Saturday, March 17, 2012

A culture of blessing in the home

"A culture of blessing in the home"
Sun.Star Davao, March 17, 2012

When we became parents, there were no parenting how-to manuals or comprehensive parenting courses that effectively prepared us for our new and challenging roles.

My husband Gary and I “get by” mainly by trial and error, often, experimenting on what kind of parenting style would best fit each of our children who have their own unique God-given characteristics and traits.

That is why whenever there are worthwhile parenting seminars; we make it a point to attend in the hopes of learning to become better parents to our kids.

One such enriching seminar is the recent talk by Rev. David Alano Magalong, Jr. with the topic, “Building a Culture of Blessing in the Home: Unleashing Your Children’s Potentials” at the Davao Christian High School. Rev. Magalong is a well-respected motivational speaker, author, marriage counselor, resource speaker and trainer on leadership, marriage & parenting, and corporate values.

The secret of the Jews

In his talk, Rev. Magalong shared that Craig Hill, founder and president of Family Foundations International, was intrigued as to why Jews in America and all over the world would “prosper in business and not have too many problems in their marriage and kids”.

Compared to other Christian families, Hill also observed that the Jewish families were “more intact”. Hoping to uncover the intriguing “secret of the Jews”, Hill immersed himself in the Jewish community and their culture.

What amazing “secret” did Hill discover?

He found out that that the Jewish culture is a culture of blessing. In fact, during the seven crucial stages of their lives, namely conception; pregnancy; birth; childhood (especially during the weekly Shabbat); bar mitzvah; marriage; and old age, the Jews were continuously blessed by their parents, family members and close-knit community.

For instance, during the weekly Shabbat, which is a time dedicated to family, community and spiritual renewal, special blessings are said over the children on Friday night.
Parents lay their hands on their children’s head and recite their blessings. This is an affectionate way to “reinforce the fact that they are loved, accepted and supported by their families”. Most often, hugs and kisses or words of praise are also given after the blessing.

Blessing vs. cursing

Rev. Magalong suggests that this culture of blessing may also be applied to our Filipino families as well.

He states that “blessing or honor empowers people in three ways: “first, it affirms our sense of self-worth and belongingness and thereby enabling us to accept, appreciate and respect ourselves; secondly, it builds confidence in our capacity for doing (success) and becoming (destiny); and lastly, it helps release our potentials as it gives us confidence to overcome barriers and challenges in relationships and performance”.

In contrast, the act of cursing or dishonor leads to “feelings of shame, abandonment, loss of sense of belongingness and ultimately, self-rejection”.

He points out that we are guilty of cursing when we use “degrading words or treatment in trying to correct our spouse and children”. Sometimes, instead of correcting their wrong behavior, we unconsciously attack their identity which, Rev. Magalong warns, is a form of cursing (e.g., “You did something bad” vs. “You are bad!”; “You made a mistake” vs. “You are a mistake!”; and “You did something disappointing” vs. “You are a disappointment!”).

The father of four reminds parents to be their “children’s greatest inspirers and not their worst critics”.

The power of blessing and affirmation

In their home, Rev. Magalong and his family practice the prayer and affirmation circle.

Family members form a circle and take turns in praying, blessing and affirming each other. “It was awkward for the kids at first”, he admits. But, later on, everyone enjoyed expressing what they appreciated and loved about one another. Saying “I am blessed by you because…..” became automatic.

Rev. Magalong noticed that this family ritual aided in lessening the unavoidable fights and bickering among the children when they were younger. The family felt deeply encouraged and united.

“When you affirm, you are empowering that person. You are addressing the deepest longing of a person which is unconditional acceptance”, Rev. Magalong reveals.

To illustrate his point further, Rev. Magalong told the story of Pablo Picasso and his mother, Maria Picasso Y Lopez. The legendary Spanish painter, sculptor and printmaker who is considered as among the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century, is a true testament of the power of affirmation.

As his famous quotation goes, “My mother said to me, "If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope. Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso”.

A parent’s blessing

Every morning as his children leave the family home, Rev. Magalong consistently blesses them by placing his hands on their heads and saying words such as “May God bless you and protect you. May God’s face shine toward you and show you favor. May God give you good relationships, wisdom and knowledge”.

Moreover, he verbally affirms his faith in his children’s capacity to become better and be the best that they can possibly be.

When his son Josh was in his teens, he used to be shy and terrified of speaking before a crowd. However, this did not stop Rev. Magalong from encouraging Josh through his blessing, “May you be blessed with a heart of courage. May God raise you up to be a leader of your generation!”. At age 18, Josh became a confident public speaker and youth leader in their church and in his school. The father’s never-ending affirmation and blessings unleashed his child’s potentials.

On the other hand, when Faye, the eldest child, was contemplating on leaving her demanding call center job, Rev. Magalong assured her, “Your mom and I strongly suggest that you resign from your job before you burn yourself out. Your health is becoming affected. Don’t be afraid because we’ve been blessing you. If you resign from your job, in less than a month, I declare that you won't have to look for a job. A new work will find you that will even be more fulfilling”.

Just as his father confidently claimed, Faye was offered her dream job as station manager of Edge Radio, a Christian radio station, where she received the same salary as her former job.

The blessing of a parent is powerful, indeed!

Photos courtesy of Google Images andShabbat Shalom!”(written by Michelle Shapiro Abraham and illustrated by Ann Koffsky).

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