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Breaking Generational Cycles

Updated: Feb 17, 2021

Everyone is affected to some measure or extent by his or her family. Unfortunately,

the impact is not always a positive one; for many, it is negative.


Consider the impact that a poor relationship between parents, or lack of relationship,

has on a child. According to research, children raised by a single parent are thirty percent

more likely to take part in alcohol, drugs, sex, and/or violence, than children raised by

two parents. But being raised by two parents does not guarantee success either.

According to research, children who are raised by two parents, but the father is absent

and/or inattentive father, are sixty-eight percent more likely to take part in alcohol, drugs,

sex, and/or violence, than children who are raised by two parents in which dad is attentive.

Consider the impact that violence in the home has on a child. According to research,

children with violent parents are ten times more likely to be violent than children with

non-violent parents. Research also shows that children raised by alcoholic parents are

four times more likely than children of non-alcoholics to develop alcoholism. And

according to statistics, children of depressed parents are over three times as likely as

children of non-depressed parents to experience a depressive episode. Last, parental

depression increases the risk of anxiety and conduct disorder in children.



Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob


Interestingly, the Bible shares many stories concerning the impact of one generation

on another. For example, consider Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Abraham lied about his

relationship with Sarah. He referred to her as his sister. This happened twice. Following

in his father’s footsteps, Isaac did the same thing, he called his wife Rebekah, his sister.

In each generation there was an overly invested mother. Sarah was overly involved

with Isaac. Rebekah was overly involved with Jacob. And Rachel was totally involved

only with Joseph. Three generations of mothers who were overly invested in the lives of

their sons—a recurring pattern of out-of-balance involvement.


Favoritism towards one child is one of the most dysfunctional patterns in Abraham’s

extended family. Both Abraham and Sarah clearly favored Isaac over Ishmael. The

pattern changed a bit in the next generation, however, Isaac favored his son Esau,

while Rebekah favored her son Jacob. In the third generation, Jacob changed the situation

but ended up with the same result. He had two wives, one of which he clearly favored

over the other. And both he and his preferred wife, Rachel, clearly favored their son,

Joseph, over all the other children in the family.



Breaking Free


Because of favoritism, in each generation a son was sent away. In Abraham’s family,

Ishmael was sent away because of Sarah’s jealousy of Hagar. In Isaac’s family, Jacob was sent away because of his mother’s fear that Esau would kill him. And in Jacob’s family, Joseph was sent away by his brothers, who at first intended to murder him.


Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s families are not the only ones who have been affected by

the generational curse. Countless others have too. The statistics are alarming. And they are abundant. The negative impact that one generation can leave upon the one that follows is enormous. So, how does one break free from the cycle? What can a person do to make sure that

he or she doesn’t pass on to the next generation what has been passed on them?



In Closing


First: there must be an awareness of one’s need for change. If a person doesn’t see his

need for change, then he will not change. Second: a person must take ownership of his need for change. You cannot use the past, the negative experiences of your childhood and upbringing, as an excuse to not take the steps needed to experience positive change. What 'so-and-so' did must not be allowed to keep you stuck in the past. Instead, the future must be embraced through one taking ownership of one’s need for change. A counselor can help a person with the change process as you take this journey. You CAN experience positive forward movement. And positive forward movement is something everyone should want!



Thank you for reading!


Dr. Eugene Wilson

Executive Pastor | POK Church

Katy, Texas

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