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Family Matters

Building Healthy Families Through Family Culture

February 23rd, 2014

By Justin Hubert

Every family has traditions, customs and a culture. A diet. A way of being. I've found it helpful in the past to take a moment and "inventory" key questions. It helps sometimes to take a look back. In essence, an inventory is just what you might expect: "items" down the left side, questions along the top, fill it and see what you get.

On the left side of the paper write customs and culture. Here are a few questions:

What are your family traditions? What are your family meals? To each of these answers, ask some deeper questions: where did they come from? Who created them? What are your own awesome memories of them? Are they healthy? How could you change them? What could you do instead?

Then ask: What could be?

There is a good chance much of your present family culture has a lot to do with your past life. The tastes and cultures kids grow up with become their own. Are these cultures and customs healthy? Are there others you could create?

What happens when we put the spin of tribe and happiness on a new idea like healthy eating? What if instead of dieting or weight loss being the depressingly inevitable, failed outcome of an unhealthy lifestyle, we replace parts of the lifestyle bit by bit with fun engaging memory-creating good times?

For instance, occasionally our family does a "Build Your Own Pizza and Movie Night". A homemade pizza is worlds healthier than store bought or ordered, and you decide the ingredient selection and crust recipe (whole wheat or gluten free). My oldest (13-year-old girl) even made her own fruit pizza with fresh and frozen fruit - if mom made that FOR her, do you think she would have eaten it? (Insert sinister parenting snicker here).

Health doesn't have to be a burden, it can be a blast!! Buy an awesome blender, and make smoothies every Saturday morning, name it something funny like 'Smoothie Saturdays' (I know, original right?!) and in a couple weeks as that positive energy builds, your kids won't just be over the initial shock, they'll be asking you if they can have one.

While we are at it, what is your family culture? How would you describe it if you were completely honest? A couple of things we have added recently that have shifted our culture, is gratitude and appreciation. Sitting around a table occasionally and saying what we are thankful for, and giving appreciation for things done FOR us, have started to shift our family's culture. Kids being gently corrected to say thank-you for the meal to their mother is a simple act that reinforces a deeper reality: we need to slow down, and appreciate all we have. "Can-I-Be-excused-and-go-play?” “Yes, after you thank your mom for the meal, and take your dishes to the kitchen.”

All this is done, of course, with a long view of the end in mind, and this is our job as a parent to figure what that is. Building a family culture that is healthy and vibrant is an exciting possibility if we just take the time to consider it!


Justin Hubert is a husband, dad, friend, dreamer. He’s the Cultural Architect of: www.heritagefamilyservices.com

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