One of the great joys of parenting is the opportunity to know and love another person from the moment of their birth. To watch them discover the world with wonder. To see them grow physically and relationally. Day after day. Season after season. Firsthand and front row.

Enjoying the journey of seeing them … become.

But a hidden key to children truly becoming the persons God created them to be involves a parent’s influence in that direction—not by manipulation or force but by the intentional watering of the seeds God has planted. By giving them a blessing.

But what exactly is a blessing?

Consider this contrast. No parent hopes their child grows up to be a failure. Our love wants nothing but health, happiness, and God’s best for each of them. A blessing is simply a God-ordained way to handle these loving desires for our children, turning them from hopeful wishes into future realities.

To bless someone actually means “to speak well of.” It’s a parent using their God-given authority to verbally affirm their children for who they are, while also encouraging and inspiring them toward future success.

In a blessing, powerful words and wishes combine with prayers and praise. God instructed Moses to teach the high priests how to bless the sons of Israel. “Say to them: ‘The LORD bless you, and keep you; the LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.’ So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them” (Numbers 6:24-27).

As heavenly Father, God set up a pattern of blessing for His people: verbally affirming His acceptance and support of them, painting vivid pictures of their expected future, and investing Himself and His resources to make His words a reality.

The Bible is filled with dynamic blessings. From the beginning of recorded time, God “blessed” the first man and woman with the responsibility of being fruitful and multiplying (Genesis 1:28). He blessed Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who in turn blessed their children after them. Jacob uniquely blessed each of his 12 sons “with the blessing appropriate to him” (Genesis 49:28). Often in Scripture, people would place their hands on little children or take them lovingly into their arms to bless them (Genesis 48:14; Luke 2:28; Mark 10:16).

Through blessings, God continually inspired His people toward lives not only of usefulness, faith, and service, but also of hope, peace, and honor. His blessing urged them forward, renewed their confidence, and prepared the ground beneath their feet. It strategically launched them on a path of purpose toward spiritual prosperity.

After Jesus was baptized, a voice came from heaven: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased” (Mark 1:11). God the Father publicly affirmed and blessed His Son, and then invested in Jesus’ future success by immediately sending His Holy Spirit to fill Him (Luke 3:22). This powerful experience set Jesus up to completely fulfill the will of His heavenly Father during His earthly ministry.

Many children, even grown adults, long for but rarely if ever hear statements of love and approval from their parents. By simply saying, “You are my son (my daughter) and I dearly love you; I am so pleased with you and hope and pray God’s very best for your life,” you can change their lives forever. You can build the ideal setting for future wings to take flight.

Pointing out a child’s skill or character could be part of a blessing. Say things like:

“I could see you becoming a great …”

“With your strengths and abilities, you could probably …”

“What impresses me is your giftedness and heart for …”

Then follow these words of blessing by your investment. Prayer. Encouragement. Introducing them to individuals of influence in that area. Giving them opportunities and the things they will need to help them succeed. This is not about pre-determining a college major or planning their career path. God will lead them through those matters in His time. But your ongoing encouragement will keep fresh wind in their sails as they navigate which paths to take.

Your blessing can enable them to see themselves as a chosen part of God’s plan and His word on Earth within their generation. It can remind them of the grander reasons why He has endowed them with such talent, surrounded them with specific opportunities, and made them “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand” (Ephesians 2:10).

As your blessing soaks into their hearts, they can progress without feeling the need to find outside approval from unhealthy sources. They will stop living insecurely and start living confidently, free from fear and self-doubt.

When God blesses us, He is forecasting His favor, guiding us toward abundant life. So don’t be afraid to speak your own words of blessing over your children. Don’t fail to cast a vision that spurs them on to consider what wonderful things God could accomplish through them. The lives they could touch. The difference they could make. The blessing they could be.

Today’s Love Dare: Write out a special blessing for each of your children, incorporating what you see in them and what you encourage them to pursue as God guides and provides. Read it or speak it aloud to them as a family. Pray over them that God would bring His perfect plans to pass in their lives.

Excerpted from The Love Dare for Parents, copyright ©2013 by Kendrick Brothers Production, LLC. Used with permission of B&H.