The 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda and its aftermath led to large-scale individual traumatization, disruption of family structures, shifts in gender roles, and tensions in communities, which are all ongoing. Previous research around the world has demonstrated the transgenerational effects of mass violence on individuals, families and communities. In Rwanda, in light of recurrent episodes of violence in the past, attention to the potential ‘cycle of violence’ is warranted. The assumption that violence is passed from generation to generation was first formulated in research on domestic violence and child abuse, but is receiving increasing attention in conflict-affected societies. However, the mechanisms behind intergenerational transmission are still poorly understood. Based on qualitative research with 41 mothers and their adolescent children, we investigated how legacies of the 1994 genocide and its aftermath are transmitted to the next generation through processes in the family environment in Rwanda. Our findings reveal direct and indirect pathways of transmission. We also argue that intergenerational effects might best be described as heterotypic: genocide and its aftermath lead to multiple challenges in the children’s lives, but do not necessarily translate into new physical violence. Further research is needed on how children actively engage with conflict legacies of the past.