What a Teenage Boy and His Terminally Ill Mom Can Teach My Kids


The story of a boy who took his terminally ill mother to prom is touching hearts across America. Kerry Huffaker of Twin Falls, Idaho, was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer in February 2016 and was given just months to live.

Her son, Dylan, chose to ask his mom to prom. No one expected it, certainly not Kerry. She even tried to convince him that he should take someone else. But Dylan persisted and they enjoyed a memorable night together.

There are so many facets to this inspiring story. As the mother of three teenagers, I’m mostly intrigued that Dylan was able to think more about his mom than himself.

I hope none of us ever has to face such a wrenching illness or family tragedy. I would also like to think that my children could step outside of themselves if faced with a family crisis like Dylan and Kerry’s family is facing.

But what about teaching our kids to be less selfish in ordinary circumstances? Can they learn to be less self-centered in their everyday lives? Selfishness is a life long battle that all of us face. Our children will be happier and more fulfilled if they learn to serve and think of others now rather than later in life.

In the Focus on the Family  article, “Helping Your Teens Learn Selfless Living” , author Marc Fey cited a well-known study performed by researchers at Princeton University in 1973. Seminary students were given tasks to perform in various locations throughout campus. Some of the tasks were urgent, others were not. Unbeknownst to the students, persons needing help were placed in their paths to determine if the students would stop to assist or hurry on to their destination. Researchers found that the students with urgent tasks were far less likely to be a good samaritan.

We can conclude from this study that over-scheduled, over-busy, and overwhelmed teens families are far less likely to have the capacity to think of others before themselves. Ouch! This hits close to home for me.

Fey urges parents to “Take a hard look at your schedule and the routines in your life and your family’s life. To create room for selfless living, cut out some things.”

Make room for selfless service. Prioritize Christlike love in our lives and the lives of our children. Place service above activities with less valuable outcomes.

These are the keys to raising children like Dylan who have the capacity to look outside themselves and see the unspoken needs of others. I have much work to do with myself and my family in this regard. But each step my family takes in prioritizing other’s needs is a step towards winning the battle of selfishness!

Help the Huffaker Family fight with your donation!

Photo courtesy of Brink Studio

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