It has been said that there has been more human progress in the last three decades than there had been in the preceding three centuries! In fact today, a much greater proportion of the population have cars, dishwashers, televisions, mobile phones, fridges and microwaves than people had bicycles in 1980. Add to that the economic pressures that forces more couples into employment and you begin to realize the challenges of raising healthy children.
Remember how guys would spend weekends at the local field or court playing some ball? Or jumping rope with your girl pals for hours on end? Supper consisted of something like boiled potatoes, carrots and greens at the dinner table while your folks supervised before being sent off to bed early. Oh, and water only. Movies, soda and juice, crisps and biscuits were for weekends and birthdays. Packed lunch may have been a thermos of githeri and the juice extra dilute.
Nowadays, leisure for an average kid is an endless variety of 24 hour channels to choose from at the touch of a button. If they tire of that there is always Facebook and a multitude of games on the trusty Playstation4. Schools hardly have enough space for games so extra-curricular activity has been replaced with such elite pursuits as piano and French. At home, playing too far from the house is a big no-no. Not with all the crazies waiting to induct them into bad habits or worse. So indoors it is.
As for diet, a passing observation of what is on the supermarket shelf speaks for itself. Almost everything is processed, preserved and packed or tinned. But woe unto the parent who does not pack a packet of crisps, a tetra pack and sweets for the children to take to school. And for the weekends, greasy chips and hamburgers or pizza is only fair while you enjoy your frothy beer with nyama choma.
If this sounds like a terrible story, it’s because it is. Look around the next time you go to the gym, if ever. Mostly unhealthy, pot-bellied adults looking for a way out not unlike you right? You may want to take a pause and ask yourself where it all began to go downhill. After all you had a healthy upbringing with a decent dose of exercise and a well-balanced diet. But remember Rome was not built in a day. Think at how much more risk our microwave generation children are and give them a fighting chance while there’s still time.
All this may rub you the wrong way, but if you’re honest you can see the point. Despite life’s pressures, it behoves us to take control and set a good example. How you behave today is a strong determinant of your children’s future behaviour – and health. Life should not be all about work and money. There must be a time for them. The good book says “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6). I’d start you off but that’s a story for another day.