Today’s guest post is a wonderful one by Pat Fenner about the Judeo-Christian concept of blessing your children. I love this, because when both of my girls turned 13 I held “blessing” parties for them, where I asked 13 adult women who were important in their lives to come and say a blessing over them–name gifts they saw in the girls, or give them a word of wisdom. Their friends were invited, too, and we turned it into such a fun spa night! It was lovely. And so I’d like to spread the word about this wonderful tradition of blessing our kids–and what a difference it can make in their lives.
Many years ago, our oldest son turned 13. It was an inspiring time for us as parents, and a significant moment in our family’s history.
About a year prior, when my husband Paul and I were still coming to grips with having our first son enter the teenage years, we began thinking and talking and praying about what we could do to make that transition year memorable and important. We headed to Scripture, and searched it to see what ceremonies or activities we could possibly adapt from the Hebrew tradition and the early church. For years we had already been celebrating a Christian Passover as a family, so that wasn’t really a far stretch for us. We also sought current or popular materials on the blessing, but were somewhat dismayed at what was available at the time. The few books we could find were dull and dry; not really engaging and a bit too, um, conceptual. Of course, God uses all things for good (Rom 8:28), so despite the dearth of information, the net result was something that not only truly reflected our family’s beliefs, but the vision and prayers we had for our son, and subsequent children. How it has evolved and been used over the years is something totally beyond what we could ever have imagined.
Modern Milestones vs Spiritual Steppingstones
What events can you think of that signify a child growing up?
Let’s see, first boyfriend/girlfriend (although these days I hear parents talking that way about their pre-schoolers! Ugh!), maybe first date, getting a driver’s license, first drink, ears pierced (I guess this one could be for boys, too, these days), sweet-16 birthday, registering to vote or enter the Armed Forces…
These have become what I call modern milestones. And while they may indeed have some significance, at best they are events on a timeline. In and of themselves, they add no character to our children’s lives, provide no preparation for their future, and neither strengthen nor build their faith or journey with the Lord. They are both temporal and temporary.
These modern milestones quite often occur during what we call “adolescence”, roughly between the ages of 13 and 20, when children undergo physiological changes and begin to transition their roles in the family. (Interestingly enough, this period in life did not even exist as a concept prior to the late 19th century, was not given serious study until the early 20th century, and is generally considered to be an American “discovery”. But that’s a whole ‘nother post…)
Spiritual steppingstones, however, are more eternal in nature. They are more a matter of building on and building up than simply marking time. Daily blessings or an even-bigger and more-celebrated occasion, can become a part of the fabric of your family’s life, establishing routines or customs that can help create a unique family history and identity, among other things.
Why Is It important to Bless our Children?
What are the specific benefits for them? I believe there are 5 significant ones:
1) Blessing them builds their character and enlarges their life vision
2) Blessing your children encourages them to know you’re giving their future your intentional attention
3) Blessing your kids conveys your dreams and hopes and belief in their future
4) Blessing them daily encourages them to seek and find daily blessings in their own lives
5) Giving a blessing is a tool to grow a deeper and more “real” relationship with them
Responding to The Call
As parents, we have not only the right but the privilege to pray for and bless our kiddos, and we can find many ways to speak blessings over them frequently and informally.
1) On a daily basis, we can pray for our children by name during our quiet time. If there are particular issues that you are working through with them, find a concordance, or use the online one here, and locate Scripture passages that speak to that struggle. Lift them up to the Father by name. He already knows, of course, but it’s good for us to ask on their behalf.
2) You can then share that info with your kids, and let them know what you’ve done/are doing! Tell them how and what you’ve prayed for them (see #1) over a meal, or while you’re sitting together in the family room at the end of the day. Follow-through by asking them about those situations and how you can further pray for them. Reassuring them in this way that their issues/problems/requests are important enough for YOU to pray about most definitely blesses them…
3) Decide for yourself the daily events that you’ll choose to use as a blessing opportunity. For example, when they leave for school in the morning, before practice or rehearsal in the afternoon, at supper, before bedtime. Locate a Scripture that reflects your dreams and desires for them, or one that is relevant (see #1), replace their name in the appropriate sections and speak it aloud over them! The first few times may be a little uncomfortable, but I promise that if you persevere, not only will these times become precious to you both, but they will start to remind you if you forget.
A Notable Spiritual Steppingstone
To get back to my opening story, all those years ago, Paul and I did fashion a beautiful ceremony that we have subsequently replicated with unique touches for each of our other children. It has become a family tradition to celebrate their 13th birthday in this manner. Referred to in our family simply as “the Blessing Service”, each child has spoken of it (and 1 still anticipates it!) as a memorable and pivotal time in their young lives.
Too much to describe here, look for my book “Blessing the Next Generation: Releasing God’s Best in Your Child’s Life” on Amazon, coming spring of 2017.
Blessing your children is a wonderful way to encourage and build them up, and a great tool for releasing God’s best in their lives!
Veteran homeschooler Pat Fenner feeds her passion for encouraging and inspiring homeschooling moms by writing at her blog PatAndCandy.com. Catch her excitement about parenting and homeschooling middle and high-school-aged young people when you subscribe to their site, and get practical helps for parenting teens, ideas for creative “real life” learning activities, support for homeschooling thru high school, and lots of encouragement for moms.