FAMILY HOME EVENING DEFINED
Simply put, Family Home Evening (FHE) is one evening a week when your family gets together to have a gospel-based lesson and spend time together. We also sing a song, pray, have family business, do an activity, and have a treat.
As you probably know, I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. FHE is actually something that is asked of us to do by our Prophet. We are asked to do this on Monday nights if at all possible (having everyone do it the same night means we can have no other activities happening in the church on Monday night--Monday night is family night). This is a "why" vs. "how" thing though--the exact night is not of great importance--the importance is that it happens.
REASONS FOR FAMILY HOME EVENING (THE WHY)
Again, to start simply, it is to protect and strengthen the family. Here is a quote:
"...our dedication to this program will help protect our families against the evils of our time and will bring us abundant joy now and throughout the eternities." (True to the Faith, Family Home Evening).
We are also told:
"It can bring spiritual growth to each member of the family, helping him or her to withstand the temptations which are everywhere. The lessons learned in the home are those that last the longest." Thomas S. Monson
Our church membership was first instructed to hold Family Home Evening in 1915. They were told these blessings would come from FHE:
- Love at home will increase
- Obedience to parents will increase
- Faith will be developed in the youth
- Youth will gain power to combat evil influences and temptations
These are all great reasons to do FHE. One that can be immediately measured is the obedience to parents. We really noticed this with Brayden when he was young. When he was a baby, we weren't great at having it. It wasn't until Kaitlyn was a baby and he was two that we really started doing this consistently. We saw a marked difference in Brayden's obedience.
Because of that experience, whenever I hear parents concerned about obedience with their children, I tell them to do FHE. So here I am telling you! And the other promises are just as great as the obedience.
So the idea is picturesque and all, but let me just warn you, this isn't easy. It isn't like your children happily trot over to the couch each Monday night with excitement in their eyes and then sit still and listen eagerly to what is taught.
My husband and I often look at each other after we are done and just wonder what is the point? Did anyone get anything out of that lesson? A few years ago, David A. Bednar shared this at our church's General Conference:
"Sometimes Sister Bednar and I wondered if our efforts to do these spiritually essential things were worthwhile. Now and then the verses of scripture were read amid outbursts such as 'He's touching me!' 'Make him stop looking at me!' 'Mom, he's breathing my air!' Sincere prayers occasionally were interrupted with giggling and poking. And with active, rambunctious boys, family home evening lessons did not always produce high levels of edification. At times Sister Bednar and I were exasperated because the righteous habits we worked so hard to foster did not seem to yield immediately the spiritual results we wanted and expected."
That is so true!
He goes on to point out that his sons (now grown) don't remember specific lessons--the lessons were not life changing, defining moments. What the remember is the consistency. He then compares these things we do as parents to creating a beautiful painting. Each prayer, scripture study, and family home evening is one brush stroke and "...our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results."
Another recent quote I love is from Jeffrey R. Holland. He said,
"So if you are trying to do the best you can--if, for example, you keep trying to hold family home evening in spite of the bedlam that sometimes reigns in a household of little bedlamites--then give yourself high marks..."
So no, it isn't a walk in the park. Know that now. But it is worth it.
And there have been times I have KNOWN my child was not listening during a lesson, but later talks about that lesson and knows what was shared. So even though they seem like they aren't internalizing, they might be.
It is quite simple.
- Choose one night of the week. Have it this night every week.
- Be consistent. This is like working out--consistency is what brings results. But if you miss a week, don't through it all out the window and assume there will be no benefit.
- Our night looks like this: Song, prayer, family business, lesson, activity, treat, closing prayer. Not every night is the exact same--some nights we don't have an activity. Some nights it is all activity.
- Note on family business--we each take a turn and share what we have going on for the week. I love this! I love having everyone know what the plans are for the week.
- Note on taking turns--we each take a turn doing each thing. So one week, Brayden is on prayer, the next he leads the song, the next he gives the lesson, the next he chooses the activity, etc. We each have a turn for each thing and all rotate.
- When it is
- Activities can be a variety of things. You can go for a walk, play a game, do service, go through emergency preparedness things, watch a movie, etc. The idea is to have fun as a family.
You can see more here: http://www.lds.org/topics/family-home-evening?lang=eng&query=family+home+evening
There you have it! You should give it a try! It is a great way to have scheduled time as a family where you talk about moral standards and get some good quality family time in. You also have the bonus of organizing your week. And of course, being able to refer to your children as bedlamites every so often. It is all a win-win ;)