“And [Jesus] took the children in His arms, placed His hands on them and blessed them.” Mark 10:16
The word “blessing” is a rather archaic word. Other than a courteous response to a sneeze, “blessing” someone has really fallen out of favor. But if we go back to its original meaning, we find that the word simply means, “to show favor.” It’s an intentional way to give someone our stamp of approval, to validate their uniqueness and their place in your life. Of course, blessing a child means more than saying, “I love you” (though that may be a part of it). It’s about taking active steps to display your support of and appreciation for your child. As parents, we spend a lot of time correcting and pointing out negative behaviors in our kids, but do we spend an equal amount of time focusing on the positives?
Let me give you five ways you can literally “bless” your teenager. And it has nothing to do with your child deserving or earning your favor. It’s all about looking past their mistakes and behaviors to say “You’re my son” or “You’re my daughter” and “I value you.” These five methods of blessing come from my good friend, John Trent. And putting them into action can bring restoration to broken relationships, or strengthen a healthy connection with your teen.
In Mark, chapter 10, the residents of a small town gathered together and brought all the students from a local school over to Jesus. The disciples thought it was a waste of time for Jesus to meet with kids, but Jesus disagreed. He invited each child with open arms, placed His hands on them, and blessed them. In that example, we learn that first way to properly “bless” our kids is to use appropriate and meaningful touch. It could be a hug, a warm hand on the shoulder, a high-five, a fist bump, a kiss on the forehead, anything that is appropriate and conveys love. I realize that many parents would like to hug their kids more, but as they get older they often get harder to pin down! But be ready and willingly to offer a loving touch when your kids do come to you for comfort—because they will. There was a mom whose son was very affectionate growing up, and would run up and hug his mom almost everyday. But as he got older, embracing mom was most definitely not cool, and fodder for jokes and ridicule, so he stopped—almost. This grateful mother confided in me that occasionally, her son would hug her at night, after everyone else had gone to bed when no one could see.
Don’t force meaningful touch, but do bless your kids whenever you get a chance and let them know through handshakes, high-fives, or hugs that you care about them.
We might love our teen, but in the craziness and busyness of life, we can forget to actually verbalize that sentiment. Actions can portray a blessing, but our words hit closer to home. You know that your spouse or children love you, but isn’t it nice to hear those three little words? It’s no different with teenagers. They need to hear words of affirmation and blessing from you. When they achieve something great, let them hear your praise. When they mess up, let them know that you still love them. The poet Emily Dickinson wrote, “I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word.”
Mom and dad, there’s a lot of power in your words. An encouragement and a blessing at just the right moment can impact your child in so many positive ways. So take every opportunity to verbalize your love to your teen.
I love those recent television programs where people bring in their old junk from their attic and storage units, and experts tell them whether they are the owners of a piece of useless trash, or in possession of a fortune. I’ve learned some valuable lessons from these shows. One, never take a pawnbroker’s first offer. And two, people who believe an object has worth attach a high value to it.
The same goes for a child. If we believe that our child has significance, then we will attach a high value to them. Will they be a little dinged-up and tarnished sometimes? You bet! But as parents, we can look past the dirt and scratches and see the treasure underneath. Part of blessing our children means letting them know we think they are valuable—to the family, to us, and to the world. Regardless of how many times they mess up, fall down, or stumble, our kids need to know that they hold their value with us, and we wouldn’t trade them for the world. This means we don’t compare them to other kids, or wish we could trade them in for a better model (even though it may cross our mind sometimes!). Let your teenager know that you are thankful that God put them in your life, and that you treasure them.
Another way to bless your child is to endorse their future. This involves acknowledging their gifts and abilities and pointing out all the opportunities before them. “Honey, this painting is really good! I can definitely see you becoming a artist or an art teacher some day.” Or, “Wow, son, you really communicate well with young kids. Have you ever thought about helping out in Sunday school, or volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club?” I could parade countless stories about the difference a parent’s encouragement for the future made in the lives of successful young people. But on the flip side, I know other stories of kids who spent years discouraged because their parents said, “You want to do what? I don’t think you could do that. Maybe you should try this other profession instead.” Bless your child’s future and you bless your child.
The final way to bless your teenager is by showing genuine commitment—putting aside your schedule, appointments and prerogatives for you child. It’s a genuine sign of approval for a teenager to see an enthused parent in the stands of a swim meet, or see the computer turn off as they tell you a story from school, or to take them out to a dinner and a movie. A commitment to show favor means a commitment of time. We cannot bless our kids if we’re not spending time with them.
Hopefully, you’ve begun to see the idea of blessing your kids a little differently. Rather than some outdated form of parental symbolism, bestowing favor is practical way to help a struggling teen, fix a broken relationship, or strengthen the bonds that are already in place. Practice these five methods of blessing, and see if it doesn’t also bless you in the process.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, located in Hallsville, Texas. For more information and helpful resources for moms and dads, check out our website. It’s filled with ideas and tools to help you become a more effective parent. Go to www.heartlightministries.org. Or read other helpful articles by Mark, at www.markgregston.com. You can also call Heartlight directly at (903) 668-2173. Hear the Parenting Today’s Teens broadcast on a radio station near you, or download the podcast at www.parentingtodaysteens.org.