Perhaps now more than ever, parents have a huge responsibility in helping their children to grow up healthy. The odds are stacked heavily against those children and in fact, some experts have pointed out that children today are in danger of being outlived by their parents.
There are different kinds of healthy
But it is not just being healthy in body and we will go into that a bit later on. It is also about children being healthy in mind and outlook. We have that same responsibility to bring up our children to be balanced and independent; to be kind, caring and compassionate; to have questioning minds; and to be critical thinkers. Many people feel that the modern education system indoctrinates children to conform too much. There is no doubt that the number of parents who home school has grown by leaps and bounds. They prepare their children for life as adults in one way.
Do some parents try too hard?
Other parents feel they have to give their children in a normal school environment every possible advantage in the form of extracurriculars, outside school trips and extra tuition. In fact this has become a multimillion dollar industry. Laurie Bodine covered this in her well received and recent speech where she examined all the things parents do in an effort to prepare their children for life but how only 10% of them will actually achieve success. She pointed out that the competitive nature of education not only stops young people from being happy, which 100% of parents agree is their number one wish for their offspring, but it also is not getting the intended results. Research has found that while students may have exceptional scores and high grades, often when they begin post-secondary education or enter the work force, they are seeking direction and are lacking in skills like critical-thinking, professionalism and ethics. Laurie Bodine is all for combining children's interests with their talents to meet societal needs. She says this is a much more appropriate path for happiness and ultimately engaged learners so they grow up with healthy minds.
And what is the fastest growing form of education in the USA?
It is home schooling
. Once upon a time, all children were home schooled but around 150 years ago, US states started making public school mandatory and home schooling eventually became illegal. It wasn't until the 1990s that all states made it legal again. I salute parents who go that route as I am sure it is far from easy and yet I would hazard a guess that their children do grow up to be the most healthy. I know we should not generalize but the chances are that parents who home school are the same ones who choose organic and locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables for their children, avoid vaccines and prefer natural remedies over pharmaceuticals.
But back to the healthy body
Many parents have to realize that they too must make some changes if their children are to grow up healthy as of course parents are the children's first role models. Top of the list of course is diet.
If parents follow the standard American diet or SAD, then of course their children will too. It takes time and effort to change to better and healthier eating habits but if the worldwide trend towards increasing numbers of children being and becoming overweight or obese is to be reversed, then it has to be done. Sadly, we are cultivating generations of sedentary children who are condemned to suffer from fatty livers, type 2 diabetes and even strokes and coronary heart disease. So ditch the sodas, the take outs and the processed convenience foods complete with their GMOs, additives and artificial flavors and colorings and change to whole foods, to plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and to drinking water instead. Lack of exercise
is another contributing factor. A fit child gets plenty of physical activity and exercise and has a healthy weight. If children are fit, their bodies work well, they feel good and they can do all the things they want to do. The family that exercises together stays together. Toxins
are all around us from electrical and electronic devices in our homes, insecticides in our gardens and parks, chemical-laden laundry
and cleaning products in our homes and schools, and additives and colorings in our foods. Like changing our eating habits, we need to make a concerted effort to avoid toxins too. Most parents have very strong feelings about vaccines
and are either for or against with not many sitting on the fence. Before you decide on behalf of your children, do your own research
from several different sources so that you too can be informed. TV and other advertising
is renowned for promoting the wrong sort of diet for your children. Be aware of this and help your children to understand this too. Of course TV is often the easy way out and most of us are guilty of using the TV as an occasional babysitter. But unless you provide alternatives, children will often take the easy way out themselves and go back to the TV or the computer instead of the outdoors and exercise. See our suggestions about a No TV Tuesday or a Media-Free Monday here! Mental health
is written and spoken about a lot today. Encourage your child to be mentally fit as well as physically fit. Even young children will grasp meditation and breathing exercises easily, helping them to stay calm and relaxed while improving concentration levels and mental alertness. Finally we should all be role models
for children whether we are parents, aunts and uncles or grandparents. We can achieve this by doing things together whether it is going for a walk, reading a bedtime story, playing a board game or flying a kite. There are so many opportunities – every one of which helps children to grow up healthy.