With Hanukkah beginning this week, and Christmas next week, many American parents are thinking a lot about gifts for their kids. We’re planning and buying, wrapping and hiding. We’re thinking ahead to the look on the kids’ faces when they unwrap the latest gizmo or doodad.
What we don’t always think about are the many things we’re giving our kids that will long outlive the presents that we spend so much time and money acquiring.
Even among those life lessons we know we’re imparting as role models, there are some that often go unnoticed. Many parents put a lot of thought into making sure they impart values, including kindness, courtesy, and generosity. But how many of us think about fitness as value we need to model? How many of us chauffeur kids from activity to activity without making a point to be active ourselves?
When it comes to fitness, many of us have a “do as I say not as I do” attitude with our children, and that sedentary lifestyle may be detrimental to more than just parents’ waistlines.
Research shows that children with active mothers are twice as likely to be active than those with more sedentary parents. And kids for whom both parents are active are nearly six times more likely to be active than children with two inactive parents.
With the CDC’s assessment that 80% of American adults don’t get enough exercise, and the well-documented American trend toward childhood obesity, being physically active may be as important for parents to model as courtesy or kindness.
When the health benefits to themselves are not motivation enough, many people find that they make healthier choices for the sake of their children. For instance, how many former smokers do you know who gave up cigarettes for their children’s sake?
When your get-up-and-go feels more like a sit-down-and-stop, maybe it will help to remind yourself that your choices now are showing your children how to be adults in the future. It may not always work, but some days, that may be just the nudge you need to overcome the siren song of inertia, and lace up your sneakers.
This Hanukkah or Christmas, think about the deeper gifts you can give your children. Ask yourself, “What kind of role model do I want to be for my kids?”
It’s a powerful question.
Maybe it will lead you to the fitness center or to impromptu dance-offs in the kitchen. Maybe you’ll find yourself being just a little more patient with traffic when the kids are in the car. Maybe you’ll return to an old hobby—or take up a new one. Maybe you’ll find yourself admitting you’re wrong, or standing up for yourself, or saying “I love you,” more often.
Wherever it leads, enjoy the journey—it’s much more important than the destination.
Let the JCC be a partner on that journey. With drop-in babysitting (including Saturday hours available starting in January), when you stay active, it’s fun for your kids, too. Show your kids that fitness matters to you. Sign up for your free three-day pass today. Already a member? Make time for a workout. Try a new group fitness class, or how about experimenting with a machine you’ve never done before? Our friendly staff members are here to help.
Share your thoughts in the comment section: what do you think are the most important things we should model for our children, and how can we go about it?