“Change starts with us”. It’s a small phrase, but holds so much power when it comes to many facets of life. It’s even more powerful when we speak of breaking generational curses. But what are these ‘curses’ that we speak of? Do they refer to some type of “hoodoo voodoo” handed down upon us because of some long forgotten evil done by our ancestors? Is it something taboo? According to The Gospel Coalition, a “generational curse describes the cumulative effect on a person of things that their ancestors did, believed, or practiced in the past, and a consequence of an ancestor’s actions, beliefs, and sins being passed down.” An example of a generational curse is divorce”. This may all be true, but for our purposes here, let’s focus on actions and beliefs.
We see it over and over in every day life. The constant negative patterns in families that seem almost inescapable. They seem to imprison some or all members of the same blood line from the day they were conceived until the day they die. Drug addiction, failed marriages and relationships, abuse, mental illness and poverty are some of the major evils that have contaminated the lives of the families around us. For some of us, these are evident within our own families. Many might argue that poverty itself can cause a domino effect to most of the other social ills, so therein lies our focus.
Although slavery was abolished decades ago, in many black communities the effects of poverty are still very much evident. It is time to unlearn some of the negative beliefs and actions that may have become a part of us before we perpetuate them to the next generation. The steps below are not 100% failsafe, but they are certainly approved to set the pace for healing and renewal.
A. WITH THE HELP OF AN ELDER IN YOUR FAMILY, DRAW A GENOGRAM.
A genogram (pronounced: jen-uh-gram) is a graphic representation of a family tree that displays detailed data on relationships among individuals. In the example shown above, the illustration focuses on the habits of each person in your family tree.
Here are some questions you may ask:
- Were there any wealthy people in our family?
- Were there any persons who were in continuous debt?
- Who in our family got a divorce?
- Who had several children they couldn’t take care of financially?
- What type of jobs did everyone end up settling for?
- Was there any history of a family feud/enmity in our family?
Once you have a list of questions, start by filling out the answers you know. There is not a right or wrong way to do this, so choose a method that makes the most sense for you. Once you’ve written down the information you already know, call your relatives to ask for answers to the remaining questions.
It isn’t necessary to speak with everyone on the tree, but talk to as many people as possible so you can better understand who they are and their behavior patterns. The more information you have, the more you’ll understand trends and generational curses that have impacted you.
2. TALK WITH YOUR LOVED ONES.
This may be one of the toughest things to do, but without communication, there can be no healing! There are some secrets so hidden within families that they’re inevitably taken to the grave, and the struggle continues. The only way to start the healing process is to lay the cards out on the table. Though the cards may be bitter, our children deserve to know what they may need to work on and what habits they need to unlearn. The keys to breaking generational curses reside in Truth. Without truth, there can be no change.
3. SEEK SUPPORT.
If there are secrets and habits within your family that need immediate attention, seek help! There has always been a stigma within the black community when it comes to counselling, but a counselor can help you process your thoughts and emotions in a healthy way and help you identify generational curses manifesting in your family. Thankfully, there are professionals available to fit every person, budget, and schedule. If you are religious, you can seek the help of a pastor. The right pastor can incorporate what is both divine and practical and organize an effective intervention for your family. Many of the answers we need are one consultation away, but fear of judgment has crippled many. It is this very fear that can end up keeping us in the same downward spiral throughout generations. If you find it impossible to overcome this fear of one on one counseling, there are many qualified online counselors to choose from.
Education can come in the form of periodical family meetings, talks over dinner or you can take the next step and talk to your children specifically about finances. If you are not sure that you are equipped enough to educate them, there are many online resources that can help you. We took the time to highlight a few exceptional publications that you can take advantage of:
These insightful and age appropriate finance books are just a few of the many volumes written by Dr. Boyce D. Watkins. He is is an American author, economist, political analyst, and social commentator. During his academic career, Boyce Watkins was a visiting scholar with the Barbara Jordan – Mickey Leland School Of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University.
As an adult, if you are excited to start this learning journey yourself, there are many audio books and paper backs to choose from. We recommend these for starters:
The final step we recommend is that you celebrate! Celebrate those wins, no matter how small. As you transition away from the generational curse of poverty, do one small thing to celebrate your victory. You have now positioned yourself to break financial barriers within your own lineage. May your name be written in history as the one who broke the mold, and led your bloodline to generational wealth!