Modern Family Matters

How Fathers Can Do the "Heart" Work to Break Generational Trauma for Their Children & Family Legacy

June 16, 2022 with Mike Forrester Season 1 Episode 59
Modern Family Matters
How Fathers Can Do the "Heart" Work to Break Generational Trauma for Their Children & Family Legacy
Show Notes Transcript

In honor of Father's Day, join us as we sit down with Transformation Coach, Mike Forrester, to talk through the role that childhood trauma plays in parental decision making, and how Father's can put in the work to break these generational cycles and create a new legacy for their children. In this episode, Mike discusses the following:

•    We can either imprint our children with the same unhealthiness we received, or we can become the dad we're dreaming to be.
 •    How childhood trauma influences our parental decision process and current reality.
 •    Changing your perspective of yourself from casualty to conqueror.
 •    Breaking the cycle of passing along unhealthy patterns as a generational legacy.
 •    How to use affirmations and afformations to shape your future self.
 •    Why our past does not dictate our future path, and developing healthy boundaries.
 •    How to move from depressed to daring and improving current mindset.

If you would like to speak with one of our family law attorneys, please call our office at (503) 227-0200, or visit our website at

To speak with Mike about your transformation journey, you can contact him via his email: or visit his social page at: @hicoachmike

Disclaimer: Nothing in this communication is intended to provide legal advice nor does it constitute a client-attorney relationship, therefore you should not interpret the contents as such.

Welcome to Modern Family Matters, a podcast devoted to exploring family law topics that matter most to you. Covering a wide range of legal, personal, and family law matters, with expert analysis from skilled attorneys and professional guests, we hope that our podcast provides answers, clarity, and guidance towards a better tomorrow for you and your family. Here's your host, Steve Altishin.

Steve Altishin  0:32  
Hi, everyone. I'm Steve Altishin, Director of Client Partnerships at Pacific Cascade Family Law. And today, in celebration of upcoming Father's Day and celebrating fathers, I'm here with transformation coach, Mike Forrester, to talk through the role that childhood trauma plays in parental decision making, personal decision making, and other decision making, and how fathers can put in the work to break these generational cycles and create a new legacy for their children. That was a lot. So Mike, how you doing today?

Mike Forrester  1:10  
I'm doing great, Steve, thanks for having me.

Steve Altishin  1:13  
Oh, I'm excited to have you. So before we started, can you just tell us a little bit about yourself, and really how you came to be a men's coach?

Mike Forrester  1:23  
Absolutely, thank you. So I came about being a men's coach because I walked the path of going through childhood trauma, both mental, emotional, and physical. And I then brought that into the relationship with my wife and my children, nearly ended up, you know, divorced, alienated from my kids, not at all where any of us, you know, especially with our kids, want to be. And as I began healing, I saw things change and repair, and what was distant with my children became close. To quote my son, our relationship was non existent, and I was authoritarian, and he just screwed it away as fast as he could to try and avoid conflict. So it was one of those of seeing the change that happened within my family, I knew that other men could heal, transform, and experience the same kind of relationship within their families, because none of us want to be, you know, alienated or away from our children, much less our grandchildren. And if we carry on the trajectory that we're on in our relationships, you know, we may be able to guide our children as they're younger, but when they age, they make their own decisions. No surprise, we've all done that same thing. So in knowing that, that was the freedom I wanted to bring to other men, and see that transform the legacy that we leave to our children.

Steve Altishin  2:50  
Thank you. That really doesn't sound easy. It sounds like it takes some real kind of internal decision making. So the first question I have is, you know, how does like a father's childhood trauma end up influencing our parental decisions, you know, and the parental decision making process?

Mike Forrester  3:20  
Yeah, it's not just, like you alluded to in the intro, it's not just the parental decisions, but it's the stuff at work in our relationships, you know, both friends, with our spouse, everything. But within the parental realm, I am going to behave a certain way. And it's usually been set in the pattern by my mother and father. And so as much as I swore, Steve, I was like, I'm never going to be like my parents, Steve, I ended up being the same way. Because I didn't have a trajectory of where I was going, it was like heading off from, you know, the Pacific Northwest and saying, Hey, I don't want to be here anymore. There's a whole lot of road to still cover and destinations to get to, if I'm not specific, I may end up in Maine as much as I may end up in, you know, New Orleans. And so it was just one of those that as a parent, when you behave, your children are going to learn, and I'm sure we've all seen our children, whether they're two or they're 22, that they have that same kind of voice reaction, mannerisms, and people go, Oh, my gosh, you're just like your dad, you're just like your mom. And sometimes that's accepted nicely. Other times, it's like, that's the last thing you want to hear. But what we've had set for us is what we're going to repeat. And the vast majority of us don't have an example that we're really in love with, right, that we like. And so there's that dislike of what we've experienced, and yet we're often blind to the fact that we're repeating it. And so our children are going to pick it up. And if our children pick it up, you can imagine they're going to parent that same or very similar way, and pass it along to your grandchildren. So, much how, you know, you've had guests on here that have talked about a financial legacy, we're going to leave a behavioral and emotional legacy to our children and grandchildren--either the one that we've learned, or the ones that were being intentional and working on that healing, to give something that's, you know, that's pulling that's drawing our children that's creating that family cohesiveness, right? And so what we've experienced is going to directly guide how we behave, react, and how our children will react to us.

Steve Altishin  5:41  
I know I was reading some of your stuff. And,I mean, that makes sense. It's the sins of our Father we talked about, you know? How we just sort of do what they did, and can't seem to get out of it, we kind of get in our own way sometimes. And you use the term self sabotage. And I thought about that kind of like getting out of your own way to try to, you know, make things better. That self sabotage phrase that struck me, is that something that's like your conscious doing it? 

Mike Forrester  6:16  
No, unfortunately it's not, but you're following through with it. I mean, let's take it  from the case of New Year's resolutions, something we're all familiar with. You know, we have the best intentions, we go to the gym, we're watching what we eat. But then we get stressed out, we head for the ice cream, donuts, soda, whatever it is, that's not on the list that is approved, that we have those intentions for improving our health with. And we're right back to it. And sometimes we're even looking at the actions and seeing them more severe than they really are Steve. And so something may have gone wrong at work, that typically wouldn't have been a big issue. But I'm looking to subconsciously, again, I'm looking to have things occur, that make my limiting beliefs true. If I believe that, hey, I'm a bad dad, I'm not a valued co worker, I'm not whatever positive thing you would want to be-- if you see yourself in a negative light, you're going to look for stuff that does that. If the bills are coming up, and you're like, I'm never going to have control on my finances, you may subconsciously go on a financial binge and splurge on stuff that you don't then have money to pay the bills. And you're like, look, I knew that was going to happen, that's just the way I am. That's just the way life is for me. That kind of subconscious stuff that you're doing unintentionally reinforces those beliefs that you have that are holding you back. So if you're like, I'm not a good dad, you're gonna do things that make you look that way. 

Steve Altishin  8:05  
Yeah. A large portion of what we do is family law, which includes the two parties, and it seems like this can be especially destructive if you do get a divorce and become a co-parent, and you're maybe not living all the time with your kids. I mean, it's kind of like, Oh, I knew that was coming. And it's my fault, too. 

Mike Forrester  8:38  
Yeah, we can often look at our parents, Steve, and know what to expect from them. Right? And we know their mannerisms. Our children are no different. They know what to expect from us. And I don't know about you as a dad, but I never meant to hurt my children in the process. I had good intentions, like when my son and I went to the gym, I meant to guide and instruct him on how to work out better on how to improve his form. But what he heard was, I'm not enough, what I'm doing isn't right. So, you know, I'm not measuring up to expectations. And that was nowhere in anything that I was saying, or trying to imply. But it's one of those things that when you get into that pattern, and you've gotten used to you know, Dad's gonna say negative things about me, which I did to my son, he then receives those almost through a lens. It's almost as if you put on like a headset, that's receiving it through a filter, you know, just like you would your glasses, and that's what he's hearing and it's impacting his heart. And then there's so many of us as fathers and husbands ourselves, we're wanting to measure up to our dads and their expectation, so we repeat that with our children. You know, like I talked about my son not feeling like he was enough even in the gym. Man, I mean, take it and put it into all the other areas of your life. It colors that. So it's one of those we can know what to expect and get used to, you know, the other person's perspective. And so be cautious of what you say and how you say it. 

Steve Altishin  10:22  
Yeah. And that leads to, you know,  like you were telling me that you're creating this cycle of passing along your bad habits, you know, this unhealthy pattern. And this legacy, this generational legacy, isn't really the one that we want.  But what you believe is that that isn't necessarily true--our past doesn't have to dictate our future path. So how do we go about breaking that cycle? 

Mike Forrester  10:52  
Yeah, I mean, if that were the case, you come out of the womb, and your behaviors are all set for you. And there's no luck, you know, or anything else that you can do. You're just out of control, your actions don't matter. And that's far from the truth. I mean, we've learned these patterns, we've acted on them. And we get a result, much like you would see in physics, you know, you move a ball, and it's got, you know, the physics aspect, it's got gravity, everything working against it, to stop it. Well our actions are going to put us in a specific position. So as we change our thoughts, it changes who we see of ourselves and how we act. And so for me, it was I could train my children to expect me to react and behave in a certain way. And even after I was healing, and changing, Steve, it still took time for them to believe that I was somebody different, to rebuild that trust that I had destroyed over the years because of who I had been. And so the first thing is to really, you know, one exercise that I walk men through is, imagine you're 65, what do you want your relationship--not as far as just your inheritance, right, the legacy that you're leaving financially--but what does it look like relationally? Who are you in life? What does your life look like? You know, what are your activities? What are you doing? Okay, well, we need to back into that, most of us are going to find where we want to be, we're not on that path to get there. Right. If I want to get, you know, to the Pacific Northwest, from Southern California, I need to head north northeast. And so making decisions on who I want to be, will then determine the actions that I take on how I'm acting, how I'm behaving, how I'm interacting with people. And from those places, that's where the change begins. But just saying, I don't want to be like my parents, it doesn't get me there, Steve, I need to know who I want to be, and then start, start acting accordingly and thinking in that direction, as well.

Steve Altishin  13:01  
And that's sort of where coaching comes in. It sounds like I mean, it's, it's I, you know, I wanted to be a better golfer, but, you know, my swing pattern never really made it work, right. It's learned there is actual things you can learn to do.

Mike Forrester  13:17  
Correct. I mean, it's like, if I look behind you, you've got cookbooks, you've got Alton Brown, you've got pasta books, right? You learned from somebody else, whether it's from friends, mentors, coaches, you know, podcasts, books, seminars, whatever. If we don't know how to do something, that means we need to learn from somebody who could just be barely ahead of us, or, you know, steps ahead of us, you know what I'm saying? Like, I love learning from Alton Brown, just like you. But do I see myself becoming an Alton Brown? No, that's, you know, that's something that it's like, that takes concerted effort in that, but as far as being a father, yeah, that's, that's absolutely where I want to be, and willing to invest the time. And I'm sure you found this out. There's nobody else I can change other than me. And so I need to invest my effort, my energy, you know, my focus on me, because as I change me, the the environment around me is going to change. And, you know, personally speaking, I've seen where my wife was afraid to do anything because it would, you know, in my insecurity would set me off. It's given her the space to now go and get, you know, her degree for my children. It's given them a feeling of safety, where they want to come back into relationship. And now I have relationship with my children. And they've seen the growth and the change that I've gone through which has encouraged them in making their own changes, whether it was you know, getting through anxiety, getting through self doubt, you know, just going up the court That ladder, right? Those different challenges that they have before them, they're like, Hey, Dad wasn't afraid to work on himself and, and go through these, these challenges. It encourages them. So where we're expecting to be flawless, our flaws actually encourage and, and give, like a space of permission to work on themselves to our children and those around us.

Steve Altishin  15:27  
That leads to one thing, and and I didn't know if I wanted to ask this, but you had talked about using affirmations and afformations almost as a tool or as a therapy. And first of all, not many people will know what an afformation is and so I was impressed. But that really is kind of the deal; you ask yourself questions and make yourself answer them.

Mike Forrester  15:57  
Well, if I look back, Steve, I was asking myself all sorts of questions. Like I was asking myself, you know, why can't you get this right? Why are you always broke? Why are you such an idiot? All these self deprecating questions that kept me down? Well, no offense, but I don't want to be my own worst enemy. None of us do. And so with affirmations, which is, you know, just just so we backtrack a bit, affirmations are statements saying, I love myself, I'm confident in, you know, all areas of my life. It's, it's comments or statements about us, and who we want to be, like, we talked about, you know, looking at our life and the trajectory we want to go on, we're asking why questions? Why is it that my confidence is, you know, is ample for taking on this thing? And you know, like, why am I so well equipped for this job that I have right now? Why am I patient with my children? Why did they feel loved? It's asking positive questions about who you want to be and how you want to be seen. Because, you know, you get in the shower, you go for a walk, your brain is functioning, and it's looking for answers, right? Same thing, when I ask why are you such an idiot? I'm gonna find plenty of reasons. If I'm looking to validate that that question, I will find them. If I start looking for, why am I, you know, such a secure and loving Father, I'm going to start seeing those things pop up, it's almost like seeing you get a blue car, you start seeing blue cars everywhere, it's the same thing, you're going to start seeing more of what you're asking about, and you will find solutions for those questions, your brain is going off on a journey to find the solution and bring it back to you. So affirmations are questions which we've already been asking. But we're just being intentional in what we're asking rather than flippant and self deprecating in the process.

Steve Altishin  18:02  
That kind of reminds me of sometimes with, you know, when my kids would say I can't do this, I don't know how to do this. But then you ask them a couple of questions, and as they go through their brain, you can hear them kind of go Oh, yeah, I know how to do that. I know that. Well, maybe I can do this. Kind of a crazy question for you guys, I know you're like this transformational coach,  you're helping men transform into being better, for lack of a better word. When should they come to you? Is this one of those things that you better start early or it's too late? Or is this is this more of a jump in whenever you can?

Mike Forrester  18:49  
It's jumping when you're sold on the idea, or for your-- I say sold on the idea, but we don't always have the confidence to be fully sold. So let me say it as, I want this so, so bad. I don't necessarily know the path, but this is what I want because it's gonna take work. It's just like me reclaiming my health, Steve. If I don't go to the gym, but I want to be healthy, how far is that gonna get me, you know, if I don't eat healthy? How well is that going to set me up for that? So the time that to really jump in, is when you know that you want something different? Because if you're like, I might, maybe you're not committed, it's, it's, it's not going to do anything to benefit you in jumping in and putting in that effort. Because it's it's just like, I have 30 pounds to lose. If I'm just kind of passive about it. Nothing's gonna happen and I'm going to have an excuse to then later fuel that, that truth that I believe that limiting belief, right? That, you know, I can't lose weight. I've tried this before. It didn't work. When you're at the point that you're like, I want something different, I know that there is something different for me, which that was the catalyst for me, Steve, I just got to a point. I'm like, This is ridiculous. I'm seeing other other men around me, love their life, enjoy their family enjoy their career and where they're at and their path. This is not okay that I don't enjoy where I'm at. I'm angry. I'm not happy with where I'm going, you know, like, life. This is not the life I want. This isn't what I was dreaming of. When you're at the point that you really want something else, that's the time that that I would say, jump in. Because otherwise, you're going to sell yourself short on the whole process. And that's not what I want to see any. Anybody go through?

Steve Altishin  20:52  
You mentioned the path. I could be completely wrong, but is there more than one path? I mean, is everybody's path the same?

Mike Forrester  21:03  
There are similarities. But if you and I were both hurt, let's say we both grew up, we're twins Steve. Okay. Okay, we've both gone through the same mix of Yes. What's that? The hair in the family, but it's white? Hey, what do you got the hair I mean, mine, you know, it's not there. So you ended up with a hair gene me and not so much alike. But if we had gone through the same experiences, you know, environments, the same, everything we've been told is the same, you still have a unique identity. That's that's your imprint, your perspective, how you see things, what drives you, your passions, those are all unique to you. So what what creates that drive for you to go after healing could be different than what is driving me. And how I saw things could be very different, even though we experienced the same thing could be very different. And so what I need to heal from could be different from what you're healing from. And the same goes for goals. I mean, how many of us have the same goals? You know, come New Years, we all might be like, hey, I want to lose weight, but it could look different. You know, you could be like, hey, I want to look like Arnold, I'm like, no, no, thanks. I don't want to be you have a, you know, so. So our end goal could be different. And the way we perceive things that happen, so the healing process can be different, but the the desire and the drive to be healed, I would say that is is uniform, you know, there's certain things that you can walk through that will bring about that healing, to get you there.

Steve Altishin  22:46  
And this  is part of the coaching process is learning those things?

Mike Forrester  22:51  
Yeah, absolutely. Because it's what we each have experienced is is the world as we've seen it, right. Going back to what you and I as twins, you experience life one way I experienced another even though the same event occur. And so my reality of life is different from your reality. And so we need to, to look back at that and go, Oh, wow, what did I buy into? What do I believe? What's holding me back? And what are my gifts? You know, because we can walk along the same road, but we may have a different gait, right? Your path may be a little bit different. Maybe I'm on crutches, maybe you're, you know, walking a little more upright. But it's, it's a little bit different process for each person. Right, just like, you know, when you when you're holding a case, you know, there's going to be similarities, but there's also uniqueness to each one. And so that's the same thing with with each of us healing and the coaching and the conversations. So

Steve Altishin  23:58  
You may have just answered this, and we're running out of time, unfortunately. But if someone were to walk up to you, or call you or go on to, you know, email you and say,  I just don't think I can do this-- I mean, what do I do? What's the first thing you would tell them?

Mike Forrester  24:18  
Strangely enough, I don't tell them anything. I ask a lot of questions. It's questions, but it's not the afformations. It's  more of, where do you see that you're at, because you can see where you're at Steve, and it's totally different than when where I see you. And it's that, again, that reality of where we see ourselves that we need to climb out of, and then it's like, What are you after Steve? What, what does your heart really want? What's the life you desire? And so going from there. And that's why, you know, on my website, I try and book a call, because I want to talk to you. Because you, Steve are different than Bob, it's different than John. And getting in touch with what, where you see that you're at and where you want to go. And the challenges you face is something that needs to be understood in order for us to both say, okay, great, let's look at this realistically. And let's, let's talk about how we get you there. Because if you, if you see, like Elon Musk, and you're like, hey, I want to invest in my family and make, like, you know, this financial legacy for my family. If I'm not making the same money as Elon Musk, I may not be able to see myself in that place. But if we stop and go, Okay, hey, this is where I want to be, this is what I want to be able to do. And we see that trust and relate ability in the journey, then we can see ourselves getting to that place that desire that we're, you know, that that life that we want to live that desired outcome. So it, it very much starts with a conversation with lots of questions, because too often we don't even think about what a life would be like, or even if we deserved it. So there's a there's a lot of conversation to have.

Steve Altishin  26:22  
It's like sometimes you don't know what you don't know. Well, unfortunately, we now have just about run out of time. Before we go, I would really like you to let people know who are interested how they can get a hold of you.

Mike Forrester  26:38  
I appreciate it. Thank you, Steve. So @hicoachmike is where you can find me on all social media platforms. If you find yourself in the place that you're like, hey, this resonates and you think you're the only man in the midst of this, then you can jump on and listen to living fearless today. And that's the podcast where I have other men on that share, Hey, I've gone through this journey. And now I'm here. And you begin to see, hey, there is a better life. And it can even be available for me. So often, it's those small steps of just seeing somebody else. So  if they want to reach out, they can get me at as well.

Steve Altishin  27:17  
All right. Well, Mike, thank you so much for being here today. You know, talking about the kind of the role that childhood trauma does play and and how fathers can put in the work to break that, and not only breaking their problem, but potentially breaking their kids problem and their grandkids problem and their great grandkids problem. I think they're just wonderful. So thank you for being here today.

Mike Forrester  27:45  
My pleasure. Thank you for having me, Steve.

Steve Altishin  27:49  
Anytime. So everyone else, thank you for joining us today as well. Anyone who has any further questions at all on today's topic, you can always post it here and we can get you connected with Mike. And so until next time, stay safe, stay happy and be well.

This has been Modern Family Matters, a legal podcast focusing on providing real answers and direction for individuals and families. Our podcast is sponsored by Landerholm Family Law and Pacific Cascade Family Law, serving families in Oregon and Washington. If you are in need of legal counsel or have additional questions about a family law matter important to you, please visit our websites at or You can also call our headquarters at (503) 227-0200 to schedule a case evaluation with one of our seasoned attorneys. Modern Family Matters, advocating for your better tomorrow and offering legal solutions important to the modern family.