Loving the father figures in your life often means taking time to talk and encouraging healthy behaviors, like regular check-ups and prompt care. Men need help knowing that they are smart men for being proactive about their health concerns, not weak men.
This last item is especially important because men with more traditional ideas about manhood are less likely to seek help until too late. A recent study found that men do not like to “trouble a doctor” unless they are having a serious problem, which by that point, can be beyond treating. This toughing it out is unfortunate because prostate cancer and heart disease — reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the two leading causes of death in men – are entirely treatable early on.
Scientists acknowledge that boys and men are hard-wired risk-takers. In this culture, though, men are also raised with the expectation that they laugh in the face of danger to impress their friends, partners or bosses, which means they drink too hard, climb too high or drive too fast. As a result, men are twice as likely as women to die of unintended or accidental injuries, which, according to the CDC, are the third-leading cause of death for men.
Talking about smart health decisions with the men in your life, particularly a father figure, isn’t easy, but it is important. Here are some simple ways to begin that conversation:
- Identify in your own mind what you are specifically worried about. Is it his weight? Smoking? Drinking? Depression? If it’s more than one thing, pick the one that seems the most urgent and go from there.
- Think about and practice the words you will use and how you are going to tell him your concerns. Make sure you are as respectful and kind as possible so he can understand that you are not criticizing him, that you love him and want him around for a long time.
- Consider when you should bring it up. Would a walk together create an easy and relaxed situation for talking? How about talking over a cup of coffee? Regardless of when, ensuring an emotionally safe time and place increases the likelihood he will hear you.
- Let him know he doesn’t have to solve the problem alone because you’re there to help. If you live nearby, become fitness buddies and get healthy together. If you live far away, you can still be fitness buddies electronically, but you could also help him find supportive resources and keep in touch with him. Near or far away, you’ve got his back.
- Make the first couple of decisions together, which will create good communication experiences between you and will help you know his situation better.
- Let him know how proud you are of him and encourage him to keep going!
This Father’s Day, or any day, tell the father figures in your life how much you love them. Show them how much you love them by beginning conversations about their health.