The Blessing

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Validating our children is so important. A wonderful way to do this is giving them a blessing ceremony. It’s almost like a coming of age or a right of passage celebration. Recently, a friend of mine held a blessing ceremony for his son…

Here’s some more helpful information:

Introduction

For tens of thousands of years, in many countries and cultures throughout the world, rites of passage have been an important part of human culture. A rite of passage is a ritual or ceremony that marks a change in a person’s social status. There are ceremonies in many cultures that memorialize the birth of a child, puberty, graduation, engagement, marriage, death, and other stages of life. In our western culture, while we still celebrate marriage through a wedding ceremony and observe death through a funeral, we lack a generally accepted rite of passage from childhood into adulthood. This rite of passage that occurs around the time of puberty is sometimes called a “blessing.”

What is a blessing?

The Hebrew word for “to bless” is baruch. Baruch means “a good word.”  When we bless our child, we are placing our “seal of approval” upon them and giving them power to prosper in many areas of life, including in marriage, with children, in finances, health and career.

Why do children need the blessing of their parents?

A ceremonial blessing is an act of the parents recognizing the passage of a son or daughter emotionally and spiritually into manhood or womanhood. It helps to establish their identity and purpose as an adult.

Establishing identity answers the question, “Who am I?”

Establishing purpose answers the question, “What am I here for?” Additionally, when we release our children into this new season in life, we are also releasing them to take on more responsibility and decision-making. There is something inside every child that makes him crave for a blessing from his parents. And without that blessing, many people spend a lifetime searching for identity and purpose in life. They are always trying to prove themselves worthy to their mom or dad. They are constantly seeking attention, affirmation, and acceptance–in all of the wrong places. They are often striving to prove their manhood or womanhood to themselves and to others through their sexual encounters, the way they dress, their work, the money they make, or by attempting daring feats.

Is it right to bless a rebellious, misbehaving child?

Yes. We need to separate identity and behavior. Remember, when we bless a child, we are giving them power to prosper in life, not condoning rebellion and disobedience. We are blessing them for who they are–a child of God created with infinite value, dignity and worth–not for what they do.

When does the parental blessing occur? It should probably occur sometime between the ages of 12 and 15, depending on the emotional maturity of the child. One sign will be when the child starts to take an interest in the opposite sex and begins to lose an interest in childish things. Another clear sign is when a child reaches puberty.

How does a parent bless his child?

Weddings. Graduations. Award banquets. We remember those occasions, in part, because they were sealed by a ceremony and a celebration. Ceremonies often drive a stake in the ground memorializing a season or time in one’s life. Memorable ceremonies do three things:

1. Ascribe Value. They say to the person being honored, “You are important.”  “This occasion is important.”

2. Employ Symbols. A ring, a pen, a necklace, a plaque, a certificate all provide recognition of the significance of an event.

3. Launch a New Season in Life. They say, in essence, “from this day forward, things are going to be different.” And they do it with celebration.

What should be the format of the ceremony?

The ceremony for the blessing can come in all shapes and sizes. It can be conducted in a home, church or even a private room in a restaurant. Invite family members, pastor, and friends you wish to come. Here is an example that you can use to create your own ceremony for your child.

The Blessing of [child’s full name]

  1. Welcome and invocation by the mother, father, or minister.
  2. Introduction by mother or father. What is a blessing and what is it for?
  3. Mother prays for her child.
  4. Father (grandfather, Uncle, mentor) blesses the child [See Sample Blessing].
  5. Father presents the ring or necklace to the child as a symbol of the blessing.
  6. Other family members and friends present speak about the child.
  7. Celebration feast!

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What should a blessing say?  You can say anything you’d like that imparts a “good word” to your child.  Here is just one sample. The Blessing of [child’s full name] [Child’s name], you are my [daughter, son], whom I love; with you I am well pleased. You are no longer a little [girl, boy]  You are now a [woman, man]. You are well equipped with everything you need to fulfill your destiny as a [woman, man] of God.   Before the foundation of the earth, God Almighty planned for your life and planned for you to be a [woman, man]. Psalm 139 says that He created your inmost being. He knit you together in your mother’s womb. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. All the days ordained for you were written by God even before you were born. There is nothing that you will ever need to do to become a [woman, man] because God has made you one. Tonight, we are simply recognizing publicly what God has done in you.   [Child’s name], [Here, name all of the wonderful attributes and character traits of your child. For example, for your daughter you might say something like, “God has made you intelligent–you have a strong mind.  God has made you beautiful. I’ve also noticed since the time you were a little girl that our Lord has given you a great ability to understand right and wrong, good and evil. You are able to quickly read and understand people. You get along with everyone and are well-respected and well thought of by others, young and old alike. You are a leader and have used your leadership skills to make wise decisions concerning your friends and in many other areas of your life.”    I am beyond joyful that God has given you to our family as a gift. You are a wonderful [daughter, son]. I love you and bless you with the promises of God. You are His and have been set apart from the world for his Holy purposes. I bless you with God’s everlasting love, wisdom, peace, and joy. I bless you with sexual purity, marital fidelity, and many children of your own. May God continue to keep His hand of favor and prosper you in all that you do, and may you serve our Lord Jesus Christ all the days of your life.  Amen.  [Present ring, necklace or other symbol of the blessing.] [Start celebration and feast!]

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Phil Salvo

    I am reading a book on this subject right now that I strongly recommend for any Dad thinking of doing this. It’s called: Boy’s Passage – Man’s Journey By: Brian D. Molitor (here’s a link to it)

    http://www.christianbook.com/boys-passage-mans-journey/brian-molitor/9781932096064/pd/09606X?event=ESRCN&item_code=WW

    Here’s my challenge: Dad’s… This is a must read if you have a boy under 13!!! Let’s be the Dad’s that bring back the “Rite of Passage” into manhood for our young men of the next generation!

  • Dianeelizabethot

    LOVE THE IDEA!

  • Razrbakfan

    I would also recommend reading the book, “Raising A Modern Day Knight” by Robert Lewis. It talks in-depth about manhood cermonies, right along this same path!

  • Glenn FPF

    Ed Tandy McGlasson is an expert on this very topic. He has built his ministry upon it. Check him out at http://www.edtandymcglasson.com/ . I’ve seen him in person and his story is great. 150 grown men in a room and not a dry eye amoung us. Enjoy.

  • http://www.MarkMerrill.com/ Mark Merrill

    Raz, good book…thanks for suggesting!

  • http://www.MarkMerrill.com/ Mark Merrill

    Diane…its a great thing to do

  • Richardkhunter

    I was going to recommend RMDK as well… myself and two other close friends are taking our boys through this over the next several years. Our first “ceremony” was simply a dinner when my son turned 7 yrs old and presented him with a custom-framed picture which says “A real man is one who Rejects Passivity, Accepts Responsibility, Leads Courageously and Seeks the Greater Reward – God’s Reward”. We try to remember this during prayer time at night.

  • Bob

    A blessing ceremony is a very moving event, just as when a girl is given a purity ring. The question is, can we show that statistically it makes a difference. I had read that studies had shown that it did not for girls. I hope as adults we are not doing things that make us feel better without really effecting change.

  • http://www.MarkMerrill.com/ Mark Merrill

    Thanks for sharing, Glenn

  • http://www.MarkMerrill.com/ Mark Merrill

    Glad to hear it, Richard!

  • http://www.MarkMerrill.com/ Mark Merrill

    Bob, with all due respect to surveys and studies, I can tell you without question that it makes a big impact in the life of a child. As fathers, part of our duty is to validate and bless our children and that’s what a blessing ceremony is all about.

  • Dave

    I have heard of a different kind of blessing for your family. I thought it might interest you. It is called Letters from Dad. I took it about a year ago and it has started me down the road to blessing my family.

    https://www.graceproductscorp.com/lettersfromdad/index.php?cPath=22

  • Kirk

    My son just turned 13. I incorporated his blessing with his 13 birthday. My friend and I made a toolbox for him as a reminder that he was becoming a young man and would someday work to provide for his own family. We put a couple of tools in it with a Biblical principle attached to each. We will continue to give tools to him at different opportunities in his life. By the time he is grown he will have a tool box full of reminders of how God is at work in his life. My friend and I have 5 boys between us and plan on doing this for all of them in the next few years. By the way my son said the tool box (nothing fancy) was his favorite gift. He said it made him feel grown up with a confidence I had never heard before.

    Thank you for your blog. I appreciate it.

  • http://www.caseysbday.com/ Ken

    For my sons 16th birthday, I compiled a book of letters written specifically to my son from my very close friends offering advice and lessons learned. Not, knowing what to expect and not being an author, the letters were life changing and a source of encouragement and inspiration. Some of the letters written to him would make you cry and others will make you laugh.  It is something specifically made for him that will last a lifetime. It was an ubelieveably special gift and a huge blessing to him, me and those that have been encouraged by the letters of these amazing men.

    http://www.caseysbday.com

    http://www.amazon.com/Caseys-16th-Birthday-Transitioning-Boyhood/dp/1937911101

  • Dave

    Great stuff Mark and we have many guys that have used or modified the RMDK curriculum. To all dads with girls – you need to do this with them as well! This is not just a rite of passage for boys. For girls, you dads are the most influencial man in her life. I have four girls (13, 13,13 and 15) and I have created my own “Father/Daughter Challenge” that incorporates a blessing and then a year of ongoing physical, spiritual and intellectual challenges, with celebrations throughout and a trip/experience at the end of it all.   – Dave   http://www.bandofbrothersusa.net

  • Mike

    Did something like this when our boys turned 9.  Red “Raising a Modern Day Knight” which was a huge help.  Involved the grand dads and had a weekend event / ceremony at a cabin in the mountains.  Presented a pocket knife to each boy and told them it was a tool not a toy, with a case to keep it safe and a stone to keep it sharp.  Tied that to several verses like “as iron sharpens iron …” as well as God and their journey.  Awesome weekend and way worth it – especially now that my dad is gone.  The next “milestone” is 16 yrs which … is just around the corner for our first son.  Thanks for this one – it is so important to validate our kids and let them know that God loves them, they have what it takes and that we are the ones saying it. 

  • Brian

    Ultimately it communicates ‘acceptance’ through affirmation.  Something that as a father of four ADHD boys I must always remind myself.  I must separate behavior from identity. I encourage you also to do the same. Thanks.

  • Ynotbloom

    Maybe I am the odd-duck in this topic, but when I determined to establish a passage rite to manhood for my son (and next one coming), I decided that this would be a time when I could look into my son’s eyes (and have other significant men in his life join me in doing so) and declaring to him that we now consider him a spiritual brother and a fellow man.  I just cannot seeing that occurring at such younger ages (15 and under).  I have raised astute and “street smart” boys (my bag professionally is Law Enforcement). I considered my sons’ ahead of the emotional and spiritual maturity curve compared to their colleagues, but not having reached that “manhood” level until after they were into their 16th year.  As well, my fellow guys agreed with me.  If I were to have taken my oldest and pronounced him as earning manhood and equality with the rest of us men at 14, he would have been the first to have considered it “just a show” because there were so many areas where we would not/could not include him on the man equivalent level.  From the moment we declared him Man (with the obvious exception of legal implications), all of us have treated him as an equal and he has recognized that.  We have seen how it empowered him with confidence and purpose.  That declaration now has true and lasting meaning to him because he knows we have lived up to our pledge to him. 

    I have no problem with blessing our sons as they enter adolescence, but I fully separate the concept of bestowing a “Blessing” to my son, from a “Rite of Passage into Manhood.”  For my family, anything less would have been just words, a great meal, and a present.

  • Patmcqueen

    Mark – the blessing ceremony is what should be at the end of the full process. Check out http://www.manquestmovement.com/. I took my son on a six month journey that ended with a group of fathers and sons performing a blessing. A very important rite of passage.

  • Mark Elam

    Great comments all.  My son just turned 13 and we had a ceremony as the sun set the night before to emphasize the sun was setting on his childhood.  The next day, he would be a young man.  We gave him an initial ring and a framed definition of a Real Man (see Robert Lewis Raising a Modern Day Night).  We are now working through that definition’s 4 parts with illustrations/examples from biblical characters.  He seems to be getting it . . . time will tell.

  • Tony

    Very important in guiding boys into manhood. I have three boys and we will do a blessing ceremony when they are 16. They already know that at 18 I will take them skydiving and then grab a cigar and beer afterwards…

  • Dave Williams

    this is all very good with your young men, but I have to ask has any of you done this with young gentlemen that their father or grandfather is not in their lives, I believe in my heart that we need to extend this to those that would not ever see this in a normal setting, our children are our blessings but does this limit us to other blessing that no one wants? 

  • Ynotbloom

    I am actually working on that right now. A young man (a 17 yr old friend of my son, who has drifted towards me as a trusted adult, and son of my wife’s friend) has shown me very mature reasoning and behavior, spiritually and emotionally. To put it bluntly, his father is a reprobate who abandoned and emotionally abuses the family, and recently advised his son that he was “dead” to him. We haves secured permission from mom to gather a few Godly men that he respects and are significant in his life. We plan to have a Rite Of Passage ceremony for him, explaining that we can never replace his father, but that we believe he has earned the right to be our fellow man and brother. We will pattern this off of how my son’s passage was done, and my son will be there for this as well (since he is now one of our men and brothers!). It will be interesting to see how this unfolds for his life

  • RP

    My son just finished 8th grade.  I am planning a “Blessing” dinner for him and 4 of his friends that will all be going into 9th Grade (High School) next year.  Our family has known all of them since birth or Kindergarden.  I got the idea from this site.  I want to let them all know how this next stage of their lives is so important and that “we” parents, along with God, are here to help support and guide them.  I plan on having the “Dinner” right before they start 9th Grade. Thanks for all the Great Ideas from All Pro Dads, Family First and iMOM

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  • gdubya31

    Just a thought, Ynotbloom, on your comments. While it is evident that you are in agreement, in principle, with this concept of ‘passing on a blessing’ or ‘rite of passage’ into adulthood, your concern is with the age at which it is done. When I was doing this with my boys (currently 17.5 and 16 years old) and my daughter (nearly 14), I prayed and studied to some degree the culture that the Bible was written in (Jewish culture) and that Jesus grew up in. We are not Jewish by faith or heritage but as Christians we certainly are connected spiritually in the Judeo-Christian heritage. With that said, I found out that in this culture, the Bar-mitzvah (for young men) and Bat-mitzvah (for young women) was truly a ‘rite of passage’ into ‘early adulthood’ when they ‘began’ to be treated like adults in terms of responsibilities, duties, apprenticeships, earnings, livelihood, etc. However, they were not considered a ‘full’ adult until the age of 30 often after having married had children and ‘made their way’ in the culture/world. I found it very interesting and, I believe, by the presence and leading of the Holy Spirit, that while all three of my children, like yours, were mature beyond their years in nearly every way, they still had a long way to go. Yet, each of them took great strides after our ‘ceremonies and blessings’ in maturing in every area. They knew they still had a lot to learn and that was a great part of the maturity but they were expected to live up to it unlike many in our culture who’ve been duped by the world’s system of ‘adolescence’ (initially was considered in conjunction with the reality of puberty and growth 13 – 19 or so but is now 13 – 39 and growing) which didn’t even exist until about 50 years ago and now is taught in nearly every education and psychology book in our education system and perpetuates the myth of young adult independence and rebellion from parents and family while expecting the parents to take care of their every need…but I digress). It was almost like the blessing was speaking maturity into their lives and they responded and continue to do so by God’s Grace and in His Truth order! Also, I found it very compelling that Christ probably went through this about the time He was found in the temple (age of 12) confounding the religious and synagogue leaders and yet he didn’t start his public ministry until the age of 30. Go figure?!? Just some food for thought and thanks for your service to society! God bless in Christ!

  • Paul_Sp

    Wow, would like to read one of these that uses real and contemporary language. Who says to their kid, “…with you I am well pleased.”

    Just sounds like something written in more conservative era. I’m sure you don’t want the son or daughter rolling their eyes because of how dated it sounds.

    And some of the compliments in the suggested blessing may not be accurate for your teen. “….You get along with everyone and are well-respected and well thought of by others, young and old alike. You are a leader and have used your leadership skills to make wise decisions concerning your friends and in many other areas of your life.”

    Nice if it were all true, but not true for all.

  • crashtx1

    I do wonder how much of the ceremony is for the kid, and how much is actually for the adults. We can get so lost in the process that it becomes more important than the kids. Even the Letters From Dad program that has the dads out of the house in a class learning how to write letters to their kids. Really, who is that for? I hate facts at times as well, but as Bob said, all these ceremonies do not seem to have any statistical difference in the choices kids make.

  • Ed Choy

    I LOVE this idea! Thank you for sharing. My sons are 9, 7, 5, and I’d like to consider something like this. Already have a monthly manhood breakfast with them where we talk about one of the manhood issues from Robert Morris’ materials. Great stuff.

  • Heather B.

    This is so lovely. Thank you for this post. What a great idea and affirming for the child. I think this is just one way we can build into our kids. Our relationships with our children are the most important thing in this life, especially relationships with fathers. We’ve been reading a great new, actually renewed, book. Great for all dads of daughters. We’re loving it, so I have to share… It’s called “She Calls Me Daddy: 7 Things You Need to Know About Building a Complete Daughter,” by Robert Wolgemuth. Originally released in the 90s, it was a best seller. His girls are grown up and give their own input along with their husbands who are daddies to girls. I understand 40% of the book is
    new material. It’s so unique in this way. Robert puts the anxieties of Daddy raising his girl(s) to rest, guiding you through challenges and good times – protecting, conversation, affection, discipline, laughter, faith, conduct. So great for helping daddies learn to lead, love and cherish. I highly recommend
    it! ?