I believe many problems in the family are generational.  The only way that things will ever get better within a particular family is if those cycles of generational problems are broken.
To make a point, I’m willing to use a painful yet powerful example from my own life to illustrate this problem.
In my family I was the youngest of three children, the baby in the family.  My sister was the oldest by eight years, than in the middle was my brother who was three years my senior.  In my father’s eyes my brother could do no wrong.  The first born son!  My brother wasn’t a bad kid, but he got away with quite a bit.  My dad was a great guy, he always took care of the family, and nothing really bothered him.
I didn’t realize until later in life that my father never played catch with me, or talked about sports with me.  He never came to my football games or wrestling matches.  In fact he never hugged me or told me that he loved me.  Down deep I always knew he loved me.
My grandfather, my dad’s father was pretty much a stranger to me.  I only saw him about six times in my life that I remember. He was a very cold man.  He never hugged my dad or any of us and never said the word love.  You were lucky to get a hand shake when leaving his house. The writing was on the wall.
I talked with my mom about it once.  We both came to the same conclusion: that my father didn’t know how to tell me that he loved me because his father never told him.  There it was a generational cycle that needed to be broken.
One day I went up to my dad, I put my arms around him and told him that I loved him.  He said, “I love you too son!”
That was all it took!  I had to have the courage to break the cycle.  Mom passed on five years ago, dad lives with me at the ministry.  I make sure that I’m always there for him.  He just turned eighty five in January.  He’s had five major surgeries in the past few years.  I’ve always been there to tell him that I love him. We’ve been great friends for many years.  Sometimes people don’t do what they should because no one ever showed them, and they simply don’t know how to.

Dad was recently rushed to the hospital for emergency gallbladder surgery. He had some complications and was then moved to a skilled-nursing home in Connecticut. My sister is a nurse at the nursing home, so he has family there. I talk to dad and encourage him every day. He needs to get stronger to be able to come home. Every night I tell dad that I love him!

The truth is, we never know when the last time will be that we will ever get the chance to tell someone we love how much we care. I don’t ever want to have any regrets in this area. Life is so fragile and so short; we should treat every day like it could be our last. Last Spring out of the blue, I needed emergency surgery and came very close to dying. Fortunately it was not my time yet! If I had, there would have been no doubt to the people in my life that I love, that I love them. I tell them all the time.

Dad returned home from the skilled-nursing home in Connecticut; he sure was glad to be home! Now he’s facing skin-cancer surgery in a few days, so I’ve been spending extra time with him to make sure he’s not anxious or nervous. I realize that I won’t have my dad on this earth forever, and the time we get to spend together is a real gift. I know that someday I’ll look back and these will be the memories that I hold on to. Don’t wait until it’s too late! Break the cycle, let the healing begin!


©2015 Rev. Dr. K.T. Coughlin Ph.D.