Updated: Nov 15
‘Let he that is without sin cast the first stone.’
I am in no position to lecture anyone when it comes to nutrition and health-I am not pure in that respect, and I do not blame parents for any ill-advised unhealthy family practices- been there; done that; have the participation trophy!
However, when it comes to encouraging our children’s health, I am able to suggest both trends and potential pathways forward.
Our Present Paradox:
We are experiencing a paradox: statistics suggest that, on one level, we are living longer and better lives- diseases of the 20th century are in retreat; medications are more effective ( eg the Covid vaccine), we have a much better understanding of how to stay healthier, medical breakthroughs happen at a steady pace, and far fewer people now die of infectious disease thanks to sanitation, vaccination, and antibiotics,
At the same time, we are exposed to negative medical trends that are man made in their origin, and that are avoidable with a change in lifestyles. Cigarette smoking; opioid addiction, loneliness, obesity, type 2 diabetes, alcoholism, a lack of physical exercise, anxiety, over-prescription of medications, and on the list goes.
Our lifestyles are killing us.
Lifestyle issues have extended into our mental health as well, and the statistics are increasingly alarming, with younger and younger children battling with more and more serious mental health issues.
Your job as a parent is to ensure your child not only lives long, but lives well, and that will require that the parent’s plan for their child must include the following:
Beware of Promoting a Sedentary Lifestyle: Our children are spending much less time outside and moving than those from previous generations.
The numbers involved in organized sports are decreasing; those participating in youth organizations such as scouts and church youth groups are declining, and children’s experiences in, and in relationship to, nature has been in free fall for a long time.
The causes for this trend are numerous and varied; from the decline of play in schools, to the abuse of sports by adults that too-often view them merely as a stepping-stone to college admission; to the fear of “stranger danger” that has ended street play and that has made the woods forbidden; to a decline in volunteering, to the presence in every child’s hand of gaming technology that encourages a sedentary existence.
Ensure That Your Child Becomes The Master of Technology, and Not its Prisoner.
The Impact of Social Media: The other paradox is that the more we become connected to each other through technology,the less connected we are becoming. Social isolation is a major, life-threatening issue, an especially significant negative issue for young ( and not so young) males, more interested in gaming at the expense of play, nature, relationships, and their interactions with young women.
The offshoot of children’s presence on social media is an epidemic of meanness, bullying and youth suicide. A primary responsibility of a parent today is to create in their child a digital citizen who understands the power and the dangers of technology, and who understands the importance of using it in a positive manner.
In short, for our children to live not just long but well, a parent must ensure that inside their plan for their child’s physical growth they must encourage healthy eating over fast food; make exercise a part of the family lifestyle, avoid drugs and cigarettes, and drink alcohol in moderation.
The mental health of our children is fragile. Families are living in a 24/7 nonstop world, everyone is always on the go, and many are increasingly burnt out. Connection to the wider world is never more than a click away. Parents would not open the family door to a stranger in the dark of night, and yet, we let the Pandora’s Box of the internet and social media into our children’s bedrooms, too often unchallenged.
We must do better.
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