I came across this article on The Art of Manliness blog and instantly identified with it (I think it applies equally to men and women). The author is concerned with the propensity for certain destructive attitudes and behaviors to get passed from one generation to the next and the difficulty of breaking out of such a cycle. An individual who succeeds in charting a different path for his children than the one he grew up with is called a "transitional" figure.
My husband and I have in the past talked about how we both seem to be transitional figures in our families (although we didn't use that terminology). Although we were both baptized as infants, neither one of us was taken to church in childhood. That changed for both of us in adolescence, and for both of us it was the Holy Spirit working through other people--as well as through our own baptisms--that made it happen. In my husband's case, his family moved when he was entering middle school, and the local Lutheran (LCMS) church sent a welcome delegation to his house along with an invitation to church. Over time only Phillip continued to attend, and he eventually decided on his own to take catechism instruction and be confirmed (as a high school student, he was the oldest Confirmand in his class). My story is similar in that when I was about the same age my family also moved, but in my case it was a Roman Catholic friend who invited me to her church. I had long wanted to go to church and asked my mom if we could accept the invitation. She said yes, and ultimately we were both confirmed. I became Lutheran upon marriage, and my husband and I are now passing on to our children a confession of faith that neither of us was taught as a child. We pray, and believe, that they will pass it on to their children.
Moving from living a life apart from the church to living one that revolves around the church is the primary difference between the way my husband and I were brought up and the way we are bringing up our children, and that is completely by the grace of God. But having Christ as the center of our marriage and our family has informed all the other choices we have made over the years, leading us to apply many of the recommendations mentioned in the article. We both knew what kind of life we wanted and we went about it intentionally. I don't want to seem ungrateful for the things our parents gave us. They had their own baggage, and they did the best they could with the hand they were dealt. The older I get, the more I understand how hard it is, under the best of circumstances, to be a good parent. I wanted to share the article above and a bit of my own story to encourage anyone reading who is in the process of exorcising the demons of the past to persevere in doing so. You are fighting the good fight, and God will not forsake you as you seek to change the course of history in your family.