This morning, my second-oldest kid went off to her first day of high school. It's only a half day and I was only half awake, so I forgot that I had meant to give her a blessing before she left the house. (Hey, just because my "end-of-summer,-do-ALL-the-things" freakout is over, that doesn't mean it's too early for my "beginning-of-school,-do-ALL-the-things" freakout to begin.)
Why bless your kids? There are several reasons. First is that parents have a unique spiritual authority to ask God's blessing for the kids, so why would you not take advantage of that? It's also a pleasant, intimate, and very easy way to show your kids that you love them. And it does something else: it reminds us that a big part of our job as parents is letting our kids go.
Yep. We guide, we teach, we prepare, we admonish, we model, and we train, but sooner than you think, we start to nudge them out of the nest. This is part of the plan when you become a parent, whether you home school or not. Free will isn't some trendy, dangerous fad that only secular kids get involved with because their parents don't care enough, you know?
Happily, as Christians, we know we're not just turning them out into the void. When they leave us, we can turn them over to Someone. And in a way, it's actually a relief for us to remember that our children's spiritual success and strength doesn't depend completely on us. We do the best we can, but after a certain point, our kids make the decision whether they are going to be open to God's grace or not. We should pray for them every day, we should pray with them as much as possible, and it's a great idea to also pray over them.
So, morning blessing. Here's how:
You could, in the fashion of Jewish parents on the Sabbath, place your hands on the heads of your children and say the words that God told Moses to teach to Aaron:
"The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace."
Or you could, as this blogger suggests, trace the sign of the cross on their foreheads (with our without holy water), and simply say,
“God bless you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
If the school year has already started, it's certainly not too late to give your kids a blessing. Or make it a part of your daily morning routine. So quick and easy, but how could it fail to help? Send those kids out into the world because you must, but give them a blessing, because you can.