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Parenting

 

The Legacy You Want to Give

Parents can evaluate how well they're passing on a spiritual legacy to their children by answering these questions.

We all have good and bad parts to the legacy we have inherited. The key is to move forward from here. For some, taking a closer look at the legacy they've been given helps them assess the legacy they want to pass on. After considering your past, here are some practical tips for the future:

Decide what you'll keep: You probably have things you received that are wonderful and need to be kept and passed on. Other things may need to be thrown out. Or, perhaps you have a weak legacy that needs strengthening.

Whatever you received, you can now intentionally pass along the good. This isn't always easy. If you saw hypocrisy in your parents' lives, you may be tempted to throw everything out even though much of what your parents modeled was good. Don't. That would be like burning down the house to get rid of some bugs.

Realize that God can redeem even the "bad stuff" in your legacy. Unfortunately many of us have parts of our legacy that are weak or even awful. Maybe one of your parents was an alcoholic or abusive or didn't provide the nurturing you needed. In today's society, the stories of such families are common. You may be asking, "How do I give something I didn't receive? Nobody modeled this stuff for me."

Hope is not lost. Consider the story of Josiah from the Old Testament in the Bible. His father and grandfather were involved in many wicked things, including idol worship that threatened the entire nation. But after 8-year-old Josiah became king of Judah, he reversed that trend. He sought God and purged Judah of idols, repaired the temple and saved a nation.

Like Josiah, you can choose which things in your legacy are no good and throw them away. It's important to break the cycle of hurt by leaving bad things behind and creating a new legacy. If you don't know God, this is a good time to introduce yourself. Legacies are not easily broken and always benefit from His guidance.

Chart a new course as you begin a positive legacy for yourself and those you love. Research suggests that most fathers will parent the way they were parented. That means only a minority of fathers will change their parenting style — even if their parenting is wrong! Today, you can take positive steps to design a new heritage for yourself and your family.

Emotional Legacy Evaluation

Answer each question by circling the number that best reflects the legacy you have received from your parents. Then add up your score.

1. When you walked into your house, what was your feeling?

  1. Dread
  2. Tension
  3. Chaos
  4. Stability
  5. Calm
  6. Warmth

2. Which word best describes the tone of your home?

  1. Hateful
  2. Angry
  3. Sad
  4. Serious
  5. Relaxed
  6. Fun

3. What was the message of your family life?

  1. You are worthless.
  2. You are a burden.
  3. You are okay.
  4. You are respected.
  5. You are important.
  6. You are the greatest.

4. Which word best describes the "fragrance" of your home life?

  1. Repulsive
  2. Rotten
  3. Unpleasant
  4. Sterile
  5. Fresh
  6. Sweet

5. Which was most frequent in your home?

  1. An intense fight
  2. The silent treatment
  3. Detached apathy
  4. A strong disagreement
  5. A kind word
  6. An affectionate hug

Results:

Above 24 = Strong emotional legacy

19 - 24 = Healthy legacy

14 - 18 = Mixed legacy - good and bad elements

10 - 13 = Weak emotional legacy

Below 10 = Damaged emotional legacy

Social Legacy Evaluation

Answer each question by circling the number that best reflects the legacy you have received from your parents. Then add up your score.

1. Which words most closely resemble the social tone of your family?

  1. Cruel and abusive
  2. Cutting sarcasm
  3. Chaotic and distant
  4. Noncommunicative but stable
  5. Secure with open communication
  6. Loving and fun

2. What was the message of your home life with regard to relationships?

  1. "Step on others to get your way."
  2. "Hurt them if they hurt you."
  3. "Demand your rights."
  4. "Mind your own business."
  5. "Treat others with respect."
  6. "Put others before yourself."

3. How were rules set and enforced in your home?

  1. Independent of relationship
  2. In reaction to parental stress
  3. Dictatorially
  4. Inconsistently
  5. Out of concern for my well-being
  6. In the context of a loving relationship

4. Which word best characterizes the tone of communication in your home?

  1. Shouting
  2. Manipulation
  3. Confusing
  4. Clear
  5. Constructive
  6. Courteous

5. How did your family deal with wrong behavior?

  1. Subtle reinforcement
  2. Accepted in the name of love
  3. Guilt trip
  4. Severe punishment
  5. Discussion
  6. Loving, firm discipline

Results:

Above 24 = Strong social legacy

19 - 24 = Healthy legacy

14 - 18 = Mixed legacy — good and bad elements

10 - 13 = Weak social legacy

Below 10 = Damaged social legacy

Spiritual Legacy Evaluation

Answer each question by circling the number that best reflects the legacy you have received from your parents. Then add up your score.

1. To what degree were spiritual principles incorporated into daily family life?

  1. Never
  2. Rarely
  3. Sometimes
  4. Frequently
  5. Almost always
  6. Consistently

2. Which word captures the tone of how you learned to view/relate to God?

  1. Absent
  2. Adversarial
  3. Fearful
  4. Casual
  5. Solemn
  6. Intimate

3. How would you summarize your family's level of participation in spiritual activities?

  1. Nonexistent
  2. Rare
  3. Occasional
  4. Regimental
  5. Active
  6. Enthusiastic

4. How were spiritual discussions applied in your home?

  1. They weren't
  2. To control
  3. To manipulate
  4. To teach
  5. To influence
  6. To reinforce

5. What was the perspective in your home regarding moral absolutes?

  1. If it feels good, do it!
  2. There are no absolutes.
  3. Let your heart guide you.
  4. Dogmatic legalism
  5. Moderate conservatism
  6. Clear boundaries

Results:

Above 24 = Strong spiritual legacy

19 - 24 = Healthy legacy

14 - 18 = Mixed legacy — good and bad elements

10 - 13 = Weak spiritual legacy

Below 10 = Damaged spiritual legacy

 

 
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