In October, I had the privilege of meeting with a group of parents to discuss strategies for optimizing their children’s health. The discussion centered around four “pillars” of health that form the strong foundation for future health.
The first “pillar” of the foundation is “Whole Family Health”. By “whole family health”, what I refer to, is the state of harmony in the family unit as a whole, a concept absent from most discussions on “personal health”. Parental stress has an enormous impact on our children’s well-being. In this video Dr. Gabor Maté, a leading authority in the area, gives a great overview of this concept.
The majority of brain development and maturation occurs from birth to the age of three. Over this period our brain weight increases from 18% to 80% of our adult brain weight. One of the ways parental stress directly affects children is through the creation of anxiety, which in turn affects their brain development during this crucial time.
Uncontrollable, chronic adversity experienced early in life may cause detrimental effects in developing brain architecture, as well as the chemical and physiological systems that help an individual adapt to stress, setting the stage for a lifetime of anxiety.
Two common stressors for most of today’s parents are:
- The pressure to be a “perfect” parent
The pressure to be a “perfect” parent
A better goal (for you, and your child) is striving to be a “happy, healthy parent”. Here are some guidelines to help with this concept, offered by renowned herbalist and women’s health expert, Aviva Romm, MD.
In our family, we address this by limiting our children’s involvement in extra-curricular activities, even if this means they will never be a multi-lingual, prima ballerina, concert pianist, with black belt in karate, who will attend Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship.
We tend to forget that even without extracurricular activities, our children have nearly the equivalent of a full-time job with their regular schooling.
We commit to a “family day” on week-ends, on which we schedule no activities, but rather spend time together allowing the day to unfold as it will, and lastly, are open to giving them a day away from school if we feel they need it.
These relatively simple steps have allowed us to be more relaxed, and therefore “present” as parents, and resulted in more relaxed and happy children.
In my next posting, I will elaborate on the second “pillar” of health we discussed, “Family Nutrition”.
Please join us in moving our families towards better health and improving the health of our children and future generations!
Until next time,
Posted: 2014 December 4