Pros: This is a lifechanging book for adults struggling with a painful childhood.
Cons: Some things seem too simple. It seems to trivialize abusive situations.
In the book The Blessing Gary Smalley and John Trent brought to life some of the events of my childhood that robbed me of my self esteem and value as a person. They also pointed out valuable Bible based views of how persons may find themselves blessed in spite of situations and circumstances handed to them in life.
This book is written in a step-by-step format of 252 pages. The points of blessing are mentioned in 5 parts. Each part is given a chapter to itself. The prayer Isaac prayed over Jacob is the basis of The Blessing. The elements of the blessing include meaningful touch, spoken words, expressing high value, picturing a special future and an active commitment.
The book is organized into 14 chapters which outline the elements of the blessing and which also discuss aspects of living in homes that withhold the blessing. Smalley and Trent do an excellent job of describing how the Biblical blessing is passed from one generation to another. The chapters are entitled: "In Search of the Blessing" which defines the title of the book and exactly what is meant by the phrase "the blessing"; "The Blessing Yesterday and Today" which illustrates how the blessing has come forward in time from Abraham and Isaac's time to the present; "The First Element of the Blessing: Meaningful Touch" describes how Isaac placed his hands on Jacob in order to pass the family blessing; "The Second Element of the Blessing: Spoken Words" describes the vocabulary used in speaking words of blessing over our loved ones; "The Third Element of the Blessing: Expressing High Value" describes how we are esteemed by our parents and how we ought to esteem our offspring, and how we are highly esteemed by God; "The Fourth Element of the Blessing: Picturing a Special Future" describes the future Isaac pictured for Jacob, but also describes other pictures of futures for children as expressed by their parents; "The Fifth Element of the Blessing: An Active Commitment" describes the role of the parent in actively participating in the blessing.
The other chapters in this book include 2 chapters on homes that withhold the blessing, learning to live apart from the blessing, and sharing the blessing with others. There are two appendices which suggest family or church activities that encourage blessing others through each of the elements mentioned in the body of the book.
Gary Smalley & John Trent mention various patterns of behavior which develop as a result of living outside of the parental blessing or approval. These patterns of behavior resemble the typical co-dependent patterns that result from living in a dysfunctional family/alcoholic family. However, Smalley and Trent offer hope and a brighter future than many of the co-dependency help books offer. Mainly the idea that God is our ultimate parent, and we are approved of by God regardless of what our earthly parents think of us, or how they attempted to raise their children.
Smalley & Trent also point out that many patterns of parental behavior are learned by generations of not so blessed parents.
I read this book when it was first published in 1990, and I recently read it again. I was impressed at how much I had matured, but at how the patterns of behavior I had experienced as a child were emerging as I parent a teenage daughter who is much like myself. I struggle to bless this child, and this book has given me ideas and new material with which to struggle with my own childhood and with the growth of my own wonderful children. I highly recommend this book to parents, teachers, preachers and grown up children.