the inauguration of a ‘Home Evening’ throughout the Church, at which time fathers and mothers may gather their boys and girls about them in the home, and teach them the words of the Lord . . .
If the Saints obey this counsel, we promise that great blessings will result. Love at home and obedience to parents will increase, faith will be developed in the hearts of the youth of Israel, and they will gain power to combat the evil influences and temptations which beset them” (The Improvement Era, June 1915, pp. 733-34).
Can you believe it has been almost 100 years since this prophetic program was instituted? Look at the promised blessings! Love at home, obedience to parents, faith, power to combat evil influences and temptations. I don’t know of any parent who wouldn’t want those blessings for their families.
Prophets since that time have encouraged and taught church members to have family home evening. They have added their voices and witnesses to the good that this program does.
“As an aid to parents in discharging this most sacred obligation and duty there has been established . . . a “Home Evening” at which time parents and children gather around the family hearth in social and religious communion. In this day when socials, parties, dinners, business interests, etc., all tend to lead away from home associations the adoption of a Home Evening is highly advisable. It furnishes an opportunity for the parents to become better acquainted with their children and for children to know and appreciate their parents….” (Heber J. Grant, Home Evening Handbook, p. 2-3)
“These lessons for ‘Teaching and Living the Gospel in the Home’ are offered as helps for the weekly home evening.
“Earnestly we urge parents to gather their families around them, and to instruct them in truth and righteousness, and in family love and loyalty. The home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place nor fulfill its essential functions. The problems of these difficult times cannot better be solved in any other place, by any other agency, by any other means, than by love and righteousness, and precept and example, and devotion to duty in the home” (Family Home Evening Manual, 1965, p. iii).
“Family home evenings should be scheduled once a week as a time for discussions of gospel principles, recreation, work projects, skits, songs around the piano, games, special refreshments, and family prayers. Like iron links in a chain, this practice will bind a family together, in love, pride, tradition, strength, and loyalty.” (Ezra Taft Benson, “Salvation; A Family Affair,” Ensign, July 1992, p. 4)
“In 1915 President Joseph F. Smith asked the people of the Church to have family home evening. My father said we would do so, that we would warm up the parlor where Mother’s grand piano stood and do what the President of the Church had asked.
“We were miserable performers as children. We could do all kinds of things together while playing, but for one of us to try to sing a solo before the others was like asking ice cream to stay hard on the kitchen stove. In the beginning, we would laugh and make cute remarks about one another’s performance. But our parents persisted. We sang together. We prayed together. We listened quietly while Mother read Bible and Book of Mormon stories. Father told us stories out of his memory. …
“Out of those simple little meetings, held in the parlor of our old home, came something indescribable and wonderful. Our love for our parents was strengthened. Our love for brothers and sisters was enhanced. Our love for the Lord was increased. An appreciation for simple goodness grew in our hearts. These wonderful things came about because our parents followed the counsel of the President of the Church” (“Some Lessons I Learned as a Boy,” Ensign, May 1993, 54).
If prophets saw a need ninety-nine years ago for families set aside one night for a family night, how much greater is that need today? How do you have a family night?
Sit down with your family and decide on one night a week where you will say no to all outside activities and just be together as a family. In our church we are encouraged to set aside Monday nights for family home evening. Nor church activities or meetings are held that night and most temples around the world are closed that day. Did you know that even at the church schools – BYU, BYU-Idaho, BYU Hawaii – all dorms and apartments are assigned into groups to meet together every Monday to hold family home evening?
Start your family night with a song and prayer. My little ones enjoy taking turns leading the song as this is something simple they can do to feel a part of family home evening.
Someone gives a little lesson. What do you teach? This is where The Family: A Proclamation to the World comes in handy! There is so much doctrine taught in that one document. This line from the Proclamation is particularly helpful,
Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.
Right there you have ideas on certain gospel principles and values to teach your children.
Have a small activity or game. Sometimes these games or activities go along with the lesson, sometimes they don’t. It’s just fun to play together as a family!
End with a prayer. Just as we begin with a prayer, we end with a prayer thanking our Heavenly Father for our family, for the principles we have learned, and the time we are able to spend together.
Have a dessert or treat! Making dessert can be one of the activities for family home evening, or it can be made ahead of time.
In all that you do involve as many members of the family as possible so everyone feels they have a contribution to make.
Over the years I have accumulated a lot of family home evening lessons. I thought I’d show you how we store all of our lessons.
This is a file or banker’s box. We covered it with white butcher paper. One long side has the FHE chart we use to keep track of who does what for family home evening. The other sides are covered in family pictures.
We used spray adhesive to glue felt to the lid to use as a flannel board. All of our lessons including flannel board stories are stored in file folders inside the box. We also have the Family Home Evening manual, a story paddle board, and music aides inside the box. We LOVE it! Everything for our family home evenings in contained in one small space.
You can access all of the flannel board stories here. There are a couple of links to download all of them straight to your computer on that post. All of the family home evening lessons I’ve posted, there are at least 50, are available to download either individually or as batches. If something doesn’t work please don’t hesitate to contact me and let me know which lesson you would like.
I closing remember this counsel from The First Presidency,
Family home evening is for everyone. It is for families with parents and children, for families with just one parent, and for parents who have no children at home. It is for home evening groups of single adults and for those who live alone or with roommates…. Regular participation in family home evening will develop increased personal worth, family unity, love for our fellow men, and trust in our Father in heaven.
Don’t forget to visit Jocelyn at We Talk of Christ to see what new posts are up to Celebrate Family!
It’s link-up day today! Link your own posts celebrating family and go read the experiences and advice of others. Please comment on those you read it takes time and effort to put these posts together!