The CrossRoads Journal

Emotional Inheritance

Today my husband and I met our granddaughter for the first time. In the handful of hours since her birth, I have cried many tears. Tears of joy over this miracle. And most of all, tears of love.

But, mixed in with all of those tears for all of those reasons, there are also tears of gratitude and even relief. Those tears flow for reasons you might not expect . . . I’ve been thinking a lot about what we pass down. That isn’t new for me. Understanding “what was passed down” is a big part of the work I do with my clients. It was a big part of my own healing journey, as well.

The sins of the father. We can pass down
so many beautiful things to the generations that follow us. But if we’re not careful we can pass down some unhealthy things, too. There is a scripture that reads, “the sins of the father are visited upon the sons to the third and fourth generation.” Admittedly, it is a verse I struggled with in the past. However, the more I healed and the more I walk with clients who are working to do the same thing, I have come to understand this Scripture differently. While at first glance the verse’s message

seems like an unjust sentence pronounced by an unforgiving God, closer examination reveals it is instead a cautionary prediction by a compassionate and merciful God who knows what can happen to the generations after us if we do not address our issues.

What isn’t repaired gets repeated. And this isn’t just a “scriptural” message. Science points to the same outcome. Through an area of science known as Transgenerational Epigenetic Inheritance, we see that the impact of one generation’s experience will impact future generations, to the third and fourth generation, save for intervention to change the outcome.

Passing Down Healing. However, for as much as our wounds and the consequences of our dysfunction can be passed down, so can our healing. And that is why I cry. Some time ago, before there was even the thought of Mia, our son took ownership of all the things he did not want to pass on to future

generations. The road hasn’t always been smooth for him—or straight, for that matter. But he didn’t give up. And while he didn’t foresee his daughter’s presence in his life at the time, his decision to do the hard work (and continue doing it) allowed him to be ready for fatherhood in ways many might not be. Because of the road he chose, our granddaughter receives the incredible blessing of a father (and mother) who understand that you can only effectively parent and be equipped to help your child navigate her challenges in life to the degree you have healed your own wounds.

While our sweet Mia will undoubtedly have her own struggles and adversities, I am confident she will have the support she needs of parents who are uniquely equipped to help her through it. And for that, I am grateful beyond words. And beyond tears.