I’ve always heard my aunt mention generational curses but I’ve never quite understood what that meant. The Gospel Coalition defines a generational curse as the cumulative effect on a person of things that their ancestors did, believed, or practiced in the past, and a consequence of an ancestor’s actions, beliefs, and sins being passed down.” Some examples of generational curses can be anger, addiction, laziness, abuse, divorce, mental illness, a particular way of thinking how things should be, gender roles, the list goes on and on. My parents have faced some things in their lives that has not only affected them, but it’s also affected me and has shaped the woman that I am today. Sometimes we don’t always understand how unresolved trauma can affect us, whether it happens directly to us or not. People often say that what we see or experience in our childhood has no impact on us, but that’s 100% false. Yes, as an adult we do have the ability to make our own decisions, but everything we experience as a child molds us into the the adult that we will be. Think about this, you often adapt the same eating habits that your parents have showed you growing up. For many of us in the black community, it was a lot of “comfort food,” which really wasn’t healthy. As an adult, you may continue to eat those same foods, deal with those same health issues as those in your family, and realize that you need to change your diet, but it’s hard because this is what you grew up eating as a child. As crazy as it is, we all have those family members that laugh and make fun of you for eating healthy, because it’s not what they’re accustomed to. People are changing today, but it wasn’t always a common practice in our community to eat kale or spinach. Although our comfort food is embedded in us and it’s what we crave, we do have the ability to change our diet, and it’s not an easy process. It’s the same concept when dealing with generational curses.
As an adult, it’s easy to think that everything you’re doing wrong doesn’t affect your children, but trust me when I say, they notice EVERYTHING. So as much as we want to believe that they’ll only inherit our good traits, deep down we know that’s not true. Children notice when they’re parents are arguing, when a parent isn’t emotionally available, when a parent is dealing with some kind of substance abuse, or even parents who have multiple partners. I remember watching my dad and uncle play with women’s emotions so badly growing up, and I watched my mom get cheated on by someone that she gave her all to. All of this made me completely on guard when I began dating. It was almost impossible for me to trust any guy that I was talking to. I went into every relationship believing that these guys were just like my dad, uncle, and stepdad at the time. I was afraid to believe anything else, because I didn’t want to experience the hurt that I’ve seen my mom or those women who my dad and uncle were dealing with have experienced.
I don’t want to speak on my dad’s trauma, because it’s his story to tell, not mine. However, things that have happened to him has affected how I move in the world, how I parent my son, and my inability to sometimes trust other people; whether I’m close to them or not. I didn’t even realize how much it affected me until recently having a conversation with my aunt, and I saw just how badly I needed to heal from that issue as well. As hard as I’ve tried to avoid dealing with the same traumas that I’ve seen my family live through, some people are suffering on the complete opposite side of the spectrum. Instead of them being too cautious because of those experiences, they end up repeating the same type of behaviors that they’ve witnessed. Too often we’ve seen the children of an alcoholic parent become an alcoholic as well, or there’s the case of the abused child who then turns around and becomes an abuser to others. This is the result of unresolved trauma in the family. Black families are known for sweeping these topics right under that comfortable rug that we’ve had for way too long. Sometimes those who speak up are even ostracized for facing these issues head on, which is completely sad! Some people are too afraid to face the truth, because it requires them to take a deeper look into who they really are. I’ve faced my own truths recently about some of my imperfections, and I realized that it didn’t start with me, it didn’t start with my mom or dad, and it may not have even started with their parents either. What I do know is that I have the ability to stop this from continuing in my children’s life. So how do I do that?
- Realize What the Issue is – if we aren’t honest with ourselves and acknowledge the trauma, there’s no way for us to resolve it.
- Seek Help – I don’t care how many people try to tell you that therapy is dumb. They’re the ones that really need help, because they’re content with living a lie. Help can be found in many different ways. You can seek counseling, a life coach, or even a support group!
- Have Faith – a generational curse began through the blood line so it can only be cancelled by the blood of Jesus.
- Be Patient – it won’t happen overnight!
I hope that I was able to help just one person realize that they may need to heal from generational curses in their family as well. It’s not an easy thing to face, but it’s even harder to think about your legacy dealing with the same issues that you’re facing now. Remember, healing doesn’t mean that the damage never existed. It means that it no longer controls our lives. So like Fantasia said, “go ahead and FREE YOURSELF!”