“We Never Missed”: The Blessings of Family Home Evening

Contributed By Colleen Bender, Church News Contributor

  • 8 September 2015

A family gathers for family home evening in Bolivia.   Photo by Leslie Nilsson.

Article Highlights

  • Colleen Bender and her husband, Russ, have never missed a family home evening.
  • Through their example, others have joined the Church, less-active members have been reactivated, and their family has been blessed.

“A neighbor told us, ‘Your first three boys will probably go on missions, but your others probably won’t. The peer pressure around here is too strong.’ To which I replied, ‘I think family is stronger than peer pressure.’” —Colleen Bender

I remember the excitement I felt in 1965, along with our friends in the Billings 2nd Ward in Montana, about the announcement of a renewed emphasis on family home evening and a manual being printed for use.

Over the years, my husband, Russ, and I never missed family home evening. Every year we were awed at the new manuals. They seemed to be just what our family needed, and we devoured them. We followed all the suggestions for living the gospel.

The lessons provided pictures of light bulbs the children colored to remind them to be a shining light to their friends. We had a temperature gauge that went up and down according to the atmosphere in the home.

One lesson provided us with a happy/frowning face. This was placed on the front of the refrigerator. When everyone was happy, it was a happy face. If someone were unhappy, they would turn the happy face upside-down. Immediately, I would have a talk with whoever turned it upside-down to find out why the child was not happy. This was an amazing way of having a child explain hurt feelings or concerns. Sometimes it was a friend or a school problem. (Today, family home evening lessons and ideas are posted on LDS.org.)

We moved from Billings to Murray, Utah, and then to San Bernardino, California. A mother of a friend of ours came to our house. She said she wanted to meet us, as there was something different about our boys. I explained we were members of the Church, that we held family home evenings on Monday nights, and that if her two boys would like to join us, we would be happy to have them. She agreed.

Later, the missionaries taught her family the gospel. She and one of her boys were baptized.

We moved to Nephi, Utah, in 1972, with five sons and a daughter all under age 15. Our sixth son was born the next year. A neighbor told us, “Your first three boys will probably go on missions, but your others probably won’t. The peer pressure around here is too strong.”

To which I replied, “I think family is stronger than peer pressure.”

Over the years, all seven of our children have served missions. Our wonderful neighbors became active. The parents have served in leadership callings, and all their children have been sealed to their spouses in the temple.