Fulfilling a Grandparent’s Purpose: 10 Practical Tips for Speaking a Blessing

This week we will conclude our series on practical tips for fulfilling a grandparent’s purpose. In case you are just joining us or missed one of the methods for discipling our grandchildren, you can find them at the links below.

Prayer

Modeling

Observing Traditions

Sharing our God-stories

Today, we will wrap up with ten practical tips for speaking a blessing.

As we go about the work of fulfilling our purpose, one of the most important spiritual practices we can engage in is that of speaking a blessing over our grandchildren.

There are many examples of the spoken blessing in Scripture (Genesis 1:27-30, Genesis 27:27-36, Genesis 48:1-22, Numbers 6:22-26, Mark 1:11, and others) giving indication of its strong importance to God. Yet the sad truth is that our culture knows little to nothing of the practice.

In his book, The Family Blessing, Rolf Garborg identifies four different classifications of blessings found in the Bible. He defines one as “the intentional act of speaking God’s favor and power into someone’s life, often accompanied by a symbolic gesture such as laying hands on the person.” This definition goes a long way in helping us understand what it means to speak a blessing over our grandchildren.

In their book, The Blessing, authors Gary Smalley and John Trent, Ph.D. identify 5 elements that are essential in the giving of a blessing.

A hand on their head or an arm around their shoulder makes the act extremely personal. Communicating warmth, acceptance, and affirmation, meaningful touch closes distance.

Spoken words are incredibly important to God. He spoke the world into existence (Genesis 1:3) and it was His Word that became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). In the Scripture, blessings are always spoken.

The words of blessing upon your grandchild should carry with them the recognition of your grandchild’s value based on who they are rather than on performance.

While you cannot predict your grandchildren’s future, you absolutely can communicate to them that the

Christ-like character traits and spiritual gifts they have in the present are attributes that God can bless and use in their future.

The other four elements alone are not enough. Our commitment to do everything possible to help our grandchildren be successful must back them up. Our grandchildren need to know that we stand behind what we say.

Speaking a blessing upon our grandchildren is one of the most significant spiritual disciplines we can engage in. It is important to God. It is crucial to our grandchildren.

As we scour the pages of the Bible to learn more about the practice of speaking a blessing, it appears that this practice was a regular part of Israel’s experience. Blessings were given privately in the home. Also, they were spoken when the people were gathered together. And both general (recurring) and personal (specific) blessings can be found.

Certainly, the blessings we bestow upon our grandchildren do not carry the same prophetic weight as the Patriarchal blessings of the Old Testament. However, I think we can glean from the examples left for us that there are many opportunities before us for giving a blessing. We need only to look for them.

Many examples of milestone blessings recorded in the Bible. These blessings were spoken in the once-in-a-lifetime moments of life – birth, coming of age, weddings, etc. But don’t reserve your blessings for those occasions alone. Get in the habit of speaking them in the everyday moments of life as well.

The blessing you give to your grandchild is a gift of acceptance and unconditional love. This blessing should not be given with an expectation of return. While the one being blessed does have a part to play in receiving the blessing, the weight of this exchange rests with the blessing giver.

Whether recurring or specific, milestone or everyday, the act of blessing is important. Put down your phone, remove yourself from distraction, turn toward your grandchild, and look directly into their eyes.

None of the elements alone is enough to convey blessing. Give careful thought regarding how you will include each element.

Appropriate doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. In addition to taking great care in choosing your form of touch, take time to consider the preferences of your grandchild and their parents. An arm around a shoulder may be acceptable to one child, while a simple pat on the back is preferred by another. And don’t forget the child who does not like to be touched. For them, it may be a matter of sitting face-to-face and looking directly into their eyes.

Before touching your grandchild, ask first. This is especially important when blessing male, teen grandchildren.

Remember that words wield mighty power. Choose your words thoughtfully and with great care. Speak words of high affirmation. Use Scripture. And be as brief and concise as possible.

Names are personal. They are important. Address your grandchild by name as you begin the blessing. And use specific names of the Lord and their corresponding meaning in your blessing.

The added element of ceremony creates greater impact, and it’s more fun!

  • Use a special plate at dinner. Bless your grandchild by celebrating milestones, accomplishments, and other praiseworthy events with a blessing spoken over them and a meal eaten on the special plate.
  • Celebrate the big moments (salvation, baptism, getting a driver’s license, milestone birthdays, etc.) in your grandchild’s life with a Rite-of-Passage Blessing.
  • Write a blessing on a piece of tissue paper, put it in a locket, and present it to your grandchild. Don’t forget to speak the blessing over them aloud.
  • Incorporate a symbol. A symbol can be anything: an item of jewelry, a coin, a plaque, a certificate, a family heirloom, etc. The importance of the symbol is not the “what,” but the purpose. A symbol serves as a reminder of the blessing and of God’s truth.

We all desperately need blessing. Our grandchildren need our blessing. It is the one great need shared by all.

How will you offer this precious gift to your grandchildren?