Healthy Fathers Forge, Healthier Futures for Their Children

By Dr. David Samadi

Dr. David Samadi, NYC urologist, says that fathers play a pivotal role in shaping their children’s health by exemplifying healthy behaviors themselves

In June, we celebrate Men’s Health Month and Father’s Day, providing a prime occasion to underscore the critical significance of men’s well-being and its profound influence on their families, particularly the health of their children.

Dr. David Samadi, Director of Men’s Health and Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn, New York, and author of The Ultimate Manual, states, “As we honor fathers, it’s paramount to recognize their pivotal role in cultivating healthy habits within their children. This juncture presents a powerful opportunity to highlight the essential connection between dad’s well-being and the family’s overall health.”

Dr. Samadi elaborates, “As a father, I understand the profound impact of leading by example in instilling healthy habits in our children. Men prioritizing a healthy lifestyle set a positive precedent and greatly influence their children to follow suit.”

Leading by Example

It’s no secret, but men are generally less likely than women to schedule regular medical check-ups. Dr. Samadi, a men’s health expert, understands this well. “I have cared for men in their forties, fifties, and older who have not visited a doctor since childhood,” exclaimed Dr. Samadi. “One common factor contributing to men neglecting their health is the busyness of life. However, disregarding minor aches, pains, or other symptoms can lead to far more significant health issues. Regular health screenings with a doctor can help detect and address potential problems early, preventing them from escalating into more serious conditions.”

While women often learn the importance of regular health exams from a young age, men tend to be more hesitant. Fathers who prioritize annual medical visits set a strong example for their children, mainly their sons, encouraging them to adopt similar habits.

Embracing a Healthy Lifestyle

One of fathers’ most impactful ways to influence their children is by leading a healthy lifestyle. This can be challenging, as societal expectations often pressure men to “tough it out” and neglect self-care. However, by prioritizing their health, fathers can change this narrative and model positive behaviors for their kids.

The Challenges of Fatherhood and Health

Fatherhood brings increased responsibilities, often reducing the time available for self-care. If a father struggles with unhealthy habits before having children, these habits are likely to be passed down. For example, children from smoking households are significantly more likely to become smokers themselves. Similarly, if a father uses alcohol to manage stress or leads a sedentary lifestyle, his children may adopt these behaviors.

Integrating Health into Family Life

Finding time for exercise and stress reduction can be challenging for fathers. However, incorporating children into these activities can be beneficial. 

“Effective strategies for fathers to promote healthy habits include engaging their children in activities like cooking nutritious meals together and exploring a diverse array of fruits and vegetables,” suggested Dr. Samadi. “By actively demonstrating the enjoyment of these foods, fathers can significantly influence their children’s dietary choices. Additionally, involving the family in activities such as walks or bike rides fosters positive habits from an early age.”

Changing the Male Mindset

Regular medical visits are crucial for maintaining health. Men often wait until they experience symptoms before seeking medical advice, which can lead to more severe health issues. Proactive health management, including regular check-ups, is essential.

Age-Specific Health Concerns

As men journey through life, their health requirements undergo significant shifts. In their 20s, men must prioritize awareness of factors like fertility, testicular cancer, and maintaining optimal blood pressure and cholesterol levels. As they progress into their 30s and 40s, additional health considerations such as cholesterol, triglyceride levels, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension demand heightened attention. Upon reaching the milestone of 45 years, men face elevated risks, particularly concerning colorectal cancer and prostate cancer. Notably, prostate cancer stands as the second most prevalent cancer among American men, underscoring the importance of proactive health management.

“As a surgeon and specialist in prostate cancer, I consistently stress the significance of men starting at age 40 to undergo a baseline prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test,” recommends Dr. Samadi. “The PSA test remains a primary screening tool for detecting prostate cancer. It involves a straightforward blood test conducted at their doctor’s office, measuring the levels of PSA, a protein produced by both cancerous and noncancerous cells in the prostate gland. Additionally, men should engage in dialogue with their healthcare provider to assess their personal risk factors for prostate cancer.”

Putting it all together

From prioritizing regular check-ups crucial for timely detection and management of health issues to serving as role models of healthy living for their children, fathers can take significant steps towards ensuring their children’s long-term health and well-being.

“Fathers play numerous vital roles in nurturing their families,” asserts Dr. Samadi. “My utmost priority is ensuring every man’s optimal health across all life stages. It’s akin to making a wise, long-term investment in one’s well-being, yielding substantial dividends in quality of life. Such proactive measures not only benefit men but also contribute to their children’s long-term health and vitality.”

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