Friday, April 01, 2011

Mormon Week: Family Home Evening



This next topic comes from a question I got a couple days ago and it's a great question:  

Total agnostic here who would love to hear more about Family Home Evening - I've heard about it on other blogs written by Mormons and it sounds like such a great concept. Is it always the same night of the week? Do you make plans weeks in advance or spur of the moment? Do family members take turns picking the activity? I'd love to know all about it! Thanks in advance!

Family Home Evening.  
I'll start with a more dictionary definition, then follow up with my personal thoughts.  From the encyclopedia of Mormonism:  

In 1915, the First Presidency of the Church wrote:  "We advise and urge the inauguration of a "home Evening" thoughout 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... This "Home Evening' should be devoted to prayer, singing hymns, songs, instrumental music, scripture-reading, family topics and specific instruction on the principles of the Gospel, and on the ethical problems of life, as well as the duties and obligation of children to parents, the home the Church, society and the nation."  

I actually had no idea it started back in 1915.  President David O. McKay, who was the prophet from 1951-1970, famously said, No other success can compensate for failure in the home.  And I think most of us think of FHE as something that Presdient McKay instituted.  While it was apparently instituted much earlier, it was in 1965 that the program became more of a focal point, with lesson manuals given to each family.  In 1970 the Church designated Monday evenings as Family Home Evening night, and it continues to this day.  This means that there where the church is concerned there are no activities, meetings, or anything church related that is ever scheduled on a Monday night.  Of course Monday nights don't always work for every family for a variety of reasons, if that's the case they are encouraged to hold FHE on another night.  

Although FHE is always and consistently stressed by leaders of the church, local leaders and general authorities, it's really up to each individual family to hold FHE.  Some families are great about it and have FHE every Monday without fail.  There are other families that try but are less successful and still others that don't have it at all.  Additionally, FHE is not just for traditional families.  When I was in college at BYU each ward was divided into smaller FHE groups and there was usually one male and one female assigned as FHE leaders for that group.  They were in charge of planning each weeks lesson/activity.  (I remember one of my friends explaining this phenomenon to a friend of hers and the friend was like "so it's Family Home Evening but not with your family?  So it's not-your-family home evening?" Yeah pretty much)  Other wards organize similar groups for single members.  Even couple's with no children in the home are encouraged to hold FHE for just the two of them.  And couples with very young children are encouraged to have FHE--we've been doing them with Sparkle Pants since she was about 2, before that we just did them as a couple (since she was always in bed at 6:30 anyway).    

Although FHE varies from home to home the basic FHE has the following elements:  Someone who conducts the meeting (welcomes everyone, etc), an opening prayer and opening song, a lesson, a game or activity, treats or snack, closing prayer.  Some families also use that time for family meetings and councils, reviewing calendar or budgeting items.  The great thing is everyone is encouraged to participate.  You'll see many a Mormon home with a Family Home Evening board, which is a lot like a chore chart but instead of rotating names under each FHE 'task' which means young children take turns giving the lessons, leading the song and saying the prayers as well.  As far as the lesson goes these are not church mandated topics.  There are FHE manuals and an online resource book  (which we use quite often) but families are encouraged to have a lesson on whatever they feel is most appropriate and necessary for the family.  Some of the topics we have covered are:  being grateful for nature, Jesus, our Bodies (we talked about this one a lot before Lamp was born), prayer, being kind, sharing, and music.  Lessons with small children are usually very short--about 5 minutes.  Also, sometimes FHE is much less formal--maybe it's a family bike ride, going to a movie together or going to get ice cream.  It certainly varies from week to week.   However it's the consistency that counts.       



Right now Princess Sparkle pants really enjoys Family Home Evening, but lets be honest... a lot of families really struggle through this weekly meeting at one point or another.  Older kids and teenagers roll their eyes during lessons, kids bicker and fight while parents struggle to maintain a spirit of love, while again other families fail to have it all... it's not an easy thing.  It doesn't make for perfect families or for a perfect experience week after week.  But with that being said, it is an inspired program.  If there is one thing about the Mormon faith that should be understood it's the importance we place upon the family.  Homes are considered sacred, and families the most important unit in society.  This is because we believe that the family is central to Heavenly Father's plan and that the family relationships extend beyond earth life and into eternity.  We believe it is a parents divine responsibility to teach children in the home.  Considering all the increasing negative messages and influences being thrown at our children these days, not to mention the general moral decay in the world around us, it's critical that we take the time to learn, teach, play, grow, pray and laugh together as a family.  It seems like it's getting harder and harder to maintain the strong bonds that families used to have, particularly between parents and children.  Life is so much more hectic these days and if we don't take the time to actually be together it's easy to see how the months and years could slip by with the truly important conversations, lessons and experiences going undone.  

We cannot afford to neglect this heaven-inspired program.  It can bring spiritual growth to each member of the family, helping him and her to withstand the temptations which are everywhere.  The lessons learned in the home are those that last the longest.  
                                                              --President Monson, current president and prophet of the Church

You can read more about Family Home Evening here and here.  

Thanks everyone for allowing me to share a little more about Mormonism.  Hopefully you learned something.   I had many more topics to write about and share, so maybe I'll do this again another time.
Thanks and have a great weekend!


4 comments:

  1. Anonymous2:56 PM

    Thank you so much for answering my question!!! I had always wondered how it works with younger kids (mine still go to bed at 7-7:30) and don't have the best attention spans...thanks again!

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  2. Thanks so much Miggy! I've always had such respect for Mormons for their sanctity of family bc it was very similar to my faith and how we live our life, but I never knew how your community was so disciplined at it...and this explains it! I always thought..."How do they do it soo consistently?" because most every Mormon I met I noticed the same theme. I can't agree with you more that you have to make time to instill values in your children (with a variety of family activities) consistently for them to be able to navigate the waters when there are so many obstacles in their way. But also for your own spirituality not just them. It so easy to let the weeks pass you by without you realizing you haven't focused on what is most important.

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  3. This short article posted only at the web site is truly good.RYAN

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