When a child is born, people often comment that the baby has his mom's eyes or her dad's nose. Much like DNA, parents and other progenitors can pass down other traits. Rarely do we hear phrases like, "Oh, look! He has his father's alcoholism." or "She has her mother's low self-esteem." But, these are very real possibilities. The decisions we make today will have an effect upon our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and so on. It is up to you whether you want to leave a positive legacy or a negative one.

Can life's experiences be transferred to offspring through DNA?

I heard once in a Pilates class that stretching can sometimes make you cry - not because of pain, but because memories can be stored in tissues. Some new research suggests that it can even attach to actual DNA which is then passed down through generations. "According to the new insights of behavioral epigenetics, traumatic experiences in our past, or in our recent ancestors' past, leave molecular scars adhering to our DNA," states discovermagazine.com. It further explains that those with ancestors from wars or horrific experiences and "adults of every ethnicity who grew up with alcoholic or abusive parents - all carry with them more than just memories."

Not only can we be affected by choices, experiences and traumas of our ancestors, but we can also affect our posterity with the same methods.

The ugly side of inheritance

Most families likely have a past that they'd like swept under the rug. A dark past that is hidden can perpetuate the problem for generations. Alcoholism, physical abuse, sexual abuse, domestic abuse, eating disorders, depression, mental illness, pornography or other addictions or any other harmful habit, act or disease can affect numerous generations. Many of these are treatable through medications, counseling, extensive therapy, rehabilitation or through the support of family or loved ones. Left unaddressed or treated, these have the power to ruin the lives of the innocent as well as those who are suffering, like poisoning a water supply can harm everyone who drinks.

Break the chains of the past

What if you are the victim or product of a horrific past of abuse or other negative acts and attributes? You can break the chain. If it is abuse, here are tips on Overcoming abuse through God. If you are currently living in the muddied footsteps of your parents or grandparents, stop. Seek help and make the necessary changes to stop the cycle for your future family. Just because you have been taught wrong or been treated poorly does not mean that you have to carry on that negative legacy. The choice is still yours. Be the fresh start in your family line and cleanse the future of the bad influences of the past. There is hope for change. Seek necessary help and healing to make changes.

Our examples influence our future

Children more quickly and accurately emulate our example than listen to what we say. Often, the way we parent, communicate, organize or handle stressful situations is how our children will do those same things throughout their lives. Example is the greatest teacher. If we yell, spank, are dishonest, overreact or waste money, our children will also. How would you like your children to behave in public or treat others? You must be the example of how you want your children to act or who you want them to be. Thus, if there are bad habits you don't wish your children to acquire, now is the time to stop.

Creating a good legacy

Amid the terrible things to pass down to our family, we can also share wonderful gifts that our posterity will thank us for. Leaving behind journals or a spirit of service and love can strengthen families for the better. Some traditions of church service, becoming an Eagle Scout, community involvement, college graduates or other successes are admirable accomplishments for others to see and follow. Putting positive pressure on our families to accomplish good can be a driving force for good in the lives of our kin. This also links back to being a good example for our children to follow.

Rely on God in tough times

Whether you are a victim or are seeking to stop the cycle of abuse or addictions, not only is there help through therapy, counseling, support groups or medications, but God may be the biggest help of all. Read 4 ways to rely on God during tough times. Making necessary changes or healing with God's help, will affect the future generations for good. God wants to heal you. He wants you to overcome problems, and he will help you.

The legacy we leave for our children, grandchildren and future generations is up to us. Regardless of what we inherit from the past, we can change and make the future better. The choice to become better, heal the past and to shun poor choices is ours. Make changes for the better. There is hope. Your posterity will thank you.

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