“May I have a blessing?” Ladybug asked at bedtime one night.
I have to admit, I was thrown. How would she even know the word “blessing”? A few questions revealed a bedtime blessing she had heard at a recent sleepover, and while I wasn’t opposed to a general blessing-type-thing, the one Ladybug recited about angels protecting us as we sleep wasn’t going to fly at our house.
So began my somewhat reluctant search for a bedtime blessing (or whatever) that fit our family. It’s a difficult task for a non-religious family for whom the word “blessing” is a little too far from our comfort zone. I felt a bit less reluctant about the idea of a blessing after reading Raising Happiness (which I mentioned in this post about gratitude) since it included a recommendation to say a mealtime prayer (or prayer-like thing, the author notes for non-religious families) as a way of modeling shared optimism and gratitude.
My requirements were as follows:
- Express empowerment or optimism
- No reference to anything supernatural
Sounds pretty simple, right? That’s what I thought, but nothing I found in books of children’s prayers and blessings were secular enough for us–even the Unitarian prayers still felt like they were invoking something in a way that wouldn’t feel right for us.
Then one night before bedtime, we found what we were looking for as we finished our bedtime story for the night. The story had a little bear looking to put off bedtime with request for one more story, one more prayer, one more anything that would mean not sleeping for a few more minutes. It’s a familiar routine at our house, but it was the end of the story stood out that night.
The final words to Sleepyhead by Karma Wilson are now our bedtime “blessing”:
Sleep tight, sleep tight.
Tomorrow’s play is just ahead.
I love you so. Now rest your head.”
That felt right.
I’ve since discovered this post about secular bedtime prayers from Kelly Naturally that might have something that feels right for you.
See more posts about science, religion, and secular family life on my Secular Thursday page.
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