How to Give a Birthday Blessing
by Jeremy Lee
The Birthday Blessing
When my first son was born, I started a practice at his birthday party of giving him a public blessing. Every year, both of my boys now understand that just before they blow out the candles on their cake, I will offer a short blessing to them.
I would like to suggest that you get into that habit as well. Let your child come to expect that on his birthday he will get many wonderful presents, but the best present of all will be your blessing.
All families establish their own traditions, and it is those traditions that tell their story. It would be wise and strategic for you as a parent to make an annual Birthday Blessing a huge part of that story.
Do What Fits You and Your Child
It is a big deal to put your heart out there for your child to see, so I want to make sure that it is a positive experience for you. That’s why before you do the first Birthday Blessing you should probably talk to your child. They might not enjoy being surprised publicly, so let them know what you are planning to do. It’s important that you tell them that they have a choice of how they receive their Birthday Blessing. You can offer them these three options on their birthday:
- A Written Note of Blessing – Your child will receive a letter with a written blessing from you as his parent. This will be for him only to enjoy. Your child might be shy or extremely introverted, and this option may fit him perfectly.
- A Family Dinner – The family will come together for a special dinner. The favorite food of your child will be served. During the dinner you will give a public blessing to your child and offer the family members a chance to do the same.
- A Public Blessing – Your child might be a party animal and an extrovert. He may love the idea of you giving him a blessing at his birthday party just before the candles are blown out and everyone sings “Happy Birthday.”
When you finally get up the courage to unleash your blessing, what do you say?
Here is an example of what not to say:
“I love you because you scored 32 points in the game last night. I am proud of your success as an athlete and I encourage you to score 33 points in the next game. Keep getting better.”
Some of you may say, “What’s wrong with that?” When you bless your teenager’s performance you are saying to him that he can have your approval as long as he does something. The beauty of a blessing exists because it is not about what you do, but who you are. As their parent, there is no one else on the planet who truly knows the heart of your children more than you. The blessing is a time for you to hold up a mirror to their soul and explain to them who they are, not just what they have done.
Here are some examples of a blessing:
- I know you to be a kind person who takes care of those in need
- I marvel at how patient you are. I want you to know that I see you are slow to become angry and I admire that.
- One of the things I respect most is a hard worker, and when I watch you, I see a very hard worker.
- You have a natural beauty that no makeup or outfit could ever enhance. You are truly beautiful.
- When you walk into a room you light it up. You have been given the gift of charisma where you shine from your soul for others to see.
- I appreciate how you think before you speak. You are a deep thinker and that is going to serve you well in life.
These kind of statements cut to the heart of who your child really is, not what he can do. These kinds of statements are the bricks and mortar by which your child will build his self-image. When you bless their identity rather than their performance, they won’t need to earn your approval—they will already have it.
Share your Dream for Them in the Coming Year
Take some time in the blessing to share your dream for them in the coming year.
Here are some examples:
- My dream for you in the coming year is that you will continue to grow in your love for others, that you would find ways to serve those around you and use your ability to make others smile.
- My dream for you is that you will be a peace maker. You have a calming presence about you that can be a great attribute to your friends that are in conflict.
- I am so excited to watch you take your hard work ethic throughout this next year and apply it to your life through school, sports, and other activities. There is no telling what will happen when you put such extraordinary effort into all you do. I am proud of you.
- My dream for you this year is that you will find ways to use your gift of leadership that is so evident.
Give Them an Example of Someone They Remind You Of…
Younger children especially will receive your blessing when you compare them to someone they admire. This is a concrete comparison that might make vivid the attribute you are trying to ascribe to them. If you do this, you want to make sure this is a person that your child will know and admire.
Here are some examples…
- You remind me of your grandfather. He was one of the kindest men I have ever met. I sometimes have to do a double-take when I see the way you treat people. It looks so much like the way he treated people.
- I am sure you have heard of Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a man of peace. When the whole world wanted to respond to racism in violence he taught a nation to respond with love. I see his spirit in you.
- Your natural beauty is something I have seen before in the face of your mother. She is beautiful inside and out and you were given that same gift.
- In the Bible there is a man named Joshua. He was known to be a man of great courage. I often look at you and see that same kind of courage. You remind me of Joshua.
Here’s a quick worksheet to help you write out your child’s Birthday Blessing.
________________, I wanted to take a few moments today to tell you how important you are to me. I am so proud of the person you have become.
You are so ________________________ (character trait you want to affirm). In fact, you remind me of ______________________ (person who embodies the character trait). My dream for you in the next year of your life is _________________________ .
I love you. I am proud of you. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
(Now, blow out those candles!)
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