Sunday, January 28, 2018

How Do I Bless My Child?

For Gemma's first birthday, my aunt and uncle gave me the book The Spiritual Growth of Children.

Gemma was a year old, so I, of course, read the section for Ages 0-4 first. Chapter 29 ("From Hugs to Hosannas: What Your 0-4-Year-Old Can Learn") is about the ideas a young child can learn about God. He exists. He loves you. He created everything...

One of the ideas is "God created you," and the book gives "Hints and Helps" as to how to communicate this to a 0 to 4 year old:
When you pray for and over your children, thank God for making them so special and for giving them to you and your family. Be as specific as you can. For example, at the end of the day in which your toddler built an especially tall tower of blocks, thank God for giving him or her a steady hand and a creative mind.
Every night since I read that paragraph, I have included in our bedtime prayer a thank you to God for making Gemma. I want her to hear me express my gratitude that she is in my life.

Gemma is now six, and there are lots of moments when my very smart, very confident child needs a reminder that Mommy and Daddy really do want her to do what we say, preferably soon after we say it.

I should also add that I want my child to express herself. I value her curiosity and her need to make sense of things.

Just not everything.  All. the. time.

So, when I've told her to do something, and she's questioned why, and this has happened three or four times in a row, I'm not thinking about blessing my child.

I'm trying not to yell.

I teach public school, and doing so requires a lot of self-control. By the time I get home from work, I often feel I've used up my store of self-control for the day. It's pretty crummy feeling that other people's children get a better version of me than my own child.

So, we're back to the question of How do I bless my child?

According to John Trent and Gary Smalley, there are 5 elements to a blessing:

  1. meaningful and appropriate touch
  2. a spoken or written message
  3. attaching a high value to the one being blessed
  4. picturing a special future for her
  5. an active commitment to fulfill the blessing

Instead of trying to do all of these in order, like a blessing recipe, I want to try to bless my child more frequently. When she asks for one more hug, even when I should have been out the door two minutes ago and my car is on empty, I need to hug her. And I need to like it.

A spoken or written message... For the past couple of years, every day before I leave for work, I've written Gemma a short note in which I include the words "I love you." There have been a couple of times I didn't write her a note, and she's asked why. I was in a hurry; I hadn't realized that it meant so much.

We say "I love you" multiple times each day, but there are other things I want Gemma to hear.

You are accepted. You are my priceless treasure. You will always have enough. Yes, I will help you, not later, but now.

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