If you've followed me long, you know I have spent extensive time growing through counseling. And of all the things I learned, one piece really struck my heart.

We are how we were raised.

Therapists call this our “family of origin”. It's the study of how our families hand down brokenness from generation to generation. When a mother struggles with an eating disorder and unknowingly mocks her four-year-old for eating carbs or when a father can't show love to his son because it was never shown to him.

Personally, I call this generational sin. It creeps down through our family trees like a wave of destruction. It's pain that we carry into our marriages and into our children and into their children.

Unless we break it.

My wife and I agreed to spearhead this in our marriage. To restore the brokenness. To unlearn our wounds and relearn a healthier way. We want our daughter to escape parts of our story and the story of our parents and their parents.

But it's difficult.

We must closely monitor our words and our habits and our character. We must give something we don't really know. We must pray for repair and recovery.

The video below is an exact presentation of how powerful generational sin truly is. Let us not be ignorant in its power any longer. Let us be parents and leaders and mentors who shield our children from such damage.

Have you inherited something from your parents? Have you handed something down to your children? Let me know in the comments below.

Photo provided by: Lightstock

50 thoughts on “Mothers… Never Say This In Front Of Your Daughter

  1. Summer Watson-Bourne says:

    This is very powerful and thank you for doing it. The ironic thing is all these women and girls are really beautiful.

    • Dale Partridge says:

      Yes they are. Each woman is beautiful in her own way. Individuality is the most beautiful gift we’ve been given!

  2. PsychoTree says:

    Yes, Yes, Yes! I inherited a great deal from my parents growing up in a dysfunctional family. I blog about the effects this has had on my life over the years. I value my children and have choose to break this cycle too. Only by the grace of God was this possible. I agree 100% with your article. This sin is handed down and it can be stopped with the grace of God in our lives. Blessing to you and your family. Linda

    • Dale Partridge says:

      I’m so blessed to hear you have taken a stand against brokenness. Your family is lucky to have you!

      • PsychoTree says:

        Thank You! I believe , we can’t heal what we don’t acknowledge! Healing starts with facing the truth within ourselves. I’m enjoying your blog. Thanks Linda

  3. Willow says:

    I have as well grown up around dysfunction. There were things I worked on.not to,repeat and did protect my children from what had filtered down to me in the family history.But there managed to be a gap in the attempts and I dropped the ball in a area which.now I’m getting.back lash from. I’ve reached out to a friend who is a therapist and we ‘ve had.valuable discussions. She has told me it’s.never too late to mend fences and apologize. And that we as parents are human and imperfect.
    We make mistakes and ,”at times it isn’t intentional or deliberate” it may come from a moment when we are having stress financially,relationship wise, etc. and being short tempered or overly angry towards the child is undeserving. So I’m no better than my parents or my grandparents in this matter. Yet
    I’ve forgiven my folks a long time ago. Hopefully my.child will get to a point of forgiveness too.

    • Dale Partridge says:

      The fact that you are even aware of the dysfunction that was passed down, is the biggest first step. Make sure you give yourself grace too. Parenting is not easy and your friend is right, we are only human. All you can do is work to better yourself! And in turn, your family will be better for it.

  4. Terri Bleeker says:

    The clarity to recognize generational curses in our family can be an amazing gift we we also acknowledge that God gives us the power, wisdom and authority to break these chains. I struggled with self-confidence and body image issues as did my mom. When I had kids I decided that this would change for my children. I have always told them they are loved, and smart and been affectionate. Things I didn’t receive. I have been so careful to not verbalize me body image issues in my home at all. and this has spilled out of my home. I had a friend ask me recently if I have any issues and I assured her I did, but I didn’t speak of them because I didn’t want my daughter to grow up to put herself down and I didn’t want to give them strength. This is something I’ve had the opportunity to speak and write about to share in my mom’s group. My daughter deserves to know that she is fearfully and wonderfully made and that she is beautiful just as she is. All of our daughters deserve this. It require us to model the behavior and belief that we wish to see in our girls. They will learn far more, in this arena, from what we do and say of ourselves than what we tell them. It really makes a difference. My daughter loves herself and is confident in a way that I still fall short in. What a beautiful thing she is modeling back to me. She is showing me exactly what I have taught her.

  5. Stel says:

    I, just like many others, grew up in a home of emotional abuse. I am a Taoist person living with a theistic spouse, and although we have many moral similarities, it is certainly our discussed differences that foster growth and love. I admire her belief in God, and the strength and comfort she draws from such a strong belief. I feel lost in my past much of the time, but have found strength in meditation. Having her, my therapist, and another very close friend has allowed me to further dissect my history and understand why I am who I am. Together, with my wife, we have begun living better, stronger lives simply to assist our daughter to cognitively develop as strong as possible. It takes a lot of work, and a lot of strength, but I admire anyone who takes the time to better understand themselves in the attempt to have a stronger future for their children, and in effect, themselves. You are all heroes in my eyes.

  6. LT says:

    This is very timely for me as I am in this process myself of unlearning and relearning things in my life. Thanks!

    • Dale Partridge says:

      It always makes me so glad to hear when my blogs come at such a perfect time in someone’s life 🙂

  7. KJHall says:

    As a single mother of 2 girls (10 and 6) I love that you shared this.
    Since I was 2, I was told I was fat.
    I was never “fat” – I was a chubby baby, but that’s what babies are! My
    mother went so far as to coin a really distasteful nickname upon me
    (think barnyard) that she used my entire life. Now when I hear other mothers calling their girls’
    names disguised as terms of endearment I stop them and point out how
    detrimental that is. Some listen, some don’t.
    I’m very conscious of the fact that the way my mother chose to identify me was 100% projection on her part, and I’m hyper-aware not to ever comment on my daughters’ appearance other than to tell them they are beautiful.
    At the age of 38 I still find myself deconditioning from the “legacy” bestowed upon me. The reality is I have never been, nor ever will be, overweight. Cognitively, I understand that. Emotionally, I struggle daily.
    But my girls? They are beautiful inside and out; regardless of size.

    • Dale Partridge says:

      I’m really glad you are bold enough to speak out against this, and I am even more glad that you have made a conscious effort to watch your words around your daughters. They are lucky to have you!

  8. Bee says:

    I am a daughter reading this article. It struck me because growing up I also had two sisters. They are without a doubt, the most gorgeous girls you will meet. They have beautiful personalities and have bodies of a model. Growing up, I was never “fat” or overweight. As a kid I was a bit chunky but not bad by any means. I grew out of this stage and fit into my body. I was an athlete so my body was toned. I constantly got commented on about my weight or what I was eating whole simultaneously hearing my sister get complimented on how thin and pretty she is. My sisters and I never were competitive with each other in that way. Constantly hearing these comments tore me up as a little girl. I would watch what I are and who I ate it in front of. I even tried to mimic my sister’a eating habits so then maybe I could be thin like her. I now know that I am a beautiful person because of my personality and my mother’s reassurance. I feel uncomfortable with my body most times but I remember that this is the body God gave me and I should be happy with it. Now that my young sister is starting high school and this is the time where image is made a big deal of, I am going to reassure her that she is beautiful and needs to change nothing. I know she looks up to me and mimics my habits. Thank you for sharing this wonderful video and article.

    • Dale Partridge says:

      Absolutely. Your body is holy and your individuality is beautiful. You (or your body parts) were no mistake and God finds great pleasure in you. Make sure your sister knows this too as she will probably need constant reminders! You are her big sister for a reason 🙂

  9. Kitty says:

    As a daughter I cried. I really did, because suddenly I’m realising how much of an impact my mother had on me and how that has shaped me. I am currently in recovery for an eating disorder. It isn’t just body image issues that I picked up form her, but also perfectionism, the need for control and a plan. I also learned to compare my body to other people’s and how to “stay on top” (my father is one of many brothers so my mother learned to compare herself to all her sisters in law and to stay the thinnest so as to keep some self confidence as she was probably the one most alienated because she was the one who was most foreign).
    I’m not planning on having children, ever. Mostly for environmental reasons, but also fear of putting my child through what I go through everyday (an eating disorder is half genetic and half the environment we’re raised in) I am so much like my mother and as I’m unlearning what she has handed down to me more for myself than anything else.

    • Dale Partridge says:

      Wow, thank you for sharing your story, Kitty! I’m glad to hear you are in recovery, which means you sought help when you needed it most. The fact that you are aware of what’s been passed down to you is already the number 1 step. Now you can move forward in correcting it!

  10. jessica says:

    Wow. I am aware of how I would like to raise my daughter differently than the perspective and self esteem I have….with a better view, a better attitude and approach to the world, to understand that the body is a machine and most importantly, a beautiful crafted creation from God…unlike what many of us have made it out to be. Admittingly, I struggle in what way is best, in what way is effective. Even then, there are times I get caught up in “life” and forget to be intentional about influencing her in a positive manner. I also find living near family (my parents, my sister, same aged cousins) is working against things. We spend time with them regulary. They speak differently, judge appearances. They are not nearly as mindful of their words. I try with them but I don’t feel like they have a thought process similar to mine in regards to how we are capable of being the primary influence for our children. I feel responsible for my sisters children as well in that aspect. My parents mostly raise them…and from what I gather, they grew up and are growing up just going through the motions and just trying to get by financially. My husband and I were like that but now it is like a light turned on. Still, I just feel stuck on how to reach the next level. Moving on, I feel like I have to battle my family’s influences more often than not. An easy answer is to not visit frequently but they are my family and we are very close-knit and I moved to where I am to be with them. I did not know my extended family and I value the loss as a learning lesson…so I cannot say I will spend less time with them. Also, I read elsewhere that daughters and mothers naturally have a love-hate relationship. I do not want to give into that perspective. All this to say…I am trying. It is so hard but I am trying. I want to be impactful. My daughter is already resistant to me in most situations. Some times I feel an Amish way of living is the only way, to cut off from media, judgment, stereotypes, vain expectations, the stressed rat race of getting everything done all the while preparing for the next day, etc. That is just how I feel is all. Ultimately, I just want her to be strong, to love life, to live and let live, to know every problem has a solution, confide in God, to think ahead and prepare, to smile, and keep life as simple as possible! I want her to know AND feel like a beautiful existence with purpose and that life itself…while buried in all the clutter…is truly beautiful. I want her to thrive. Your video has reminded me of these things, brought it back to the front of my attention. I realized I can do what I think is effective but I also need to check in with her time-to-time to find where she is at about things like this. So with gratitude I thank you and please know I am inspired by your writings.

    • Dale Partridge says:

      Wow Jessica, thank you so much for being so vulnerable. Remember to give yourself grace as a parent – it’s not easy! I’m blessed to hear you enjoy my blog. 🙂

    • Dale Partridge says:

      Wow Jessica, thank you so much for being so vulnerable. Remember to give yourself grace as a parent – it’s not easy! I’m blessed to hear you enjoy my blog. 🙂

  11. Melissa says:

    I agree that it is important for parents to learn healthier patterns of behavior than perhaps what was modeled in their family of origin. Likewise, I believe parents, should strive to model self acceptance and positive self esteem for our children. However, I am concerned that you used a mom with an eating disorder as an example of “generational sin”. Eating disorders are mental illnesses…yes, ILLNESSES. They are not sins. Would you consider someone with cancer to be evidencing a generational sin?
    Your message today is an important one. Parents do need to be mindful of the behaviors and thought patterns we model for our children. While I do not wish to invalidate your message, I do want to emphasize that mental illnesses are just that …illnesses. Our society has often reinforced the idea that mental illnesses are a result of some sort of character flaw, weakness, or even sin. People with mental illnesses not only have to deal with their illness, but also with a lot of negative ideas and stigma related to their illness. I am a very blessed mother of three beautiful children, including one who has a serious mental illness. I strive to help him accept himself for the wonderfully made child of God that he is. I try to help him understand that his illness is not shameful nor is it his fault, any more than having cancer or diabetes is someone’s fault.

    • Dale Partridge says:

      Hi Melissa, I did not actually say that having an eating disorder would become generational sin, you misunderstood me. My point was, whatever a parent is struggling with is often passed down to the child without the parent even being aware of it. So if a mother struggles with body image, or always needing to be in control, or always striving for perfection (which sometimes results in an eating disorder, hence my example), those characteristics would likely be passed down to her children. Hope that helps clarify 🙂

      • Melissa says:

        Hi Dale. Actually, that is what I assumed you meant. I guess I was more concerned that some readers might equate an eating disorder (a mental illness) with generational sin after reading the terms used in the same paragraph. Having a child with mental illness, as I mentioned, perhaps makes me extra sensitive to the stigma existing around mental illness. Like I stated, I did not wish to take away from your wonderful message…only wanted to clarify this particular piece. Thank you so much for taking the time to clarify!

  12. Name says:

    As a mother of 3 beautiful daughters, I thank you for posting and sharing this. Brought me to tears, love myself so they love themselves. Such a simple but powerful message. Thank you!!

  13. Pamela69 says:

    I totally agree…there are no qualifications to bring another human being into this world-except attraction and acting on that attraction. So if we’re not careful and aware of our family’s story it will be a repeat. i teach people to re write their Money Story as we usually take on our family’s money habits, blue print, beliefs etc. Thanks for sharing this powerful article!

  14. Vann says:

    I use to curse a lot and put myself down. But with the help of God I don’t curse that much any more and I am more positive about things.

  15. Ladymet says:

    When I was growing up my mom never told me how pretty or beautiful I was. She also used to yell at me a lot. It made me feel so bad & sad. Even relatives never told me I was pretty or beautiful. They called me names b/c I was fat, short and not pretty. I decided when I have children I will tell them everyday how pretty & how beautiful they are, and I will never yell or scream at them. They are now 2 grown daughters that know they are beautiful and are comfortable in their own skin, b/c I had to learn to be beautiful to show them what beauty is!!!

    • Melissa says:

      I am so sorry that you were so mistreated by your relatives. You certainly did not deserve to be called names. I am happy to read that you chose to raise your daughters in a different way…a way that showed them their own beauty by demonstrating yours. Your mother was mistaken to have not told you that you were beautiful. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! It shows through the words you have shared today!

    • Dale Partridge says:

      Wow this is heartbreaking! I am so sorry you had to deal with such cruelty growing up. But good seems to have come out of that situation: You are now hyper-aware of the impact that words (or lack thereof) can have on a person, so you are intentional about speaking life and positivity into your girls. 🙂

  16. Debbie says:

    This is huge! Not only the words we speak as parents, but also our daily actions. Children learn by watching. My biggest challenge after we had our daughter was how to show her good parenting skills, when I had never been taught. Being abandoned as a child, I never experienced good parenting.
    Parenting isn’t easy, it’s a daily doing, on my part, to teach by example good parenting,
    Thank you for your inspirational words and stories.

  17. Diana says:

    Wow, this video really made me take a step back and think.. i didnt even realize how strong my influence could be on my daughter. I am known for not smiling…at home..in pictures.. at work and church too. I believe its because growing up my mom made me feel unworthy of affection, love, or even just her time. And i have noticed my daughter doesnt smile much either. You have to almost force her even for pictures..how very sad. Thank you for this… i will not forget what it has taught me today!!

  18. Marie says:

    My beautiful mother was raised with and married into feelings of “not being good enough” and without as much as a single word, she passed that along to my sister and I, and here we are, closing in on 40, trying to break down those spiny ugly walls of feeling inferior.

  19. Anna Hauser says:

    I love this 🙂 as a teen and child I had and still struggle with an eating disorder. For obvious reasons it hit me close to home. I also have a six month old daughter. All thru pregnancy I battled my self to me at right for her. Now that she’s here over the last six months I’ve been working on me so that I never pass this to my baby or make her feel as ugly as I felt.

  20. Shanetheforce says:

    I just watched that video the other day. I adore the dove campaign. as a youth leader in my church, and with a genuine desire to help women, young and old, i feel compelled to share my story. i am beyond comfortable in my skin. growing up, i was always told by my mom and dad how beautiful and special i was, so that part was always there, but i didn’t feel comfortable in my skin. i didn’t think i was ugly, but i knew there were girls that were prettier than i was, and found myself holding jealousy in my heart. i can’t give you an exact moment when i changed, maybe it was after i accepted Jesus, and felt His unconditional love no matter what, but something just clicked! i found myself trying to learn and love each and every single part of my body. when i overhear women complaining about something, i can’t help but chime in. i know i am beautiful, inside and out, but what does it take to truly recognize that in yourself? what has worked for me, and to this day, i continue to do this…learning to love yourself as you are, is important! get naked. stand in front of your mirror. SHAKE! watch! its amazing to see what your body can do. and while my method may seem unconventional, learning to embrace every part of my body was liberating. your body is ever changing, and if you do not learn to embrace what God has given you in any stage, you will constantly have those chains on you, holding you back from your true potential. the enemy wants to keep you there, but God does not! He has a plan and purpose for your life. break free! then and only then will you truly be able to lead the life you are called to! i hope someone has found inspiration from this! ladies and gentleman::LOVE WHO YOU ARE!!

    • Nancy says:

      I find this very inspiring as a Christian. It made me feel better to hear your thoughts on this, i will try to remember to think of it this way.

  21. Anna Pyzalski says:

    Well. I sure have learned a few things from my parents: Lying never pays off. Admit when you’re at fault. Money doesn’t make you happy. If you don’t work on your marriage it will break.
    Those are just the 4 most essential things I have learned. Now, having our own little girl here, I see things the same way. I try to work hard to make our marriage last and not give up, when we hit bumps along the road (which there has been a lot of in the past 2 years). Money, presents and material things aren’t as important has hugs, play and arts and crafts time.
    Let’s just hope I do better then my parents 😉 I wouldn’t want my daughter having to fight as much as I do now to be the person I should be.

  22. Anja says:

    Really good article! I think that generally being a good example and role model is key to being a good parent. My family liked to say “at least i am a bad example and you lot how not to do stuff”, but that is not exactly helpful… whether it was tidying our home, proper interaction, or anything of that sort, i was barely encouraged and had few people to look up to. It made super aware of this and the power of words especially. I work on myswlf each day and I hope that it will be enough for when my son arrives in abou 2 months…

  23. audrey says:

    Wow! This is amazing you have this article up. My husband and I discuss this sort of thing all the time. It’s very hard to to un-learn something and retrain your mind. It’s crazy to think that changing something as small (or large) as a thought can lead you on a path of change, breaking those chains that hold us, and to actively strive to be better. Thank you for sharing.

  24. Kerry-Rose says:

    I never really thought I picked up on my mother’s insecurities, but I have. Now that I think about it, I can name a list of complexes we both share: broad shoulders, thick thighs, short legs, our smiles, and our arms just to name a few. But I also notice that we share the same prides, our eyes, our hands, our narrow waistlines and hourglass figures. Interesting..

  25. Nancy says:

    Actually, it’s called ‘Generational Curses,’ and we all have them! They can be rebuked, but it’s important to listen to a ‘Professional’ like Pastor John Kyle, or David Wilkerson. David has since passed, but you can still find his Teachings on ‘You Tube’.

  26. Karen says:

    I too, have done a lot of work with my own personal therapist to break the generational barriers to emotional freedom I inherited. I agree, it is a challenge It requires coming into awareness and maintaining an ever mindful stance when we interact with our loved ones and friends. As an MFT intern, I see a great deal of shame and humiliation that people carry and it doesn’t matter what age. I integrated as a child the idea that the world is an unsafe place. I also integrated the sense that it was my performance, not my presence that was of value. But I don’t call this inheritance a generational sin. My parents grew up in the depression. It was a time of anxiety and lack for both. They did not have the luxury of being self aware, or perhaps did not feel they were allowed the luxury. My mother in particular inherited a genetic anxiety. For true personal inner healing, I don’t look at my inheritance as a sin, it simply happened. For true inner peace, I have left the burden behind and have also released the burden of resentment towards them by trying to be empathetic about their circumstances and thru forgiveness. I know this is a matter of semantics, but words… and their intent and meaning, especially with regards to shame, are important. Not only did I not want my now grown children to inherit the “burden” of anxiety and depression, but i did not want to give them the additional burden of relating to their grandparents as bad. They understand them as good people who lived through difficult circumstances and did the best they could despite obstacles. I know I am not perfect… and I wasn’t a perfect mother. But, I hope and pray that my grown children will look back upon me with forgiveness for my flaws and imperfections.

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