When my son was young, I had a bad habit of yelling at other drivers who did stupid things. My common rant went something like, “You stupid idiot, why don’t you use your turn signal,” or “You stupid idiot, move over to the slow lane.” No matter the issue, I always started with “You stupid idiot.”
One day, when Justin was about 8 years old, I was watching as he and a friend played in the living room. It wasn’t long before Justin got upset with his friend and yelled at him, “You stupid idiot.”
The words hit me like a slap in the face. I was his role model and I had inadvertently taught him that the way to express frustration with someone was to call them names.
“Stupid idiot” is a blatant example of how I served as a role model to my son. There are many other examples that are less obvious; practicing a healthy lifestyle was one of them. I regret now that I didn’t do a better job teaching him how to nourish and take care of his body.
We were one of those families that was always on the run. Hockey practice, basketball practice, baseball practice, birthday parties, the list goes on and on. It seemed like we were always on the go from one place to the next.
My husband worked a lot of evenings and often times it was just my son and I for dinner. During those years, we ate a lot of fast food meals or mac and cheese with hot dogs.
At the time, I didn’t think anything of it because I wasn’t focused on my own health. My son played a lot of sports so the bad food didn’t seem to be a big deal — he burned off all the calories he ate and then some.
What I will never know is whether a more nutritious diet might have helped him do better in school or prepare him to lead a healthy lifestyle as an adult, or if he might not have started smoking. What I do know is that there have been many studies to indicate that diet does affect a child’s performance in school.
A report by the Public School Review indicates: Many popular menu items are loaded with sugars, caffeine, chemicals, and sodium, and leave kids tired, unfocused, jittery, and sick—which not only impact students’ grades and performance, but also influences their behavior and moods.
I cannot go back and change the past but I can help educate those of you who may still have young children at home. Please remember that you are the primary role model for your children — if your diet is unhealthy and you lead a sedentary lifestyle, your children will follow in your footsteps.
On the other hand, teaching your children about basic nutrition and how to eat healthy foods and exercise are lessons they will carry with them to adulthood.