It's no secret that the health of the parents and even the grandparents has an impact on a child's health at birth.1-2 But the example set by parents and grandparents also can have a profound impact on a child's health through their entire lives.
My chiropractic heritage began with my father's father, Dr. Tom Petersen. I never really knew him well, as he died when I was 5 years old. What I do know is his dedication to serving patients in a rural area of Northern California. Not only was he a doctor of chiropractic; he and my grandmother also operated a health resort called Paraiso Hot Springs in the 1920s, which included many other forms of care consistent with a wellness approach.
Unfortunately, while he was probably a great chiropractor, he wasn't a very good chiropractic patient. His lifestyle was not one of wellness, resulting in his early demise at the age of 66.
My father, Dr. Don Petersen, was the youngest of two sons. He also became a doctor of chiropractic, following his father. He enjoyed caring for patients and teaching the chiropractic approach to health, as he had learned firsthand the value of chiropractic and wellness from his early childhood.
But rather than following the wellness lessons, he generally followed my grandfather's example. He was unhealthy for most of his life; a life that ended at the age of 61. He was a great teacher of chiropractic and health, as he is the one who taught my brothers and me. But he was not a great follower.
I am the oldest of three brothers. Our father taught us well how to live our lives according to his chiropractic philosophy, even though he was a poor example. My younger brother and I embraced the lessons and have lived according to our understanding of wellness for 66 and 65 years, respectively. We both enjoy extremely healthy living without dependence on drugs, surgery or any other forms of care inconsistent with the chiropractic lifestyle.
Our youngest brother, Darrell, was not so fortunate. Again, he learned and followed the example set by my father, rather than the lessons he gave. Our brother passed away last month after decades of poor health at the far-too-young age of 60.
Looking at our three generations as chiropractic patients with two generations of DCs, I can't help but see the obvious pattern. Chiropractic is not just something you do; it should be a way of life. And when combined with healthy eating, consistent exercise, nutrition and more, the wellness lifestyle provides an abundance of health that can be enjoyed well into the later years of life.
Sadly, there are DCs I've met who are just like my father. They provide chiropractic care and teach wellness, but set an example of a noncompliant patient.
Children, and people in general, learn more by observing than they do by listening. This is the case for your family as well as your patients. Expecting patient compliance while exhibiting the lifestyle of a noncompliant patient is at the very least hypocritical.
Take a moment to ask yourself: What example am I setting? How would you rate yourself as a patient? Are you getting adjusted at least once a month? Does your diet and fitness routine speak of wellness? Whether you realize it or not, your example is speaking louder than your instruction to many of the people around you. I've seen the disastrous results of living a poor example. It should never come from a doctor of chiropractic.
- Bellver J, Mariani G. Impact of parental over- and underweight on the health of offspring. Fertil Steril, 2019 Jun;111(6):1054-1064.
- Yim G, Roberts A, Ascherio A, et al. Association between periconceptional weight of maternal grandmothers and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in grandchildren. JAMA Netw Open, 2021;4(7):e2118824.
Read more findings on my blog: http://blog.toyourhealth.com/ wrblog. You can also visit me on Facebook and Twitter (donpetersenjr, @donaldpetersen).
Click here for more information about Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher.