“Lesson 16: Family Home Evening,” The Latter-day Saint Woman: Basic Manual for Women, Part A (2000), 115–21
“Lesson 16: Family Home Evening,” The Latter-day Saint Woman: Basic Manual for Women, Part A, 115–21
The purpose of this lesson is to inspire and help us to have successful family home evenings.
Every family should hold a regular family home evening each week. The Church has kept Monday evening free of all other activities for this purpose.
Display visuals 16-a, “Parents including their young children in family home evening,” and 16-b, “An elderly couple holding their family home evening.”
Each family is different. Some families have parents and children at home; others have one parent with children. In still other families, parents have no children at home. Many single adults live alone or with roommates. Whatever the case may be, family home evening is for everyone. If a person is living alone, he or she may join other individuals to hold family home evening. For those who are lonely, this can be a special blessing.
“There is no more appropriate place for teaching the gospel than the home. Only at home can children learn the nature of family life as authored by our Heavenly Father. Monday night with the family together sets a spirit for all family experiences. Those who have this spirit in their midst find it the source of their greatest joy” (Family Home Evening , 4).
Holding regular family home evenings is one of the best ways to teach and learn gospel principles. It brings family members close together in love and unity.
Hold a bundle of sticks or matchsticks in your hand. Tell the class that these represent members of a family. Now take one of the sticks out of the bundle and break it in half. Tell the class that when we stand alone we are not as strong as when we are with our family. Next take a string or elastic band and bind the sticks together. Tell the class that the string represents the binding influence of gospel teachings. Then show how difficult it is to break any of the sticks. Explain that we are stronger when we are united as a family and bound together with gospel truths.
The father, as patriarch of the home, should preside at family home evenings. When the father is absent or there is no father in the home, the mother should assume the leadership. If possible, fathers and mothers should plan each family home evening together ahead of time. Then they can make assignments to family members.
At the beginning of each home evening, a short family council or planning meeting helps to check on the activities and plans of each family member for the coming week. This is especially helpful with teenagers in the family.
“[The father] teaches the lesson or delegates the teaching to his wife or to children who are old enough. … Younger children can help in such ways as leading music, quoting scriptures, answering questions, holding pictures, passing out refreshments, and praying. …
“A suggested outline for family home evening follows:
“Opening song (by the family)
“Opening prayer (by a family member)
“Poem or scripture reading (by a family member)
“Lesson (by the father, mother, or an older child)
“Activity (led by a family member and with all family members participating)
“Closing song (by the family)
“Closing prayer (by a family member)
“A family can hold home evening in many other ways. Any activity that brings the family together, strengthens their love for each other, helps them draw closer to Heavenly Father, and encourages them to live righteously can be a family home evening. Examples of activities include reading the scriptures, discussing the gospel, sharing testimonies, doing a service project, singing together, going on a picnic, playing a family game, and hiking. All home evenings should include prayer” (Family Guidebook , 7).
Each of us, as a family member, can help family home evening be a success. First, we can plan our personal activities so we are free for family home evening. Also, each of us can carry out an assignment or help in some way to prepare. Mothers or older children can help the younger children with their assignments during the week. Young children love to present simple flannel-board stories and enjoy performing in many ways. Every child can participate when father and mother include them and are patient with their efforts. We can each improve our family home evenings by praying to our Heavenly Father for help as we prepare our assignments.
The following is an example of a successful home evening:
The Thompson family called one of their home evenings “Tommy Award” night. The seven children, ranging in age from 17 to 5, voted on their favorite foods for dinner. The winning menu was served, and then the “Tommy Awards” were announced.
Father, dressed in his best clothes, with an oversized bow tie at his neck, was the master of ceremonies. Mother was in her prettiest dress and stood near father, holding the envelopes that contained the names of the “winners.” Grandmother and grandfather had been invited as an admiring and appreciative audience to see the children receive their awards. After a welcoming speech by father, the presentation went like this:
Father said: “Nominations for outstanding achievement in the field of mathematics are the following: Albert Einstein and Paul Thompson. Envelope, please.” Mother handed father the envelope, which he opened. Then he excitedly announced, “The winner—Paul Thompson!”
The family cheered while Paul stepped up and received his “Tommy Award.” (In this case the awards were small plastic figures with the child’s name and achievement written on the front.)
This procedure was followed until all the children had been recognized and announced as winners over other national or international champions or celebrities. Sheri received her award for excelling in swimming; Bryan, for Scouting; Michele, for her musical achievements; Michael, for outstanding performance in Little League baseball; Denise, for her excellence in learning to read; and Cynthia, for her success in brightening up the family’s days. Her award was a special one called the “Sunshine Award.”
Following this, each child performed a number he or she had worked on during the week, and each was cheered and praised. Then Denise and Cynthia sang “Teach Me to Walk in the Light” (see Hymns, no. 304, or Gospel Principles, 374). After the closing prayer by Michael, refreshments were passed around.
It is important to plan home evenings to fit the family’s needs and interests. Do the things that will appeal to family members. Home evenings are to help families. Many times the most successful home evenings are original ones the family develops by itself.
How much time do you spend each week in preparing for family home evening? How can you improve your home evenings with better planning?
The First Presidency of the Church stated: “Do you spend as much time making your family and home successful as you do in pursuing social and professional success? Are you devoting your best creative energy to the most important unit in society—the family; or, is your relationship with your family merely a routine, unrewarding part of life?
“Parents and children must be willing to put family responsibilities first in order to achieve family exaltation” (Family Home Evening , 4).
How can we use prayer to improve our family home evenings?
Our families receive many blessings from holding regular family home evenings. Participating helps each member develop feelings of self-worth. Discipline problems decrease, and loyalty and harmony increase.
Sister Remde Malloy, a mother of five children, said: “Even though our oldest child is only six, we have noticed a difference in the behavior of all our children since we have been holding regular family home evenings every Monday. … It’s wonderful to know that they are retaining many of the teachings we are giving them” (“To Be a Woman in the Church,” Ensign, Aug. 1973, 38). As Sister Malloy testified, children do remember the teachings from family home evenings.
Five-year-old Alan of Midland, Texas, was playing in the yard with his grandfather when some children in the next yard began quarreling. The arguing became louder, and the little voices rang out in angrier tones as pushing and shoving began. Then one child hit another, and she screamed in protest. Alan watched this noisy scene, then said thoughtfully, “Grandpa, what those kids need is family home evening!”
The First Presidency issued this statement: “In the past several years we have seen new … forces of evil at work … [tempting] our people, particularly our young. The Family Home Evening program, with its power for good, has been of great assistance to parents. … In our Home Evenings and other positive family experiences we can fill our souls with the things of God, thus leaving no room for evil to find a place in our hearts or minds” (Family Home Evening , 4).
What blessings have come to you and your family from home evenings?
The First Presidency also said: “Again most earnestly we urge parents to gather their children around them in love and patience and understanding, and instruct them in truth and righteousness. …
“The home is the first and most effective place for children to learn the lessons of life” (Family Home Evening: Walk in the Light , 3).
Effective, regular family home evenings help each person who participates in them. Family home evenings build love and trust in our Heavenly Father. They increase each person’s understanding of the gospel. They strengthen family relationships and encourage everyone to develop his or her talents.
Begin holding family home evenings regularly. Keep in mind the formula of planning, patience, and prayer.
Write down a gospel principle you would like your family to learn at your next family home evening.
Before presenting this lesson:
Prepare a bundle of small sticks or matchsticks for the demonstration on family unity.
Assign class members to present any stories, scriptures, or quotations you wish.