All baptized and worthy members of the Church can and should receive a patriarchal blessing. But often the question is when? Usually, members encourage their children to receive a blessing in their teen years. But every worthy adult convert may receive a blessing at any time after their baptism
But when it comes to parents, how do we prepare our children to receive a patriarchal blessing? Members around the world encourage their children to receive a blessing anywhere from ages 12 to 19. But that’s a pretty wide gap. So when and how do we best prepare our children to receive a patriarchal blessing?
1. Teach them about revelation.
Long before you mention the act of receiving a patriarchal blessing, make sure your children know what revelation is and why it’s key to living the gospel. Use family home evenings and casual conversations to bring up the topic and teach them how the Spirit can talk to them in differnt ways. Make sure your children know that you try to live your life by following the Spirit and receiving revelation.
Tell them how you feel about your own patriarchal blessing and how it’s a source of revelation for your own life. If prompted, you may share some or all of your patriarchal blessings with your children and talk to them about how this counsel has been a guide in your life. Remember, LDS.org says, “They may be shared with immediate family members, but should not be read aloud in public or read or interpreted by others.”
2. Alleviate their misconceptions.
Help your child understand what a patriarchal blessing is and what it can do for them. Sometimes a child may long for a patriarchal blessing when they feel particularly lost. They may think that a patriarchal blessing will act as an exact road map of their future. Help them understand that a blessing is more of a Liahona than an exact recipe for success in life.
Tell your child that their blessing may be long or short, but that it will declare their lineage in the tribe of Israel, contain promises, admonitions, and warnings. Teach them the value of this counsel from the Lord. Through their patriarchal blessing, the Lord will be speaking directly to them as His beloved child.
President Thomas S. Monson said, “Your patriarchal blessing is yours and yours alone. It may be brief or lengthy, simple or profound. Length and language do not a patriarchal blessing make. It is the Spirit that conveys the true meaning” (“Your Patriarchal Blessing: A Liahona of Light” Thomas S. Monson, Oct 1986 general conference).
3. Don’t set a deadline.
Prodding or pushing children to receive a patriarchal blessing may put a false mandate on something that is truly based solely on revelation—in every sense of the word. Teens should understand that when they feel prompted to receive their blessing, that’s when it’s right for them to receive it. Just because the big brother or sister received their patriarchal blessing at age 16 doesn't mean that that's the family precedent. Be patient. Every child is unique and has their own path of progression to follow. Teach them from a young age that they can choose based on their own revelation and feelings when to receive their patriarchal blessing. Let them come to you when they feel they are ready.
4. Introduce them to the patriarch.
We know that we meet a few times with the stake patriarch before we receive a blessing, but make sure he doesn’t feel like a stranger to your children—if only by mentioning his name a few times in conversation. Talk about him in your home and what his role in the stake is. When you and your children run into him in the hallway at church, introduce them to him and enjoy a little conversation. Encourage your children to ask him any questions they might have about patriarchal blessings. This way, your children will feel more at ease when he lays his hands on their heads to give them their blessings later on. Teach your children that the stake patriarch has a sacred calling.
About patriarchs, President James E. Faust said, “Patriarchs are privileged to impart blessings directly rather than just solicit blessings in behalf of the individual, for the patriarchs are entitled to speak authoritatively for the Lord.” (“Patriarchal Blessings,” James E. Faust, New Era, 1982)
5. Help them do some soul-searching.
Encourage them to think about what they hope the Lord tells them in their blessing. Help them come up with a list of questions that they would like answers to. Teach them to pray over these questions and study the scriptures diligently. Help them understand that when we want to talk with God, we can pray; likewise, when we want God to talk with us, we can read His written word and our patriarchal blessings.
6. Teach them the power of fasting.
Many patriarchs fast before or during the giving of a blessing. Teach your children that extra spiritual strength and understanding can come to them when they fast. Practice fasting for 24 hours before or during the blessing, so that they might be more in tune with the Spirit and so that they might be spiritually prepared to listen to the patriarch as he speaks for the Lord. Fasting may be a difficult thing for them to master, but fast with them and help them understand the importance of giving up something they want for something better that the Lord has in store for them.