Do you know what your child wants from you more than anything else?
Your blessing—your unconditional love and acceptance.
Most of us see our children as the gifts from God they are. We enjoy each day as they grow and explore the world; we dream about their futures. Truly, we love and accept them even before they are born.
But children don’t always feel accepted and loved—known. Sometimes, looking back, we see that what we felt didn’t reflect our parents’ intentions or reality. They just didn’t know how to communicate their blessing.
In the early 1990s, John Trent and Gary Smalley wrote The Blessing: Giving the Gift of Unconditional Love and Acceptance. In their book they outline five aspects of blessing, based on parental blessings in the Bible and in the lives of Jewish families in Bible times:
Meaningful touch. Perhaps a hug or a hand on the child’s head or shoulder.
A spoken message. Our children need to hear our blessing.
Attaching high value. We choose words that affirm our child’s intrinsic worth and individual traits.
Picturing a special future. We affirm good things to come.
An active commitment. We will be there to help and support.
Each of these five parts is present in a more formal blessing, such as might take place on a birthday or other special day. In day-to-day life, blessing is given when each of the parts is present in the child’s life on a regular basis. Trent and Smalley surveyed adults who felt that as children they had received their parents’ blessing. Some of the ways those blessings were communicated:
“My parents would take the time to really listen to me when I talked to them by looking directly into my eyes.”
“My mother would let me explain my point of view on issues–even when she disagreed with me. She always made me feel that my opinion was important.”
“As a family, we often read and discussed the book The Velveteen Rabbit, which talks about how valuable we are.”
“My father would put his arm around me at church and let me lay my head on his shoulder.”
“My mother got interested in computers just because I was interested in them.”
Blessings can be based on Scripture too. Here’s one from the book:
“Oh Lord, may ______________ never forget Your teaching. Let [his/her] heart keep Your commandments. Then, Lord, You will give _______________ many more days and years and You will add peace to [his/her] life.
“May kindness and truth never leave [him/her], Lord, may [he/she] bind them around [his/her] neck and write them on [his/her] heart.
“Then Lord, You will give [him/her] favor and a good reputation both with you and man” (Proverbs 3:1-4).
So many of God’s promises are statements of how he blesses us. My Bible storybook God’s Words to Dream On: Bedtime Bible Stories and Prayers, includes a Bedtime Blessing with every story—a short summary of the story’s message.
We can bless others besides our children when we practice the five aspects of blessing in our interactions with others, and it’s never too late to improve! The speaking part is the aspect that has never come easily to me; I’m still working on it!
Does your family practice blessing? Is there an aspect of giving a blessing that you find especially easy or difficult? Your thoughts and comments always bless me. I would love to hear from you!
Thank you, Diane, for this teaching moment. I wish we’d practiced it when our children were growing up. But inspired by Sabbath Blessing from Fiddler on the Roof, I decided to bless our youngest son and his beloved. We collaborated with the bride’s parents to write out a blessing for the bride and groom individually and as a couple, using “May you be like” biblical characters: “May you be like Ruth a Boaz, your love inspiring future generations of believers.” We spoke the blessing over our children at the rehearsal dinner and gave them a framed copy. They literally took their parents’ blessing with them across country to their new home.
Wonderful story, Shirlee! I would like to go back in time and bless my kids then too. But your story shows us that we can begin anytime. Thanks for sharing!
So sweet, Diane. And my girls are now teens, and I’m seeing that speaking the blessing is even more important than ever.
Blessed by you.
Thank you, Shelli! I believe you’re right that teen girls definitely need the confidence that comes from their parents’ spoken blessings.