Sisters Speak: How to do a Mother’s Blessing?

Mother's BlessingAs the editor of the Exponent II magazine‘s Sisters Speak column, I would love to hear your opinion on the following question.  Note: I might email some of you commenters asking if I might quote you in the magazine. If you would like to submit a response privately, please email me at carolinekline1 at gmail dot com. 

Our Sisters Speak question for the upcoming issue comes from an anonymous reader. She writes:

“My kids are starting school this week, and I want them to receive blessings but I don’t know how to do it. I’m anxious for my kids’ happiness and growth and I have some hope that blessings will benefit them.  I don’t want the blessings to come just from their dad, but I don’t know how to involve myself. My hands on their head as well as dad’s? But then what about my voice and wishes for them? Two blessings, one from each of us?

I’m not terribly orthodox in many ways, but my unorthodoxy is one of omission, not invention. I just don’t do what I don’t like. But for some reason I’m fearful of inventing things that meet my own spiritual needs. Afraid of what, I don’t know. I’m considering blessing the kids by holding their hands rather than putting my hands on their heads. But I don’t want the difference in style to come off looking like one blessing is inferior or less important.
I also don’t want this to be about me. The blessings are for them, in part to show our love as parents and to give them the best we can each give, but I feel that it is important for me to participate in some way. Please share your experiences with mothers blessings. How have you seen them done? How did you go about doing them yourself?”


Caroline has a PhD in religion and studies Mormon women.


  1. How many kids? have your husband do half and you do half? Then none will seem inferior and possibly let the children decide who will give the blessing. Women can give blessings. This is a re-education topic in our church.

  2. I blessed my second daughter when she was about a week old. My husband is much more orthodox than I am, so I told him I wanted to say a special thank-you prayer because we usually only pray together before big needs (he suggested we pray together just before we left for the hospital; I can’t remember the last time we prayed together that wasn’t over dinner). I mentioned it a few times then finally found a convenient time one evening after the toddler was in bed. I knelt on our bed and held the baby, he sat with his arm around us. I thanked God for the safe and healthy delivery of the child and then asked Him to bless her to be strong, good, and kind. It was simple and sincere.

    Of course we’ll have the official “Blessing” in a few weeks with extended family, but I believe what I said that night on our bed matters just as much as what my husband will say at the formal ceremony.

    I’m not sure what advice to offer for older children. I like the image of holding hands; somehow that seems even more powerful to me than laying your hands on the child’s head. What about joint blessings with your partner where you each say the words you’re inspired to say?

  3. Right before our traditional father’s priesthood blessings my husband, in a very sensitive manner, asked if I would first like to first say a prayer soliciting help for my son in the upcoming school year. He told our kids, “Mom is going to say a very special prayer to help you” and tried to make a big deal of it. For a fleeting moment I was imagining in my head that it would be like a “mother’s blessing,” equally as powerful, minus the laying on of hands. But to be honest, juxtaposed with the priesthood blessing, it seemed unimportant. Mormons are taught to revere priesthood blessings, they take on a somewhat superstitious power, “mothers blessings” are sadly ‘just’ prayers.

    Priesthood blessings are usually done with some fanfare and that adds to its special nature. Things like the single chair placed in the middle of the room, family gathering around to witness, the consecrated oil, laying on of hands, the hugs or handshakes at the end, they all add to the distinctly . The rhetoric of a priesthood blessing simply sounds so much more powerful than any prayer can (in a priesthood blessing it’s “I bless you with. . .” vs in a prayer it’s “We ask that thou would bless. . “)

    I too long for a women’s ritual that would be equivalent to a priesthood blessing. It is frustrating to me because I see no reason why God wouldn’t wish the same.

  4. I’m with TopHat. If I was blessing my (yet-to-exist) children, I would sit them in my lap, and wrap them in my arms. Either privately in their bedrooms, or on the floor in the middle of the lounge room so family and close friends could sit and witness (new school year vs. milestone).

    I would express thanks for the child, remind Heavenly Father (my heavenly parents? I don’t think so – maybe one day, but not yet) that this child belongs to him as well and call on him to guide them in the way they should go. I would then name any specific characteristics or blessings that I felt impressed to at that time, and express my hopes.

    I’m not sure how I would handle the logistics with older teenagers or adult children, if lap-sitting isn’t an option (I’m kinda short, and I don’t really want to talk into their backs), but I have a few years until that’s a concern.

  5. I routinely gave my children Mother’s Blessings while they were growing up. Usually healing blessings or blessings of strength. What defined these as blessings was my intent and my personal, internal request of God to imbue me and my prayer with additional power that I felt was my right as an endowed, sealed woman, who had made and kept my covenants via the priesthood/ordinances of the temple. Typically, I prayed privately before offering the blessing, to be inspired to follow God’s will and to understand the needs of my child in a given situation. I usually used the words, “In the name of Jesus Christ” occasionally I added, “And by His power” to initiate the blessing. (I divorced my abusive husband and raised my children as a single mother, so mother’s blessings were a matter of personal need for me. I wasn’t willing, nor did I feel it necessary, to call upon worthy male priesthood holders every time my children needed blessings. Although, I did call them from time-to-time, and certainly asked for blessings myself during those years.)

    I should add that I believe there is a legitimate power that comes via the priesthood when a man and woman are sealed in the temple, (and more importantly, in their hearts) to God and to each other. I believe the priesthood power given outwardly to worthy men, flows freely between worthy spouses. When a woman is disconnected from that power due to her spouse’s unworthiness (or through loss of spouse), her own covenant-keeping qualifies her to receive the same sharing of priesthood directly through the power of God. I never felt an absence of “the priesthood” in my home. I felt my own covenants and God’s special watchful care over single mothers and their children (the widows and the fatherless) fully filled that gap. I have no idea if there is any doctrinal backing for this, but it was a witness borne in my heart and it was my personal experience anyway.

    And this is not to say that I feel I had the right to officiate in ordinances or exercise “priesthood keys” which I did not bear, simply, that my understanding of priesthood power was broadened by my experiences with temple ordinances.

    I always either held my child in my lap, or, more often, rested my hand on the child’s arm or back while they were lying in bed. Sometimes I offered silent blessings while rubbing their feet.

    Two weeks ago I had a conversation about this with a few women friends, including my now-31-year-old daughter. I said, “I’m not sure my kids even knew I was giving them a blessing. I only occasionally said the words ‘I’d like to give you a blessing.'” Then my daughter said, “Yes, I knew when you were doing it. Even though they sounded like prayers, they had a distinctly different feel to them, a kind of focused energy that set them apart from a routine prayer. They felt like blessings.” Her experience was that she had not only been offered a Mother’s Blessing, but that she had received it and had been “blessed.”

    I gave each of my two missionary children (one son and one daughter) Mother’s Blessings before they left on their missions, sitting by their side and maybe resting my hand on their arm.

    • P.S. Sometimes I assume that because I experienced something a certain way, it can apply to everyone. . . that’s erroneous on my part. I realize this is a highly personal and sometimes private issue for many women. I also realize that my experience may be unique to me and my life. But I know it’s been beneficial for me to hear about other women’s experiences with all kinds of issues related to our spiritual practice. I hope my experience may be beneficial for others.

    • Thank you for sharing! I have rested my hand on my children many times and asked for a blessing for them. When I was young my dad was very sick. He called upon my mom for a blessing. My mom told him she didn’t hold the priesthood. My dad was quick to respond that having made covenants in the temple she had the right to the power of the priesthood. She gave him a blessing and he was able to sleep and they were both comforted. So many sisters do not understand the power they carry by virtue of their covenants with God. Time for my children to hear those blessings. Their father left us last year. He has never been much of a dad or husband. They need to know and feel God’s power in their lives.

  6. wow, this is Very Inspiring to know. My children are much older 25 and 22 years. l am wondering to myself if l can’t do it even at their age.

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