Hurricane Harvey: A Teachable Moment


Children have a natural ability to show empathy for others who are in trouble or in need. They are exquisitely atuned to the feeling of vulnerability all humans experience and tend to respond with care and compassion.

With the recent hurricane Harvey aftermath, children may want to do something. It is a wonderful opportunity to talk about helplessness, our commission to love one another and be our “brother’s keeper.”

You and your child may not be able to get to Texas, but this may be the perfect opportunity to find a local charity such as the Salvation Army and volunteer to help in your own community.

Even children as young as 2 years old can learn to hand a napkin at a soup kitchen or throw paper plates away when someone is finished eating. Sorting through clothing is an opportunity to learn colors and feel textures.  Giving someone a ride to the doctor may introduce your child to people who they otherwise my never be drawn into their lives, and possibly other cultures.

There are any number of ways involving children in a charitable endeavor can be a successful experience both for volunteer and family member. Allow this season to be a “teachable moment” for your child.


Broken Links


We’ve all heard the old saying, “You are only as strong as your weakest link.” In a chain, the weak link compromises the “security” that the chain is supposed to provide, holding things together, keeping them safe, surrounding them with strength.

These days, a new kind of link is found commonly in our culture.  We often find digital “Links” to additional resources embedded within our emails or online articles.  This link should connect us with new information.  It is frustrating to click on a link that leads to “know-where” and results in virtual silence and gives no new information.  The Link is broken.

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend during my last decade of practicing pediatrics.  In so many cases, young parents are coming in with absolutely no idea about child-rearing. They raise their children based on whatever they’ve gleaned from Google or learned from online blogs, YouTube, and friends.  There is a “missing link” in their knowledge base: common sense.  As a result, they are vulnerable to fads, misinformation, and error.

As I’ve walked with these young parents and engaged them in conversation, I’ve learned that their own broken family history, deeply affected by division and divorce, separation, and estrangement from extended family, has resulted in a dearth of information being passed down from generation to generation about child-rearing and common sense values that used to guide parents.  The wisdom of grandparents and the experience of being shaped by generations working together as a longitudinal family has been lost.

Adult children are no longer experienced in working together as a family, but they are experienced in fractured relationships, lack of commonality and culture within their family, narcissism, and the feeling that they are truly on their own. They rely on teachers, television, and day care to raise their children to become good citizens with strong character.  They expect the children’s ministry at church to insure their kids have a genuine relationship with God.

Why? Because they have no idea how to foster those milestones in their children’s lives because they were not “fostered” themselves. These young parents are common sense “orphans.”  The link to the common sense child-rearing of the past has been broken.

How can parents reclaim that child-rearing common sense and create a culture that brings forward into the future the wisdom from the past? How can they disciple their children in the privacy of their own home with values that are eternal?

I encourage them to stop consulting Google and begin to work on bridging the gap that may have developed between the older generation and the younger in their own family. Reforge the links. Whether virtual or tangible, “links” of communication can be mended and melded together again.

Tools to assist with this endeavor are:

  • Diligently applying the white hot heat of Truth from God’s word via a blowtorch sparked by genuine curiosity and fueled by humility.
  • Dig deeper in the Word of God and go deeper with your family. Search them out and invite them to speak into your life as a parent.
  • Find “elder” parents who have raised their children to be good citizens and glean as much information from them as possible.

I tell young people, “Don’t go to your friends for wisdom and discernment. They are your age and just as confused and clueless as you are. They are finding their way in the dark just like you. And they are making a lot of the same mistakes you make. Find someone older who you respect and trust and seek them out. Allow them to speak into your life and help you learn wisdom and discernment to become the woman or man of God you desire to be.”

The same encouragement applies to young parents. Find the “Elders” in your life whose experience and wisdom can be a touchstone for you. People who are willing to talk about their failures and what they have learned.  Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Parents, and Teachers in your life.  Go find them. They are all around you. Don’t just assume they are old fashioned.  By carefully asking questions and listening to their answers, you will find some true gems of common sense to assist you with fostering resiliency, individuality, and character in your children–and also in yourself.

The seeds of wisdom, spiritual principles, humanistic values, and common sense that can guide effective parenting and provide vision for the future often drop from the hands of elders who desire to “sow” into your life.  Allow those seeds to fall on the good soil of your heart and grow deep roots.  Water them with the Word, allow the Holy Spirit to till up the fallow ground in your heart to receive the good seed, and pull out the weeds of thoughts, attitudes, or habits and behaviors that will threaten to tangle up your efforts and choke off the fruit God is trying to produce within you and your children.

The key to using these developmental discipleship tools in the lives of your children is to be humble enough to allow others to disciple you as a parent.  Your children will learn how to be parents from the way you parent them.  Let your legacy be one of family, communication, wisdom, humility, and love for Jesus.  Stand with open hands. Strengthen the weak links.

What are your thoughts about this issue? Do you have experience overcoming weak and broken links in your parenting experience? Please share them!

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Helping your child know Christ

Leading children into young adulthood is a pretty scary proposition at times.  And why not? Kids can be scary.  🙂  Yet, there is a definite sense of victory when we are able to “break through” and watch them grow in their knowledge of God and make decisions on their own to follow him.

Ann Landers once said, “It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.”  This reminds me of the old adage, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for one day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.”

Raising children to become “successful human beings” and much more than that, “successful followers of Christ” is a dynamic process.  Daily, we must reach into the hearts and minds of our children and teens in a way that helps them open their spirits to the Truth that they are loved and valued by God, and can partake in His life and wisdom daily. First and foremost, however, it we–the caregivers, mentors, teacher, and EXAMPLES–who must show them the way by the way we live, act, think, and speak.  Following Jesus is a template we teach by living it, not demanding it.

This blog is an attempt to give insight into the developmental stages of childhood and the teen years in order to help parents, teachers, and youth workers craft ways to prosper spiritual, emotional, and mental formation in the young people they care for.  Each week, we will discuss developmental stages and how to help your child or young person to meet Jesus where they are right now, today. I look forward to starting this conversation. If you have specific questions I might use as the subject of a blog, or a situation you are currently dealing with, please ask.  It will be good to “dig in” and find practical approaches to real life issues.

With respect,

Tess Cox, PA-C, MHSC