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Grandparents as role models.

Grandparents as Role Models

Being a grandparent is rightly rated as one of life's great and crowning achievements. The immense satisfaction derived from this experience is indeed beyond compare.

Grandparents play a large, if not generally recognized, part in the health patterns of their grandchildren. This is done mainly through the example they set in many areas of life.

1. Smoking -- If either or both grandparents smokes, an extremely negative role model has been set for their grandchildren. While smoking on the part of parents is known to be a factor in leading children to the same addiction, it can be assumed that this problem is magnified in the case of the grandparents. This is so because the grandparent who smokes sends the message, "You can smoke and still reach a ripe old age." While this is true in some cases, it is sadly not true in many, many others.

2. Alcohol -- The ingestion of alcohol in excess carries the same type of negative example which has been indicated under the problem of smoking.

3. Healthy Diet -- Grandparents, most often grandmothers, often prepare food for their grandchildren. The following of generally accepted health guidelines (less fat, more fiber, etc.) will not only aid the present health of grandchildren but will motivate them to adopt healthful lifestyles on a permanent basis.

4. Illness -- While many of us are fortunate in being granted years accompanied with health, others face varying degrees of medical problems. It is important for the grandparent with a health affliction (e.g. arthritis) not to dramatize the problem in front of the grandchildren. The taking of necessary medication should also be a private affair whenever possible.

All of these things are important so as not to present a role model of sickness to grandchildren. Of course, a grandparent has every right to inform the grandchildren that they are not able to run around the block or jump off the high diving board. However, moderate physical activity, within a safe range, is surely in order and most fulfilling. A grandparent should always be associated in the mind of the grandchildren with fun, enjoyment and satisfaction.

While discipline and strict correction are sometimes the function of a parent, the grandparent's role should be that of a loving authority figure, linking past and present, a helpful counselor and a wise guide. The traditions of the family are a special province of grandparents and their stories carry forth the saga of each individual family. The role of the grandparents is reinforced with special foods, tempting treats, presents, trips and individual attention.

A specific area which the author has found most successful in dealing with grandchildren (of which he is blessed with many) is that of a formation of a "Club." For example, "The I Eat My Vegetables Club" can be formed. Other clubs which can be used are "I Brush My Teeth Club," "I Took My Vitamins Today Club," "I Don't Bite My Nails Club," "I Slept Through The Night (Dry) Club," etc.
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Author:Zimmerman, Philip
Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Jan 1, 1990
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