things we pass on to our kids

3 Things You May Be Passing On to Your Kids

I’ve been watching Saturday Night Live for as long as I can remember. When I was little, I’d often impersonate Eddie Murphy and Martin Short. Then, in high school, I’d recite lines from Dana Carvey and Phil Hartman to make my friends laugh. Quoting TV and movies is something I could always do well. Now that my kids are a little older, I’ve been introducing them to some of the skits I thought were so funny. Not long after I shared one of them, both of my kids started to quote it, word for word. This is one of the kinds of things we pass on to our kids.

My wife has said, “They are so you.” I not only passed on to my kids the gift of memorizing lines but also the desire to use it to make others and themselves laugh. Whether we realize it or not, there are a lot of things, good and bad, that we are passing on to our kids. Most of those things depend on the choices we make. Based on your decisions, here are 3 things you may be passing on to your kids.

1. Wounds

We all have wounds from our pasts. Some came from traumatic experiences. When we don’t pursue healing, the wounds remain or grow even deeper, and they don’t go away. They affect our hearts, emotions, and behavior in unhealthy ways. We can be reactive, defensive, passive, insecure, and potentially abusive. We can repeat the same hurtful behavior that caused our own wounds on our children and the cycle continues.

Are there wounds you haven’t dealt with yet? It may take a long time for you to heal and it may take professional counseling. But, for the sake of your kids and their long-term health, it’s important.

2. Unhealthy or Bad Patterns

Sometimes this is simply repeating behavior we have witnessed from our parents or grandparents. We often default to what we know, even when what we know is bad or unhealthy. It can even go beyond behavior to our attitudes. Cain committed the first murder in history when he killed his brother Abel (Genesis 4). Several generations later, we see Cain’s descendant Lamech continuing the pattern of bitterness, murder, and boasting about violence. When we justify our bad attitudes and behavior, we erase our conscience. It becomes harder to determine right from wrong.

But we can go a different way. We can call toxic patterns and behavior what they are and ask for forgiveness for the ways we’ve participated in them. Then we can set a new course. We can find people of character to emulate and resources to pass on something good to our kids.

3. Blessings and Curses

I know a man who grew up with a violent, alcoholic father and a neglectful mother. Several of his siblings continued the dysfunction, but he desired a different life. When he got married, he devoted himself to God and his wife. Eventually, they had kids. He faithfully prayed over them and protected them from the trouble of his family. Each child has grown up well. One of his daughters married a good friend of mine and today they have a healthy family.

Our choices determine what we pass on to our children. God desires for us to be blessed and when we follow His ways, we receive blessing and pass it to our kids. God invited an abused and neglected child to a new life and he accepted the invitation. It’s already changed the lives of several generations, including my friend’s. What kind of life is God inviting you to? What will you pass on to your kids?

Sound off: What are other things we pass on to our kids?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “How are we alike—which character traits of mine do you think you have?”