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Can we undertake the chain of punishments between father and son?

Updated: Sep 23, 2023

"I undertake to be the last link in this chain of punishments between father and son," says Ziv in a personal development workshop – Ziv is a character in Meirav Shani Israeli’s book Eir Va’em (major city).

I pause at this sentence.

I feel Ziv – the pain of intergenerational transmission, the battered child he was to a father who was also a battered child, and the punishing parent (not physically abusive) he has become.

We can do many things in our parenting.

We can act to generate change, go through processes, and improve.

We can stop being abusive, stop beating our children, we can change.

We can refrain from becoming our own parents, and that's very significant, but we cannot undertake to interrupt intergenerational transmission.

When I first started practicing family constellation, I thought that this was possible.

That every healing process I go through — especially ones that are related to my children or such that are meant to prevent me from passing things on to my children — does indeed interrupt the chain of intergenerational transmission.

But I was wrong.

I go through processes and I change.

Who I am today, a 45-year-old mother of 3, is not the same person I was 10 years ago.

I am different in many ways, and I am the same in many other ways.

The past few years have taught me that I am responsible solely for myself.

I have 3 children and each of them has a different eye color.

Their biology chose their eye color from the pool of genes available to them, and in this case, it included any existing eye color because me, my husband, my mother-in-law and my father – each have a different eye color.

I, as Yael, had no saying in this choice.

And in the same way, I have almost no saying in what my children will take for them from our soul and family genetics.

Intergenerational transmission can be on or below the surface.

My father was raised in a home filled with anger. He was an angry father, and when I became a mother, I too was an angry parent.

I have not been an angry mother for many years, and there are no angry parents in my children’s conscious memory.

What’s in their unconscious memory? I don’t know.

To what extent will the memories from their early childhood affect their parenting? I don’t know.

To what extent will the fact that my father, their grandfather, was an angry parent have an impact on their system? I don’t know.

How many elements and behavioral characteristics will emerge in them when they become parents, that have nothing to do with me but belong entirely to my family history? I do not know that either.

And I can probably never control it.

I cannot change my children and their future.

My children's souls have their right to choose, and have their own paths, lessons and learning.

I, as a mother, can only undertake things related directly to myself and change the effects of such things on me, thus changing my relationships with my children.


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