Weekly Thoughts and Tips

January 2016


What Matters

By Marissa Widdison
January 29, 2016

Two girls holding hands

Every once in a while a sentence in the Friend sticks with me even after I turn the page. In this month’s magazine, one of those sentences is on page 36, as part of a story called “Friendship Matters.” The narrative is lovely by itself. But the line I find myself mulling over comes in the sidebar, where 11-year-old Emma N. shares with us what she’s learned about friendship. The fourth point says: “It’s what inside that matters. It doesn’t matter where they live, what they look like on the outside, or what their religion is. Everyone needs the same things.”

One of my favorite “Bright Idea” posters touched on this subject by matching fantastic urban artwork with a quote from President Monson: “May we be … good neighbors in our communities, reaching out to those of other faiths as well as to those of our own” (Friend, Aug. 2011, p. 6).

How can we teach our children to respect the needs of others? What are our children absorbing from our own words and actions and how we treat or talk about others? What are they picking up from the media we consume as a family?

Family Proclamation Cootie Catcher

By Jocelyn Christensen
January 22, 2016

Family Proclamation Cookie Catcher

Remember cootie catchers? As kids, these were such a riot to do at school! The “fortunes” were often outrageous. We had to make our own out of lined notebook paper, but now there are hundreds of templates online that you can download and print. Another miracle of the modern age!

Anyway, as I was showing this game to my children, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun if we made a ‘Family Proclamation Cootie Catcher’ to play during FHE?” So we made one! I searched online for a downloadable cootie catcher and then customized it. Instead of putting fortunes inside, I used ideas and quotes from The Family: A Proclamation to the World. It was a fun way to review important ideas and concepts with my kids.

Editor’s note: For an example to trace and folding instructions, see the “Kindness Catcher” in the July 2012 Friend.

Going to Church with Little Ones

By Megan Jensen
January 15, 2016

Child reaching over the back of a church pew

Sometimes going to church with a young child can seem like the longest three hours of the week. We pick cereal up off the floor. We shush our noisy little ones. Is it really worth the effort?

Yes, it is! That’s because little by little, our young children are learning about Christ and His teachings. Bit by bit, they’re learning how to pray and how to recognize the Spirit.

Here are a few ways you can help church be even more meaningful for your kids—and for yourself too!

  • Show pictures of Jesus and explain that we learn about Him at church. Even babies start to recognize His face and get excited when they see Him.
  • On Saturday night sing “Saturday” (Children’s Songbook, 196) and have your kids help lay out clothing and breakfast items for the next morning.
  • Pack a small bag with books or quiet activities that focus on the gospel and Christ. Have children draw pictures of stories they remember from their classes and hang them up on a special “Sunday wall.”
  • Practice “reverence skills” like folding arms, whispering, and listening to quiet music.
  • After church, have everyone share something they learned that day.

In time, the learning that begins when children are small will lead to much greater understanding and wonderful blessings as they make covenants with the Lord.

The Friend in 2016

January 8, 2016

Family reading the Friend magazine

Have you seen the article in this month’s Ensign about what’s new in the Friend this year? We hope the upcoming issues will be particularly useful as you teach your children and strengthen your home. Here’s what to look for. This is going to be a great year!

  • Friend Junior section: Flip the Friend over, and the back cover becomes the start of a special section for our youngest readers. It includes a letter to parents, too, so make sure to check it out!
  • Standing Tall: Last year readers sent in more than 37,000 handprints representing their acts of service! Now we want to hear about how children are “standing tall” and being courageous in their daily lives. Check out page 3 of the January Friend for more instructions about sending us a footprint. Also, look for a monthly photo story featuring a child who stands tall!
  • Happy Sabbath: This page will give a different idea each month for making Sunday a holy, happy day.
  • Apostle biographical page: Your children can get to know the Apostles better by looking at the biography that runs after their Answers from an Apostle message. Soon we will also be posting short videos to help your children get to know these leaders better.
  • Friend Junior section: Flip the Friend over, and the back cover becomes the start of a special section for our youngest readers. It includes a letter to parents, too, so make sure to check it out!
  • Monthly scripture hero: Each month, we’ll highlight a different hero from the Book of Mormon with a card that your child can collect. We’ll also print a monthly read-and-color chart with Book of Mormon verses that could work for family scripture study.
  • Family Night Fun: Did you know there are two pages of FHE ideas after the first story in the magazine? Recipes included!
  • Primary Connection: If you have a calling or a child in Primary, look for the diamond-shaped icons on the table of contents page. They mark what Friend content supports sharing time and other Primary lessons.