TO BE A MAN
The Sins of Their Parents
This past Monday morning, I sat down with a friend, business owner and former alcoholic and showed him an e-mail I’d just received regarding the recent resignation of another friend/professional/leader. The e-mail, in an attempt to explain the factors that led to this man’s resignation, noted various characteristics described in Adult Children of Alcoholics by Janet Geringer Woititz, Ed. D.
Since I’ve not been an alcoholic, I wanted to get an “expert’s” insight. Problem is, as we worked through each of these characteristics, I had the growing realization that many of them fit me!
Sure, I knew dad had a problem with alcohol. There was the night he slept on the sofa at my house because he wasn’t able to drive home to his. And that other night when he tried to drive home but ran off the road. Dad, however, was a big man who could out-drink most people, and he and I both rationalized that he was doing more business over drinks than most people were doing over a desk.
Never, until this past Monday morning, though, did I think about the impact of “the sins of their parents to the third and fourth generation” (Deuteronomy 5:9).
I don’t know the heritage of your family, friends and work associates, but I do know this problem is so prevalent that the list of these characteristics and my friend’s comments are very pertinent. Therefore, I encourage you to consider that adult children of alcoholics may:
1. Have to guess at what normal behavior is. (So we pick someone to emulate, like the Leave It to Beaver family.)
2. Have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end. (Because of low self-esteem. Perfectionism = if I can’t do it perfectly, I won’t do it at all.)
3. Lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth. (Addicts and families of addicts lie because we think people won’t accept us if they really know us. So, we must always appear in control and show no emotion.)
4. Judge ourselves without mercy. (Perfectionism = if we can fix everything, then we will be acceptable.)
5. Have difficulty having fun. (Don’t know what fun is because we don’t know how to feel. As workaholics, fun shows “I am a slouch.”)
6. Take ourselves very seriously. (Perfectionism = elusive standard.) NOTE: Truth is, only Christ is perfect and He was perfect so we wouldn’t have to be.
7. Have difficulty with intimate relationships. (Because I have trust problems and parents who didn’t follow through and had superficial relationships, I think I am what my parents were and become screwed up like them.)
8. Overreact to changes over which we have no control. (Because we don’t know we are powerless, we think that if we do more, we can change people.)
9. Constantly seek approval and affirmation. (We are people pleasers so we will be accepted, and chameleons to fit in with any group.)
10. Usually feel that we are different from other people. (We are unique and our situation is unique and no one else can understand. That keeps us from getting help.)
11. Are super responsible or super irresponsible. (Try to fix everybody else so we will be important. Co-dependent and need approval. Or just give up.)
12. Extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved. (Because we have low self-esteem, we attract others with low esteem. These become the peers who won’t reject us, so we get unconditional love and a feeling of significance and security from them.)
13. Are impulsive. (Tend to lock ourselves into a course of action without giving serious consideration to alternative behaviors or possible consequences. This impulsivity leads to confusion, self-loathing and loss of control over our environment. In addition, we spend an excessive amount of energy cleaning up the mess.)
So, how do we break this “generational curse”? How do we escape the bondage of our heredity? Simple!
“Be reconciled to God! For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sins so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)
“What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Ken Korkow was raised in Blunt, South Dakota by Erv and LaFola Korkow, well-known producers of professional rodeos. Ken served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1966-1968, serving in Vietnam in 1968 where he was wounded in combat and received the Navy Cross. In April 1984, Ken joined the staff of Christian Business Men's Committee USA. He is currently Regional Director of CBMC Heartland, serving Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota. He is a former member of Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association; former president, Central South Dakota Board of Realtors; and former president, North and South Dakota Farm and Land Institute.