Tell me if this scene brings up some memories. You have the most AMAZING idea for family home evening! You are trying to do better at having family home evening each Monday night as it hasn't been something your family has done regularly and you want to do better. You know that the lesson you have prepared will be needed by your family and that it will be fun for all involved. You've actually spent hours preparing and you can't wait--this will be the best family home evening ever and it will definitely increase the unity in your home! You make dinner. Everyone comes to the table, eats quickly, and expect to go about their business. You tell your husband that you have something prepared this week for family home evening. He tries to gather the children into the living room and the grumbling begins. Tommy has homework. Melissa wanted to call her friend to talk about their shopping trip coming up later that week. Brad wanted to finish up his game on the Wii. Nobody is happy. Your husband, meaning well, loudly states, "Mom has prepared this for us, and we are going to listen!" It doesn't go well. You feel that you have failed. You end early because you cannot handle the bickering and contention any longer. You go to your bedroom and cry a prayer to your Father in Heaven.
Oookay. Anyone? You don't have to raise your hand, although I am flattered if you did! ;) So, what do you think went wrong here? You were prepared! But it all went horribly wrong... I've got some tips that might help you to handle this craziness as well as help your family enjoy time together in a more peaceful setting! I hope that some of these tips help you in your quest for family unity!
1. Start early. What do I mean by this? I mean that if you are a newlywed, start having family home evening each Monday NOW. There are guidelines for what a family home evening entail found HERE. It applies to all family types. My DH and I have no children of our own, but we strive to have a regular family home evening because we know the importance of it in our lives and in the lives of children that may yet bless our home. Another way that "start early" could be that you need to have family home evening with your children starting from when they are first born. Your children can at least be present. Even newborns know when they feel the Spirit and all family members need to be included in this important family time. Also, start family home evening early on in the evening! 7:00pm may be okay for a family that contains just a couple, but it may be too late to start when you have young children who need sleep or have school early in the morning. Remember this counsel from President Gordon B. Hinckley, "What is the great strength of [this] Church? … It is the emphasis which we place on families. … Keep your families close together..."
2. Be consistent. Don't give up, friends! Make sure that family home evening happens EVERY SINGLE WEEK. It can be something as quick as, let's discuss what is going on this week so that we're all on the same page, read scriptures, say prayers, go to bed. It can be more involved. But make sure that family home evening is something EXPECTED by all family members. Handbook 2 tells us, "Latter-day prophets have counseled parents to hold a weekly family home evening to teach their children the gospel, bear testimony of its truthfulness, and strengthen family unity." (emphasis added by me) President Gordon B. Hinckley has also told us, "[The Lord] expects us to have family home evening—one night a week to gather our children together and teach them the gospel. Isaiah said, ‘And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord.’ That is the commandment: ‘All thy children shall be taught of the Lord.’ And the blessing: ‘And great,’ he said, ‘shall be the peace of thy children’ [Isa. 54:13]."
3. Work together. Don't do it all yourself! You have a spouse and possibly children that can help you with the responsibilities of family home evening. If you need to, create a chart or other means to assign tasks for family home evening. If you don't need this because you have the most willing family ever, then make sure that your husband is the one taking the lead. He is the Priesthood head in your home and it is his responsibility to gather and conduct family home evening. Handbook 2 states, "Family home evening is sacred, private family time under the direction of the parents." If your husband is unable/unwilling/delegates this task to you, take it on with a happy and willing attitude! But, there is absolutely no reason why you should have to do it all yourself! Elder Claudio R. M. Costa has said, "Family home evening is a very special time for us to strengthen ourselves and each family member. It is important to include the whole family in assignments for family home evening. A child could share the Primary lesson that he or she had last Sunday. Family home evening strengthened the faith and testimony of my own family." Everyone can help!
4. Have a good attitude. Attitude is everything. I feel that I am always pushing that here on this blog, but it is such a vital part of everything we do! If you show that you are excited to have family home evening and try to keep this good attitude up each and every week despite any interruptions (aka the bad mood of a teenager, the horrible day you've endured, your husband coming home tired, etc.). President James E. Faust has said, "Unity in the Church will always be a reflection of the unity in our homes." Unity comes from the attitudes we portray in our every day lives. What does your attitude about family home evening tell your family about the unity you wish for in your home? What does your attitude about your home life in general say to Father in Heaven and how does this effect your ward, stake, etc.?
5. Have fun! Take time to have fun with your family! The most memorable family home evenings that I remember from my childhood and youth included some type of fun. The most memorable one is when we had Family Olympics. My poor mother was so sick of little tasks that are needed to make a house run being left undone. Things like putting new toilet paper on the holder, putting clean clothes away, loading the dishwasher after eating. So, she had us do "Family Olympics" where she timed us on these tasks. I got the gold medal in all of the events! BUT--not only did it teach us how little time it takes to do these tasks, it was FUN! :) So remember to have fun with your family. Elder Dallin H. Oaks has given us a good guideline to follow if we are unsure if what we have planned is an appropriate way to have fun together as a family. He said, "Good choices are especially important in our family life. For example, how do family members spend their free time together? Time together is necessary but not sufficient. Priorities should govern us in the precious time we give to our family relationships. Compare the impact of time spent merely in the same room as spectators for television viewing with the significance of time spent communicating with one another individually and as a family."
So, there you have it, friends! I hope that some of these tips help you in your weekly quest to have family home evening. I personally know that as we strive to do this, it will be easier, it will be more enjoyable, it will strengthen our families and bring unity to our homes. Have a fabulous weekend, a restful Sabbath, and an amazing family home evening on Monday! Blessings and have a fabulous day! :)