Living out The Blessing with your older childrenWritten by John Trent
In an earlier article, we talked about what The Blessing is: a powerful, timeless, biblical way to provide attachment, acceptance, and much-needed connection for your child.
There are five elements to The Blessing:
- Appropriate meaningful touch
- Spoken words of love and acceptance
- Seeing and attaching high value on our child
- Picture for them a special future
- Living it out with our genuine commitment
In this broadcast, we shared some practical ways that you can bless your kids from the time they’re toddlers through their teenage years.
However, The Blessing wasn’t just something given to younger children. When Isaac, a father in the Old Testament, called his son to his side to “bless” him, Jacob was 40 years old! There’s a reason why The Blessing is so timeless. It’s because we are born reaching out for others, and our need for love and attachment never ages out!
Let’s jump in then, in this article, and pick up on several ways in which The Blessing can be something hugely important and impactful in your older children’s lives!
Blessing college-age children
While there are emails, texts, FaceTime, TikTok, ZOOM and so many other digital and electronic media ways of staying connected today, there’s nothing quite like getting a real letter from home. One way my wife Cindy and I blessed our girls was to go “old school” and keep sending them “snail mail” at important times in their lives.
When each of our daughters went to college, we went to the dollar store and bought a packet of funny greeting cards. Once a week, Cindy and I would write a short note, and put the card in the mail.
Sometimes we’d include an article related to what they were studying, a printed picture of the dogs, or extra story that we knew they’d like. Other times, when we knew finals were coming up or a big test, we’d put in a Starbucks card or some cash for an extra treat.
But each week, we’d drop a real, old school, snail-mail letter into the mailbox. Over the years, each of our girls shared that there were times when those notes showed up on the very day where they really needed some extra love and encouragement. Even now, years later, both of our girls still have shoeboxes of all the notes and blessings we sent during those four years.
Your words matter. There’s nothing like writing them down for your children for them to read again and again. This is invaluable as they are learning and growing into the adults they will become.
Blessing adult children
Blessing our adult children may seem harder than blessing our kids when they are young. However, it’s still vitally important.
When it comes to blessing your adult children, we always recommend “doing your homework,” and giving them a “picture” of how valuable they are.
You can do this by picking one character trait – and attaching it to one object. (We teach parents to do this at TheBlessing.com by taking what we call The Blessing Challenge!)
Using an object as a blessing
Let me give you an example here of what we mean by giving an older child a “picture” as a way of blessing them. Our oldest daughter Kari is full of life, with an energy level that’s contagious. In one of the notes we sent to Kari at college, we had found a fun plastic frame that you could put around a light switch. At that time we knew she was struggling with some big challenges.
We wrote her a note, instructing her to put this cover around the light in her dorm room. “Kari, you bring so much light and energy to our home. And we know you’re doing the same there in college. This is a challenging time, but every time you walk in or out of your room and use that light switch, look at that cover. And know that God has gifted you to light up every room you are in, and everyone you are around.” It was something that was a great reminder and blessing to her that we saw great value in her, and Jesus did as well.
One father who took The Blessing Challenge, sent his son an old clothespin he’d spray painted gold, right before finals his senior year. He shared with him, “Bryan, we know that there are so many things you’re facing in life right now. Including finals. But something the Lord has gifted you with is being able to hold everything together. Just like this solid gold clothespin.” It brought a smile to his son, but it also was a great reminder that with so much going on in his life, he had parents who believed he was great at keeping everything together.
Those are just two examples of how you can attach a character trait to an object to create a powerful picture of your blessing for someone you love at any age.
If you want to go deeper on this topic, our book, The Language of Love, can help. But just remember: one character trait plus one object, and you can create a powerful picture for your child, no matter how old they are.
Blessing children who have walked away from their faith
I hope and pray that you never experience the pain of having a child who is struggling with big issues, or even their faith.
However, no family is perfect, and our family lived this out for years with our oldest daughter, Kari.
Parenting isn’t a formula, and your children are going to make their own decisions. However, The Blessing can be a powerful way to speak truth – even when there are challenges.
We share more about Kari’s story in our book, The Blessing. The short story is that for several years, Kari chose to walk away from the Lord. Instead, she walked right into an abusive relationship. She was out of state, and all we knew was we were losing her. And couldn’t seem to help her.
Kari knew that we loved her, and she was always welcome to come home to us – and to the Lord. But at the time, she didn’t want anything to do with a God she felt was abstract and not real. Those are tough times for any parent. But one thing that Kari shares that she always knew during that time, was that while we didn’t approve or subsidize her hurtful behaviour, the door was always open for her to come home. That we always loved her. And that she had our blessing.
On one rare day when Kari came over to our house, I handed her a typed note. On it were 10 truths about who she was. Things like smart. Loving. Beautiful. Courageous. Words and traits that we believed the Lord had put in her life. At the time, she didn’t want to take the letter, or even read the truths. But I had printed a copy for Cindy and me as well. Every day we prayed that God would show her those truths, and that she would someday see them for herself.
We didn’t know at the time about all the hell she was going through in that abusive relationship. A relationship where those very truths were being challenged, dismantled, and destroyed each day. But God did.
Kari eventually got out of that relationship and returned home to us and the Lord. She still carries that letter in her wallet today. And she has told us many times that knowing she had our blessing eventually gave her the courage to come home.
What impacted Kari’s life wasn’t angry lectures or us adding more shame to her life. It wasn’t easy, but we chose to believe that God loved her, and we did. And we are grateful that The Blessing was a tool that the Lord used to help fight the lies she was being told. Spoken words of blessing, a written piece of paper, that let her know that like her Lord, we would “never leave her nor forsake her” (Hebrews 13:5). That she had high value and would always have a safe place when she was ready to come home.
Your grandchildren need your blessing too! One way you can bless your grandchildren is to use a “special plate.”
When each of our girls was born, a close family friend gave a red plate that said “You Are Special Today.” We would use these plates on the first day of school, when they passed a hard test, or even on hard days when they needed a reminder that they were loved and valued.
It’s also a great way to bless grandchildren. You can find a red plate like ours on Amazon. Or even make your own.
Each time you use it, turn it into a blessing.
Kids of all ages need to know that they have love and acceptance. The Blessing is a powerful and biblical way you can help build and keep connection and attachment with your child – no matter their age, or what they are facing in life.
- Appropriate and meaningful touch – a hand on their shoulder, a hug, etc.
- Spoken words of love and acceptance – telling them out loud and/or in writing.
- Attaching high value to them – seeing positive character traits the Lord put in their life.
- Picturing them for a special future – letting them know that God has a plan for their lives.
Genuine commitment – holding fast to them, even in the difficult times by God’s strength.
The Blessing Challenge
Are you ready to “bless” and help change the life of your child? Even your grown child? Take The Blessing Challenge you can find at TheBlessing.com. It’s a simple yet powerful first step in giving and living The Blessing. It will coach you to write down and read a blessing to your child. Share your Blessing story, and find out more about this challenge at TheBlessing.com. Find the book, The Blessing, with over 150 practical ways that you can live out this biblical tool every day.
John Trent is a co-founder of Insights International, a ministry that helps couples, families and teams learn how to lead with their strengths.
© 2020 John Trent and Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Originally published at FocusOnTheFamily.com.
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