By LENNOX FARRELL
Do you realize that long after we die, we’ll still be blessing our offspring? Or damning them? Coming from personal practices, values, beliefs, these will continue unto our second, third and other generations of our children, grands, great-grands.
In fact, long after our offspring have begun their own families, our influence remains. Similarly, we too, even as we live, are being influenced for better or worse by a parent or grandparent likely long dead! Hmmm!
We will influence ours in every aspect of their lives. In their attitude towards health, learning, relationships, family, marriage, prosperity, spirituality, to building character, etc. Of course, they’ll be influenced, too, by society’s values, hostile or ambient. However, even here, they will be more deftly influenced by what they experience at home and in family; and thereby, also influence others. In short, who we are at core – even in our taste buds – comes from the bio-social DNA of our family’s values, habits and experiences.
For example, according to Gretchen Cuda-Kroen, in an article, “Baby’s Palate and Food Memories Shaped Before Birth”, a child’s sense of taste – and for foods they later prefer – is shaped before birth. In the womb, they taste the foods – carrots, sugars, meats – which eaten by their mother, flavours her amniotic fluid. These senses are reinforced, tasting her breast milk. Research shows, if a child is to like vegetables, influence these preferably during pregnancy.
On another practical level, as a grandparent, you may have the opportunity to be with your grandchild. You’ll no doubt want that little one to learn to eat properly, to be considerate with others, to feel good about themselves, to love school; in fact, to love learning for the sake of learning. Influence them to these in the budding years, and in their relationships, growing in your presence.
To develop the idea of learning to love learning – be it in reading, math, science, etc., and wanting that child to enjoy learning new things and taking delight in new discoveries – here’s one proven way to go, without having to spend big bucks and using expensive gadgets. You won’t even have to travel far from home as you prepare to influence that little toddler to get ahead, long before he or she starts school. Also, don’t be defensive about deliberately influencing your offspring from good to better to best.
Now, by the numbers:
Number one, take walks regularly with them. Possibly around the neighbourhood, or in a nearby park. Or it could be on the pavement around the block. Here are opportunities while meeting neighbours for them to learn courtesy by encouraging them to greet others: “Good morning, good evening…”
Furthermore, as you walk, take a magnifying glass; in fact, two: one for you and one for the little one. Obtained at any dollar-store for tuppence, these (plus microscopes, binoculars and telescopes at older ages) are useful outdoors whenever you meet a bee, or an ant, or butterfly, or leaf. The idea is for the child to increase their curiosity, as they learn to be more attentive; learning to discern more and more of what is immediately around and above them. Since children settle for any level of expectation you have of them, always assume that they understand more than you think they do. Don’t they already know more about your cell phone than you do?
Number two, get excited, real excited; getting them excited too, as you name what you and they are seeing. Take photos of them “doing science”. Take your efforts seriously, but have fun during the process. You are setting the foundation for a future independent thinker, scientist, biologist, MD, scholar, and a lover of life, learning and people.
Also, your toddler, being outside and away from the unrelenting TV violence, will be less likely to “act out”. And growing, they will tend to work harder to get and maintain better grades. And have more positive attitudes. In short, your toddler, playing outside and interacting with others, will have enhanced abilities to get along with others.
Number three, while outdoors, you and the child will get a daily dose of Vitamin D (a natural cancer-fighter). Breathing in that oxidized fresh-air provides other benefits. One is that you and the child will have lower stress levels. Proven fact! Also, children who spend creative time playing do better in school. They have fewer ADHD symptoms. In short you and your grand-child will get more of what experts call, “Vitamin G”.
One of these experts is Frances Kuo, PhD, Director of the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The more time spent outside, and with our offspring, and the more “we also exercise and socialize in nature (the more we benefit from) proven health benefits”. In fact, while you might not live in such an area as some of the bleakest housing projects in places as Chicago, in one study, one of these measureable benefits is that by simply adding “just a few trees, crime was cut by 42 per cent, encouraging more people to venture out”.
Number four, plant gardens: flowers and vegetables – even in a demi-john. Indoors or outdoors, gardening regularly can improve your health and sense of well-being. And getting a child to experience these activities will increase their sense of self-worth. Or, consider how much they will benefit, learning early about being a good provider, when their tomato plant helps make the salads. These feelings will last lifetimes and beyond; still influencing your former toddler, when their own grandchildren mimic them, even as they mimic you.
So, by walking, greeting neighbours, using microscopes, seeing the flowers, the bees and the ants; and being transfixed by the translucent shades of blue skies and sun-tinted clouds, as you breathe that oxidized fresh air, you are generally ensuring for future generations a taste for healthier minds and bodies. More specifically, more oxygen brings more energy and more clarity to the brain – using more than 20 per cent of your oxygen intake. Therefore, exercises performed in fresh air offer increased aerobic benefits. In summary, more clean air outdoors helps improve your breathing technique; better technique increases stamina; more oxygen to the muscles reduces that lactic acid build-up in the muscles, which can lead to cramping. Do baby oils also cause cramping?
Finally, routinely set aside time to do fun things with them. And doing, recall from your own childhood, an adult doing the same for you; getting you to love the outdoors and nature. Your immediate offspring might know of them only from hearing stories and seeing photos. Yet those departed are still influencing your life, and through you, your offspring. Each of us, for generations will unavoidably be doing likewise…or otherwise!