Thursday, February 18, 2010

Family Home Evening Success?

Th Question:

I am in desperate need of advise on how to handle family home evening with small children. I don't think we have ever had a peaceful home evening, there is always arguments over who gets to pick the song or the prayer, or someone is sitting to close...I could go on and on! I continue to have them because I know I should, and I know one day they will be better, but I find myself dreading it and I often end it feeling frustrated and sad. I want my boys to grow up remembering the time we spent as a family but I feel like they will only remember fighting and frustration!! Any advise on how to make this a more happy experience for us all?!


The Answer:

Dear Destenee,

I remember so well this frustration. I actually remember bringing home little chairs from the church and setting them up in a circle so everyone could learn to sit still and listen without touching each other! It didn't work. But those terrible little boys are in Law School now and that awful little girl is Natalie--the miracle worker with four boys of her own. I tell you that by way of reassurance.

But since you need more than reassurance at a time like this, here are a few thoughts....

Change your definition of success. My goal when my children were young became to have just one or two great moments. They would all stop talking when I held up a picture and I would tell them one powerful thing. That was enough. Anything else was a nice bonus. I considered it successful if there was ever a moment when we were all laughing at the same time. That was bonding. This usually meant that I had to loosen up and enjoy the unexpected distraction. If I laughed, everyone was happy.

Use a Family Home Evening Chart where the responsibilities rotate. I know that very young children may not grasp the concept right a way., but over time, they'll catch on.

Keep the lesson short, have a fun game and good refreshments. What family can resist that? I recommend gearing the lessons to the youngest child. The new nursery manual has wonderful short lessons that are interesting enough for older children--and perfect for them to present themselves.

We've had some pretty incredible family home evenings as our children have gotten older. Once, when Kristen was a teenager and was giving the lesson, she had us all go around and tell which commandment we loved the most and why? We ended up going around three times. I don't think there is anything more gratifying than listening as your children echo back the things you thought they weren't hearing all those years.

But for a long while, it's a leap of faith. My favorite line in your letter was... " I continue to have them because I know I should, and I know one day they will be better." That's called faith. And I can promise you that all of your efforts will accumulate and bear fruit in time.

With much love,



  1. I have to say that what Jane has said has worked well in our family. We have four children, ages 6, 5, 3, and 2 and we use a chart. We always have a short lesson, a game (the kids usually pick hide-and-seek) and a treat. They love being involved and even the 2-year-old gets the lesson every 6 weeks. Usually when it's her turn, it's a picture that she picks out and I help her tell about it. But they look forward to it every week.

  2. We have a 7-year-old, a 5-year-old, and a baby coming next week. We use a rotation chart and it works WONDERS. You don't need anything fancy.. we just use cardstock cutouts with our names on them and they velcro to the chart. The kids spend all week anticipating which job they have and planning for it. It's fantastic.

    During the last conference, Elder Bednar (I believe) spoke about this same subject. He recalled how his family was during FHE, scriptures, prayer.... all he noticed was the fighting and screaming and tickling and yelling because one kid was invading another kids space. He felt like he was failing, but he just kept at it. As adults, his kids remember that they spent time together as a family, and that's what really matters the most.


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