This weekend we recognize the fathers of the Latino community who do so much for their children. Those who get up early, those who work late, those who read to their kids, and those who—despite being tired—take their kids out to a park to play a little soccer. They make Father’s Day that much more of a day worth celebrating, fathers who are considerate, understanding, and attentive.
But among so many other things, fathers are role models. They exemplify the habits their children may come to mimic for the rest of their lives, whether intentionally or unintentionally. It is crucial for the child that these habits are good ones, to lead by example, and have their children recognize how important it is to care of their own well-being.
Today in the United States, the Latino community faces many health challenges, from high diabetes and obesity rates to low health insurance rates. Too many of our neighborhoods have only unhealthy food options or dilapidated parks that are unsafe for kids to play in. Children raised on soda and fast food can expect a lifetime of health conditions. If there are no changes, the next generation may become the first generation of children who have shorter lifespans than their parents.
Fathers should exemplify healthy habits, both on the nutritional and physical level. At NCLR, we’ve recognized a few fathers who have gone the extra mile to teach healthy living behavior to their kids. Here are some tips they have for how to make sure your own kids lead a healthy lifestyle.
Eric Rodriguez, Vice President, Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation
- It’s especially important to remain conscientious about health on a daily basis: nutritious eating and staying active.
- Kids love candy and junk food, so it’s important to limit the amount of unhealthy food and keep good food in the house.
- Discipline and physical activity, especially getting some exercise on Saturday and Sunday.
- Integrating physical activity into daily routines can be a challenge, especially being so busy.
- Get kids into sports programs and engaged in some sort of physical activity.
Enrique Chaurand, Deputy Vice President, Integrated Marketing and Events
- Encourage your kids to be active rather than staying in and remaining preoccupied by technology.
- Setting the precedent of being active influences children to do the same.
- Adhere to portion control. This can be difficult with so much delicious Latino food, but it’s important.
David Castro, Associate Director, Web and Editorial Content
- Include vegetables or fruit for every meal; make healthy eating part of a routine.
- Even if a child’s tastes change as they develop beyond being toddlers, it’s important to not give up on healthier eating habits.
- Take advantage of any available free, walkable spaces such as neighborhood parks.
- Make a point of taking your kid outside for at least an hour a day.
- Make a point as a professional to walk to work or take the stairs up to the office.
Francisco Rodriguez, Payroll Manager
- Make physical activity playful, not rigorous and unenjoyable.
- Maintain a time that the whole family can get together and enjoy physical activity. It’s best done on weekends.
- My kids don’t like vegetables, so for my youngest son, I’ll make funny faces to try and distract him from the fact he’s eating vegetables.
- Manage your portions. My wife I share a single burrito at Chipotle and split various other meals.
Jonathan Marrero, Associate Director, Digital Communications
- Do outdoor exercises.
- We have a pool in the back, so I allow my daughter to play in the pool on afternoons when she’s done with her schoolwork.
- Instill an intrinsic enjoyment of physical activity or healthy habits, instead of forcing them to do things like a certain number of pushups, for example.
- My daughter appreciates when I speak to her about the importance of health, as well as the consequences of poor choices. For example “you can stay up late, but be aware tomorrow you’ll be pretty tired and won’t enjoy your day as much.”
- I take the same strategy with healthy eating. I keep a limited amount of snack food in the household, but encourage my daughter to choose healthy alternatives more often than not.
Sterling Garcia, Major Gifts Officer, Resource Development
- Try to work out at least two or three times a week.
- Play with your kids as much as possible. Promote a healthy lifestyle through things like bike riding or going out to the playground.
- Make walking a part of your daily routine.
- I encourage my sons to try a variety of sports, especially those that burn off energy and get them active.
- I try to introduce as many healthy foods as possible, and encourage my kids to at least try healthy foods.