Take your first step of the blessing challenge by first writing out a formal blessing for your child and then sharing it with him or her.
Both the spoken word and the written word are important in giving the blessing. For several reasons, however, we are suggesting that you put your words of blessing into written form first, before you share them out loud with your child.
First of all, ideally, your written blessing will also be spoken — we will include ideas for doing that below. But writing your words out first can take away a lot of pressure. You have the opportunity to put the words together at your leisure. You can double-check that you have included all the elements of the blessing and that your words convey exactly what you want. And if your words have been chosen ahead of time, when you do speak your blessing, you can concentrate on connecting with your child.
Another reason to write out your blessing, though, is that a written blessing can be saved. The words can be read and reread, and the paper it is written on can be tucked away as a keepsake. Written blessings can also be sent by letter or e-mail and thus cover great distances. A written blessing has the capacity to bring warmth and light and love to your child again and again throughout his or her life — far beyond the mere ink marks on paper.
What Do I Say?
Keep in mind that there is no wrong way to craft a blessing, and there are lots of creative right ways. And whether it comes out all at once in a rush of words or takes you a few tries and several evenings to outline and polish what you want to say, your child will cherish both what you write and what it represents about your relationship.
How you actually do the writing depends on what you are comfortable with. Some people work best in pencil on a yellow legal pad. Others can't even think without a word processor. You could even talk into a voice recorder and then transcribe your words.
And what should you say? Your words can be plain or poetic. They just need to carry with them a picture of your blessing that can help your child know that he or she is of high value to you.
Sharing Your Blessing With Your Child
Once you have written your words of blessing, we encourage you to talk with your spouse (if you're married) and pick a special time and place to share these words with your child. If at all possible, do it face-to-face. Pick a meaningful time, place or event — a family affair with lots of friends and relatives, a milestone celebration such as a birth or graduation, or a quiet dinner with just the two of you. Just make sure that it is at a time and place that allows you to be quiet long enough to read or recite the blessing you have written to your son or daughter.
Don't forget to include the element of meaningful, appropriate touch along with your blessing — a hand on the head, an arm around the shoulder and hopefully a big hug. You might even want to snap a picture of the two of you together or give the child a keepsake copy of your blessing done in a special font, calligraphy or just your best handwriting.
What if you can't be physically present — if you are deployed overseas, for instance, or divorced and living across the country? If you will be together soon, why not write out your blessing now and wait until you are together to deliver it? But don't wait too long. You can always write out your blessing in your best handwriting or format it on the computer and put it in the mail. You could even do a video of your blessing and e-mail it to your child or do the whole thing via Skype.
Keep in mind that there is no wrong way of giving a child your blessing. Even if you choose to do a special dinner and burn the hamburgers, if it rains on the one night you have counted on a starlit sky, if the dog decides to throw up just before the special event or the camera batteries fail, it doesn't really matter. If you will write down your words and make your plans, I believe you will find that God just works it out!
The fact that your child receives your blessing is far more important than any challenges you face in delivering it. It is your blessing, prepared just for him or her. And however you choose to deliver it, make sure your child has a copy of your written words.
Before you actually get to work on your written blessing, there are a few more things I would urge you to keep in mind. First, don't assume your children will automatically know your heart or "just figure out" what you think about them. How you choose to bless a child is not nearly as important as making that choice — being intentional about the blessing.
A Lifetime of Blessing
But don't stop there.
The kind of planned, formal blessing we have described can be wonderful and life-changing, but if you really want your child to thrive, you will not only give the blessing but also live it, seeking out ways to include meaningful touch, spoken and written words, messages of high value and a special future, and evidence of active commitment in every day you spend together, every moment.
At the breakfast table and over bedtime prayers, some parents memorize a little blessing to say or sing to their children at these moments.
In the car on the way to school (that can be the perfect time for an offhand conversation with a teen).
While on the soccer field, in the movie theater, at church, at the park or in the backyard, look for ways to inject little words of blessing in everyday conversation.
Make it a habit, and the blessings will flow through your life.