children. In fact, yesterday the friend stepped in to defend my daughter. Yesterday, her friend invited her to her b-day party.

    Neither she nor I have really bonded with people here, so it's not like she has a large group of friends to fall back on. Now she's feeling socially-isolated. I'm thinking about moving out of this town (the problems are community-wide, not limited to our neighborhood school). Can't afford to move back home, but there has to be middle ground. Daughter and I are two gentle people pretty much in a war-zone.

    So, that's the update. I apologize for taking so long to reply; I was hoping that as time passed, I would be able to give you good news. I thank each of you.

  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from lemonmelon. Show lemonmelon's posts

    Re: Should I be concerned about this?

    Where do you live, Beirut?
  13. You have chosen to ignore posts from canukgrl. Show canukgrl's posts

    Re: Should I be concerned about this?

    I think it's entirely up to you whether you permit her to chew gum or not, and it's going to be entirely up to her whether she follows the rules or not.  Gum is relatively harmless (compared to say sex, drugs, or alcohol, which I hear are issues at middle school age already) and, in my opinion, a good opportunity for you to teach her about making smart choices and doing what she knows is right.  If she's going to worry about being made fun of for not eating snack cakes or gum, as the other mom implied, then what is going to happen when someone offers her a beer?  The other mom was probably wrong to say that in front of your daughter, but it's up to you how you deal with it, including how you talk to your daughter about it.
  14. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: Should I be concerned about this?

    My mom had rules for me that made other kids make fun, but that meant she was a good, conscious parent who thought more of being so rather than about being her kid's best friend.  Keep up the good work.  All kids get picked on for something, and life goes on.  My thing was curfew; I had to be in earlier than most kids because my stamina was never that great, and I needed more rest than most kids.  I got picked on for it, but I haven't given it a thought in about 25 years.

    About the gum?  I never chew gum and never did becaues for some strange reason it makes me cough from a bizzarre tickle in the back of my throat.  Nobody ever cared if I turned down gum at any age.

  15. You have chosen to ignore posts from reindeergirl. Show reindeergirl's posts

    Re: Should I be concerned about this?


    Yes, just about.



    In the months since I posted this, I think the other mom's comments were directed at me and about me. In fact, healthy food choices are talked about daily at our daughters's schools, and a couple of times of year, they have to keep a food journal. The mom is taking out the frustrations of her life on me. Today, she was hanging around the area where the homeless drinkers hang out - and although she is a drinker, she is far from homeless and such dire circumstances. There is something else going on here besides Twinkies. I guess I'm being bullied by another mom. I wouldn't give a rat's a** about that, except that is is affecting our children. Her daughter is starting to pick on mine, and I suspects she gets this from her mother.

    Funny, in my hometown, I would have been frowned upon for allowing all kinds of sweets, and permitting daughter to ride her bike without a helmet. Go figure.



    I am glad to read your perspective.

    And that's what I'm trying to be  - a good mom.