Blessing of Children
The parental blessing is as old as humanity. It is a custom so sacred that it should be called the "sacrament of the domestic hearth." What a devout custom it is for fathers and mothers to bless their children each day, and for children to ask for this blessing. Priests have the authority to bless the faithful, and parents, too, have the privilege of blessing their children.
The early Christians blessed their children with the Sign of the Cross. The fathers and mothers of martyrs blessed their loved ones in prison and encouraged them to constancy. It was a practice loved by the mothers of saints. St. Macrina gave her blessing to her grandsons, and with such efficacy that they became great doctors of the Oriental Church: St. Basil of Caesarea and St. Gregory of Nyssa. Francis de Sales knelt for his parents' benediction. St. Ambrose says: "Whosoever is blessed by his parents is blessed by God."
The parental blessing effects another great good: it is a sacred bond which unites the father and mother in everlasting faithfulness, in perfect love and harmony. The Sign of the Cross, in which they unite to bless their children, reminds them of their solemn promise to remain faithful to each other until death.
HOW TO GIVE THE PARENTAL BLESSING
Using holy water, take a moment to sign his or her forehead with the sign of the cross. As you do so, pray one of the following blessing prayers or a blessing prayer in your own words.
May God bless you today. Amen
May God keep you safe today. Amen
Today may you know my/our love and God’s love, too. Amen
May you be blessed with friendship, joy, and love today. Amen
Or make the Sign of the Cross in silence upon the forehead.
You may also send your blessing to those away from home, at the end of every letter you write, add: "Your father and mother love you and bless you."
WHEN TO GIVE THE BLESSING
The parental blessing should be given in the evening after night prayers. It may also be given, when little ones go to school; before they go to confession or receive Holy Communion, when going on a journey or setting out on a dangerous occupation.
Finally, bless your children when lying upon your deathbed. "You may not be rich," says St. Ambrose "you may be unable to bequeath any great possessions to your children, but one thing you can give them: the heritage of your blessing, and it is better to be blessed than to be rich."
St. Louis, King of France, realized this and at the end of his life, wrote to his son: "I give you every blessing that a loving father can give a son. May the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity and all the saints protect you from every evil."