5 Tips for Talking to Your Parents About Healthy Living
Every year when Mother’s Day rolls around (and then with Father’s Day a month later), I have the same thought: I really wish my parents would take better care of themselves. And the thought is a little stronger, seems a little more urgent with every year that passes. After all, my folks aren’t getting any younger.
So, what happens every year around now is that I’ll spend a dinner trying to convince my Mom and Dad to exercise more, drink more water, eat smarter, or whatever, and every year we end up having a mini-fight and I lay off them for another year.
With this past year’s events, the urge to urge my parents to live healthier is overwhelming, and I just can’t stand to repeat the same old song and dance. But I need help! So I asked some of the OVICX coaches for ideas and suggestions, and got some incredible feedback that I want to share.
Before anything else, you have to consider the start of this conversation. The beginning is everything. I know it’s hard, but you must not lecture. If your parents here this tone from you, they will shut you out. When you talk to them, maybe you have to be a bit sneaky with it. Don’t just tell them straight. Tell them maybe about a bit of news or some study or maybe a recent article you read. Ask their opinion. Offer to share it with them. If they seem open, then you can continue to the conversation. You have to keep it non-confrontational, non-judgmental. Keep it a conversation and don’t let yourself lecture.
Small is key. The smaller you start, the easier it is. If your parents haven’t even begun with their fitness journey, you must not try telling them to run a 5K. This will not help. You will have very real, very understandable resistance from them. Instead, start with achievable goals. Give them something they can do with ease. Help them feel good when they do it. This can start a sort of positive feedback loop, a “virtuous circle,” and your parents will want to continue on this journey. That’s how you can really help them, but making it something they want to do.
Set them up for success. My parents said they wanted to make a change, and I do believe they were real about that, but they had so many excuses. Most of them had to do with the weather. It was either too hot or too cold or raining or too sunny. So I went ahead and gave them my old Q100C when I upgraded. I know that sounds like a plug, but it’s really what I did, and it worked. They started using it. They dropped some weight and now their blood pressure is a lot better. Having a good piece of equipment made it easy for them.
Have you ever heard that quote from Gandhi? “Be the change you want to see in the world.” It starts with you. How are your eating habits? Are you regular with your bike rides? Are you practicing good habits? If you are, a lot of the times you won’t even need to say anything. Actions speak louder than words. And in this case, words often come across as judgments, which almost always end up making your parents – or really anyone – more defensive and less likely to listen.
So, start with practicing positive, healthy habits yourself, let your parents know that you’re doing it, and then wait.
- Alex Korn
Switch it up when it comes to family time. So much family and friend time ends up being about food. Family dinners, Thanksgiving, Christmas, whatever – all these classic family get-togethers are all about food! And a lot of the time, it’s kind of unhealthy food, too. So change it up. Suggest taking a walk around town, or go to a park, or get out for a hike or bike ride. You might find that your parents appreciate the change, and of course they’ll appreciate spending more time together.
I think that’s the best sentiment to end with, because it’s really about spending more time together. I want my parents to be healthier so that I can spend more time with them.
I hope all of you out there in the OVICX community who feel the same can try some of these suggestions and share your experience. Tell us how it goes, what you learn from the conversation, and if you have any of your own tips for helping parents make healthier choices, please share them in the comments below, on our Facebook, or on our Instagram page.
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