When President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) was a young boy, his father was called on a mission. Ezra, the oldest child in his family, had six younger brothers and a sister. He knew that his mother needed his help to make their home a cheerful and comfortable place. He woke up early each morning to milk the cows before he went to school. His younger brothers and sister laughed as he squirted milk into their mouths when they came into the barn to watch him. Ezra comforted them when they missed their father. He even dug vegetables from a storage pit under the snow so they would have enough to eat. Ezra tried in every way to make his home a happy one.
As prophet of the Church, President Benson taught us that “our Heavenly Father loves all of His children of all nations everywhere. Because He loves us so much, He has given us loving parents who care for us and teach us. Our mothers and fathers are our first and best teachers, and what they teach us can help us to grow up to be good and useful men and women” (Friend, July 1975, 6).
Our Father in Heaven has given responsibilities to each person in the family. He gave parents the responsibility to teach and care for their children. As a member of a family, you also have important responsibilities. Heavenly Father has commanded us to obey our parents (see Eph. 6:1). He has asked us to love and serve one another. Each family member should be helpful, cheerful, and kind to other family members. When we help family members, we are showing our love for them and for Heavenly Father. You can do your part to help your parents make your home a happy place just as President Benson did.
My family gets together
As night falls on the day;
Before I go to bed I think,
“What can I put away?”
Can you find the objects in this room that have been left out during the day? Find a ball, a cowboy hat, a doll, a sock, a spoon, a toy truck, and a trumpet.
(Note: All songs are from Children’s Songbook unless otherwise indicated; GAK = Gospel Art Kit, TNGC = Teaching, No Greater Call. Special sensitivity should be given to children who do not have both parents in the home.)
1. Before Primary starts, ask four or five children to think of their favorite game and be prepared to tell the Primary how to play it while all talking at the same time. Have the children stand at the front of the room and explain their games at the same time. After a minute, ask the children to sit down. Ask the Primary, “What happened when everyone gave directions for a different game at the same time?” (The result was confusion.) “Could you understand everyone at the same time?” (No.) Point out that they could have understood the directions better if someone had taken responsibility for the group and called on one person at a time to explain each game.
Heavenly Father has given our fathers the responsibility to preside, provide, and protect. (Explain that the word preside means to give direction or take responsibility for.) Write these three words on the board. Give the children copies of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” (see Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102). Through His prophets, the Lord has explained what He expects of parents and children. Have the children search for these three words in the proclamation. Ask them to read paragraph 6 and underline any other responsibilities a father has. Make a list on the board of the responsibilities listed in the proclamation.
Sing the first verse of “Fathers” (p. 209). Ask the children to listen for six things our fathers do to bless our families (lead our family, love, watch us, protect us, guide us, and direct us). Ask for responses, then bear testimony that Heavenly Father has given our fathers responsibility for us. Emphasize that our Heavenly Father is always there, and that we can go to Him in prayer for help and guidance at any time and any place.
2. We show love for our mothers by listening carefully, obeying, and speaking kindly. Before Primary, hide wordstrips (LOVE US, TEACH US, GUIDE US, HELP US) around the room. Sing the first verse of “Mother, I Love You” (p. 207). Read aloud some of the responsibilities of mothers from “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” paragraphs 6 and 7. Have the children listen for what mothers are primarily responsible for (the nurture of their children, which includes teaching, guiding, and caring for them).
Play the game “Mother, May I?” to find the wordstrips that describe ways mothers nurture their children. Divide the children into four groups and choose a child from each group to stand anywhere in the room. Make statements that direct each child to find a hidden wordstrip. (For example, “John, you may take 10 giant steps toward me,” “Maria, you may take 6 side steps to the left.”) As you continue to direct each child, he or she must ask “Mother, may I?” before taking any steps. If the child forgets to respond by first saying “Mother, may I?”, choose another child from that group to take his or her place. When all the wordstrips have been found, have the children work in groups to act out ways they can show how mothers do what is on their wordstrip. Let the Primary guess the answers.
Sing the second verse of “Mother, I Love You.” Have the children listen for ways they can show love for their mothers (help you, mind you). Bear testimony of the importance and blessing of mothers in our lives.
3. Divide older and younger children into separate groups. As reporters, the older children will look up scripture references and prepare to give “news” reports. Give each group one of the following scripture references: (1) 1 Ne. 3:1–9; 1 Ne. 4:6–14, (2) Jacob 7:27; Enos 1:1–16, (3) Mosiah 27:13–16, 31–37, (4) Alma 36:1, 3; Alma 37:1–2; Alma 62:45–52. Instruct them to find answers to the following questions: (1) Who is speaking or being taught? (2) Who are his parents? (3) What is one thing the parents taught? (4) Did the child respect, honor, and love his parents by following their teachings? (5) What happened when this person followed the teachings of his parents? Meanwhile, ask the younger children to draw pictures depicting the stories to be reported on.
Set up chairs in the front of the room for the reporters. Have a simple script prepared to announce them. (Sample script: “This is Primary news station KLDS reporting on events throughout history. Today’s report will include stories of parents and children in the scriptures. Let’s go to our reporter, John, for a report on parents teaching their children.”) Let the children report on their findings. While the older children give their reports, display the younger children’s pictures in a roller box (see TNGC, 178–79) made to look like a small television.
These scripture stories are good examples for us to follow as we respect, honor, and show love for our parents. Sing “I Am a Child of God” (pp. 2–3). Bear testimony that when we follow the teachings of our parents, we are not only showing our love for them but also for our Father in Heaven.
4. Prepare riddles to help the children learn about some of our extended family members (for younger children, explain that extended family members are relatives other than parents and children). (For example, “See if you can guess who this person is”: 1. This person is a member of your family. 2. This person grew up in your grandmother’s house. 3. This person is your mother’s sister. Answer: My aunt.) Create similar riddles for a grandmother, grandfather, uncle, and cousin. Read paragraph 7 of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” with the children. What do our prophets tell us about our extended family members? (They should lend support when needed.)
Make five picture frames out of paper. On the bottom of each frame write Grandpa, Grandma, Aunt, Uncle, or Cousin. On the back of each frame, write a brief case study (see TNGC, 161–62). For example: Your grandfather slipped and fell. He is unable to take care of his lawn this week. Make up additional situations involving a grandmother, aunt, uncle, and cousin.
Divide the children into five groups and have a child from each group stand in front of the room. Give them simple costumes to wear, such as a hat, tie, etc., to represent the family member on the frame. Have them hold the frames up to their faces. This is our family portrait wall.
Have each “family member” return to his or her group, read a case study, and discuss what they could do in this situation to help support, serve, and show love to this family member. Have each group choose a child to join the “family member” at the front of the room. Have them read the situation to the entire Primary and share what they discussed in their group. Encourage them to serve, love, and give support to all family members. Sing “I Have a Family Tree” (p. 199).
5. Song Presentation: “The Family” (p. 194). Divide the song into four lines. Make wordstrips for every word in each line. Divide the children into groups and give each group the words from one of the lines. Sing the song a few times while the children listen and put the words of their line in the correct order. Have each group sing their line in the correct order. Give the groups a different line to sing, then sing the song again.
Show the children a picture of your family. Explain that every family member is important. Families can be happy when everyone works together and does his or her part. Have a child leave the room. Allow the Primary children to choose a word they agree not to sing from the song. Bring the child back and have him or her stand at the front of the room. Hold the chosen wordstrip above his or her head as a reminder to the Primary not to sing it. Sing the song again and let the child guess the missing word.
6. Additional resources: Family Home Evening Resource Book, 246–47; Gospel Principles, 236–40. Additional Friend resources: “David’s Lesson,” May 2003, 18; “Friend to Friend: Elder L. Lionel Kendrick,” Aug. 1990, 6–7; “Showing Respect, Honor, and Love for Parents,” July 1992, 12–13; Sharing Time ideas #1 and 5, June 1996, 44; “Family Meeting,” Nov. 1991, 16–18.