Parenting Affects Future Generations

The impact that one life can have on those around them is amazing.  Being a parent is an incredible responsibility with the important role of influencing one’s children, but it is also a great blessing from God with the opportunity to make an impact on the next five generations.

While our society often minimizes the impact and responsibility of parents, Princeton conducted a study to examine the impact that the actions of two very different parents had on their family over the next few generations.

Research focused on the lives of Max Juke and Jonathan Edwards. Max Juke, an early American colonist, was reported to be an atheist who believed in liberation from laws. He was also a hard drinker who advocated free sex, no formal education and hated imposed responsibilities. 

Several years later a man named A.E. Winship studied what happened to the descendants of colonial era evangelist, Jonathan Edwards. In many regards, Edwards was the opposite of Juke.  Edwards was hardworking, God-fearing and followed the Bible. He was a minister credited with igniting The Great Awakening through his sermons, and he served briefly as president of what is now Princeton University. Edwards believed in leading by example. He authored two books on the subjects of physical fitness and kindness and later became involved in teaching people to be responsible for their daily actions.

  • In his study, Richard L. Dugdale found of the 1,026 descendants of Max Juke, 300 were convicts, 27 were murderers, 190 were prostitutes and 509 were either alcohol or drug addicts. He was able to estimate it had cost the state of New York almost $1.4 million to house, institutionalize and treat the Juke family.
  • By contrast, the 929 descendants of Jonathan Edwards included 13 college presidents, 86 college professors, 430 ministers, 314 war veterans, 75 authors, 100 lawyers, 30 judges, 66 physicians and 80 holders of public office, including three U.S. senators, seven U.S. representatives, mayors of three large cities, governors of three states, a controller of the U.S. Treasury and a vice president of the United States.

While this was just the study of two men’s families, no specific conclusions can be drawn.  However, it is very apparent that the way we live our lives has a profound impact on the people around us with strong implications for future generations.