“Pointers for Parents: From Stephen with Love to God,” Ensign, Aug. 1972, 90
The preschool teacher was talking with the mother of five-year-old Gary. “Your son made a very strange but interesting statement today. When the children were noisier than usual, Gary came to my desk and said, ‘If we could all cooperate, it would be possible to make this nursery school a little bit of heaven on earth.’”
Gary’s mother smiled, not because of the humor in the statement, but because she recognized that Gary was getting the message of the home evening theme for this year, “Heaven in Our Home.”
In a home evening discussion on tithing, ten pennies were used to demonstrate how much was a tithe, or a tenth. The point was made that for all the many things our Father in heaven gives us, he asks for only one-tenth in return. Later that evening, when the children were asleep, this paper was found beside the bed of the six-year-old by his mother:
A ten-year-old boy was asked which of this year’s home evenings had brought the most heaven to his home. He stated, “The one on work. I haven’t had to stay in after school or at recess since. I made up my mind that if I just got in and did my work, I wouldn’t have to worry about it so long. And I’ve proved it. Things are a lot better at home, too.”
From a retired businessman and former bishop came this comment: “For many years while I was very much involved in my business affairs and in administrative positions in the Church, I failed to realize how my gospel scholarship had been neglected. Since my wife and I have been spending every Monday evening discussing the gospel, our understanding of the gospel and of each other has deepened immeasurably.”
Since 1964, to assist parents in building better family life, blueprints for home evening have been available in the form of written manuals. As the builders, parents are given detailed suggestions in these blueprints, and many parents have become expert builders. The incidents just related have come out of these successes.
But for many parents, problems have arisen, particularly in families with teenage and young adult members. Parents have felt inadequate and have been hesitant to try. Those who have persevered have gained confidence, knowing that just being together as a family is an excellent start.
In a two-stake survey of seminary students (ages 16 to 18) these questions were asked: “What do you like best about your family home evening, and what do you like least?” The accompanying sampling of answers describes the home evenings that are constructed on solid foundations and those that are built on the proverbial sand.
Many parents who are conscientiously trying to build good home evenings are failing because they do not understand how to follow the blueprint or because they may lack other building skills.
In future issues the Ensign will attempt to furnish parents with tools to build better home evenings, including such helps as how to motivate good discussions, reaching teens, and involving the whole family.
As builders of families, let us strive for the spirit expressed in President Joseph Fielding Smith’s opening remarks at April conference:
“To parents in the Church we say: Love each other with all your hearts. Keep the moral law and live the gospel. Bring up your children in light and truth; teach them the saving truths of the gospel; and make your home a heaven on earth, a place where the Spirit of the Lord may dwell and where righteousness may be enthroned in the heart of each member.”
Let us decide now that this new year of home evenings is going to be our best yet! To make it that way, let us look at what we have done in the past that we want to continue and then ask ourselves what kinds of new experiences we want to introduce in the coming year.
With enthusiasm and planning and prayer, we can make live, in experience and memory, two of the greatest words in the language: family and home.
Probably in no other way can so many of us find and give so much real and lasting happiness.
Like Best about Home Evening
Often we get to conduct home evening; every week each person has an assignment.
We are all in on the planning.
It brings our family together for at least one night a week, and we can talk about problems or have lessons on the gospel or on such subjects as patience or understanding.
The open flow of opinions: even the little ones are given equal standing.
Like Least about Home Evening
We don’t hold them often enough.
Not the right attitude toward them in our family.
Discussing problems—because we always get into a big argument and take sides.
The young children always get cross, and there is more bawling and stubbornness than love.
Little children won’t listen, and this makes it hard to get the Spirit.