Monday, August 27, 2012

Family Home Evening FAQ's

I've recently had a few people ask me some questions about Family Home Evenings and so I've created this FAQ blogpost as a way to put those answers all into one place.    If you still have questions after reading this, please feel free to ask away (in the comments or via email) and I will do my best to answer them as well. 

What is Family Home Evening? 
Family Home Evenings are a special time set aside each week for spending time together as a family, learning the gospel together, and strengthening relationships with one another. 

Where did the concept of Family Home Evenings originate? 
In 1915 the First Presidency of the church first urged members to set aside one night a week (ideally Monday) for "Home Evenings".  Members were encouraged to sing, read the scriptures, and learn the gospel together.  (for more detail you can read here)

What is the purpose of a weekly Family Home Evening?

As mentioned above, the main purpose of Family Home Evenings are to sit down as a family on a weekly basis and discuss gospel principles and how they apply to our lives.  This time not only  gives families an opportunity to reconnect amidst the crazy schedules we all seem to have, but also gives parents a chance to give spiritual tools and encouragement to children on how to keep their lives grounded on what is most important.    The best family home evenings are those that mix the gospel lessons with an element of fun and connectedness as a family. 

What is the average Family Home Evening like?
I imagine that each family would answer this question a little differently.  Here's a glimpse at an average FHE at our house:
We always start ours with a round of songs, each person in the family choosing which song they'd like to sing.  Some of us are more musical than others, but we all sing along--off-key notes notwithstanding.  After singing time is done we have a family prayer and a lesson.  The lesson is usually either about a gospel principle or a positive character trait we're trying to foster. Our lessons average about 10-15 minutes in length, but could be anywhere from 5-30 minutes long, depending on who's teaching, what the topic is, and how much the kids are paying attention.  We finish up with a prayer, then if it's not too late, eat a treat together and/or play a game (sometimes related to the lesson topic, sometimes just for fun). 

What is your best tip for a successful Family Home Evening? 
I think the main thing is  to just do it. It's way too easy in this busy society to find excuses not to do it, but our families, more than ever, need the instruction and connectedness that family home evenings bring.  Make the commitment and and make it work for your family.  If Mondays don't work, switch it to Sunday night.  If nighttime is too much for your kids, do it in the afternoon instead.   

If you are interested in reading more of my tips on how to have a successful FHE, see this post. 

What are the best resources for gospel lessons? 
Not to toot my own horn, but I think that this blog is a pretty darn excellent resource for ready-to-go FHE lessons and even if cutting and laminating aren't your thing, the lesson plans also contain great object lesson ideas and ideas for how to relate gospel concepts to real life.  I also love Friend magazines, the scriptures, old FHE lesson manuals, sacrament meeting talks, primary sharing times, and answering questions that the kids have asked. 

What if I'm not LDS, but am interested in implementing the concept into my own family? 
Anyone who is committed to putting aside the activities and distractions of life for one night a week and gathering their family together for some fun and connectedness, can enjoy the blessings of Family Home Evenings as well.  Religion aside, individuals working to strengthening their own families will not only bless their families, but also society as a whole. 

What blessings has your family received from holding regular Family Home Evenings?
While I've always felt that Family Home Evenings are a powerful bonding tool for tying families together,  we have witnessed those blessings in an up close and very meaningful way over the last several months.  When Spencer, my sixteen-year-old son, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia earlier this year, one of the greatest challenges we faced was feeling ripped apart as a family.   With one of us always at the hospital with Spencer (his treatment was almost entirely in-patient) and the other of us at home caring for the rest of the family, we literally had no time all together as a family.   That was when we decided that we needed the blessings of Family Home Evenings more than ever.   Each and every Sunday night we would tote our entire family and our Sunday dinner, up to Spencer's room.  We would eat dinner anywhere we could find a spot--on the window sill, the bed, the chair, etc, and afterward have a short Family Home Evening.  Those moments of togetherness during those difficult days were healing to our souls and gave us the courage we needed to go forward with faith and unity as we faced the lonely days ahead. 

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