Excited about Health

What does it take to get kids excited about being healthy? As we enter the last month of summer and head towards school, I think it’s an important conversation to have, especially with the state of the world and the great potential that many schools will again be remote this year and not in person as they traditionally are. To be clear health is a multi-layered thing, consisting of relationships, nutrition, exercise, activities, sleep, cleaning, the mind, spirituality and more.

Of course one of the most important keys that can clue them in to not only how important health is but also help create excitement around it, are the adults in their lives. If they’re around adults who demonstrate a curiosity for the world, take pride in having a clean house, make an effort to eat well, spend time with people who are important to them, and have other health practices that they participate in, it’s the first step. These adults should also not complain about or experience a lot of dread and resistance around being healthy, it should be a normal and welcome part of their lives.

It’s also important to find a happy medium between what kids think are fun and healthy and what adults think are fun and healthy, which in and of itself is another great lesson to be teaching them. The world has come a long way in the past decades to where there are lots of creative ways to have fun and be healthy at the same time, which does make it a lot easier. And the lesson of balance between the healthy and the special treats is an important one to apply here because even the most disciplined adults who are well known for their healthy living practices still have fun and do some of the stuff that’s not so healthy.

What about getting kids excited? It’s hard to get them excited about stuff often because you’re not seeing things from their perspective, or not explaining your perspective in a way they can understand, or not leaning in when they do show interest in something healthy. In part this can be addressed by spending time together trying different things or just noticing what they’re sharing about and who they’re admiring. But winning the battle can be more valuable than winning the war, so if you’ve got a kid who’s passionate about nutrition and relationships but doesn’t really like really active physical activity (i.e. prefers walking and light swimming), work with them on it to get them doing the activities they do enjoy more consistently.

Ultimately it comes down to encouraging the fire and passion they have and not trying to put it out because it’s not in line with yours or you don’t understand it. Health is a life long journey with many parts, and each day we can learn something new or do a little better if we choose.

What Are We Teaching?

There are tons of questions about what the future holds right now, especially for educating the next generation (and even some of the adults interested in furthering their formal education), thanks to the virus. If you’ve been reading along for a while now you probably know that I’m not the biggest fan of the current system we have, or maybe I should say the specifics that they’re required to teach. I think the concept of having kids come together to learn for set amounts of time is a good one, for many reasons including because it does typically work with the need for many parents to be out of the house at work, but more importantly because it should teach them many of the essential interpersonal skills they need when they’re adults.

But with all the questions being raised about the safety of crowds and large gatherings like school classrooms and the number of parents who say that they absolutely aren’t capable of really helping their kids learn this stuff, even though they’ve all been through it, I think it’s beyond time that we really sat down and talked about what had to change in the education world (especially with schools charging the same fees for not doing all the work or providing the same experience as in person). I think parents are right to be questioning the value of what their kids are learning both from an at-home/in school basis and in subject matter and with regards to finances too (paying teachers a fair rate and how much school costs for what’s provided especially if the students are at home).

This week two things that relate to this topic have been happening, first that I’ve been listening to an online seminar about wealth, and second that I’ve been hearing from some people about how challenged they’ve been lately by people. It got me thinking about what we’re really teaching our kids and what we need to be teaching them (and as part of that what you can teach them or make sure they’re learning even if you can’t teach them math and history well). So what do kids need to learn? They need to learn things like honesty, openness, communication, literacy, finances, interpersonal relationships, nutrition, basic health practices, consideration for others, hard work, and curiosity. You don’t have to be good at all those things, you can learn together, and there are many ways including TV shows and teachers/experts that can help you help them establish a strong foundation to build on in whatever ways they do in the future.

You can’t force your kids to become lawyers or doctors because it’s the “best future” for them according to all the experts, nor should your dream for them necessarily be the dream they pursue. Not only will you be prouder of them, I know they’ll be better set for success and they’ll do more to make the world a better place, if you instead help ingrain in them these values. What are you working on teaching your kids or learning with them so far this summer?

Raising Happy and Wise Kids

This past week I got to experience a small slice of what used to pass for normal summer life when the main street near where I live closed the road for the restaurants to use, and families were able to come out, some with small kids and dogs and walk around and be out and about and eat. There were a few very young kids who were running with no care in the world and it was a hopeful experience and reminder of what we’re working towards and why. Which also got me thinking about what it means to be an adult and how important it is to find a balance between letting kids be kids and preparing them for the challenges they’ll experience and have to work through as adults.

One of the most important things for us to teach them is about working with others. How to love, listen, work to understand, what teamwork is, how to ask for help when you need it, and how to build win-win-win relationships. This virus has been a big reminder of and exercise in working with others as we’ve worked within our communities to support each other and talked with other medical communities around the world both to learn from them and support them. We would not be getting through this virus (or countless other situations) without the help of others, even if it’s just an ear to listen.

By talking through situations at the dinner or breakfast table, by showing your kids different cultures and parts of the world, by having get-togethers with family and friends, by committing to work and family consistently you’re showing your kids how to be a responsible adult and be part of the world that we all share. And pairing those experiences with lots of play time, family time and time to learn and discover who they are, your kids will hopefully grow up into well-rounded and wise adults who can also make a great contribution to the world. What are you teaching your kids about how to work with others?

Relationship Blessings

As I was thinking about relationships this week, I was reminded that we have a responsibility to love or change our relationships, which got me thinking about how we interact with the people we see (usually) most often, and at our best and worst: our families.  At the end of the day how do you return home from wherever you are?  Do you return home to relax, to eat, to sleep, and/or to bless your family?

I was reading recently about a leader who had just completed a great task, and the chapter ended by saying that he went home to bless his family.  I was taken a bit off guard by that statement.  After all, we all give all day long at our jobs or in our businesses, so having the attitude of continuing to give once we’re home may surprise some of you as well.  Before I go any further let me tell you the number one reason you should consider blessing those in your home: because a large percentage of people go home to an unhappy, at odds, tired, unpleasant home situation.  If you’re the least bit interested in looking forward to going home and being with your family, I encourage you to keep reading.

What does it mean to be a blessing anyway?  Dictionary.com shares that being a blessing means to bestow good of any kind upon someone.  There are tons of ways you can bless someone!  A few are:

Come home a little early or on time instead of being late.

Bring dessert home.

Help your kids with their homework so your partner doesn’t have to.

Read an extra book with your kids before they go to bed.

Help make dinner or set the table.

Clean up around the house without being asked.

Instead of coming in and complaining or asking questions, greet your partner with a hug and a kiss.

Listen to what your partner is saying instead of ignoring them.

Spend some time doing something different like giving your partner a massage or letting them have the TV remote.

Play with your pet (they need love too).

This week I encourage you to find ways you can be a blessing at home, and see if it doesn’t transform your life at work and at home!

Men Who Set The Example

One of the holidays we have this month here in the US is Father’s Day. While the world has changed a lot in the past few months and years, some things remain the same, and one of those things is that children everywhere need are good male (and female) figures in their lives, whether their father and/or another guy who can set a good example for them as a male figure. I don’t know why it seems like there are fewer good male figures in the world, maybe because men don’t have the same physical connection women have to their children, or feel like they aren’t as needed when it comes to the next generation, or because they tend to succumb to the poor lifestyle choices more than women do.

The world is made up of men and women of all cultures, histories, experiences, and life paths, some of whom have made good decisions and others who haven’t. One of the best ways to make sure that the next generation is given the best advantage they can to learn and grow and make the world a better place, is if they’re able to build healthy relationships with both men and women. Obviously, the original intention was to have the parents and grandparents have close relationships with kids, but sometimes that doesn’t work out. And I’ve always encouraged the concept of tribes, that we have a network of people who work together to raise children in the best ways we all know how.

I do believe that women can be great leaders and do just about everything by themselves if they’ve got the experience, will or training, but there’s something about many men that make them natural leaders, and a woman isn’t a man and only men can share what it’s like to be a man or explain things from a man’s perspective. I’m thankful for the male friends I have that are doing the hard work of being present and raising their kids the best they can. The only way we’ll be able to turn the tide of crime and prejudice and violence in our world is if we all step up, and one of the most important places to do so is with the next generation.

It’s my hope that this Father’s Day, with all the challenge and change we’ve seen over the past few months, that it will inspire more men than ever to truly step up for the next generation, showing them how to lead a life of integrity, hard work, wisdom and love. It’s not about being perfect or having lots of money, but about making good decisions, showing how to get up when you’ve stumbled or fallen, and consistently following through on the commitments you make. What have the good men in your life taught you?

A Responsible Next Generation

The events of the past few months have revealed a lot, taught us a lot and scared us a lot. As adults we deal with a lot that our kids don’t, and rightly so. We should give them time to be kids, but at the same time I don’t think it’s right or helpful to totally shelter them from the realities of the world that they will one day be a voting, spending, living, contributing part of. We don’t have to put the full weight of the world that is on our shoulders, minds and hearts, onto our kids, but I do think it’s important to teach them about responsibility.

We have to teach them the responsibility of caring for this world, managing our resources, preparing for our future, caring for the less fortunate, being a leader, caring for our bodies and minds, earning an income to support us, listening, communicating, being respectful (until/unless someone proves unworthy), protecting our rights and the rights of others, fighting for justice (real justice, not avoidance of justice bought by people with more money than sense, or false justice by people who are racist or don’t actually care to find the truth), and choosing love and peace.

But the thing is, as the adult you don’t have to know everything or have the answers to everything or even try to fix everything.  Your main responsibility as an adult who raises or works with kids is to educate them so they have a masters degree in love and understanding that they have a responsibility to themselves, our world and the other people in our world.  Other than that, it’s your responsibility to expose them to everything else, to give them the opportunity to listen and be curious and learn to care and know that there’s a whole big world out there with lots of people, and to then let them choose how they’re going to support and help and live and grow the world.

Everyone has a responsibility, are you working on yours?

The Future of Education

Many schools around the US are either trying to finish the term in school or calling it a year and having the kids finish it up at home. Either way, I think the way this year has gone will cause many school districts to reconsider what’s essential and how to educate over the summer break should we face this situation again in the autumn or further in the future. It’s a conversation many schools and educators have been putting off, and it is an important one to have because most parents aren’t equipped to replace teachers, and school has played an essential role in helping kids reach adulthood with a grasp on community, communication and a whole host of educational topics that might or will be helpful in whatever pursuits they follow in their future. 

As part of that conversation, I think it’s important to teach all that’s taught in schools right now, but I don’t know that we need to spend as much time as we do on history or classic books or some of the things that are taught practically every year repeatedly. I think we should reevaluate and include or have a bigger focus some of the things that are essential in today’s world like health, finances, economics, technology, mental health, and home economic skills (sewing, cooking, basic home care etc.).

Maybe you were fortunate growing up to learn some of these skills and can or have been helping your kids learn them throughout this change in life situation we’ve been going through with the virus and staying at home. Or maybe as restrictions lift you’ve got a friend or family member who can help you and your kids learn some of those skills so you’ll be better prepared in the future.  Like many other conversations, I believe the education one is long past due, and I think this whole situation has really encouraged all of us to reconsider our skill sets and what it really takes to survive in this world. What are you seeing as necessary going forward?

A Somber Memorial Day

As you’ve probably heard about a thousand things in recent days, life looks a little different right now, and one of those things that’s going to look very different from past years is Memorial Day on Monday. It’s the day that we in the US have set aside to honor and mourn the men and women of the military who died while serving. It’s something we’ve done ever since 1868. Typically we celebrate it with big picnics, fireworks and parades, not to mention all the American flags that are hung or placed everywhere. This year it looks different because we’re not doing big gatherings of any kind, like the people of Australia and New Zealand did for their remembrance day (Anzac Day) back in late April, we’ll be staying home. Some towns have already said there’s a specific moment that sirens will go off, or suggested other ways that from the safety of our homes we can honor those who died.

I agree that it’s important to visibly show our appreciation and support for the men and women of the military, both past and present, dead and alive. But I think this year’s different celebrations will be an important opportunity to recognize that this is really a very serious and somber event, not something we really should be celebrating. No, we’re not celebrating that people are dead, but celebrating them for the life they lived, the life they gave up for all of us. But as much as we’re celebrating their life, it is a holiday recognizing their death and great sacrifice.

Parts of life are serious and sad, it’s something that we’re seeing as a world right now as we fight this virus. It’s never easy to process that, or explain it to kids. There aren’t boundaries or limits or rules on grieving and sadness, it’s not something you can put away in a closet and pretend isn’t there. It pops up at random times and without warning, it may be a short time that’s needed for processing or it may be a strong presence with you for the rest of your life. Sometimes the right thing is to laugh and other times the right thing is to be quiet and cry.

While I do normally encourage you to celebrate by gathering with many others to show your pride and support for our men and women of the military, this weekend I encourage you to reflect on the tragedy that this day really speaks to. Talk with your kids about how some families don’t get to reunite with their soldier and why their lives matter so much. Talk about processing grief and why it’s OK to cry and struggle with some of the incomprehensible aspects of life. Show them that even when it’s tough we can support each other so that no one has to cry or struggle alone. How will you be honoring our men and women of the military who gave their lives this weekend?

Kids and Questions

I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to be a young kid in all of this craziness that is 2020 so far. There’s a lot of responsibility when it comes to being a parent or caretaker of children, including the responsibility to explain some of the more difficult things in life to them. We get to (try to) explain things like Heaven and hell and faith, getting old, dying young, cancer, grades, money, and where the whole chicken-and-egg debate came from (and what the answer is).

And we get asked big questions about all we see/hear in the news like guns killing people or why it is wrong to call people by certain terms or why there are refugees. Using the gun/killing question, while the mechanics of how guns kill people or even some of the hard and cold facts of why people kill people (money, anger, accidents etc.), are things you can more or less explain to kids, it’s a lot harder to explain the heart or mind behind it, especially if we don’t understand (or it isn’t able to be explained).

And now we’re faced with a new challenge of trying to explain why we can’t touch each other, can’t go out and do our usual activities like go to school and get our hair cut and play on the playground, after doing exactly that for many generations. Maybe kids who have very ill family members can understand better, but thankfully most people aren’t in that situation, so most can’t understand or explain why a touch or activity that used to be OK is now not.

There have been some exercises videoed to show how easy it is to pass this virus along, using an old pre-pandemic example, think about that commercial with the dad with the light that reveals the “invisible” orange dust from fellow family members including the cat that he didn’t know they had who have eaten all of his snacks. So yes, on one level we can explain how it works, but there’s a whole lot about it that no one really knows yet, and we may never have all the answers. It’s hard to say that in this day and age with the internet and so many things being explainable or able to be captured on camera/audio that you just don’t know and no one really does.

In some ways, being faced with this virus and all the lack of knowledge is a good exercise in humility and keeping us humble. In this world where it seems like it’s possible to be good at just about anything with a little effort, research and/or money, it’s important to remember from time to time that we’re all still very human. Personally I look forward to getting back to trying to explain unicorns and how the color of the sky got the name it has. How are you helping kids navigate this time?

Community Awareness

This week we’ve had the opportunity to look at Earth Day on Wednesday, it’s an opportunity both to celebrate the planet that we share as well as raise awareness for the damage we’re doing to the planet and ways that we can do better for our planet. Additionally, yesterday was Arbor Day, a day dedicated to the trees, encouraging people to care for and plant them. Tuesday on this blog I talked a bit about mental health, and Wednesday on the Life and Spirituality blog I shared about the idea of progress vs. perfection.

It’s important for us to have discussions about all these topics, and many others that are difficult to talk about, because I do believe we should be working to improve both our lives and our world. I don’t think that we should constantly struggle in a negative way throughout our lives. It’s good to be challenged regularly so that we grow, but challenge to the point of struggle shouldn’t be our default or daily reality. We need to have honest discussions about different aspects of our lives, from our relationships, to our work, to mental health, to physical health, to developmental disabilities, to the environment, to politics. We talk about them not because we want to blame or shame, but to raise awareness, get help and support, and at the very least improve things for those who come after us.

This virus has brought a lot of attention on our world’s health system. While in recent years we’ve done better as a world to care for those who are ill, it’s very clear that we’re not equipped to handle this level of devastation. Of course this isn’t something we deal with often so there’s a level of understanding regarding the struggle to be prepared, but the struggle has shown that we don’t really even have a tentative plan in place for something like this (which is bad). It’s an area that we’ll very obviously be working on in the future.

This virus has also put a spotlight on our family relationships. Being essentially trapped at home with the people you live with has given some of us an abundance of time with our significant others (and any other family members we live with), and is a huge blessing. For those of us that work different times or shifts and wish we could see each other more often, we’ve been handed that opportunity. Sure, there are some challenges that we may be struggling with like finances or teaching our kids or accommodating everyone that’s trying to get work done, but they’re hopefully relatively small bumps and a small price to pay to be with each other during these challenging times.

Unfortunately, the virus has also made very clear that some couples are better off not spending all/any time together, and people in domestic violence situations are struggling greatly to get out of those abusive relationships. The UK has been one of the more outspoken nations about raising awareness for and supporting those in abusive relationships during this time as best they can, unfortunately it’s not something that will go away or just came into existence because of the virus.

I do believe that many couples can work out their differences, whether just between themselves or by working with a pastor or coach or therapist. But some people are just not good and aren’t really capable of loving some people specifically or any person in general, and some relationships just don’t work out. So while I always encourage a couple to consider how they can work things out, the fact is some couples should not be together anymore and it’s healthier for them to go their separate ways as quick as possible.

So this week while you’ve probably still got some extra time on your hands, I encourage you to support or raise awareness for some of the causes and organizations that you care about and make sure that the life you head into as we get back to our lives is one that truly supports you and will help you thrive in the future.