Q: We have a young, growing family, and I’d like to do everything I can during this formative period to encourage everyone in the house to develop healthy habits. Can you provide me with any helpful tips?

Jim: Great question! Intentionality is an important part of promoting good health. According to Focus on the Family’s Physicians Resource Council, the following list of questions can help you take a more proactive approach:

— What’s the quality of your fuel? When planning your family’s menu, think about the number of calories you’re consuming, the actual nutrients contained in the foods you eat and the importance of including sufficient amounts of fruits and vegetables in your diet.

— Are you watching your weight? If you or anyone else in your family is overweight, see your physician to develop a program of diet and exercise that will help you shed the extra pounds.

— Do you exercise regularly? You, your spouse and your children should be doing some kind of physical exercise at least five days a week.

— Do you ingest any harmful substances? Tobacco, heavy alcohol use, illegal drugs and excessive amounts of prescription medications all present serious threats to long-term health and quality of life.

— How is your emotional health? Take steps to ensure that your family’s life is kept on an even mental and emotional keel.

— How is your spiritual health? A strong personal faith can have a measurable impact on your physical health.

— Are you getting enough refreshing, restorative sleep? The amount and quality of the sleep we get is a vital component of good health.

This is just a quick rundown of the essentials, of course, but if you put these suggestions into practice, you and your family will be on track to live a long and healthy life. I wish you all the best!

Q: When I drive my two kids (one teen, one preteen) to school, sports or music practice — just about anywhere — I’ve usually got the radio on, always to something positive. My kids say that my station choices are boring and my music is “lame.” As a result, just recently, they’ve both resorted to using earbuds and listening to music via their cellphones. At least we don’t argue anymore about what’s playing in my car. But I can’t say I’m really comfortable with this new arrangement. What say you?
Bob Waliszewski, Director, Plugged In: As an empty-nester, I want to remind you that while you’ll have many years down the road to listen to your favorite radio stations (mostly by yourself, I might add), you only have a few short years left with your children. So turn off the radio, insist that your kids unplug, and enjoy some old-fashioned conversation.

Meanwhile, it’s always a good idea to have family listening guidelines. First off, make sure your children know that only music that’s positive, inspiring, encouraging or, at the very least, “neutral” will be allowed. Nothing racy or risque. Nothing glorifying drugs or violence. Nothing hopelessly wallowing in gloom and pain. To facilitate that, make sure they understand the research linking troublesome music lyrics to negative attitudes and behaviors. (This is easy to Google.)

Next, be sure to listen to what they’re listening to. Check out the music they’ve downloaded and make sure it’s not pirated. If they utilize music apps such as Spotify or Pandora, take time to lend an ear to tunes from their various station picks.

Finally, talk to them about listening at an appropriate volume level. In fact, listen in at the levels they’ve set. What your children consider acceptable may actually be damaging their hearing — a disconcerting trend, even among teenagers.

Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.