In the Old Testament, there are several times when fathers prayed blessings over the heads of their sons. The stories are often difficult ones for us to understand as at times they sound more as if the father in question is prophesying the future of each child. The Bible doesn’t thoroughly explain how these blessings worked. Did the father in question get some sort of direct message from God as to what to say – meaning it was an actual prophecy from God? Did God somehow make these blessings happen in the lives of the children? (It’s important to note, some of them didn’t exactly sound like blessings!) Did the father base the blessing on the character the now adult child had displayed in his life?
We may never completely understand these parental blessings, but there is something we can learn from them. Blessings said out loud over our children can impact their lives. There is no actual command to pray blessings over your children, but what children would not be blessed to hear their parents praying out loud for God to bless them?
When we talk about God blessing your child with these prayers said out loud over your kids, we aren’t just talking about money, success or good grades. It’s okay to ask God for those things to an extent, but what is more important is to use them as an opportunity to encourage your kids to see themselves as God sees them. To pray the ways you want to see them live their faith. To pray for God’s protection and guidance for their lives.
Fair warning, your kids will find this cringe worthy embarrassing! (This is best done without a public audience most of the time!) The good news though is that their respect for God and prayer will let them allow you to pray blessings over them they would never let you say to them in conversation without interruptions or leaving the room.
These blessings are times to share the potential you see in them. To point out their gifts from God. To remind them how incredibly precious and loved they are. To remind them God wants to guide them through life if they will let Him. To remind them God wants what is truly best for them – even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time. Blessings also remind your kids how much you love them and how important their spiritual life is to you.
Here’s the other secret about most kids. While they may cringe at these blessings, secretly most of them are soaking them into their hearts and minds. Done periodically with some consistency, they will even eventually become a treasured part of your relationship. If you connect these times of blessing with regular events like birthdays, the first day of school or other events, you may even find if you forget it one year, they will remind you.
So pray blessings out loud over the heads of your children. Praying for your children is always important. Praying blessings out loud over their head can benefit them in ways silent prayers don’t necessarily provide. So give your kids both and watch what happens!
Parents will often tell their kids that they can do anything they put their minds to do. The implication being that with enough hard work, anything is possible. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Other factors can prevent your kids from achieving their dreams, but were those the right dreams anyway?
The Bible tells us God has good works planned for each of us to do. It also tells us that He loves us enough to know the number of hairs on our heads! I doubt even the most loving mother could tell you the number of hairs on the heads of each of her kids, but she still has plans and dreams for them. It only makes sense that God cares about more details in our lives than we often give Him credit for having.
God has specific plans He would like for each of your kids to follow. Obviously, becoming a Christian is one of those plans. Obeying His commands is another. Serving others and sharing their faith would also fall under plans God has for your kids. There is a reason though, all of your kids are at least a bit different – with different gifts, talents, interests and passions. They were hard wired by God to be able to do the good works He has planned for them to do. Some of those good works will overlap with where they attend school, live or the careers they choose.
So why don’t Christian parents tell their kids they can do anything if it’s in God’s plans for their lives? Why aren’t we spending more time helping them discover their gifts and passions and helping them match those up with potential careers? Why aren’t we spending more time teaching them about vocational ministry – finding ways to serve others, share their faith and be a light in the world while at work, school or even home? Why aren’t we equipping them to discern God’s plans for their lives, so it will be easier to follow them?
Instead, parents often either micromanage their kids’ choices or encourage them to think almost selfishly…focusing on plans that will make them happy. Christian parents need to spend more time teaching our kids how to focus on being more holy. Happiness may or may not come with holiness, but joy always does. We need to teach our kids how to dream godly dreams. Dreams the Holy Spirit is perhaps placing on their hearts for ways to minister to others. It may be through their career or in their time outside of the job…hopefully, both.
“You can do anything” may be encouraging your kids to do what they want to do – whether or not it is in God’s plans for their lives. It encourages them to make major life decisions by bringing God into them late in the process – if at all. It encourages them to perhaps even push past walls God has set up to protect them from that choice. If you have been telling your kids they can do anything, try switching the dialogue. Point them to including God and following the plans He has for their lives. Everyone will benefit from the change.
There are several new books out about the things we “say” to ourselves and the impact those thoughts can have on our lives. Children are not always fully aware of these thoughts. Metacognition, or the recognition of these thoughts, is critical to a child being raised in a Christian home. Why? Because these thoughts have a huge impact on the choices your kids will make. Being aware of their thought processes will give them more awareness of their ability to control these thoughts and make better choices.
So where do all of these thoughts originate? Many of them actually begin with you. That is why it’s so important to refrain from saying things like, “You are so stupid!” or “You always make the worst possible decisions!” when you are frustrated with your kids. Words have an impact on thoughts. If you use inappropriate language when frustrated with your kids – especially repeatedly – their thoughts will continue to define themselves using your words. Which is sad, because often parents don’t really mean those hurtful words – they were spoken in the anger of the moment.
You can also put positive thoughts in your kids’ brains. Be realistic though. Studies are showing that unrealistically high self esteem also produces negative consequences. Think carefully about the positive messages you want your kids to hear about themselves in their own heads. Be intentional in using them regularly to make the “tape” especially strong. Don’t forget things like, “I will always love you!”, because those reassurances will be there when they need them, too.
Make sure to put some strong scripture “tapes” in their brains. Have a few verses you regularly quote or summarize. Encourage them to memorize scripture and use it regularly so it will be part of their long term memory “tape” collection when they need it. Help them have a balance of scriptures that encourage them to make good choices and verses that remind them of God’s love, power and presence.
While you are working to put helpful “tapes” in the brains of your kids, it is crucial to monitor another major source of negative thoughts in our brains – the words of siblings. Do not ignore it when siblings say ugly things to one another. Don’t excuse it as normal sibling teasing. Teasing or not, when a thin girl is told constantly by a sibling that she is fat, she begins to believe it. Insist that siblings use kind words when speaking to each other. Don’t let their youthful meanness put negative thought patterns in each other’s brains for life.
Want to know what tapes your kids have playing in their heads already? Ask them? If they don’t know, tell them to name a huge goal they have for their future and then pay close attention to what their brain “says” in response to it. If they are already having negative thoughts, teach them how to change them by substituting a better thought every time they realize they are beginning the harmful thought. It takes practice, but it can help them make better choices if they learn to make their inner dialogue helpful and holy.
As the world begins to return to “normal”, what has your family learned in the last year? What new things did you do that you want to continue? What things did you stop doing that you realized weren’t helping your family? It’s a great and important family conversation to have. In the meantime, here are this week’s social media challenges.
Monday: Who knew feeding squirrels could lead to catching the plague, but it happens every year in this area. Sometimes your kids will encounter temptations that seem innocent enough. Those temptations may not lead them to sin at the moment, but may be starting them on a path that will lead them away from God. Teaching your kids how to consider possible future consequences of a choice may help them avoid the more sophisticated traps of Satan.
Tuesday: Whoever came up with the idea of putting holes in the bottom of this bucket created an early shower head. Sometimes Christian parenting requires creativity. What worked with your other kids, may not work for one of your kids. If you can’t think of a creative solution, ask an older Christian parent or educator. With years more experience, they may have just the idea you need.
Wednesday: These strawberries are fine, but they were bought with a purpose. They were bought to make strawberry perserves. Your kids will seem like they are fine if they never discover their gifts from God, develop them and use them to do the good works God has planned for them to do. To have the sense of meaning and purpose, to serve others, expand God’s Kingdom and do those good works though, you and they will have to be intentional. Don’t raise kids who just seem fine. Raise kids who are fully engaged and full participants in God’s Plans.
Thursday: Kids walking past this were fascinated and enjoyed trying to figure it out. Kids have a natural curiosity. It’s why they ask a lot of questions. It’s also one of the ways they learn. Your kids are curious about God and the Bible, too. Help them explore and answer their questions. Encourage their questions. Because that’s one of the ways they will learn about God.
Friday: Most of us wouldn’t know how to use this without a lot of trial and error unless someone taught us. The Christian life is the same for your kids. Unless they know what’s in the Bible, they will use a lot of trial and error in their attempts to live the life God wants them to live. Studies are finding they will get it wrong…really wrong. Even on seemingly basic issues like honesty. Take the time to teach your kids everything God wants them to know – even if you have to learn it with them.
“The goal is to die with memories, not dreams.” “A breath of fresh air is a great thing to take and an even better thing to be.” If you have spent two seconds on social media, you have probably seen motivational memes. The idea of surrounding yourself with motivational messages isn’t new. Our world has just provided more and easier ways for your kids to surround themselves with motivational messages.
Some of these messages actually mirror wisdom God has shared with us. Others promote a secular or even at times, ungodly way of interacting with the world. Have you thought about encouraging your kids to surround themselves with scripture as their motivational messages?
With secular memes and motivational messages, it can be difficult to differentiate between those which contain godly wisdom and those which sound good, but encourage things that are perhaps not so godly. The good news is that scriptures memes and images are easy to find and often free.
The Bible app allows you to take a scripture and create a meme with it using one of probably dozens of different choices for translations, backgrounds, fonts and the like. A quick Google or Pinterest search provides many more free options. Your kids can even create their own scripture art to display, using their computers or regular art supplies. Join the fun and create your own scripture memes or images and place them where not only you, but your kids will also see them.
Surrounding your family with scripture is not only great for motivating yourselves to live more godly lives, but it also helps place those verses in the long term memory, where you and your kids will have easy access to them whenever and wherever your family need God’s wisdom in the moment.