Setting A Good Example For Our Kids

How do you deal with medical “stuff” – tests, news, appointments? Some of us are laid back while others get anxious and uptight. For many, it depends on the circumstance. One thing we can count on, though, our kids will mirror their responses to “medical stuff” after us…a point I don’t think we consider enough, as recent celebrity headlines well illustrate.

Take the situation of Dr. Mehmet Oz’s colonoscopy, for example.

A well-spoken, otherwise healthy young physician who has been very outspoken about following a path of “good health”. Yet, his first routine colonoscopy turned up “something”. Instead of breathing a sigh of relief that the test preformed as it should and this “something” was caught early and was able to be handled before it became a true health crisis for him and his family, Dr. Oz essentially freaked out, going on every media outlet he could find expressing this sentiment to People Magazine: “This was a shakeup for me….I have done everything right. I don’t have any family history, and yet I’m high risk now….There’s a lot of tension…It’s frustrating. Why did this happen to me? It forces you to question the assumptions you make about life.”

Next up, Catherine Zeta-Jones’ reaction to her husband, Michael Douglas’s diagnosis of throat cancer.

As she told People Magazine: “It makes me furious they didn’t detect it earlier…He sought every option and nothing was found. I knew something was up. He knew something was up.”

Michael, on the other hand, had a more accepting response: “Without having to blame anybody, these things sometimes just don’t show up. I’m treating this as a curable disease….”

Both Zeta-Jones and Douglas reacted as we’d expect given the situation and they both ultimately showed their kids how to express some challenging emotions then quickly regroup in a way that is empowering and positive for the patient – Michael. While we only have glimpses of how the family is doing, it seems they are doing everything right for Michael and their kids. This is a solid example of how to handle a very challenging medical situation as a family.

Handling medical situations isn’t always easy and our emotions can quickly take over, as they did for Dr. Oz or even Zeta-Jones initially. Our job as parents is to help our kids understand the medical system so they know what it’s about and have a sense of what’s controllable and not controllable. This will help them if a parent or grandparent is the patient or when they become the patient.

All we can do is help our kids learn to live the healthiest life possible. What does that mean? To exercise, eat well, pursue activities that are fun and meaningful and to see their physician yearly.

As Dr. Oz’s boss and mentor, Oprah, loves to say: “live your best life”. Control what you can and deal with the rest as you have to…without Monday morning quarterbacking what you can’t control. If we teach our kids to do this with grace, courage and a good sense of humor, they’ll be ready to face whatever comes their way and be a lot healthier in their future tomorrows than any of us are in our best todays.


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