What generally comes to mind when you think about healthy habits? Diet and exercise, right?
To pass on healthy habits to your children, it seems logical to buy nutritious groceries and work out regularly. These things can be high on our priority list, particularly during pregnancy and postpartum. But for me, in order to make healthy choices in food and activity, I first need to have the frame of mind to do the right things for the right reasons.
What do I mean by the right reasons?
I have battled with body image most of my life, and historically the reasons I have sought to be healthy centered on how I looked and how I felt. And certainly, taking care of our bodies does make us feel better; it’s how they were designed.
But God has been teaching me that the purpose of having a healthy mind and body not only has to do with my well being, but also with how I can serve my family and those around me. The enjoyment I get when being healthy doesn’t just end with me; it points me to the Creator who lovingly made me to delight in good things and to invest in others. Now I endeavor to make choices with my family in mind.
I don’t pretend to have it all figured out or think that all my decisions are always for the right reasons. But once again, my faith in a God who loves me, and changes my character to look more like his character as I surrender to his power in my life, equips me to be a better parent and develop healthier habits.
How to Pass on Healthy Habits to Baby
Our children are going to do what we do. As I gain perspective on how to be healthy in my mind as well as my body, I’m going to model qualities like discipline and moderation as well as enjoyment in the occasional indulgence.
Use Encouraging Words
Words are important – they reflect our attitudes and values. If my daughter hears me say that I’m being careful with what I eat to get ready for swimsuit season or that she shouldn’t have a doughnut because her clothes will get too tight, I’m communicating that our bodies are inadequate as they are.
But I do want to convey that discipline and hard work are valuable. As she complains about being tired while walking up the long hill to our house, I gently remind her that in addition to building strong muscles, she is building a strong mind that can push through and do hard things.
When choices are made for the right reasons, they are sustainable. If my choices center on me and what makes me happy, my family is at the mercy of my whims. Making decisions for the flourishing of all involved provides accountability and consistent support connecting everyone in forming habits.
Show Grace and Patience
We are all going to have varying definitions of and reasons for making healthful choices. Show kindness and gentleness to those around you who may think differently. If our lifestyle is about feeling good about ourselves and as a result, we feel superior to others, our choices may not, in fact, be healthy at all.
Before you make decisions and develop patterns for your family, spend some time evaluating your reasons. Let those reasons be your guide as you seek to encourage healthy living in your family.