As the new curriculum year begins in various areas throughout the Church, members plan their family home evenings using one common, basic tool—the family home evening manual.
In addition to 680,000 copies printed in English, the manual also reaches the Saints in many other languages—from French, Danish, and Finnish to Samoan, Japanese, and Korean.
The manual has been prepared by the Family Home Evening Committee, with Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Council of the Twelve as adviser, and Elder James A. Cullimore, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve, as managing director.
We can talk of the mechanics of the family home evening manual, but first we should emphasize that the whole concept of the manual is to help create a warm, sustaining atmosphere in the family, the kind of atmosphere that welds a family together.
Looking back in my own life to my boyhood, I appreciate the influence of family home evening in our family. I remember a certain room in our house where we gathered together, and some of our activities, and the refreshments we had. I remember conversations with my father and the warmth of the family situation. Memories of our family home evenings have sustained and uplifted me for many years.
That’s what we should seek after in our families—a sustaining influence. This influence can be developed if families will hold their family home evenings and use the manual as a guide. Whether it be a large or a small family, a family with a mixture of older and younger children, a family of just a young husband and wife, an elderly couple—whatever the family situation, the manual provides a means of direction and a starting point for learning and growing together.
For instance, I know a mother who lost her companion but who regularly conducts a family home evening. This good sister claims she has two families: her oldest child is about 15 or 16, the next one is eight, and there are children even younger. When the older boy resisted meeting with the younger children, she sat down with him and said something like this: “I know that the lessons for the younger children are too young for you, but let’s work this out so you can help me.”
She had him help prepare the home evenings and conduct them, and she would help him with the preparation. By working together they developed a beautiful relationship, and the young man learned of the responsibility of caring for his younger brothers and sisters.
To me, this is a good example of using the manual to its best advantage. Other families could do the same. After all, it is designed to be flexible in its application. The lessons do not have to be followed in any particular order, although there are lessons that apply to specific seasons, such as Christmas and Easter.
In addition to lesson material, the manual contains suggestions for family involvement, with appropriate references for those who desire additional study of the subjects. In the back of the manual is an excellent series of articles, “Helps for Parents,” that present ways in which ideas taught during family home evening may be applied. These articles not only help parents guide their children, but also help them better understand their children. The first of these articles, “Guiding Your Children to Obey God’s Laws,” is indicative of the manual’s overall theme of law and order.
The basic material of this year’s manual has been revised from the family home evening manual of eight years ago. Eight years from now this material will be revised and used again. With all the work and effort that goes into the preparation of the manual, it is fitting that this valuable material should be used again. Within eight years, the families will be different, the children will be older—or even starting their own families—and the material will be fresh to younger family members.
This year’s manual, we believe, is the most beautiful and helpful manual that we have ever published. The people who have put it together have truly been inspired in their efforts.
I think that with the emphasis being placed upon the family today by the Church, and the interest in the family of so many people today, there is no question that the manual has great virtue, and that family home evenings are important in our lives. I see my own grandchildren enjoying family home evening; they build their week around it. To them it means home and excitement.
I don’t know where this quotation came from, but to me it sums up the purpose of the family home evening and the family home evening manual:
“That families are forever is one of the beliefs that make Latter-day Saint homes stand apart from all other homes in the world. The Latter-day Saint wants his home to be the setting for glorious family living, where love, goodwill, and creative working together develop an eternal bond between parent and child.”