More than ever, our children are bombarded with information and temptations from external influences. It used to be that we just had to monitor what our children watched on television and create a healthy balance of its consumption with other activities. Then came video games and now, the mixed blessings and curses of social media.
It can seem overwhelming for parents, but remember that you are creating a foundation for your children that will allow them to make their own decisions. The influences you provide — from what you eat, your relationship with your partner, and your spiritual well-being — all provide them with guideposts that they observe, even if you don’t think they are paying attention. Check in with Family Coaching for support and additional guidance as you navigate this critical and complex child-rearing process.
Pantry of persuasion
Starting early with healthy eating provides a good start for continuing life-long habits. The good news is that after decades of bombarding the airwaves with the merits of convenient, prepackaged foods and ready-made meals, the pendulum has been swinging the other direction. Not only are we learning about the dangers of consuming too many processed foods, but savvy companies are combining the benefits of raw food ingredients with convenience with handy meal kit delivery services.
You also have more alternatives to typical snack foods. Instead of traditional potato chips, opt for veggie chips or those made of quinoa or other alternative ingredients. Some of them can still be high in sodium, but you and your children can have fun making your own from kale or even melted cheese. Naturally flavored carbonated water can replace sugary and caffeinated sodas — you can even purchase a soda machine to make your own!
Two things that can help keep your kids on the healthy eating track are 1) keeping them involved, from shopping to menu planning and preparation and 2) modeling through your own good habits. You may not be able to prevent your kids from trying a fast-food meal when they are with friends, but their stomach may send them a message as it encounters those alien ingredients, which can be a very convincing argument!
Basics to resistance
Food is, of course, just part of the equation of healthy habits and temptations they may encounter. As your children get older, they may encounter pressure to experiment with alcohol and drugs. In fact, no matter how sensible and grounded you believe your kids to be, accept that they will be confronted with this peer pressure so you can prepare open and honest conversations with your kids about it and collaborate on strategies — and even engage in some role-playing activities — to help them handle it.
One strong component of your foundation is your togetherness as a family. In addition to the meal planning and preparation mentioned above, you can engage in other family activities that accomplish two things at once: physical fitness and togetherness. An evening or weekend bike ride, playing catch, horseshoes, or badminton in the backyard, or family outings to the lake complete with nature hikes to identify native flora and fauna are all ideas that provide health and spiritual benefits. During cooler weather, spend time together indoors with board games, charades, or fun crafts.
Mind your modeling
As you spend your family time together, or even in your talks about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, include how one small moment in time can have life-long consequences. Even being in the wrong place at the wrong time can lead to legal issues that can affect your children’s future. Talk about what they hope to do with their lives and how planning for that can divert their attention away from distracting elements that could jeopardize that future.
Include honest conversations about your own hopes and dreams — what you were able to accomplish and what you have left unfinished. Then, select something that you wish you’d done, and vow — with your children as witnesses — to accomplish it. For example, if you’ve always wanted to go to college or wish you’d finished your bachelor’s degree, don’t wait any longer. Online, fully accredited degree programs allow you to work around your family’s schedule while moving towards a beneficial degree. A degree in accounting, for example, sets you up to own a home-based business or talk to your kids about economics and business ethics. You can even pursue an MBA or a degree in Information Technology — the sky’s the limit!
The main thing — in addition to your own fulfillment — is that your children are learning that dreams are achievable, even if they occur later than hoped or planned; that it’s important to finish what you start; and that you believe enough in what you are saying to them to take your own advice.
A job that’s never ending
Raising a family truly is the most important job you will ever have, and unlike traditional jobs, it’s one you never retire from! However, the perks and rewards of being present with your children, being a good role model, and watching them flourish with intent are the best benefits package you could ever receive.
Photo by Ubaldo Bitumi on Unsplash
By: Jenna Sherman of parent-leaders.com