Amidst the ongoing debate about health care reform and rising health care costs, most of the discussion is focused on physicians, insurance companies and hospital administrators. Yet, when compared with parents, these individuals have little influence on the health of our society as a whole.
Parents have the opportunity (and the responsibility) to instill good health habits in their children; unfortunately, many fail to do so. Obese parents beget obese children. Parents who smoke, drink excessively or forgo the use of seat belts encourage the same behavior in their children. On the other hand, parents who provide wholesome, well-balanced meals, engage in regular physical activity and enforce boundaries when it comes to risky behavior, promote the development of healthy lifestyles in their children.
Parents also mold behavior when it comes to the utilization of health care products and services. When they rush their children to the physician for every minor illness or injury, their offspring will do the same. When they encourage the use of medications for every symptom, a pill-popping mindset is established. American society is now dominated by overweight, poorly nourished, unfit, drug-oriented citizens; only parents can change that trend.