A Family Culture of Shame
There is a significant difference between not aware and not responsible. Many adults whom I talk to about them perpetuating generational shame assert that there is no way they could know they had shamed their child in these ways because they did “the best they could.” Really? By simply duplicating their shame-based childhood pain into their own children – whether unknowingly or intentionally – they considered that the best they could do? The pain in their own lives should have been proof enough that something needed to be radically changed.
What the parents are implying is that they cannot be responsible to provide their child something their own childhood did not provide them. I won’t argue that this makes reasonable, logical sense. How can a person give away something they don’t possess? But I believe God sees it differently.
You and I always have a choice. Whether we were raised in church or in the bars; whether we had two parents, one parent, no parents, foster parents, adopted parents, or grandparents… as adults, we still have the choice to either impose our pain onto others, or find a way to do better – no matter what it takes!
If we fail to parent our children from the foundation of the love and grace of Jesus, and the truths of God’s word, then we are guilty of perpetuating generational shame for three to four generations. Our grandparents represent the first generation, our parents would be the second generation, we are the third, and our children are the fourth. The passage in Deuteronomy clearly states that God will “lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected–even children in the third and fourth generations.” And if you’re reading this book, there is a pretty good chance that you’re one of those four.
The Opposite Is Not Necessarily Better
Common sense might say that if we just do the opposite of the shaming we witnessed in childhood it will produce a healthy life, marriage, children, and family. The flaw in this reasoning is that, without of a person’s heart being regenerated through Christ, the opposite of shame-based is not self-worth, but rather pretentiousness and a façade created to cover up our internal toxic shame. Although it may not look as outwardly unhealthy as what was experienced in childhood, it still derives its motivations from the very same shame messages.
Shame Does Not Have to Be Passed Down
Just because we learn something doesn’t mean we are obligated to live it or to teach it. Just because our parents did not create an environment during our childhood where our soul needs could be consistently met, does not obligate us to duplicate the same patterns into our home, marriage, family, and children.
For the pattern to change, for the shaming to stop, for the generational “curse” to end, we must make some radical adjustments to our lives.
- Turn from toxic people, places, and things.
- Uncover the lies and false beliefs of our past.
- Rediscover our true identity in Jesus Christ.
- Nurture lasting hope in others.
In later blog postings, we’ll explore the twelve Bible-based principles that are essential in shifting your family tree from generations of sin, shame, and brokenness to a lasting legacy of faith, love, and grace.
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