Is the younger generation healthy? Mentally? Physically?
What do most parents in our society do for their kids?
Most parents work. We make money to support our kids financially, to give them more opportunities and hope that they will be better off than we are.
I had a successful career that I loved and where I had a great future. Our first daughter at that time was in a daily after-school program, doing some activities, sports on the weekends, and everything seemed fine.
Only when she was in a middle school have I started noticing her change, and grow, and drift away, and at that time I really felt like she needed me more than ever. I only saw her over the weekends (and I had to work then too) and for a couple of hours after work, every night. Those nights I would be exhausted after an intense 12-hour workday. I knew I was not the most patient, understanding, loving parent, during those stolen away hours, I had with my child.
After a few instances, where I realized that my further absence from her life could be detrimental, I quit my job.
People would say I was lucky not to have to work. All I can say is bullshit! I made a choice, my husband and I made a choice. At that time I needed to be home for our child, and we had to make drastic changes to our lifestyle for me to do so. We sold our house, kept only one car, mover closer to town to lessen the commute for my husband, and to be able to rent, we could no longer pay for her riding lessons, etc. – it happened over a period of time, but all that was a direct result of us loosing second (very lucrative) income.
So now I was home, we bonded, we talked, we laughed, we cried…she was 9 at that time. Fast-forward 6 years later, today she is 15 and we are the best of friends. All that crap you hear about not beings a friend, but a parent – well I am both! She is a sophomore in high school and I can still ground her, take away her iPhone for talking back/raising her voice at her dad or me, I still dictate her bedtime, her dietary habits, and she respects and listens to me. That is me being a parent. Helping, supporting, directing and leading by example, being assertive, straightforward, fair and consistent.
At the same time, we gossip, laugh and talk about her school, teachers, friends, boys, hanging out, hooking up, sex, God, colleges, sports, smoking, death, after-life, spirituality, meditation, drugs, alcohol, money, depression, her teammates – EVERYTHING! I am not saying it is about her telling me everything, no, I do not need nor want that, but what she feels the need to discuss, she can, she knows I am here, open minded and non-judging! (at least not in her face)
She texts me from school to say thank you for a great salad I made her for lunch, or to tell me a boy she likes just talked to her. We post on each other’s Facebook pages. We have a secret high-five, and a secret call, so even when she is on the court playing volleyball, I call her and she looks up to blow me a kiss. She tells me if I stress her out, or am being too pushy (colleges, homework, etc.), she feels comfortable and welcomed to confront me and tell me “how it is” and how she feels. We do not play games with each other’s feelings; we have a strong, respectful, positive, honest and loving relationship – parent/child relationship. Where I will tell her that she is acting like a little bitch and that it is not fair to me – she will listen, understand, say “sorry” and mean it! And she will do the same if I am acting like an “old” bitch; she just uses other words (no swearing for her ;))
She is never ashamed of coming up to me at school, or at the game, on the court, with hundreds of people around sometimes, and giving me the longest hug, kiss and telling me how much she loves me. And she is taller than me, 6’0″ 🙂
It started off as a joke, when her friends would tell her “I love your mom”, “your mom is so cool”…but it turned into something of a heartbreak for me, to have these girls and guys, who are 16/17/18 year of age, tell me that they wish they could talk to their moms like that and that they’d have this type of relationships with their parents.
Our young people, high school, college students – they are our future, and our future, our youth between the ages of 10 and 24, chooses to end their lives at alarming numbers. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in that age group in the U.S.
The younger generation is also not a picture of health, here are some facts:
- 17 percent of U.S. children and teens are obese — three times the number of a generation ago.
- Diabetes is increasing among U.S. children at an alarming rate, say researchers who report jumps of more than 20 percent since 2001 for type 2 disease, which is linked to excessive weight and sedentary lifestyles, and type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune disease.
- For the first time in two centuries, the current generation of children in America may have shorter life expectancies than their parents, according to a new report, which contends that the rapid rise in childhood obesity, if left unchecked, could shorten life spans by as much as five years. The report, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, says the prevalence and severity of obesity is so great, especially in children, that the associated diseases and complications – Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure, cancer – are likely to strike people at younger and younger ages.
Our kids have to deal with poor nutrition (due to the lack of better health/nutrition education), lack of sleep, pressure we (parents, schools, media, society) put on them, stress of living up to someone else’s standards, lack of exercise or overdoing it and hurting their young growing bodies. They need peace, rest, good healthful, natural, home cooked nurturing food, healthy amount of physical activity, movement in their lives, and most of all they need our support, support of a parent, a coach, a teacher, a friend, a mentor, an adult who can listen, stay open-minded and give them time!
And as far as my family – whatever time I have with these two amazing gifts that God entrusted me with, my two girls, I just want to pour my love over them. Just to be there, ready and available to protect, support, lead, but mostly love them no matter what. They make me want to be a better person, they are teaching me, and I see this as my job – not to be better than others, but to simply see, just how good I can be.
At some point, they will grow up and move on with their lives, and my husband and I will enter a new amazing and much-anticipated step in our lives together, time of solitude, companionship, contemplation, cooking, travel, making money and living it up! 🙂 Until then we are secure stepping-stones into their unknown.
To your health,