Volume 53: Breaking Generational Curses

Posted on 06/07/2011

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I found myself having the most unusual emotional experience the other day: I experienced three distinct emotions at one time. The precipitating event was rather innocuous by any standard; however, its impact was extremely profound (for me). In one brief moment, I felt unconditional love and admiration; while at the same time feeling overwhelmed, and a touch of anger and resentment. Now, I know some of my more literal readers might say that I just described five emotions; but I grouped the similar emotions together, so don’t think that I can’t count, OK? Anyway, the event that struck me so immensely was something that happens almost every day. We just arrived home from work and, as we were walking in the door, I took my shirt off. I had a tank-top tee-shirt (aka, wife-beater) on underneath, and I was preparing to relax after a long day. Almost instantly, my 3-year-old son took off his shirt to display his own tank tee-shirt and said, “I want to wear my armpit shirt like you daddy!” You might be waiting on the punchline, but that was it. What seemed like a statement said by countless sons to their fathers can have a tremendous impact on a father that didn’t and doesn’t really know his.

I realized at that moment how much my son watches me and tries to emulate me. I realized how I was the same way as a young boy. I also remembered the hurt of being rejected by the one person you want to be accepted by the most. I loved my son more for his devotion to me. I hated my father again for his lack of that same devotion. I wanted to cry at that moment and I’m crying now as I write this post. I had an epiphany that day…..that moment. I realized that my son is going to be like me – whether I want him to or not. It’s up to me to choose which “me” he’s going to be. Am I going to repeat the chain of poor fathering that had plagued my family for generations; or, will I step up and Break the Generational Curse?

New Job, No Experience

I love my son. I love him more and more each day. I vividly remember the day my wife called me to tell me we were having a boy. That moment is frozen in time. I immediately began fantasizing about going to ball games, and playing catch, and teaching him about girls, etc. At the same time, I’m afraid that I might fail him because I don’t know how to be a father. It’s like starting a new job with no experience. I never learned the day-to-day relationship building a father does with a son. I’d only seen it on TV, or occasionally from my Uncles to my cousins. There’s sooooooo much more that goes into being a father than playing catch, and going to ball games, and teaching him about girls. Unfortunately, the instruction manual God was supposed to send with him got lost in the mail. I “learned” how to be a man on my own and, for the most part, I was a pretty bad teacher. I didn’t teach myself responsibility, accountability, respect, affection, trust and belief in others. I learned how to shut myself off from my emotions so I wouldn’t feel the rejection and pain I felt from my own father. I taught myself how to be self-destructive and selfish. I taught myself that other people don’t really care for me and that I had to take care of myself. I taught myself how to survive without feeling love and affection. That’s not quite the on-the-job training you want to have when you become a father.

Underwear Theory

As I have grown to mature (somewhat), I have decided that I am going to be the best parent I can be. Along the way, I developed the Underwear Theory regarding good parents. Good parents are like good underwear. They are comforting and supportive. Despite what (or who) you put over them, they are always needed and will always be there for you. The longer you keep them around, the more comfortable they become. They conform to you. They’ve been with you during your highest highs and your lowest lows. They are consistent. They provide the foundation for the rest of your life – ummmm, wardrobe, LOL! Clothes (people, places, and things) may come and go, but your good underwear (parents) will be with you. When I look at my children, I know there’s a lot of things that I don’t know about parenting. The one thing I do know is, if I’m not there for them, I’m repeating the same crime perpetrated on me. There was a time where I never thought the wounds of my childhood would heal. Each day I take time to interact with my children, the scars on my soul heal a little bit more.

Conclusion

That sobering afternoon and seemingly simple statement evoked emotions in me that I worked hard to cover up. I had compassion for how much my son admires me – even though I don’t feel like I’ve given him any reason to. I was angry at my own father and asked, “How could do that to me?” Also, I was overwhelmed at the magnitude of how important a role I have in his life. He’s learning how to survive and thrive from me. If I fail, so will he. Finally, I was thankful to God for providing me a second chance to right the wrongs of previous generations. I didn’t have to be blessed with a son, but I was. I have an opportunity to be the father he needs me to be. I have an opportunity to be the father my father and grandfather couldn’t be. It is now that I truly understand the meaning of Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Generational curses are not broken by wishes or witches. They are broken one hug at a time.

That’s just my three cents…

Sill-E

Peep my ver-na-cular cuz I don’t know how to act….”

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