What you need to know:
- As a compilation of stories that were published in the defunct Family Focus Magazine, the book covers a wide range of family issues.
- The 110-page book looks at what marriage is and the sanctity of an institution Dr John Kimathi Nkanatha calls God’s gift.
English novelist and playwright, Marge Kennedy, once said, “In truth, a family is what you make it”. Nothing best captures the essence of this quote than a book by seasoned scholar Dr John Kimathi Nkanatha.
Starting A Healthy Family is a debut book by the former Kenya Literature Bureau editor which delves into the unpredictable topic that is a healthy family by offering a guide to the dos and don’ts.
As a compilation of stories that were published in the defunct Family Focus Magazine, where the author worked as the editor, the book covers a wide range of family issues.
The book opens with the first chapter talking about starting a family including what a marriage is, marriage tips, sex education, coping with divorce and parenting. It also explores family planning and the hushed talked about abortion.
Here, the 110-page book looks at what marriage is and the sanctity of an institution Dr Nkanatha calls God’s gift.
The chapter goes ahead to give pointers on what to look for while hunting for a spouse, namely general character, love, faithfulness, and selflessness, among others.
He also warns that marriages are not a bed of roses and the institution can sometimes fail because in every marriage exists arguments, quarrels and disagreements.
However, the University of Nairobi alumnus avers that keeping an open communication channel and approaching issues with a sober mind as well as blocking gossips or tales from friends, relatives and neighbours are crucial to keeping the marriage ship afloat.
The chapter also explores the hardly talked about sex education where the author recommends that parents should be open with their children on matters sex and engage them in a friendly and polite manner and avoid castigating them.
He says that the teenagers should be made aware that sex is a sacred act and is good but bad if misused, and should only be practiced in a legitimate institution, that is, marriage.
But what is a family without good health? In the second chapter, Dr Nkanatha touches on healthy lifestyle where he recommends regular exercise, and consistent health checkups to be on top of diseases such as cancer, which, if detected early, can be cured. He also touches on habits such as smoking, which are unhealthy to the body.
The Chuka University Registrar dedicates an entire chapter, chapter three, to talk about family nutrition where he explores the therapeutic benefits of fruits and vegetables.
More often shunned by many, he says vegetables such as cabbages, carrots, and French beans are more effective when taken fresh.
Challenges of parenting
This also applies to fruit juices, papaya, lemon, melon and oranges should be part and parcel of an individual’s diet and not forgetting water, which is life. He adds that ginger and garlic juices to be part of one’s nutrition.
On Chapter Four, the Meru County native dedicates 21 pages to family life, touching on the perils of adolescence as it is the peak of the urge to experiment sexually.
With most parents away from home due to economic necessity, children are susceptible to casual sex as they lack role models relying on the media, social or mainstream, to find direction in life with the most vulnerable age being between 9 and 10 years for girls and 14 and 19 years for boys.
For the youth, dangers abound as they want to prove that they are grown-ups and cannot be controlled by their parents. This leads them to being exposed to dangers of casual sex such as sexually transmitted diseases, illegitimate relationships and children born out of wedlock, as well as sex addiction.
The last chapter looks at parenting and its challenges. It explores what it takes to be a responsible parent with parents challenged to learn to give praise and appreciation when due in order to build a child’s confidence and self-esteem as a way to moulding them into wholesome beings.
Parents are also urged to learn to listen to their children and show interest in what they do, not to make children feel worthless and at the same time do not pamper them as a way to instilling into them lifelong life lessons.