At a time when the family unit is under attack, it’s even more important to heed the counsel from our leaders and have regular family home evenings.
In 1915, President Joseph F. Smith and his counselors in the First Presidency instituted family home evening in an effort to encourage parents to teach the gospel to their children, strengthen their families, and build family unity. In 1970, the First Presidency designated Monday night as the night for family home evening.
I grew up in a home that did not hold FHE. I knew what it was, but our family activities usually centered around watching reruns of sitcoms. My husband’s family held regular FHE during his childhood so when we got married my husband and I established consistent family home evenings for our own family.
While my oldest children were young, I wondered if having FHE really mattered. During the lesson, I could usually spot a child under the table, another one upside down on the couch, while another might be chattering in baby talk barely cognizant that I was in the room. Though it was a challenge, we continued to hold FHE each week. I often commented that the scriptures about enduring to the end applied to FHE.
When my son returned home from his mission and reported to the high council, one of the members asked him if he felt prepared to serve his mission. I was surprised when he mentioned how much he appreciated that we always held FHE. At that moment, I realized that he’d listened, or at least recognized the importance of FHE. He’d been the one that was most frequently upside down on the couch, and yet FHE had made a difference to him.
Over the years, I’ve learned that successful family home evenings meet the needs of the family. While Monday night has been designated as FHE, sometimes another night works better. We’ve recently held FHE on Sunday nights to accommodate our older children’s schedules so that everyone can attend and participate.
When the kids were young, my husband and I prepared and presented the lessons, but as they’ve grown, we’ve assigned lessons to them. This works well because the Faith in God and Duty to God programs as well as the Family Life merit badge require that the kids prepare and teach FHE lessons. Not only do the kids learn more about the subject, they also learn to appreciate what it means to teach others. Hopefully, that will help prepare them for missions and their own future families.
We generally open our FHE with a song and a prayer and then turn the time over to whomever is teaching the lesson. Some of our lessons are more in-depth than others, depending on who teaches the lesson. After the conclusion of the lesson, we do family business. During this time, we discuss the week’s schedule so that we’re all aware of what’s going on. After family business, we close with another song, the Article of Faith we’re reciting that month, scripture study, and a prayer.
Family home evening has been divinely instituted to help strengthen our families to combat the ever- increasing evil in the world. FHE may not always run smoothly, but I testify that obedience to this counsel will bring great blessings and will bring families closer together.
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