Kat Mills on changing attitudes and patterns of behaviour, so that our children don't struggle with the same things we have.

Kat Mills
Kat Mills

Sometimes I would joke when my son was a baby that I hoped he got his brains from his daddy and his looks from me! All said in jest, and mostly because my husband is super intelligent and that's always a nice thing to have!

The reality is things are passed on to our family, whether through our genetics or through patterns of behaviour and attitudes.

I heard a story recently of someone who had been to Northern Ireland when there was a protest march, and a young lad was shouting out words of hatred against Catholics. The man questioned him where this was coming from, and his answer was "My dad hates them so I hate them."

His father's attitude and hatred had been passed on to his son. Although his son had none of the experiences that may have created a feeling one way or the other, his father's inability to work past his prejudices meant this unhealthy attitude was passed onto his son.

In the Bible it talks about 'the sins of the fathers' and how they are visited on the later generations. My understanding of this is similar to the story above, in that we can pass down attitudes and patterns of behaviours to our children that, if we are not careful, bring a continued pattern of brokenness and hurt.

I've seen unhelpful attitudes, addictions, and bad relationships being modelled and repeated.

In January I shared some of my journey and that I am in the process of being assessed for Autistic Spectrum Disorder, sensory issues and ADHD. After my son was diagnosed, it finally shed light on the many battles and struggles that I had faced over the years.

Life has been incredibly challenging, and school was not a particularly fun experience for me. I have many memories of being overwhelmed, breaking down, being bullied and isolated. It could be easy for me to pass on this fear and panic to my son, but I am learning to say, "This stops with me!"

I am making sure that he gets the support and understanding that was not available for me and to make sure that he has people who can see past what may seem 'naughty' or challenging behaviour. At the same time I am ensuring that I constantly remind my son that God made him wonderfully and that he is loved very much.

The reality is there are many challenges I still face day to day, and one of the reasons I have decided to tackle this head on and get the right help, is so that I can show my son how to overcome his challenges and not hide from them, ignore them, or be defeated by them. I could wallow in bitterness and frustration that I didn't get the right help and pass on that response to my son. I could also leave my son to struggle in the same way that I struggled. My choice is to say that despite everything, I overcame it - I am going to make sure he doesn't have to have the same battles.

I want to make sure my son is equipped and when the going gets tough for him, I can show him that I didn't give in, but overcame my struggles. This equipping isn't about shielding and hiding him from everything, it's showing him how to clear hurdles, endure in battle and making sure he has strong foundations.

My faith is my foundation and my roots going deep into God have allowed me to stand and endure everything. It is in his strength alone that I feel ready to embark on this journey - being diagnosed and learning how to live life to the full. This can only be through allowing God to bring his understanding and for me to be fully reliant on him. I pray that this then passes on to my son.

This journey is not easy. I have to walk through pain, face my fears and learn where the hurdles are in my life. However my end goal is to be able to say to my son that this can be overcome and I can do that by starting new and healthy attitudes, patterns and behaviours to pass on to the next generation.

Are there patterns and behaviours in your life that need to stop? Where do you need to say "This stops with me?" CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.