LILY Letter 119: Generational Shifting Pioneers

July 18, 2023

We have learned recently that codependency (excessive reliance on relationships) tends to be learned in childhood and passed from one generation to the next. Yet we know that we can break free from codependent patterns, just as we can move beyond relationship failures and start learning from a successful new companionship.

Generational shifting requires courage and bravery. It's something that many of us are called to do in this life. The decisions we make and intentional efforts we put into our own personal growth and development can have significant effects on our posterity. Carlfred Broderick, a groundbreaking marriage and family scholar at the University of Southern California, coined the term "transitional character" and described it as follows:

"A transitional character is one who, in a single generation, changes the entire course of a lineage. The changes might be for good or ill, but the most noteworthy examples are those individuals who grow up in an abusive, emotionally destructive environment and who somehow find a way to metabolize the poison and refuse to pass it on to their children. They break the mold. They refute the observation that abused children become abusive parents, that children of alcoholics become alcoholic adults, that 'the sins of the fathers are visited upon the heads of children to the third and fourth generation.' Their contribution to humanity is to filter the destructiveness out of their own lineage so that the generations downstream will have a supportive foundation upon which to build productive lives."

What is the single most important factor in predicting whether a child becomes a transitional character? At some moment, they all realize that there is something fundamentally unhealthy about the way they were raised and they fix a determination that it will not be the same in the families they raise.

The single greatest factor is the power of intention. Put another way, they exercise their agency in a very deliberate way. If you came from a background where family life was turbulent, unhealthy, and abusive, you do not have to continue those patterns. If your former marriage was filled with those things, you do not have to continue that in another marriage. The most important thing is that you make a very intentional decision to do things differently when you have the chance.

If part of your pioneer shifting journey includes divorce, this week on LILY Tube, Jeff shares his advice on how to handle divorce from his perspective and experience as an attorney (link below). New on LILY Pod, we explore more in depth going beyond relationships failures of the past and finding the joy of learning from a successful and supportive relationship in your future (link below). Happy Pioneer Day from Utah to all our brave readers who are becoming "Generational Shifting Pioneers." Keep up the good work!


LILY Pod: Beyond Relationships Failures (Learning From Success)

LILY Tube: Lawyer Gives Advice on How to Handle Divorce

LILY Short: What Prevents Connection?

Recover from divorce and design a life you love with Jeff & Cathy's “Life Design After Divorce” 12-week Course. Access the entire course HERE:

LILY Coaching is available to support you personally. Simply email us at to request a FREE consultation with Jeff or Cathy. We look forward to meeting with you 1:1!

Get a copy of "Intentional Courtship" on Amazon to heal from relationship loss and create more love in your life. Order your book HERE: Intentional Courtship

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