I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase generational cycles. Usually we hear this in terms of generational cycles of abuse and addiction. These patterns repeat themselves from generation to generation until someone decides to break the cycle.
If you’ve ever seen our One Hope 27 promo video you will see a story of a young girl who grew up in and out of the foster care system. (If you’ve never seen it you can watch it here). This young girl didn’t know her father, and her mother didn’t know how to be a good mom. This young girl became pregnant and vowed that things would be different for her son.
But she too didn’t know how to be a mom. She never had a consistent loving mom to show her both what it’s like to be loved by a mother as well as what it is like to be a mother. She was caught up in a generational cycle and her son was about to continue this cycle of being in and out of the system, never experiencing a stable home with a loving parent. She wanted to be different, she wanted to break this generational cycle for herself, for her son, and for his children.
But who was going to support her, who was going to show her how to parent, who was going to be love so she could give love?
Oprah recently wrote a book about the effects of trauma and in her book she shares a story much like this of a young girl, Gloria, and the generational cycle she too is caught up in:
“Gloria was removed from her family when she was six. She grew up in the system bouncing from home to home. She had complex social, emotional, and physical health problems related to her complex trauma. By age 18 she aged out of the system, she was using a variety of drugs to self medicate her pain. On her nineteenth birthday she was pregnant and by 20 she had an infant daughter, no support, no family, and no work.
Ultimately, CP removed her daughter Tillly from her home. Fortunately Tilly was sent to Mama P. Over the next two years Mama P helped both Gloria and Tilly. Mama P realized that Gloria needed as much safe and stable nurturing as Tilly; she realized Gloria was a young, unloved child in a woman’s body…
It was time for Gloria to care for Tilly on her own. But for that to happen CPS had to make the recommendation to the court. During the observation visit, part of her reunification plan, Gloria reached into her pocket to grab a candy for Tilly. Candy was what Gloria used to make Tilly happy. We came to understand this is what Gloria’s foster parents would use to manage her when she was young. Getting candy was the closest Gloria got to being loved. Our brains develop as a reflection of the world we grow up with. You love others the way you’ve been loved. Gloria was merely showing love to her daughter the BEST way she knew how…
Her CPS worker wanted to admonish Gloria as Tilly was prediabetic. But Mama P said, ‘That poor mother is doing the best she can. Let her give her daughter some candy. That is all she knows. You will not make her a better parent by punishing or shaming her. If we want her to be a more loving parent, we need to be more loving to her.” So instead they decided to trade out the candy Gloria had for sugar free candy, and taught her about nutrition, and diabetes. And of course, Mama P made sure Gloria and Tilly both got lots of love!”
At One Hope 27 we want to be that place of hope, support and love. We want to END generational cycles and START generational legacies! Will you join us today and partner with us?!