healthy dads, healthy kids

healthy dads, healthy kids - healthy dads, healthy kids by...

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22 Image courtesy AfroSpear healthy dads, healthy kids by william marsiglio Far too many babies and children in the United States today strug- gle with myriad conditions that negatively affect their emotional, mental, and physical health. We initially see this tragedy in the high rates of infant mortality and low birth weight babies and then in the discouragingly high numbers of youth who are obese, get pregnant, contract a sexually transmitted infection, smoke, binge drink, abuse drugs, develop an eating disorder, or attempt suicide. Sadly, when young people look at adult men they often find poor role models who are ill-equipped to help them avoid or correct unhealthy behaviors.
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One third of American men are obese and one in 10 will become an alcoholic in his lifetime. Men are more likely than women to smoke, eat fatty foods, drink and drive, use guns, play violent sports, and not get enough sleep, and they’re less likely to use seatbelts. Men are also less likely than women to seek medical attention for either routine physicals or when more serious problems occur. Many factors contribute to children’s poor health, but one we hear little about is how fathers act and what they do and don’t say about health. Indeed, what men say and do can help prevent or minimize some of their children’s health problems and effectively manage the adverse effects when problems do arise. However, social pressures and financial struggles limit the choices men can make to prioritize health for themselves and their children. Understanding how fathers make decisions, as well as their social networks and diverse experiences over their lifetimes, is essential for cultivating a more engaged, health- conscious style of fathering that will, in turn, positively affect their children’s health. The theory of “constrained choice,” developed by health policy experts Chloe Bird and Patricia Rieker, can guide efforts to help fathers do a better job in this regard. Touted as a “plat- form for prevention,” the theory suggests that individuals’ opportunities to pursue healthy options are shaped by deci- sion-making processes at multiple levels: nation/state, commu- nity, workplace, family, and individual. By paying attention to gender-based health disparities, this framework also highlights the diverse social forces that organize men’s and women’s lives differently. These conditions, along with biological processes and other social realities like socioeconomic status, expose men and women to specific stresses, burdens, and health risks. Con- sequently, men in general, and fathers in particular, face unique challenges to assert themselves as more positive role models for healthy behavior. We’re entering a propitious moment in history to foster real
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healthy dads, healthy kids - healthy dads, healthy kids by...

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