Articles from sources other than LDS.org regarding the Family Home Evening program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Faith Perspectives: Family Home Evening focuses on that which matters most
By Susan A. Torbenson
"Come on everyone. It'stime for Family Home Evening!" I yell up the stairs. It is always followed by an earthquake-like rumbling throughout the house as our six children scramble into the living room for our weekly time together.
Family Home Evening is a wonderful time where our family gathers together on Monday evening for fun activities, Gospel lessons, singing, prayers and a yummy treat. Our family can really be together and learn about life and Gospel principles.
One Monday night a few weeks ago, my son Eric, 11, worked most of the day on his Family Home Evening (we take turns planning them). He asked for cardboard, (lots of it), scissors, duct tape, markers and marshmallows.
Marshmallows? I wondered. But that night he gave us quite a treat. We opened our family night by singing a song and he called on his younger sister to say a prayer. He read from the Scriptures, "Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts." (1 Samuel 17:45).
He unveiled a 9-foot cardboard Goliath with a target painted on this forehead. He gave a great lesson on how we should be like David, who put his faith in the Lord. Then he pulled out a miniature catapult he had made in Cub Scouts and we all took turns trying to throw marshmallow "stones" at Goliath. We all laughed until our sides ached. We ended the evening with a closing song and prayer. That night the treat was, of course, marshmallows.
But why bother with all this when there is so much else going on in our busy lives? Because as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that no organization can take the place of the family. Our latter-day prophets have encouraged us for years to nurture our children with love and Gospel teaching. In fact, it was back in 1915 when we were counseled to gather our children once a week for a "Home Evening." In 1970, Monday night was selected as the official night we should free our calendars to spend family time together.
Itts not easy for a family to keep the calendar clear, but it is worth the effort. During our Family Home Evenings we create perfect "teaching moments" for our children. One night we gave each child a small sample tube of toothpaste and a paper plate. We asked each of them to squeeze the toothpaste out on the plate as fast as they could. When that was accomplished, we asked them to please put it all back inside. The moral of the lesson was that when we say unkind or bad words they can come out easily, but it is very difficult to take them back.
Another family night my husband took our broom and attached a string for each family member. Then we all stood around the broom and held our piece of string. If any of us let go of the string, the broom started to shift or fall. The lesson was that a family needs everyone and that we need to work together.
Family Home Evening isn't just lessons. We play a lot of games, conduct service projects for others, write letters and make visits to hospitals and nursing homes.
The topics and activities are decided by each individual family, but there are always two common threads. The first is that we are together as a family. The second is our commitment to try and be like our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.
There are many resources available to assist families in planning Family Home Evening. The Web site www.lds.org that contains an abundance of ideas. The family is ordained of God and as parents we must do all we can to raise righteous sons and daughters. Family Home Evening is an excellent avenue to achieve this lofty goal.
Susan A. Torbenson is a wife, mother and adjunct professor at Lakeland College. She is Stake Relief Society president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. People from the religious community write about religious and theological issues for the weekly Religion page.