Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Making Family Home Evening Happen

Monday evenings are supposed to be Family Home Evenings for Latter Day Saints. "It [is] to be a time of teaching, of reading the scriptures, of cultivating talents, of discussing family matters." - President Gordon B. Hinckley. Traditionally Family Home Evenings involve opening and closing prayers and songs, a gospel lesson, an activity and refreshments.


When children are little, it can be hard to feel like they are listening or learning anything. When you have a large age range of children, it can be difficult to create lessons that accommodate the variance in learning styles. Additionally, establishing the habit of holding family home evening takes effort. This past General Conference again had a message of the importance of holding family home evening.
 "Courageous parenting does not always involve saying no. Parents also need courage to say yes to the counsel of modern-day prophets. Our Church leaders have counseled us to establish righteous patterns in our homes. Consider five fundamental practices that have the power to fortify our youth: family prayer, family scripture study, family home evening, family dinner together, and regular one-on-one interviews with each child." - Elder Larry R. Lawrence
If you have ever had a hard time with family home evening, take heart that you aren't alone. But don't give up. Be strong and courageous and keep trying. Sometimes a lesson may only last thirty seconds. Perhaps all you do for a lesson is read a story from The Friend. The most important thing is that you keep trying and doing your best. I think the following analogy is especially effective:
"In my office is a beautiful painting of a wheat field. The painting is a vast collection of individual brushstrokes—none of which in isolation is very interesting or impressive. In fact, if you stand close to the canvas, all you can see is a mass of seemingly unrelated and unattractive streaks of yellow and gold and brown paint. However, as you gradually move away from the canvas, all of the individual brushstrokes combine together and produce a magnificent landscape of a wheat field. Many ordinary, individual brushstrokes work together to create a captivating and beautiful painting.
Each family prayer, each episode of family scripture study, and each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls. No one event may appear to be very impressive or memorable. But just as the yellow and gold and brown strokes of paint complement each other and produce an impressive masterpiece, so our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results. “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33). Consistency is a key principle as we lay the foundation of a great work in our individual lives and as we become more diligent and concerned in our own homes." - Elder David A Bednar
To make family home evening happen consistently, it must be a priority. Write it on the calendar and do not schedule anything else on Monday evenings. In my experience it is best not to combine Family Home Evening with calendaring or planning sessions. When you mainly have children under five, a successful lesson will be only about five minutes (or less) and the entire meeting will probably only be 20-30 minutes, unless you have a longer activity. Simple lessons are often more effective than elaborately planned ones.

Suggested resources for variety: The Friend or New Era or Ensign magazines, The Family Home Evening Resource Book, Gospel Principles, The Nursery manual "Behold your little ones", the most recent General Conference edition of the Ensign, numerous websites of ideas exist, including this one from the LDS church. This one contains a large index of ideas on various topics too.

What has been the best thing for helping your family consistently hold family home evening? What positive effects has you seen as a result of your consistent efforts?

By Malina.
You can learn more about Malina and her family at her personal blog.

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