It is not likely that we have encountered every problem parents face in attempting to make family home evening a successful experience, but with ten children from two to 22, we have our share of challenges. During the past few years, however, we have tried a new approach, and the results are exciting.
Previously we held a “family hour” wedged between busy schedules. Even though we tried new tricks to get them involved, our children were impatient. They responded with sighs and complaints and felt pressured while other interests distracted their attention. We parents were busy trying to put out small brush fires of failure and were not wise enough to realize that glowing ashes of our own attitudes were ever rising up to be fanned into new frustration. Our real enemy was our own shortsightedness and lack of understanding.
We now enjoy a family day each Monday, and in the evening we assemble by appointment, from work, school, paper routes, and the myriad of daytime activities, for our special evening at home with the family. Family home evening is no longer another transitive program for us. As long as our family relationship lasts, which we pray will be eternal, we have this standing appointment to pledge ourselves on Mondays toward growing closer together.
Like any strong cord, family ties must be woven out of countless fibers of common interests, experiences, and communications, intentionally laid out, not merely matted in a lump. Our Monday morning family prayers now remind us of our objective for the day. Scheduling of individual activities allows no conflicts with the appointment with the family all evening.
Sometimes a friend has suggested to one of our children, “Our family home evening lesson will be finished by eight o’clock. Come over and study with me when you are through.” But the response now is, “We are a family together all evening. We are never through on Monday night.” We consider that the discussion time is important but no more so than the planning and family council time, mealtime, and any recreation we enjoy together. Anything that would separate us on this evening is not appropriate.
One of our daughters has employment in a hospital that occasionally requires a Monday shift until 8:00 P.M. As we reviewed this exception under our new schedule, it was not possible to eliminate the conflict, but we have tried to minimize the effect. As a family on these nights, we get in the car and together go pick her up after work. We sing on the way and afterwards stop for ice cream cones. Everyone seems pleased in the knowledge that we are not complete unless all of us are together.
It is thrilling to see that all of our children are gaining a new respect for this exclusive time with the family. As we show increased respect together for this divine commitment, there is increased interest and personal involvement. There are still challenges to be met, but we know that if we do our best to live the commandments of the Lord, we gain new enthusiasm and testimony. As parents, we feel the desperate need in this fast-moving worldly world for the blessings this family day is bringing to our family.