Mothers and Daughters: Cultivating a Legacy of Health
By Connie Pshigoda
Have you ever heard the story about the young bride who cut the ham in half before putting it in the baking dish – just because that’s the way it had always been done? When the “rest of the story” was revealed, it was discovered that her great-grandmother had to cut the ham in half because she only had one small baking pan!
Our mothers, grandmothers, and even great-grandmothers may subtly influence us as we select our food, prepare our meals, and even reflect on our self-image. Whether our choices are healthy or not-so-healthy, they most likely come from previous teaching or experiences.
Women are unique in their needs – physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. Each season of a woman’s life requires certain vitamins, minerals, hormones, and enzymes. This nutritional balance should begin early in her formative years as it often determines the outcome of her health and well-being into her older years.
The second chapter of Titus instructs us, “Teach (and to learn) what is in accord with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1, NIV). Older women must be taught what is good so they can train the younger women to live according to God’s Word. Mothers and grandmothers have passed down rituals, relationships, and recipes for centuries, but a few very important areas of our growth and development (health, wellness, and body image) sometimes get passed over in the life process. In following Titus 2, we mothers and grandmothers must teach our daughters about the effect of nutritional balance in their feminine bodies. We must teach the younger women to believe that being well is their God-given birthright.
Ponder for a moment, and reflect on your early instruction in health, nutrition, and overall well- being. Who influenced you the most in this area of becoming a strong, healthy woman? If your messages about food, weight, and body image were negative, misguided, or even damaging, there is hope for restoration and renewal. Research and technology provide numerous resources to gain the knowledge and guidance necessary for making healthy choices today. There is no excuse for continuing to live in the shadow of poor or incomplete teaching. It’s never too late to become healthy; it could bring about a positive change that inspires and influences many young women in your family tree.
Christiane Northrup, renowned physician and author of Mother-Daughter Wisdom: Creating a Legacy of Physical and Emotional Health, states: “The mother-daughter relationship is at the core of every woman’s physical and emotional health. Because our mothers are our first and most powerful female role models, our most deeply ingrained beliefs about ourselves as women come from them. Once we understand our mother-daughter bonds, we can rebuild our own health, whatever our age, and create a lasting positive legacy for the next generation.”
Studies show that the immune system of those in nurturing and healthy relationships is stronger. Negative thoughts and attitudes suppress the body’s immune function and slowly deteriorate a healthy body in much the same way as junk food and soft drinks. A mother’s or grandmother’s belief or attitude about food, body image, and overall health and wellness may be passed down to her daughter or granddaughter often without her awareness.
Spring and summer are a perfect time for mothers and daughters to share their questions, discoveries, and joys about being women. As the earth unfolds God’s glory, mothers and daughters can use this time to tend their “inner gardens” as intentionally as they would tend a flower garden or prize tomatoes in an outdoor garden.
We are reminded in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 that our bodies belong to God and that God’s Spirit lives within us. We should care for our bodies as sacred temples. Body image in 2010 is sadly misguided. Our young daughters and granddaughters are growing up in the “age of raunch.” Motherly wisdom provides essential guidance in teaching our daughters how to protect their temples.
I pray that this season will be a time of renewal and rejoicing for you and the women in your family. Take a few moments to review your relationship and make revisions or repairs if necessary. If any hurtful or unhealthy thoughts or attitudes are present in your relationship, I urge you to allow God to step in and bring healing – sometimes we don’t get a second chance to make things right. There is only one you and only one me, yet in our roles as mothers, daughters, grandmothers, sisters, and aunties, we touch many lives. Are we touching them in a way that promotes a healthy, vibrant life?
It truly is a blessing to be graced by the women who have gone before and left their imprint on us. Whether their memory brings a smile or a grimace, their journey forms a layer of our life’s path, and our journey will become a layer in our daughter’s path. Walk wisely, dear woman, and be in health even as your soul is well, for there are young women following and watching.
Mothers, teach your daughters...
· to dine, savoring their meal experience by choosing wholesome, natural, God-created foods. Teach them to limit “eating-on-the-run” via the gulping of processed, packaged, non-nutrient foods.
· to listen to their inner feminine wisdom and become aware of their inner seasons.
· to maintain a wellness belief, attitude, and lifestyle.
· to include daily activity that clears mental clutter and stimulates circulation, breathing, and digestion.
· to laugh! Laughter is indeed healthy for the body, mind, and soul.
· to appreciate a regular diet of good books, quality music, and enriching movies and plays.
· to rest! God rested and Jesus rested, but mothers often forget this important element of health. Rest doesn’t always mean sleep. Step aside from the daily duties just to say, “Thank you, Jesus.”