Happy 100 Years of FHE!
Today is the 100-year anniversary of the First Presidency letter that introduced Family Home Evening as an official program of the Church. At first, local leaders were requested to set aside one day a month where members would have no scheduled church activities so families could spend a night at home together. Later, in 1970, the First Presidency officially changed this request to the weekly Monday night we are now familiar with.
While most of us know that family home evening is intended to help us keep our families close to each other and to the Lord, many of us struggle as we alternately try to hold regular home evenings and . . .don’t. Time is tight and energy and interest levels are often at a seemingly all-time low whenever family time comes around. Are there practical solutions to this weekly challenge, I mean, blessing?
Before I dive into some suggestions, here’s a little background on me and why I have something to say on the subject. I was raised in a strong LDS family where my parents really embraced the lifestyle. I have four older
brothers and a younger sister, so our house was pretty busy. From my perspective, we did everything pretty well except family home evening and family scripture study. Bless my parents’ hearts, they tried. . . and tried . . . and tried, but finally they just gave it up.
I had enough positive experiences with family home evening to fall in love with the idea, but before I was out of elementary school, family home evening had become a thing of the past. But I still loved the idea and, although the family I grew up in wasn’t very successful at it, I committed to figuring out how to have regular, positive family home evening and scripture study when I had a family of my own.
Probably the single best thing I did for myself was decide not to expect anything from my husband. If he decided he wanted to be involved in planning FHE, calling kids together, giving lessons, participating in activities, or calling on someone to say the prayer, great. If not, fine. I would own my desire to have FHE and do everything myself, if necessary.
The second best thing I did for myself was decide not to expect anything from my kids! Both decisions, made long before I even met my husband, have served me well. After I got married and my daughter was in her terrible/terrific/Tasmanian Devil two-year-old year, I felt it was time to get more organized. Up to that point, we had had a lot of unplanned family time, but nothing thought-out, gospel-oriented, and regular. It was time to figure this out, just as I had committed to myself that I would. And . . . I did!
Since then, now seven years later, I have become an expert at giving great FHEs in a flash. Last week, I was sick all day long and still pulled off one of the best FHEs we’d had to that point.
So, what are my suggestions?
1 – Have a plan.
Whether you are using an FHE idea book, gospel art pictures, a scripture story, or an
idea off of the internet, have a plan before it’s family time. This takes a huge amount of stress off of you. If you are prepared, you can focus on your family instead of figuring out what you are going to do.
Also, do your best to get mentally prepared to have a good time with your family. Take a minute to detach from your to-do list, the housework and homework, the phone calls you need to make, etc.
This is family time. Block everything else out.
2 – Put together a family-home-evening-activity box.
Get a box and go through your house gathering up things your family likes to do together. If you want to, you can stock the box with store-bought items as well. My kids are between the ages of two and nine, so our box has toy cars, toy dinosaurs, bubbles, balloons, poppers, a kids’ joke book, and a how-to-make-different-paper-airplanes book.
When I did this, it took me about fifteen minutes and I had plenty of FHE activities my family loves to
do, ready to go. After a prayer, song, and lesson, one of the kids got to choose an activity out of the
box, and we had fun every time.
3 – Check your expectations.
If family home evening isn’t working for your family, think about what
you are expecting and how you could change things for the better. Do you expect everyone to act a certain way or you consider FHE unsuccessful? If so, it’s wise to remember that probably no one acts exactly like you’d like them to, so expecting everyone to follow your script is a setup for frustration.
Is Monday night not working for you? How about Sunday afternoon or Thursday night? Is a sit-down lesson not working? How about role playing? Does your family love art? Make sure to include drawing, coloring, or some kind of art. Is your family really active? Get outside and play!
Whatever your situation is, please remember that just as “the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath,” family home evening was made for the family, not the other way around! God loves and cares for you and your family and will guide you as necessary.
Happy Home Evenings!
Christina Shelley Albrecht graduated from BYU with a degree in Linguistics and a master’s certificate in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL). In the course of getting married and having children, she realized the need for books to support parents in having practical, effective, and fun family home evenings and daily scripture study. She originally compiled this book for her family but also shared it with some friends. The feedback was so positive that she decided to publish it for all LDS families to enjoy. She invites you to visit her website at stressfreefhe.com