About two years ago our family had a particularly memorable family home evening. We had just moved to a new city, and everything in our personal life seemed upset. We were unsettled from the move not only physically, but also emotionally. Our three boys were fighting and arguing with one another. All of this combined to put both my wife and me on edge. To make matters even more strenuous, my wife was expecting our fourth child. We responded impatiently toward our children, and we were often sharp with one another. My wife and I decided something had to be done.
We sat down together and discussed the problem. We both agreed that in our next family home evening we should come to grips with the problem. The question was: How could we most effectively solve the problem? Considering our own strained emotions, we didn’t think a lesson would work well. We needed to do something that would reverse the pattern of both the thinking and feeling within our whole family, something that would help each individual member.
I suggested that we try complimenting each of our boys in a way that would uplift their spirits as well as our own. After agreeing on what to do, we started immediately to plan the details of how to do it. Both of us searched our memories for good things that each of the boys had done during the past week that had been praiseworthy or helpful. As we thought of incidents that showed good attitudes, decisions, or behavior, we wrote each one down. Thinking about our children in this way helped us feel better about our situation, even before our family home evening!
As my wife and I continued, we decided we should expand our thinking and look for the good characteristics and attributes of each of our boys that made them special to us. When family home evening time came, we were ready with our lists.
For each of the boys the lists included such things as “can be trusted to tell the truth,” “keeps his things neat and orderly,” “is a good friend,” “does chores without complaint,” “is a loving example,” “does good work at school,” and “usually dresses neatly.” There were other qualities and attributes that helped remind us, as parents, of the things we loved most about each child.
Family home evening began as usual, with someone to conduct, someone to lead the song, someone to begin with prayer, and so forth. My wife and I had decided that I should explain what we intended for this family home evening and then share the lists. When I told the boys what their mother and I had done to prepare for this family home evening, they became very still and attentive. I began, one boy at a time. I didn’t just read the lists, but I explained them to each of the boys. As I continued with the lists, I perceived a wonderful feeling coming over me and my entire family. I was calm and filled with love for my boys, and I could feel the warmth of their love and that of my wife. When the family home evening was over, the emotional stress had vanished. We were no longer angry and frustrated, but tearfully grateful for one another.
In the following days, we made it a point to look for every opportunity to compliment each other and build each other up. It helped us to set a new direction in our relationships to each other.
This one night has convinced us of the power of family home evening. I am thankful for the program. It continues to be a tremendous blessing to our family for developing love and harmony.
Kenneth A. Smith and his family are members of the Corcoran (California) Branch.