The development of a child is an amazing event. As a mom, I realize I have been given a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a difference in someone's life. Someone who came into this world as an innocent infant in need of constant care, instant gratification, and a tremendous amount of attention is now my responsibility. As he grows, he comes to trust those who show him love and affection, and he looks to these individuals for the nurturing, protection, and guidance he cannot provide for himself. I take my responsibility --- to fulfill his needs --- seriously.
With each day comes a new experience for both of us. Every day finds him discovering something he couldn't do the day before --- a new action, attitude, accomplishment. And every day I discover that my role as a parent goes much farther than providing him with the mere essentials of life.
Like all parents, I bear the responsibility of assuring my child the best conditions for ultimate health and well being; for providing sustenance for adequate growth; for providing clothing and shelter to shield from the elements outdoors; for protecting him from dangerous situations; and for teaching him the morals and values he will need in order to become a compassionate, respectable human being. Unfortunately, as I grow more aware of my responsibilities, I have also grown more aware of how society seems to care less and less about our children --- blowing lots of hot air but giving little real priority to family time, family values, and family health.
This is especially clear when you consider how unresponsive today's society is to the needs of families who are now facing drastic changes in the way they live. The dramatic rise in the number of households where both parents must work; the sharp increase in single-parent households, the breakdown of the extended-family and the local community. All of these changes have put pressures on parents and children unknown to previous generations. But society as a whole seems unwilling or unable to provide much help. Instead, the focus seems to be on guaranteeing corporate profits and training our littlest citizens to become unquestioning consumers of every new fad and gimmick.
What's this got to do with nutrition and fitness, you ask? To me, the answer is clear. With little outside support, parents today are facing an enormous challenge in trying to raise their children according to sound, healthy principles in the face of irresponsible advertising, an ever-expanding list of must-have (but not necessarily healthy) commodities, and a declining national commitment to the health and well-being of our children.
Children are our most precious resource --- they are the joy of our present and the hope for our future. And nothing is more important to a growing child than the love and support of a close-knit family. But the truth is that we have become such a transient society that we often do not even know our neighbors. We live where we work, not where our families are, and we often do not get the chance to establish roots in our communities before it's time to move on again.