Building a Healthy, Wealthy Future: Sending the Right Message

The culture around us affects how both adults and young people think about food, money, and health.  Adolescents in particular receive daily message from family members, teachers, friends, media, and pop culture that affect their health and financial choices.

Today’s young people spend more time using different forms of media than they anything else (with the exception of sleeping)—social networking, television, texting, etc.  Many advertising campaigns use media to specifically target adolescents, who can influence the buying decisions of their families.  Companies hope to develop brand loyalty so this group will continue to purchase their products as adults.  Messages adolescents receive from such media can affect them both now and in the future.

Have a conversation with your son or daughter about the influence of media messages on their lifestyle choices.  Begin by explaining that the way we dress, what we eat, and the music we listen to, are all decisions which our influenced by our environment.  It is important that your adolescent become more aware of how the environment’s daily media messages influence the choices he or she makes every day.

Discussing your adolescent’s decision-making process is important not only for him/her, but also to help you as a parent stay actively involved in the everyday decisions that he or she makes.  To help your adolescent explore examples of both positive and negative media messages, take time to watch a television show together. The average television show lasts about 22 minutes, which means your adolescent is watching eight minutes of commercials per episode!  Start the conversation by sharing stories with your adolescent about when they were a preschool and may have asked for a specific toy or cereal because they had seen it advertised on a Saturday morning cartoon.   To help you child become more aware of the products marketed toward tends, track the number and type of commercial viewed.  After the show is over, have a conversation about the types of message received using the following prompts as conversation starters:

  1. How many commercials were in the program?
  2. How many had positive messages?  What types of messages were they?
  3. How many had negative messages? What types of message were they?
  4. Which commercials made you more likely to want something or do something different?
  5. Did the commercial that made you want something different have anything in common?  Were they funny?  Were they targeted at your age group?  Anything else?

Encourage your adolescent to try recognize the influence of media and advertisement on his or her lifestyle decisions and to be an independent thinker.

Sending the Right Message is part of the University of Kentucky’s Building a Healthy Wealthy Future curriculum.  The curriculum and publication series can be accessed at


Written by: Drs. Jennifer Hunter and Nichole Huff


Caring for your Well-Being


What comes to mind when you think of this word? The type of foods you eat? The amount of exercise you do (or don’t do)?

The Child and Family Learning Network seeks to broaden the definitions of well-being and wellness beyond nutrition and physical activity. An individual’s well-being also encompasses finances, relationships, emotional health, lifespan development, community interaction, and so much more. The Foundation for Child Development (2012) seven domains of well-being:

  1. Family Economic Well-Being
  2. Safe/Risky Behavior
  3. Social Relationships
  4. Emotional/Spiritual Well-Being
  5. Community Engagement
  6. Educational Attainment
  7. Health

As suggested by this list, well-being includes much more than physical activity and nutrition.

The Child and Family Learning Network embodies a multifaceted approach to well-being through the expertise, resources, and tools available through the five Communities of Practice, (1) eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care; (2) Family Caregiving; (3) Families, Food, and Fitness; (4) Financial Security for All; (5) Just in Time Parenting. Collectively, the CFLN addresses many, if not all, of these domains.

A long-term goal of the CFLN is to foster a culture where positive behavior change and well-being is supported by research-based information, thus leading to stronger families (and eventually stronger communities) who apply knowledge gained by implementing healthy behaviors in daily life.  This culture begins with YOU!

The Child and Family Learning Network cares about your well-being and seeks to expand your knowledge and provide you with tools and resources to make positive behavior changes.

You can find research-based information from the Child and Family Learning Network at


Foundation for Child Development (2012). National child and youth well-being index (CWI). Retrieved from

Who Are We? Series Just in Time Parenting Community of Practice

The Who are We? blog post series will showcase each of the five Communities of Practice within the Child and Family Learning Network.

Just in Time Parenting (JITP) is a parent-friendly series – from prenatal to age five – available in English and Spanish.*   JITP highlights key research-based messages to help the whole child thrive, providing developmentally specific information at the most teachable moments.

Just in Time Parenting:

  • Promotes healthy growth and development—socially, emotionally, physically and intellectually.
  • Identifies developmental milestones and progressions, and obesity prevention messages.
  • Helps to prepare children for school success.
  • Reinforces positive parenting and family stress management.
  • Gently encourages and reinforces family strengths, thus affirming healthy, vital families.
  • Connects families to resources in their local areas when help is needed.

A multi-state team of Cooperative Extension professionals at leading land-grant universities develop and evaluate Just in Time Parenting resources. Just in Time Parentingpromotes every child arriving in school healthy and ready for success.

Our goal is to engage families with the messages they need – in the format that is most convenient for them — at the most teachable moments. Click on to explore and/or subscribe to Just in Time Parenting.

Please note, the Families Matter! series has not yet been translated into Spanish.