Do you know what it really means to bless your child?
When my daughters turned 13, each of them got a special party for their birthday dedicated to having key people in their lives share messages of encouragement and call out the ways God was moving and working in their lives.
I wrote about this years ago when we were in the thick of it, but this remains one of my favourite things I’ve ever done for my girls. So I wanted to share what I wrote so many years ago to inspire you to speak words of truth and life into your kid’s lives, too (updated of course to include ideas of how to do this for sons, too!). Our words have so much power in our kid’s hearts, and I hope this gives you some ideas for how you can use yours to really build up your child as he or she enters this next stage of life.
On top of my friend Jill’s piano used to sit a dried bunch of roses. They weren’t particularly breathtaking, but they were special, for they were the first roses her daughter Pam ever received.
Pam’s dad gave them to her on her thirteenth birthday, because he wanted to make sure that when Pam got her first roses, they would be from him.
He loved her first, and he figured that anyone else that she would love better be willing to love her just as much. He set the standard.
Bob wasn’t there to give Pam away at her wedding. He died two years too early. But when Pam walked down the aisle to her husband Andrew, she walked towards a man who did truly love her, just as her father had modelled. Bob was not a perfect father by any means, just as none of us is a perfect parent. But he really got that right.
That story has stayed with me, and so when my daughter Rebecca turned thirteen, she answered the doorbell to receive a dozen roses from her dad. And we did the same for Katie just 2 years later.
And the message he wanted to send? You’re precious. Don’t hang out with others who don’t believe that.
I didn’t let Keith have all the fun, though. I decided I wanted a chance to speak some words of wisdom into my daughter’s life, too, but I did it in a very girly way. I threw a chocolate-fountain-spa party, with the important girls and women in our lives. And I asked twelve women—aunts, grandmothers, friends, mentors—to say something either affirming what they see in Rebecca, or giving her advice on growing up. It was a lovely party, as most interactions that involve chocolate turn out to be, but this was even more special because of the timeless truths my daughter heard.
Our girls get so many negative messages in this culture.
They hear that looks are all that matters, that our worth is best judged by our sexual conquests, and that feeling good is more important than being good. I wanted this to be an opportunity to counteract this garbage in a real and meaningful way. And so let me share with you some of the things Rebecca learned that night.
One aunt reminded her that 10% of life is what gets thrown at you, while 90% of life is how you react to it.
One of her best friend’s moms gave a rah-rah speech: “your generation is the first of the new millennium. What will you make the world?” One of her favourite baby-sitters whom we watched walk down the aisle a month ago still had marriage on her mind, as she told Becca that when it comes time for men, “don’t settle! You deserve the very best in a guy!”. A woman we travelled to Kenya with reminded Becca to remain humble, and remember that everything we have is simply a gift.
My cousin commiserated with Becca since they both suffer from perfectionism. She told her, “Don’t let the need to be perfect stop you from trying things. The important thing is to try your best, and whatever your best is, remember its good enough.”
My mother told her how impressed she was by Becca’s creativity and compassion. My mother-in-law echoed how proud she was of Becca, and admonished her to always keep her word. Be someone others can trust. A family friend who has watched Rebecca learn to ride a bike, learn to swim, and learn to start fires—in our campsites, that is—said, “My deepest prayer for you is that you will continue to have a heart for God.” And on and on it went, with women sharing some of the greatest lessons they’ve learned.
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Maybe you have a child approaching a milestone—13, 16, graduation. Why not take that opportunity to bless them and launch them well?
That night my daughter heard, keep your word. Keep trying. Don’t settle. We love you, you’re special, and we can see so much in you. All of that, and a dozen roses from Daddy. Now if her life can live out those values, we will be very proud parents indeed.
But what if you have a daughter who doesn’t like girly things, or you have a son?
A blessing party doesn’t need to be about frills and chocolate. It’s really about giving people a chance to speak words of life and blessing into your kid’s life. You could do a group hike and end it around a fire; you could host a night at a bowling alley and then all sit around with pizza while people share; you could even do a canoe or camping weekend trip with a smaller group of people. There are endless ways to host a blessing party–so make it something special for your kid! My girls happened to really like chocolate and pedicures. If your kids don’t, then do something different!
No matter what the party looks like, the important point is that your child has a chance to hear blessings from important people in his or her life.
In today’s society we so rarely bless our kids. We don’t take time out of our busy schedules to sit and speak words of life into their lives–we’re focused on soccer practice and sleepovers and juggling the different parts of our crazy-hectic lives.
But as your kids grow into little adults, knowing they have a community of people rallied around them who believe in them and see great things in them is an amazing gift.
So give that gift to your kids!
What do you think about the concept of a blessing party? Have you ever done anything like that before? Let’s chat about it in the comments!