Setting an Example

By Lou Earle – June 1, 2013

My family and I love to watch “Blue Bloods.” In this popular series, Tom Selleck’s character is New York City Police Commissioner Frank Reagan, a father surrounded by an adoring family of accomplished over-achievers. As a baby boomer, I grew up with Selleck in “Magnum, P.I.” and my wife still ogles over him after all these years. Every episode of “Blue Bloods” has multiple story lines involving the family members, each requiring a complex set of judgments and decisions that viewers are tempted to resolve before the curtain drops. But there is one thing I find both appealing and unique in this series—almost all these vignettes depict questions of human values and how we deal with them.

Frequently, our protagonist is called upon to provide counsel, and Commissioner Reagan (Selleck) is awash with uncanny wisdom in this area. He exhibits all the wonderful traits of a first class mentor: leading by example, allowing mistakes to encourage learning, showing empathy, assigning accountability, being kind but firm, and always possessing the patience of Job. In essence, he’s the perfect father figure.

Although this show is just drama, the lessons are clear. Great fathers can be extraordinarily important in shaping their children’s lives. A personal case in point: There was a short period in my teenage years when I succumbed to the evils of smoking. Fortunately, I managed to quit, thanks to a $5 bet with some Navy buddies. Years later, having learned the benefit of that auspicious victory, I vowed that none of my children would ever have to deal with the insanity of using tobacco. I converted my spouse, and—with her help and to their good fortune—none of our children have ever smoked. It should be no surprise, then, that kids whose parents have unhealthy lifestyles will tend to adopt similar habits. We are now seeing teenagers with type 2 diabetes and young adults with early onset chronic diseases; the sad reality is that the rest of the family, including Dad, is likely to be plagued by similar conditions.

Studies evaluating the impact of positive parental influence on the health of children are numerous and consistent in their revelation that fathers can be real game changers in their sons’ and daughters’ lives. Fortunately for future generations, more fathers are taking active roles in all aspects of their children's upbringing. To the extent that this involvement carries the right lessons on healthy living, future children will enjoy a much better quality of life and our society will be well served.

Most of us fathers cannot compete with Commissioner Reagan, but we have an extraordinary opportunity to positively influence our children and help teach them how to be healthy and fit. It is an enormous responsibility to shape a life, but bequeathing the gift of health to our sons and daughters is fatherhood at its best.

Keep Austin Fit,

Lou Earle, Publisher, CEO


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