In today’s post I want to encourage all of you who are parents struggling to raise your children in a time when their “influencers” are less likely to be teachers and coaches and more likely to be people they follow on TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram. The unfortunate and sad reality is not everyone who is an influencer is influencing in a positive way.
To put in bluntly, when it comes to subjects like morality, discipline, delayed-gratification, selfless acts of service, healthy eating, and physical training, the good role models are few and far between.
No surprises here, as the money is the flushest where promoting the antithesis of a lot of these words is the message. If it seems like an uphill battle, it is, but I’ll boldly declare to you today that it’s NOT one to be surrendered and certainly NOT one where you’re left powerless.
In fact, I’m going to build on the statement I made in the headline of this post and straight out tell you that you’re more of an influencer to your kids than anyone else on the planet!
The problem is many of us have either A, never accepted that truth, or B, made up excuses to distract us from our duties. And yes, I used the word “duty” as I sincerely believe it’s our responsibility as parents to lead our children in demonstrating good habits out of love.
Nobody gets a pass.
Even the parent who jumps ship on every single one of their duties still makes an influence. It’s for better or for worse, but it’s not a net zero sum matter.
While there are certainly lots of worthwhile directions we could go here in a discussion on the subject of parents being influencers, I want to focus on matters of healthy eating and physical training. After all this is a fitness blog.
But seriously, I want you to step back and really think about the reality of our influence as parents. While our children may never admit it, especially if they’re kids or teenagers, the truth is they look at everything we do and have been wired to do so since they were babies.
Think it won’t make a hill of beans of difference now if your children are grown up and make their own adult decisions? Think again.
You’d be surprised at the sheer number of folks who have confessed to me over the past twenty years when doing personal training consults that they were motivated to start eating better, get serious about strength training, etc., and cited an example (either good or bad, something they did or didn’t do) left from their parents.
Again, I’ll repeat it for emphasis, if you’re a parent, you’re making an influence on your child!
One of the most impactful and positive things you can do for your child’s health and physical well-being is to focus on your OWN health and physical well-being.
The “do as I say and not what I do” thing is for the birds. This clearly doesn’t work and anyone who believes that good parenting is a matter of just being able to recite “because I said so” is clueless.
Not that there’s never a time to deliver that line, there is, but it’s the idea of thinking we can separate the teacher’s actions from the student’s lessons. Obviously we can’t. A good teacher is one who leads by example and shows the way (doesn’t just talk about it).
So, what are you showing your children when it comes to healthy eating and physical training? Are you providing them with sound examples that can serve them as they grow older or is this something you can do better?
Let me be clear. I am writing this out of love and encouragement and not condemnation or judgment. The truth is we can all do better in some ways here. I just want you to soberly think about the lessons that are being taught. I’m talking about lessons that are taught without you saying a word since they’re watching you.
Remember the famous saying from Ralph Waldo Emerson –
“Your actions speak so loudly, I can not hear what you are saying.”
If your kids don’t see you having a healthy habit of maintaining your strength and physical conditioning, why would you expect any different from them?
The same thing can be said about a healthy habit of eating and caring for your body.
Trust me, they’re watching.
I know that you love them, let’s just remember that loving them is doing what’s best for them, not just giving them what they want.
Children in families that eat healthy meals together have a far greater chance of eating healthy themselves as they grow older (and with their families one day possibly) then those who gather around their phones and fast food at dinner time.
Needless to say it’s a pretty important variable in the grand theme of life here on earth.
If you’re demonstrating good habits to your children and "walking the walk" then a genuine and sincere tip of my hat and kudos to you. You’re making a difference, even if you can’t see it now.
If you’re struggling with the example you’re setting or getting your kids to eat better, start by focusing on how you can improve. Small changes can lead to big shifts. You can do it!
I get it, times are tough these days and we’re all getting pulled thin in a lot of directions. I want you to know I’m here to help if this is an area you want to work on. No harsh judgements or unrealistic expectations.
I’m blessed to be the father of a nine-year-old son who is the light of my life, and this is something I’m always looking to get better at myself. It’s worth fighting for and worth every bit of sacrifice, as our children are worth it.
I can teach you strategies and tactics that we can use, even in these crazy times, and yes you’ll be different if you do it, but trust me, you want to be different here. The world is following ways that are heading the masses straight off the cliff, so doing the opposite will end up being a wise decision.
Remember, social media may have its influencers but if you’re a parent there’s nobody more impactful to your child then what they see from you. Be blessed.
Shane Doll is a certified Charleston personal trainer, strength and conditioning coach, and founder of Shaping Concepts Personal Training Studios. He has over 24 years' experience with fitness coaching and consulting and specializes in training programs for middle age and mature adults. If you live in the Charleston, SC area you can schedule a no-obligations consultation.
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