I flew this hypothesis in my status message on Thursday and got a mixture of reactions. Those who felt this was interesting roughly made up about 90% of the respondents, and there were 10% or less who felt otherwise but provided no justification for their point of view. As soon as the thought dawned on me yesterday, however, I started to research what studies existed about this and if it was more than a hypothesis. To capture this more clearly, the errors in parenting a generation may leave a few survivors in that generation, but its real harvest will show up in the next generation.
Starting from divine revelation, recall that the Bible says that “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous”. (Prov. 13:22). This thought is counterintuitive, as you would think that what good people do should be for their children, but the wisdom hidden here is that the inheritance of good people is really for the second generation. For evil people, the same verse says that their wealth is stored up for the righteous, meaning their children also don’t directly benefit from their resources, so either way, good or bad, what you are doing will transcend the current generation.
Are there case studies to support this in the scriptures? Yes. Let’s talk about two examples.
King David and Solomon: The story of Kind David showed really poor parenting choices. A lot of bloodsheds happened in the family because he simply did not caution or correct his children. The amazing reality is that the kingdom did not divide in his time or the next generation. His failure as a parent manifested full blast from 2nd generation forward.
Eli and Samuel: Eli did not caution his children, so right there in his lifetime they were wrecked (or rekt as we would say in the Crypto world). Samuel however turned out alright despite the bad parenting, but unfortunately, his child did not.
Beyond revelation, however, there is some data to show this trend.
1. Intergenerational transmission of parenting practices: Research has shown that individuals who experienced positive parenting in their own childhood are more likely to adopt similar parenting practices when they become parents themselves. This suggests that effective parenting behaviours can be transmitted across generations, leading to positive or negative outcomes for subsequent generations.
2. Parental modelling and observational learning: Children often learn by observing and imitating their parents’ behaviours. Positive parenting practices, such as warmth, responsiveness, and consistent discipline, can serve as models for children as they develop their own parenting styles. Consequently, these positive practices may be carried forward into the subsequent generation.
Well, this is not meant to cause you to fear but to give you a stronger motivation to do your parenting role right. Your children may turn out right, but what about their children? Your children are not only listening to you, they are watching you, and they may do what you say, but they will do what you did when you are no longer there to say it!