Their future brightens when we bless children with a sense of assurance that they have what it takes to accomplish their goals, to push through challenges and heartaches. We do this through acknowledgement of the child’s worth. We back it up with our own investment of time and presence to see it through. I’ve heard one of my mentors, Becky Bailey, do this so well:
- Of course you can pass the test next week. Let’s study together.
- I know you’re scared, but you can do it. I believe in you.
- That’s a great goal. Go for it!
- Okay, the training wheels are off. I’ll be right beside you, but you can ride the bike alone.
John Trent summarizes the concept like this: “Words that picture a hope-filled future draw a child toward the warmth of genuine concern and fulfilled potential. Instead of leaving a child to head into a dark unknown, our words can illuminate a pathway lined with purpose.”
God’s hope-filled future
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
Ways to bless children right now with a hopeful future – Examples:
- Observed behavior: Sensitive. Statement: God has given you such a sensitive heart. I wouldn’t be surprised if you end up helping a great many people.
- Observed behavior: Helpful. Statement: You are such a good helper. You’re going to be such a help to your family. OR You will help many people finish important projects because you are so helpful.
- Observed behavior: Good at math. Statement: You know that math better than I do. I think that’s great. You’ll pass tomorrow’s test with flying colors. You may become a research scientist or a chemist—and maybe change the course of the world.
Note: The concept of the blessing, along with some of the ideas under “Ways to bless children right now with a hopeful future,” are taken from John Trent’s book The Blessing. Becky Bailey’s ideas are found in her book, Conscious Discipline.
Tweetable: Their future brightens when we bless children with assurance that they have what it takes to succeed. Click to Tweet
I remember playing the fortune teller game as a kid. We would take a piece of paper, write dreamy messages and fortunes on it, then fold it origami-style to predict our future—you will be rich, you will be famous.
Now I try to bless the children in my life with words that picture a future filled with hope.
It’s different from predicting their future, but it can transform the way the future unfolds for the child. Dr. John Trent writes, “With words of a bright future they can begin to work on a particular talent, have the confidence to try out for a school office, or even help guide others into the full potential God has in store for them.” They begin to believe in the positive, hopeful future you paint for them.
Anticipating a hope-filled future is not the same as choosing a child’s future.
Our intent is to encourage children to be the best they can be, not to force them into paths that we followed or wish we had followed. (Not, for example, “You’ll be a wonderful engineer someday!”) Adults who put that kind of pressure on children miss giving them a blessing. To bless a child, encourage the child by noticing intentions and actions. Then follow it up to help the children achieve whatever they decide to be or do.
Isn’t a hope-filled future for children just a pipe dream for some?
No. Over and over in sacred writings, we see God’s offer of blessings toward humankind. These blessings are not directed at making us wealthy, healthy or even happy all the time. There are many different kinds of hope-filled futures.
Regardless of life circumstances God offers inner, spiritual blessings: peace, contentment, fulfillment, wisdom, love, forgiveness, mercy, or an ability to see the holy come bursting through the everyday.
What words are you using to predict a bright future for the children you love? Next week, I will share your ideas and mine as well.
Note: The concept of the blessing, along with some of the ideas here, are taken from John Trent’s book The Blessing.
Tweetable: Anticipating #hope-filled future not the same as choosing a child’s future. Food for thought offered here. Click to Tweet
A grandmother in our blog community shared her birthday request with us. She asked her teenage grandsons (currently in foster care) for a special gift that she would appreciate more than any kind of present — a letter telling her how they feel about her.
She told them that the letter could be short or long, handwritten or emailed. With permission, here are lightly edited excerpts from one boy, meant to encourage each of us as we seek to do the best for the children we love.
From Day One you have been there for my brother and me, never giving up on us. Even if we make mindless decisions, you believe there’s good in us. I couldn’t believe it myself a few years ago. Things have changed a lot between the last 4-5 years, for better or worse, but not you.
You’re still involved in our lives, still reminding us to strive for greatness. I don’t understand how you do it. I truly don’t. Your job as a parent is done; you raised two children already and worked more than half your life. Your hip is not what it used to be and you’re still able to come out to our football games and track meets. You really show us the meaning of family.
We live with people who care for us, sure. They have a role in our lives that’s important. The point is they get paid to house us and provide us with the basic things we need. You never got a thing for what you’ve done for me. It’s a small fact that goes without being said, but it makes all the difference.
I don’t need to remind myself of my situation or my past. My world has had pain in it, has had addictions in it, and it has had hate in it. I regret too many things I’ve done, things that shape who I am today.
But I know what kind of person I want to be, what kind of future I see for myself, and everything I have accomplished already wouldn’t be possible without you. I drive you insane most of the time, but nothing is stronger than the bond we have. Grandma, I will love you forever.
Tweetable: Ask & you shall receive. Smart grandma asks teen grandson for birthday letter instead of gift and wow! Click to Tweet