By Ken R. Canfield, Ph.D., Crosswalk.com
Giving your children intentional blessings can not only strengthen your relationships with them, but it can have a ripple effect on future generations.
Few of us were verbally and physically affirmed on a regular basis by our own fathers, so when we talk about blessing our children, we don’t have a good idea what that looks, sounds or feels like. I hope to help you fill in some of those blanks.
We see several examples of blessings in the Bible, especially in Genesis. It was customary for an aging father to call in his children to bestow blessings on them. Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, and Jacob blessed Joseph and his sons. In Old Testament times, the blessings carried important implications regarding the children’s inheritance and family standing, but those children also received affirmation and a sense of purpose from their fathers’ blessings.
As you seek to bless your children today, realize that it doesn’t have to be overly formal, tense or complicated. Blessing a child can be as short and simple as saying, "I love you; you make me so happy," or, "I’m so proud to be your dad." Remember that blessings are not tied to any performance or event, and are given somewhat spontaneously. They can come in the kitchen, in a hallway, or really anywhere.
There are also times when a longer, more formal blessing is appropriate -- maybe during a special event or during a rite of passage. It might sound like this: "Adam, you’re my son. I love you and I’ll always love you. You are a Jones, and from a long line of men who were committed to their families. I am so pleased with you, and so proud of you." You then have an opportunity to add affirmations based on his individual gifts or achievements, or to highlight your unique relationship.
Another great way to affirm our children is through prayer, as we ask for God’s blessings upon their lives. Imagine what it would have felt like -- or think back to what it did feel like -- to hear your father pray regular blessings upon your life, your character, and your future. When our children hear us pray for them, it gives them security and belonging. They go forth with confidence, knowing their names are on our lips when we kneel before God.
Finally, as you’re blessing your child, include non-verbal affirmations: direct eye contact to confirm that you mean what you’re saying, and a hand on his shoulder or on his head, or a hug to convey intimacy as well as importance. Show that what you’re doing is not a trivial gesture, but one that transmits your deep love and acceptance.
Dad, don’t wait. Do it early and do it often. Even if your kids roll their eyes a little or don’t seem to "get it" at first, don’t let that stop you. They will thrive on your blessings, and over time you will make memories that will become a reservoir of comfort and confidence that they can draw from as they mature.
A Sample Prayer of Blessing
People often learn to pray by hearing others pray. And since many of us didn’t have fathers who prayed blessings over us, you may be wondering, "How does a prayer of blessing sound? What should I say?"
I don’t want to give you a script for your prayers, but let me give you an example. You could say something like this:
Dear Heavenly Father,
I thank you tonight for my son Josh. He is such a delight to me, and I am so happy to be his dad. I ask for your blessing to be on him. He is your child, and I know you have great plans for him. May his eyes always seek your wisdom and his heart always be sensitive to your leading. May he love your Word. As he grows, lead him in your ways so that he will honor you all his life. Thank you for Josh and how he has brought so much joy to my life.
In Christ’s name I pray, Amen.
The National Center for Fathering was founded in 1990 by Dr. Ken Canfield because every child needs a dad they can count on -- someone who loves them, knows them, guides them and helps them achieve their destiny. Visit www.fathers.com for more articles and resources to assist dads in nearly every fathering situation.