Hidden Benefits of Praying Blessings Over Your Kids

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!

Creating Family Traditions That Bond

One of your goals as a Christian parent should be to have a strong enough relationship with your kids that they aren’t afraid to ask you for advice. You should also work towards a relationship that contains enough mutual respect that they seriously consider any godly wisdom you share with them. There are no quick ways to create that bond with your kids. It takes investing time and energy in your relationship with each of your kids. There are, however, some fun things you can do to strengthen those family bonds.

Ever wonder why some groups have initiation ceremonies, secret handshakes and the like? It’s because those help bond people together who might otherwise struggle to even get along. Participating in those bonding rituals makes those who participate in them feel a closeness and a level of trust that might otherwise be difficult to establish.

Your family doesn’t have to have a secret handshake to feel like you are close and can trust one another. Families often develop traditions that serve a similar purpose. While there are no perfect traditions, try to find ones that encourage family members to share their thoughts and feelings in meaningful ways and show support for one another’s struggles and victories.

Sound complicated? It doesn’t have to be. Think of natural points of stress or celebration in the lives of your kids or family. For example, the first day of school and the last day of school are great for starting this kind of tradition. Every year, after the first day of school, I picked up our daughter and took her for high tea. While we were enjoying our snack, I encouraged her to share her thoughts and feelings about the first day of school. The atmosphere was relaxed and fun and we bonded over the good and bad things that happened during the day.

Sometimes the traditions will change over the years. Our last day of school tradition of dinner at a Japanese restaurant, shifted to a walk to Bruster’s for ice cream when her friends’ families started that tradition. She got to see friends, but we still had time for bonding and conversation while walking to and from the ice cream shop.

Holidays are another natural time for creating traditions that bond your family. Many families use various holidays to reflect on the highs and lows of the previous year, share dreams for the coming year or talk about the things for which they are grateful.

While hopefully God may come up in your conversations, these traditions are not time for sermons. Let the conversation flow freely. Laugh or mourn. Comfort and celebrate. Mention God when it feels natural. Remember, the goal is to make your kids feel as if you are willing to make time for them and listen actively to whatever they want to tell you. You are setting the stage for future spiritual conversations over the decades to come.

Let your kids help plan new traditions. They are more likely to get excited about participating in something they helped create. Remember to keep it simple. Any parent who started the elf visiting at Christmas craziness can tell you that complicated traditions can become exhausting and some kids insist on keeping them well into adulthood! Have fun with it, but don’t miss out on having multiple chances a year to remind your kids you will always be there to listen whenever they want to talk.

How Humor Impacts Your Kids

What did Tennessee? The same thing Arkansas! Get it? Dad’s are famous for their “dad jokes” – silly jokes that make their kids laugh and groan at the same time. Dad jokes are fun (even when mom tells them!), but other aspects of humor can actually hurt your kids.

Studies have found children surrounded by positive humor and who develop a positive sense of humor are more resilient, and the humor tends to have a positive impact on their physical and mental health. This is particularly true if the child learns to look for the humor in a negative situation. Humor can also help their relationships when jokes are shared with others – unless those jokes are at the expense of others.

That is where humor gets a bit tricky. Many families view teasing one another as a form of acceptable humor. Unfortunately, teasing is often hurtful and when allowed to continue for a long period of time about the same topic, can damage a child’s self image. When teasing, it is important to consider the topic and the child’s personality. A one time gentle ribbing about a “certain someone” circling around looking for an excuse to start a conversation (implication, because he or she liked the child being teased) is very different from a child being called “thunder thighs” in teasing for several years.

It is important to remember a child’s self image and self esteem are delicate. While you don’t want your child to have self esteem that is too high, giving your child low self esteem is also unhealthy and easier than you would imagine. I don’t care how thin your daughter is or how strong your son may be. If you continually tease her about being fat or him of being weak, they will begin to view themselves that way – regardless of the image in the mirror or what others may say.

Also watch for signs of aggressive humor. Aggressive humor is often used to make someone else look bad in order to make the “jokesters” feel better about their own self image. This type of humor can be teasing, but in it’s most aggressive form is openly mocking others to intentionally embarrass or hurt them.

Self deprecating humor – making fun of oneself – is often perceived positively by others and can be a sign of a healthy self image. Used to the extreme though, it can be harmful to your child. Watch for signs that show a constant use of self deprecating humor, especially when coupled with other signs of poor self esteem.

It’s important to remember these types of humor can be found in styles of humor ranging from slapstick to dry. The content is what is important more so than the style of delivery. Certain styles might incorporate more negative humor, but any style is susceptible to it.

Your children’s humor will be influenced by your sense of humor as well as the humor in any content they read or watch. Take some time to monitor your own humor. Is it mean or aggressive to yourself or others? Are your kids watching shows that make constant use of mocking and aggressive humor? Switching to gentler types of humor can make your kids more resilient, healthier and honestly godlier – as aggressive humor does not accurately reflect God’s love to others. It’s worth considering and discussing with your kids.

Managing Your Child’s Inner Dialogue

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.

Things Your Kids Wished You Knew

You could be the best parent in the world and there will be things your kids don’t tell you. Maybe they don’t think it’s important. Maybe they are worried about your reaction – even if there is no need for them to worry. Maybe they are embarrassed.

Your kids are right…to a point. Some of those things they don’t share with you are relatively inconsequential. If they told you every single thought they had, neither of you would get anything done. On the other hand, there are some thoughts they have that you really need to know. Things they may desperately want you to help them sort through, but are reluctant to tell you.

There is a book titled, “Things I Wish My Teacher Knew”. It argues that teachers would be much more effective if they had crucial information about the things their students choose not to share with them. The same is true for Christian parenting. You may be missing key bits of information that could help you parent more effectively. And you are missing these bits of information because your kids have chosen not to share them with you.

Those are the things you must make safe for them to tell you. Otherwise, they will be struggling alone or with the help of equally inexperienced peers. Creating a safe space for them to share these thoughts isn’t overly complicated. They need a time and place where they have your full attention and some privacy. They need you to listen actively – seeking to understand before you seek to help or correct. They need to know you aren’t going to have an emotional explosion- erupting anger all over them if what they say is upsetting to you.

They will test you with easy things at first. They won’t know they are testing you of course, but they are. They will tell you something that they are pretty sure you won’t get upset about and see how you react. Then when that goes well consistently, they may tell you something where there is a risk you will get a little upset with them. Only after you have earned their trust (or if they are so miserable and desperate, they talk regardless), will they truly open their hearts and share all of those thoughts you need to know.

In my ministry, I see kids who are struggling all of the time. Kids who desperately want help, but who are afraid to ask their parents for it. They may be acting out in hopes of their parents paying enough attention to them to realize how much they are struggling. In these situations, I am heart broken for the struggling young person and heart broken for their parents, who often have no idea how much their children are struggling.

If you try creating a safe space for your kids to open up and they still aren’t talking, try asking them if they did something they knew would make you angry – would they tell you. If not, ask them what you could do differently so they would feel like they could tell you anything. They need to know you will love them through the consequences you may have to give them. You will help them problem solve even if the problem itself is breaking your heart. You are and always will be their best advocate and will do anything you can to help them spend eternity in Heaven.