Tuesday, November 12, 2013

We love each other more and more with ev'ry family night!

There are lots of studies out there that say time spent together as a family is important. You can find some results for a few of them here. Basically, the children of families that spend time together, whether it's a meal or an activity, or just being involved in each other's lives, are at lower risk for behavioral problems, substance abuse issues, get better grades, and more.

In 1915, the president of the LDS Church, Joseph F. Smith, distributed a leader to local leaders of the Church that encouraged all members to hold a weekly "Family Home Evening" which was described as an described the event as being a time set apart for "prayer ... hymns ... family topics ... and specific instruction on the principles of the gospel." In 1970, Joseph Fielding Smith, Joseph F. Smith's son, was president of the Church and he designated Monday night as the preferred time for Family Home Evening and there are no other church meetings or events to be scheduled on that evening.

Well-planned family home evenings can be a source of long-lasting joy and influence. These evenings are times for group activity, for organizing, for the expressions of love, for the bearing of testimony, for learning gospel principles, for family fun and recreation, and of all things, for family unity and solidarity." (Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, and N. Eldon Tanner)
 Today, that tradition stands and you might hear of Family Home Evening referred to as Family Night or FHE. If Monday night doesn't work for your family, there are six other nights to choose from. In singles congregations, FHE groups are frequently formed for young single adults to meet together once a week in a more informal setting.

 "Although family home evening should begin and end with prayer, it is not intended to be a formal class," the 1915 First Presidency is quoted as saying, "formality and stiffness should be studiously avoided, and all the family should participate in the exercises."

My family held FHE regularly growing up, sometimes on Sundays instead of Mondays, and I frequently attended my FHE groups in my singles wards (was also a "Mom"/Group Leader for a while). It's something important to me and so as soon Blake and I got married, we started having our own Family Home Evenings.

We keep it pretty simple. One of us is in charge of a lesson or spiritual thought (that person also gets to choose the treat) and the other is in charge of a fun game or activity of some sort. Our current format is usually this:

Opening Song (often chosen by whomever has the lesson, and they pick a hymn that relates to their topic)
Opening Prayer
Family Business (discussing the schedule for the upcoming week, other things to be aware of, etc.)
Closing Prayer

We're often done in less than an hour, but it's definitely quality time spent together as a couple/family. Sometimes we change it up a bit, we've had Cabeza and his Mrs. over to join us, or we've gone to another couple's home. Twice now we've met up with other couples (once Super Brad and his wife between they moved to Utah, last week with the Ginger Midget and her husband) for Dollar Taco Night at a nearby Mexican restaurant. (PS - The rest of their food is disappointing for those of us who are Mexican food aficionados, but it's hard to pass up fairly decent all you can eat tacos for $1 each.)

Tonight we had FHE right after we got home. We discovered that between the two of us, we remembered the words to the first two verses of Love At Home. For our lesson, I had read a conference talk from 1971 called The Vitality of Love and I shared with Blake some of the passages I liked and my responses to them. For our activity, Blake had us randomly pick dialogue from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban to dramatically read to the other, who had to guess which character was speaking. I, of course, won 3-2. After dinner, we had homemade Orange Juliuses for our treat.

Basically, it doesn't matter what we do, or even where. It just matters that we have time together as a family every week. If we make this a habit now when it's just the two of us, we hope to really have it solidified when our children are older and schedules are crazier.
I may have made Blake re-enact a reading four hours after the original activity

Do you have a regularly scheduled Family Together Time? If you want to model yours after ours, here's the Church's website with some great resources and ideas!  Even if you aren't religious, you can take time to discuss important family values and goals as well as just have some fun together.

And you have any great ideas for an activity, it's my turn to choose one for next week . . . 


Cabeza said...

Sometimes we go over to my brother's house for FHE with his family--they usually have a planned evening with all the traditional elements--but Kelsey and I need to get better at having a planning family night every week. We loved the one you invited us to! It was a good example for us.

Giggles said...

I'm so glad formality and stiffness are to be avoided, because ours is anything but formal or stiff. Ours is a walk around the neighborhood lasting 30-45 minutes, depending on how fast we walk (shorter when we get caught in a downpour in the middle). We talk gospel, life, politics, family, etc while we walk. Iddo stares at the stars, jabbers, and spits up all over Brett. It's great family together time. :)

Joseph Peterson said...

This was awesome. And we totally sang "this is the night we've waited for, always a treat we have in store, we love each other more and more, with every family night, stories and games for everyone, learning the gospel can be fun. Father and mother, daughter, son, together on on FAMILY NIGHT!" all growing up. I told GingieMidgie it was required learning. haha. Thanks for the post!