This one may hit a little close to home for many of you, but that’s the point. I would hope that every parent wants to be a great role model for their kids. We want to teach them manners, bring them to church with us, be careful what we say in front of them, and of course not smoke or drink in front of them.
One thing I’ve learned from being a parent is that my 4-year old boy copies just about everything I do, whether I like it or not. Anything I do in front of him, it seems like he is immediately trying to repeat it until he gets it just right. For example, the other day I wadded up a piece of paper I found on the ground and threw it in the trash can about 10 feet away. As simple of an accomplishment as that was, he was mesmerized by it and attempted the same shot for what seemed like a dozen times until he made it in the trash can himself. It doesn’t stop there though; he wants to walk like me, talk like me, and basically be me in every way. He has even gotten to the point of sitting in our recliner, crossing his ankles, and putting his hands behind his head… just like daddy. Anyone reading this who is a parent knows exactly what I mean. So whether you realize it or not, you ARE a role model for your kids. They will copy their parents’ behaviors, good or bad.
So why is it that we think our kids won’t also copy how poorly we treat our bodies? If eating fast food and other types of junk on a daily basis has become a habit, your kids are much more likely to follow that same lifestyle. And why is it that we talk about and want our kids playing outside more and staying as active as possible, yet we may not have exercised ourselves in years? I guess often times we want them to do as we say and not as we do; but nothing works better than leading by example.
A recent study came out showing that 50% of kids with overweight parents will become overweight themselves, compared to 13% of non-overweight parents. So it’s no surprise that the childhood obesity rate will continue to rise as long as America’s adult obesity rate is rising (which it is, at an alarming rate).
To me, this isn’t an issue of whether or not it’s acceptable to be overweight as a child, or about body image, or about any other excuses people like to come up with these days… it’s about the health of you and your kids. Childhood obesity has been linked to numerous health problems such as joint pain, pre-diabetes, and even cardiovascular disease. In fact, obesity is one of the leading causes of cancer today, and that number is continuing to rise. Being overweight as a child means having a much greater chance of being overweight as an adult.
Bottom line is, at the end of the day, how your kids end up treating their bodies is greatly affected by how you treat your own body. Their health begins with following their parents’ lead, and using them as role models. So for the sake of your children, make sure you’re a good one.