“Pointers for Parents: Believing in Your Children,” Ensign, Oct. 1972, 44
On Monday evening, Jim Barton called his family together for home evening. A song was sung, prayer was offered, and the lesson was, as usual, given by dad.
As an elders quorum instructor Jim considered himself a pretty fair teacher. However, as he began his lesson, as if on cue his fifteen-year-old son, Jim, Jr., rested his head on his hand and stared at the floor. Jeannie, also a teenager, was noticeably irritated when dad gave “just one more scripture.” Several times the younger children were rebuked: “You kids sit down and be quiet or I’ll send you to bed!”
The lesson over, each of the children went his own way. Then this conversation followed:
“I don’t know what’s wrong with our kids. They just don’t pay attention to anything I’m trying to tell them,” Jim declared.
“That may be part of the problem, Jim,” responded his wife, “—the fact that you tell them.”
“What do you mean? You don’t think I’m doing a good job either?”
“That’s not it, dear. Kids just don’t like to be preached to, especially at Jim’s and Jeannie’s ages.”
“What am I supposed to do?”
“Well, next week why don’t you do nothing?”
“You mean skip home evening?”
“No, of course not. But you stay out of it and let them do it. Let them get involved.”
“You know what kind of a home evening that would turn out to be—one big party!”
“Perhaps for a week or two it would, but they would tire of that, too. Why don’t you give them a chance?”
The decision to give them a chance wasn’t easy. But Jim decided to delegate the assignments to his children. The following week the kids had their turn. That night was a turning point in the home evenings for the Barton family. Jeannie was the organizer. Each of the children did something, and Jim, Jr., arranged games that involved the entire family.
Dad enjoyed the evening. And he discovered an even more important benefit in involving his entire family when his wife told him that Jim, Jr., later said: “You know, Mom, I think for the first time Dad believes in us.”
What happens when each family member is involved in home evening?
Each contributes his own unique ideas and talents. This adds depth and variety to the activities.
Everyone “learns by doing.” Merely hearing about cake-making is no substitute for actually stirring up the cake batter.
Self-confidence increases as children are given a variety of assignments. Care should be taken that responsibilities (leading the singing, praying, telling a story, conducting, reading scriptures, giving a special report, preparing refreshments) are appropriate to the abilities of those assigned. A simple system should be devised for rotating assignments.
Interest is high in an activity when each member feels he is helping to make it succeed. Home evening is not truly a family home evening unless each member shares in the blessings of participation.