We pass down to our children and them to their children the dysfunction that we learned from our parents. But, we can break this generational cycle. We do not have to continue to sentence our lineage to the same hurts that we endured.
Before we talk about how to change the cycle, let’s examine it.
Most likely you will repeat learned patterns
Two dysfunctional people in a room of healthy individuals will find one another. Why?
Because the other person feels familiar, feels “normal” to them. Healthy people feel different. The way they speak and act differently feels foreign and unfamiliar. So, the two unhealthy ones find each other. It feels like “home” and they know how to act and feel.
Now maybe they can fix their childhood through this person. If he reminds her of her cold and distant father her unconscious goal will be to finally be seen and loved. If she reminds him of his stern and controlling mother maybe she will take care of him and he will not have to face his fears. Both of them expect the other to heal them, fill those damaged holes in their hearts and finally make them feel complete.
The problem is that we cannot fix our past relationships with our present ones.
You likely will marry your parents
We tend to marry those with the same level of health or dysfunction that we possess. So, if I am unhealthy to a pretty severe degree then I will marry someone at about that same level. This ensures that we will pass on our dysfunction to our kids, and, without intervention, they will do the same. This is how the generational cycle is formed and continues.
You cannot change the past
You cannot change the childhood you lived, you can only change what you believe, how you think, and how you act. That means having to examine your heart and mind and find those places that are damaged or broken. This means to allow the Lord to bring healing and restoration and wholeness. It means being very intentional about breaking the generational cycle.
It takes more than determination to change the future
It takes Christ. It takes His healing, unlearning dysfunctional patterns, and then some relearning basic skills for life. As you are healed and learn new ways to live you will have healthy, whole patterns of relating to passing on to your children. This is how the generational cycle is broken.
There will be mistakes and some repeated patterns and you put on new behaviors and new ways of thinking and relating. That’s okay. Just keep moving forward. You do not have to pass on the unhealthy ways you learned.
Model a stable marriage
Healthy children are a product of healthy parenting. Healthy marriages produce healthy parents. So, you may have to start changing your marriage in order to change your parenting. Remember, you can only take your kids to the level of health you possess. The healthier you are, the healthier your children can become. Breaking the generational cycle means starting with you.
Foster a Proper Self-Image
Children reflect what they see in their parents and when the parents are healthy they will adopt it and pass it to their children. Healthy individuals promote healthy children –
1. display acceptance
2. provide opportunities for choice
3. set standards of behavior
4. foster optimism
5. plan successful experiences
Need Additional Help?
If you are unhealthy or dysfunctional in some capacity you may not know what it looks like to be healthy. There are many self-
Break the generational cycle in your family line. Start a new tradition of health, wholeness, and joy for your children and grandchildren.