Breaking Destructive Family Patterns

Dear Dr. Bill,

I grew up in a home where I received a lot of verbal abuse from my parents.  I’m now a mother of a three-year-old, and lately I’ve caught myself saying things to her that I’m not proud of.  Can you tell me what I can do to change?


Dear Karen,

The words we use when speaking to our children are extremely powerful. If we constantly belittle and criticize them, we set the stage for low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness and shame, even problems with anxiety and depression later in life.

We should be our children’s biggest cheerleaders…affirming them when they succeed and encouraging them when they fail.

The bible commands not to “exasperate our children” (Ephesians 6:4) and to let our “gentleness be evident to all” (Philippians 4:5).

Based on your e-mail, it sounds like you may be repeating some of the negative behavior patterns you experienced growing up.  The best way to break out of those negative patterns is to do the work necessary to understand how your past has affected you.

If you grew up in a home where you were constantly criticized, put down, or verbally abused, it’s important to grieve that fact honestly and understand how it has affected you.

Then you need to repent of any sinful behavior on your part, ask the Lord’s forgiveness, and make the changes necessary to break patterns of generational sin.

Joining a support group or seeing a Christian therapist would be a helpful first step.

By the way, an excellent book on this topic is “Verbal Abuse,” by Dr. Grace Ketterman. Thanks for writing, Karen.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

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