What I find interesting about this letter is the encouraging words to sing songs, play instrumental music, discuss family topics, and for the younger children to recite songs, stories and play games. We are encouraged by this letter to “studiously avoid formality and stiffness.” This is intriguing, because I find that many families feel in doing their duty to have family home evening each week, it ends up a formal occasion. But the original idea of family home evening is not only do we spend time with each other in discussing spiritual topics and gospel principals but to have fun too.
Teens might be the first to balk at the idea of sitting down for a formal meeting of the family, but if parents remember to have fun with the time set aside, then all family members will look forward to meeting together.
From an earlier Ensign Magazine article, wonderful examples of what family home evening means to many testify of the blessing of parents taking the time with their children. Here is one story:
My First Family Home Evening
Even though we really didn’t know what we were doing—we hadn’t attended a family home evening yet and had never read any literature on the subject—we experienced a wonderful, Spirit-filled, educational evening. We opened with a prayer, then sang a song of our choosing—“Old McDonald Had a Farm”! Next we had a lesson, a closing prayer, and dessert. The member families we had invited were so kind and loving, and we were blessed by their fellowship and examples. When we were baptized the following Sunday, a sister in the ward gave us a priceless gift, the Family Home Evening Resource Book (item no. 31106; U.S. $5.00). I pleasantly remember her gift today and sometimes laugh out loud wondering if someone told her we really needed this book! Whatever the case, I’m sure this sister was in tune with the Spirit and knew the growth our family would experience with this tool in our home. We have used it not just for family home evening but also as a resource when we’ve been asked to speak or teach in Church settings or when friends of other faiths have asked us questions.
Thomas S. Monson, President of the LDS Church, said it well:
We cannot afford to neglect this heaven-inspired program. It can bring spiritual growth to each member of the family, helping him or her to withstand the temptations which are everywhere. The lessons learned in the home are those that last the longest.
Family home evening has stood the test of time and it works. It works to help parents grow closer to their children. It works to help children grow up in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Valerie Steimle has been writing as a family advocate for over 25 years. As a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she promotes Christian living in her writings and is the mother of nine children and grandmother to twelve. Mrs. Steimle authored six books and is a contributing writer to several online websites. To her, time is the most precious commodity we have and knows we should spend it wisely. To read more of Valerie's work, visit her at her website, The Blessings of Family Life.