[Solved] Childhood Obesity and the Role of the Father
I was looking through the Government paper on childhood obesity
I know is a bit of a sad thing to do but it got me to question what role fathers play in the health of their children and how this might have shifted over generations.
The headline stat is that nearly 2/3 of 2 to 15 year olds are overweight or obese. I find that a really sad figure to read because I associate that with limiting a child's ability to be physically active which is an entire communication pathway that might not be as fully developed as it could.
I pride myself on being active myself and modelling that for my two children. My intention in writing this is not to praise myself or belittle others. The intention is to understand what fathers feel their role is in promoting the health of their children and family, so I have a few questions that I would be interested in reading the answers to. Each question is intended to be answered in the context of your own family, for example "I take the children to the playground" or "my partner prepares meals", etc.
Who does the shopping for the family?
Who plans meals?
Who takes the children to the playground?
Who takes the children to sports clubs?
Who takes the children to the doctor?
Who makes the appointment?
Who talks to their children about food and exercise?
How is health modeled in your home?
How are your behaviours different from those of your parents?
What role does your understanding of gender play in determining who does what in the house in regards to health?
The government statistics to which you refer on childhood obesity are both interesting and of enormous concern.
Your question is, quote, "... what role do fathers play in the health of their children ..." On this site particularly, for many, it is an extremely difficult question to answer as they are no longer functioning within the family unit. Separated from the mothers of their children, many are denied access to their children by the mothers for lengthy periods and for no valid reason whatsoever other than many women see their children as their sole possessions, enjoy the control they have in denying access to the fathers, use the children as tools to manipulate the fathers and some even engage in parental alienation obviously causing further heartache and trauma not only to these fathers but the children too. Many fathers have no alternative but to take the matter to the family courts to gain access for contact. The general rule of thumb for a father's access to their child is every other weekend and an afternoon tea midweek, some may get slightly more, some less. In these situations a father can find himself "blocked" by the mother, he lives in total ignorance as to how his child is being brought up, the environment they live in (schools, clubs attended etc.), totally excluded from decision making and having no influence on the child whatsoever apart from when he has contact for the short time allocated. Many fathers suffer dreadfully as they are stopped from being the fathers they truly want to be to their children.
There are fathers on here who are still married to the mother of their children and also those who have separated and remain amicable. Hopefully it will be easier for them to reply to you.
You ask, quote, " ... health of the children and how this may have shifted over generations.
I am a grandmother and I see the health of children and the obesity issue as being of serious concern. I believe there are so many obvious contributing factors that are of detriment to the child in todays society in comparison to a generation or definitely two generations ago, too many to comment on but here are a few:-
1) Children walked or cycled to school, they now mostly travel by car.
2) Eat more processed and fast foods, these foods did not exist a few decades ago.
3) There is no competition in schools (sport) was deemed to be unacceptable, it was common for the school curriculum to contain hockey, swimming, netball, football, rugby, cricket, gymnastics, athletics with teams representing their school after hours and particularly on a Saturday morning.
4) Children appear to spend so much time either looking at television, using their mobile telephone or on their computers leading sedentary lives and also losing the ability to communicate on a face to face level , these were not available a few decades ago, children use to be actively doing things and speaking to one another.
There is also the mental health to consider of our children in todays society. That is another issue for another day.
I wanted to answer the couple questions you posted, thanks for bringing this topic up!
1 Who does the shopping for the family?
We try to do it together (cuz we cancel each other's impulse-purchase desires out!). Honestly, though, we do that just as much for budget and sticking to it as much as we do it for health reasons.
2 Who plans meals?
My wife takes the lead on this, but we still do it together. I basically give her feedback on meals I don't like or do like, or would liek to see more of (seasonally-speaking, especially).
3 Who takes the children to the playground?
My wife and I go for walks with our little one all the time... but now that it's bitter cold we don't go. I work from home some of the time though so when it's nice we will both go.
4 Who takes the children to sports clubs?
Not old enough for that.
5 Who takes the children to the doctor?
Wife typically, but I went last time with them!
6 Who makes the appointment?
7 Who talks to their children about food and exercise?
He's not old enough to understand yet 🙂
8 How is health modeled in your home?
We do our best to model it by eating well/smart/quality food choices. We also value physical activity and try to make that part of our daily and weekly lives.
9 How are your behaviours different from those of your parents?
My parents... exercise a lot but don't make healthy food choices. They also don't necessarily take personal & spiritual development very seriously, which is a huge component of my wife and I's daily and weekly routines.
10 What role does your understanding of gender play in determining who does what in the house in regards to health?
Uh... not sure what you mean, but I'm assuming you're talking about cooking/physical activity? My understanding of gender doesn't really play a role in who does waht in regards to health. We work as a team and there are things she is much better at and inclined towards (wanting to do) vs. what I can do best or want to do. As a father, though, I definitely try to do my best to be active with my little boy, but we both do that and wrestle with him too.
Thank you so much for your responses.
It is evident from your responses that you are both aware of the issues and challenges, and that, particularly in your case Weber as a father, you are doing a lot to implement new norms for your children. I particularly liked that you are looking to implement more on spirituality. Could you say more about that?