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    Healthy Kids: Enlisting the Help of Family

    With so many families working full time in today’s society, children are often in the care of the larger family — ex-spouses, grandparents, or extended family. A circumstance may arise where those assisting in the care of your children do not agree with or acquiesce to the concepts of SOAR:

    Supported – provided intentional guidance, direction, and nurturing

    Optimistic — assured of a bright hope and future ahead for them as they grow

    Active and Achieving — finding success in their personal and family endeavors and in active, energetic pursuits

    Responsible — understanding and accepting their own part in healthy living and choices

    Some members of your family may not want to invest the time and energy into putting SOAR concepts into action. They may not have a personal faith. Or they may resent your input into how the children are treated.

    One of the hallmarks of SOAR is a commitment by the adult caregiver to adopt these concepts on a personal level. All along, you’ve been asked to examine your own heart, mind, and soul to determine what barriers or obstacles you are erecting to your family’s overall health and well-being. This is not an easy task, and some family members helping care for your children may choose not to engage in this level of self-examination. If this is your situation, please do not allow their reticence to derail your good intentions.

    EX-SPOUSES

    Children are always best off when ex-spouses work together for their good. In the real world, this doesn’t always happen, as envy, strife, and division can continue long after the marriage ends. Such a divisive relationship is devastating to children. I urge you to do whatever you can to try to be at peace with your ex-spouse. When you present the SOAR concepts to them, guard against appearing condemning or self-righteous. Plead and exhort form the platform of your mutual love and concern for your children.

    GRANDPARENTS

    As you integrate SOAR into your home, you will naturally expect that your desires will be honored by the grandparents. My children receive support, care, and nurturing from my parents, which is a blessing beyond calculation. Something is uniquely comforting about seeing your parents love and care for your children. It affirms the love you remember as a child and provides you with your own backup and support as you’re raising your children. So don’t sell these grandparents short! Sit down and explain what you’re hoping to achieve in your family and the positive changes your implementing. Many of this older generation will understand and support these changes, as they in many ways mirror what might be considered “old-fashioned” values.

    EXTENDED FAMILY

    As in other family situations, give extended family the benefit of the doubt. Share with them what you are doing in SOAR and why.  Adults can feel uncomfortable insisting on a different style of care from their parents than they received. This shouldn’t be the case with extended family. Their help is wonderful — from aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings — but insist that your parental direction be honored by those caring for your children.

    With any of these care situations, share as much as you’re able about the positive environment — emotional, relational, physical, and spiritual — you desire for your children. As you contemplate your presentation, remember the admonition from Proverbs 12:18: “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

    You can find the complete SOAR concept outlined in my book, Healthy Habits, Happy Kids, and highlights from the book in the following blog posts:

    4 Ways To Keep Your Kids Healthy: What YOU Can Do

    Right Words are Healing Words: How What You Say Affects Your Family

    How Brad Learned to SOAR: O is for Optimism

    A is for Active: Tips for Time-Crunched Parents

    R is for Responsible for My Body

    R is for Responsible for My Emotions

    Parenting Styles: 3 Types to Avoid

    R is for Responsible for My Relationships: Teenagers

    7 Ways to Instill Faith In Your Children

    SOURCE: Chapter 10, “SOAR-ing Above Special Circumstances,” in Healthy Habits, Healthy Kid: A Practical Plan to Help Your Family by Gregory L. Jantz, PhD., founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources Inc.

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