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Yes, parents, you can (and should) bless your children

Father blessing his son


Cecilia Pigg - published on 03/05/24

It is the parents' responsibility to bring their kids to know and love Jesus and His Church. A blessing is a great way to let them know that we desire grace for them.

I remember being startled at six or seven years old while watching a friend’s dad bless her. He made the sign of the cross on her forehead and prayed a few words over her. I thought it was very strange, and wondered if that was an okay thing to do. My friend’s dad wasn’t a priest or anything—weren’t priests the only people who could bless you?

Fast forward to today, and my boys are quick to remind me if I forget to bless them each night. It turns out blessing your kids is quite acceptable, and a beautiful practice I have come to love.

Asking for grace

So, what is a blessing, exactly? The Catechism explains that “Every blessing praises God and prays for his gifts” (CCC 1671). A blessing is a way to ask for God’s grace while at the same time praising Him for his goodness. The USCCB explains that blessings consist of prayer, Scripture, and sometimes a ritual sign. They are sacramentals, so they prepare us to receive grace, and help us become more Christ-like. All baptized laypeople have the ability to bless in certain situations — especially parents for their children.

Scripture is full of reminders to bless others, in particular to return blessings for evil and to bless rather than curse. (See Romans 12:14) God explains that he will bless Abram and make him a blessing to others (Gen. 12:2). And the Psalms remind us to bless the Lord at all times (Psalm 34).

Why bless our children?

As parents, we have a unique role in our children’s lives. It is our responsibility to bring our children to know and love Jesus and His Church. A blessing is a visible and audible way to let our children know we are praying for them and want grace for them.

How do we bless our children? A blessing can be as simple as saying “May Jesus bless you” while making the sign of the cross on your child’s forehead, or it can be more elaborate and specific. “Jesus, you are the divine healer, you fix our brokenness and make us whole. Please bless Ellen as she struggles with the pain of the cruel words of her classmates today, help her heal. Help her to know how beautiful and wonderful she is, and how good you made her.”

How can we explain what a blessing is to a child?

It might be helpful to start by naming the ways we are familiar with blessings in everyday life. We bless ourselves with holy water when we enter the Church, and with the sign of the cross every time we pray. We bless our food before we eat it. And we even ask for God’s blessing on people when they sneeze! A blessing asks God for his help and reminds us that He is the source of all the goodness in our life.

A wonderful resource on blessings for children is the book Will You Bless Me by Neal Lozano. In it, a father explains to his daughter what a blessing is, as they imagine an encounter that Mary and Joseph and Jesus have during Jesus’ childhood. This delightfully illustrated and profound book makes a great bedtime read that helps introduce blessings to the whole family.

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