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Breaking the Cycle
I know a woman who hated her home life as a teen. Things got so bad that she actually tried killing herself in order to escape the pain. She vowed to never get married, and certainly to never have children of her own. She didn’t want to put a child through what she had experienced.

But that was then. Now she is happily married with three children. The turning point for her came when she was pregnant with her first child—a pregnancy she didn’t expect or welcome. A few months into the pregnancy she came to the realization that even though she had a bad home life, that didn’t mean her baby had to have one, too. She determined to break the cycle.

That’s one of the wonderful things about becoming a parent—we can choose what kind of home we want to have. We can keep the things that we cherished about our childhood home, and eliminate the things that were destructive.

For Example:
  • If your home had a lot of yelling: Make an agreement that all arguments will be talked out without yelling, name-calling or put-downs.
  • If there was physical abuse: Vow to never strike your children. Use other disciplines such as time-out, grounding and removing privileges. But most of all talk. Tell your child exactly why their actions were wrong. Discuss how their behavior hurts themselves and others.
  • If your father was often absent: Don’t be married to your work. Set specific hours for work and then let the rest wait until the next day.
  • If holidays were stressful: Don’t set high expectations. Go with the flow. Focus on what really matters about each holiday.
  • If your parents weren’t involved: Join your child’s parent group, attend musical programs and sporting events. Make sure you attend open houses and parent-teacher conferences.
  • If your family lacked spirituality: Start family worship when your kids are infants. Read Bible stories and sing to them. As they get older, they can participate. Go to church as a family and get them involved in extras like Vacation Bible School and socials.
  • If your parents seldom affirmed you: Compliment your child. This will not spoil him or her. Be sure to give healthy praise where praise is due. A good report card, home project, musical performance or sports game deserve your affirmation.
Even though your childhood might have been painful at times, with God’s help you can make your children’s whatever you want it to be. You can break the negative cycle, and start a new cycle of love and laughter that your children will pass on to their children, who will pass it on to their children. This can be your greatest legacy.

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By Nancy Canwell. Copyright © 2009 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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