By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
June 26, 2016
I got to tell you, it must be a nightmare to be a kid these days. It seems to be the perfect time to bring down the youth, mainly because they are primarily voiceless and powerless. Amidst the storm of derision and self hatred that exists in the heart of a great many people, many who preach hate to make money and buy fancy cars, they are an interesting source of criticism. Sure, you have to logically look at the idea of childhood and youth as a time of growth and development, but it seems like these days it has become the perfect beacon to unleash one’s disappointment and anger. And then you have the other end of the spectrum, the whole “Indigo Child” nonsense where some people believe their child is infallible, thus bringing privilege and allowing our ridiculous society to create words like “affluenza” and give free passes to convicted rapists. Personally, I am kind of glad I am not a parent most days, even though my wandering mind has actually been dipping into the idea from time to time. Fortunately or unfortunately, I am ridiculously single, so no worries mom and dad and to the general public! Anyway, navigating this current landscape of child rearing is so much more complex than I ever dealt with, and it would kind of scare me considering I never saw any of this while growing up. I mean, I didn’t have to deal with soothsaying blog “websites,” having to teach my kids how to properly seek out information. I would have to invest in a lot of software to stop the hundreds of potential viruses lurking on the internet. I wouldn’t have to deal with the potential issue of snooping on my kid’s cell phone or laptop or iPad, dealing with the whole privacy issue. There are so many pratfalls these days, and a great many people have failed miserably. So many kids are used as weapons in divorced households…heck even in married households for that matter. And then of course, you have people who vicariously live through their children, pushing them too hard for their own gain, doing anything and everything whether it is legal or not to push their kid to the head of the pack. So yes, it is a strange time to have a kid, for the better or the worse.
Now I won’t get into a full-blown discussion about things like “safe zones” and anti-bullying efforts, for that is a pretty difficult trail to traverse and it really doesn’t pertain too much to the situation at hand. One thing I can always say while growing up is the fact I didn’t worry too much about what I looked like. I was never really popular, so I never really had to worry about being trendy or up to date on anything. I was the kid that was perpetually behind. Plus I really wasn’t fat or bullied, so I never really had to deal with that problem too much either. People generally left me alone and didn’t talk to me too much, which is probably why I still have issues with meeting people and such. But here was the thing, I was never really put down about it. My mother might have gotten on my case from time to time due to the fact I didn’t really hang out with my friends too much, but then again, the main reason for that is my friends kind of lived on the opposite side of town and I had no car. But she was kind of right to a point. Either way, being mindful of what we say to our kids is something of a touchy subject in this world right now, where indoctrinating your kid to become a miniature version of yourself rather than a self actualized adult is seeping into parenting, schooling and even popular media. Some say we have to preach the truth all the time, whether it is a good truth or not. Some believe we need to soften the blows over time, jabbing with the occasional truth before they are old enough to process it coherently. I always had this issue with schooling, where our ridiculous lawmakers are trying to hide the underbelly of our country to fuel nationalist agendas, hiding the fact our country is not this perfect bastion of freedom and equality. Not to mention the idea of critical thinking, where we are teaching kids to pass ridiculous tests rather than learning (which is probably why I refuse to become a teacher, even though the standards are being dropped to become one just about every day in my home state…yup, we will keep sinking). Now these days, people gleefully point out that words can't really hurt you, which is probably why so many chuckleheads out there are more emboldened than ever to be disgusting, sexist or racist. But let’s think about this from a practical standpoint. Being a watcher of the media, words can be harmful, especially if you speak it enough times. If you emphasize a half truth enough, people will start believing you due to the conviction of holding onto that lie. Throw in the other half of that problem, where no one can admit they are wrong, and you have a real tsunami. Kind of like the idea that Donald Trump is a good business man or the fact Hillary Clinton will make a good president due to her long political career. Neither are true, but the rhetoric has been repeated enough to make people believe. Much like the idea the shooter that killed all those people in Orlando, for people keep saying he was some ISIS plant when really he wasn’t. I mean, he claimed allegiance to multiple terrorist factions…that all hate each other. The simple truth is something most people tend to despise….that he was an angry, poorly adjusted, sexually frustrated American and the system designed to keep an eye on suspicious people and activities failed (as in, he had an anger problem and bought tons of bullets…which are quite expensive for an AR-15). It wasn’t some False Flag operation as many are telling themselves to think, depending on which side of the political spectrum you are on. But the narrative has been preached by so many terrible outlets, it makes me want to go beat the hell out of the creators of these good for nothing blog sites that continue to destroy the very profession I used to love. So please, don’t ever tell me words are not destructive.
Now enough of the political rant and back to the health rant. Some new studies have been released recently that really caught my eye. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/stop-commenting-about-your-childs-weight_us_57642cf7e4b015db1bc929a5?section=women& Right now, our country has a pretty nasty issue hovering over our heads. Too many kids and teenagers are overweight and obese. While the numbers finally stagnated a little last year, the fact of the matter is a third of the children in this country are overweight or obese. I’ve written extensively about the issue over the years, indicating my dissatisfaction with the problem and how it continues to be approached. Neglecting your children and using them as weapons can cause weight gain and poor health. Feeding them a terrible diet and not being a good example for them can lead to poor health. And on a more interesting note, not even eating together as a family can cause changes in a child’s health. And now these new studies indicate a new issue…that words can be a destructive force in your child’s development. Now, in accordance to the research, it didn’t even have to be obvious, for something as simple as “stop eating so much” or a little jab about their weight can lead to some long term issues. But this was the obvious part of the research…if your child is overweight, there is a high likelihood they will be an overweight adult. Pretty simple. Of course, the recommendation that is most highly emphasized in this argument is the fact the parents need to be active in their child’s life, being mindful of their own eating choices and the health of their children. This is all pretty evident in all walks of life. If you are a spiteful and angry person that is never satisfied with your kids’ efforts, they may be the same kind of parent when they have kids of their own, citing such ideals as “well it happened to me and I turned out okay,” never mind the fact some of the things they are doing might be causing psychological damage.
Of course, this will cause some heads to shake and I’m sure some of you will disagree. Heck, I am not even 100% convinced. But here is a different way to look at the problem. Something is clearly happening, and while we can certainly blame media for the all the issues at hand, just about everything that pertains to a child’s life begins at home. It’s not really a matter of passing the buck either. This issue has been bubbling to the surface in regards to the health of our youth, especially now that a little bit of precedence occurred in England a couple years ago when a family was arrested for having a morbidly obese child. http://www.medicaldaily.com/childhood-obesity-blamed-parents-uk-couple-arrested-because-son-became-obese-considered-child-287214 Now we already place a lot of pressure on the parents, but then again, you kind of signed up for this job the day you decided to have kids. As always, there will be exceptions to the rule, much like myself. There are some instances where the eventual battle of the adult bulge isn’t rooted in childhood. Either way, this is the sort of issue that needs to be addressed thoroughly and explored. Thankfully, one thing the article seemed to point out was the fact this is not an issue exclusive to young women. While the arguments typically center the minds and psyches of young girls, there was some actual exploration about body dysmorphia amongst young boys. http://www.afr.com/lifestyle/the-perils-in-male-modelling-20160620-gpnk8x This was a pretty interesting article that kind of took on the lightly talked about subject of male models. While the problem is nowhere near as widespread as it is on the female side the equation, it is a concern that come people should take into consideration. Male discontent surfaces mostly i the are of not being tall enough or not being muscled enough, which of course leads to other issues in regards to personal health. I got to tell you, I see plenty of it at the gym, where younger guys (18-22) are literally drinking protein shakes and workout supplements, doing almost exclusive work on their arms and abs. Of course, being the ancient man that I am, I try to do a more full body workout, which I am sure turns some heads as well. This may seem silly to really comment on this issue, but let me tell you one thing, men have selective hearing. Now I am sure you have seen that video of the tattooed muscle bound racist nut on the internet (I say racist because he actually has a white supremacy tattoo on his body) that yelled up a storm in Phoenix a couple weeks ago. Amidst the response rhetoric on the threads I looked at, a witnessed a lot of women comment on how great the guy’s body was. “I would totally fuck him if wasn’t so racist.” Tell me this, what do you think some boys are gonna think? Do what it takes to look like that! Now where the parents would come into this equation is kind of difficult to pinpoint, whether it be calling their sons “weak” or “girly” or whatever. I always choose to believe power comes from within, but unfortunately, a great many young boys believe it is purely physical.
Now, like I always say, there is no single solution to the issue on hand. You have to be a good parent to start off with, by setting a good example that allows your child to grow in their own direction. But it is becoming clear that not just showing your child is helpful, for words can be an issue for some people. I know it is for me, for I still have a lot of conniptions about my body and have a lot of issues in regards to accepting compliments. My own mind is so skewed that I believe they are doing it to be polite, rather than issue a deep and genuine compliment. It’s not something that is easy to let go of, for I have been on a journey of health and fitness for four years, and I still have frustrations and struggles with myself. It’s just gonna take a little longer for me I guess.
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.
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