Help family members show greater love and appreciation for each other.
Often it seems easier to be kind to people we hardly know than to our own family members, the people we love the most. Sometimes we can be thoughtless and even cruel to our family by our words and actions.
The Savior taught us to love one another as he loves us. He loves us even when we are not doing everything we should. We should learn to love our own family members in this same way.
Write a note to each member of your family, telling each one why he is special to you and that you love him. Put each note where the person can easily find it during the day of the home evening, such as in a lunch pail, on a pillow, or in a pocket.
Make a chart similar to the chart entitled “Love One Another,” which accompanies this lesson.
Have a pencil and paper for each person.
“Love at Home” (Hymns, no. 294).
“A Happy Family” (Children’s Songbook, p. 198).
Begin the lesson by asking the following questions:
How would you feel if Jesus came to visit us in our home?
Would we want to change the way we act toward each other?
Explain that the Savior would be unhappy if family members were not kind and loving to each other. He cares about each one of us and wants us to feel the love that he and Heavenly Father have for us. We cannot feel their love and support in our home when family members do not show love and kindness.
Find out if the family members discovered the notes that you wrote. Have each family member tell how he felt when he read his note.
In what way did it affect your day?
Explain that when we express our love for one another, even in little things, both the receiver and the giver feel good inside.
Explain that when we show our love and appreciation for one another at home we also help bring a good spirit into the home. This is the kind of feeling our Heavenly Father and Jesus want us to have in our home. This is why we were commanded to love one another. A happy home is one that is filled with love, one that invites the Spirit of the Lord to be there. (See Galatians 5:13–14, Ephesians 5:25, 1 John 4:7.)
Tell the following story:
It was almost time for family home evening in the Reynolds home.
Jeanette was busy in the kitchen taking the last batch of hot cookies out of the oven. She had worked all afternoon to prepare refreshments. Father called all the children to come into the living room.
Debby, Jeanette’s little sister, ran down the stairs and grabbed a handful of cookies on her way through the kitchen. Jeanette angrily caught her blouse sleeve as she dashed past, and the sleeve ripped. Debby hollered, “Look what you did!”
“Well, if you had just asked first,” cried Jeanette. “It’s not my fault.”
Soon the two girls were arguing, and mother had to come into the kitchen to stop them. She became upset herself when she saw Debby’s torn blouse.
Finally father got everyone into the living room together. Debby sat down in one corner of the room, and Jeanette in the other. Even after the opening prayer, everyone in the family felt uncomfortable. The warm spirit they usually felt during their family nights was not there.
During the lesson mother brought some photo albums out and handed them to the children. “I thought you might enjoy looking through these old pictures tonight,” she said.
Everyone gathered together to see the pictures. The little children were especially excited to see themselves. They laughed and pointed whenever they found themselves in a picture. Mother held up a picture of Debby and Jeanette when they were little. “Remember when you two got into my oil paints?” she asked. The girls had to laugh when they saw themselves in the picture covered with red and blue paint.
Soon all the family was caught up in reminiscing. Even Jeanette and Debby talked about the fun times they had together on their camping trip.
The spirit had changed. Everyone in the family could feel the spirit of love in their home again. When they knelt together in prayer, they felt the Spirit of the Lord with them.
What happened to the spirit in the Reynolds home when the children started arguing?
Have someone read Mosiah 4:14.
How did this affect their family home evening at first?
Why did the spirit change when everyone started sharing good thoughts and acting kindly to one another again?
Why is it important that we try to be thoughtful and loving to each other in our home?
Explain to your family that, just as in the Reynolds’ home, when family members are kind and loving toward one another, the Lord’s Spirit can also be in their home. But when they argue or are angry with one another, the Spirit leaves.
Without revealing the name of the person, have family members tell of an incident in which another family member demonstrated love. Each person could begin by saying, “I’m thinking about someone that did … to show his love.” Have the other family members guess who the loving family member is. Make sure that everyone has a turn and that each member is used as an example of love so that no one feels left out.
Explain that it is easy to be polite and kind to friends and people we don’t have to live with, but it is not always easy to be kind and loving to those closest to us, our own family members. Sometimes a family member may say or do something that offends another family member, which may result in bad feelings. We can overcome those bad feelings and learn to be more loving toward one another if we really try. (See 1 Corinthians 13:4.)
Use the following story to show how expressing love helps us overcome negative feelings toward each other:
“I will not iron your shirt. Iron it yourself,” Sybil said to her brother Phillip, who was two years younger than she.
“No, you won’t iron mine, but you’d jump at a chance to iron a shirt for Tim Cruthers,” retorted Phil as he ran outside.
“It worries me, Sybil,” mother said, “to see you and Phillip treat each other the way you do.”
“Oh, he makes me so mad that I can’t stand him!”
“Would you be willing to try an experiment—just you—without his knowing anything about it?”
“Tell me what it is first.”
Mother challenged her, “No matter what Phil does or says, you do and say only those things that show your love for him. See what happens. I’ll be an interested observer.”
“Oh, that would be hard. I’m not sure I could do it. Do you think he’d change? It would be good to have a brother who was a friend. You know, Marianne and her brother have the best relationship with each other. Maybe she can give me some pointers. I’ll think about it, mother.”
On her way to school next morning, Sybil stopped at Marianne’s house so they could walk together as usual. Marianne was carrying a heavy load of posters. As they came out, Phil passed by. Sybil called out to him, “Oh, Phil, please carry my books so I can help Marianne with these posters.”
“Yes, I will, just like you ironed my shirt.”
“I’m sorry about that. I’ll iron it tonight.”
But Phil showed no signs of having heard her.
Having missed lunch that day to prepare for a test, Sybil was very hungry when she got home. She made herself a sandwich. Just as she was about to take a bite, Phil came in and said, “Hey, Syb, make one of those for me.”
She opened her mouth to say, “Yes, just like you carried my books,” but instead she said, “Here take this one. I’ll make myself another.”
Phil looked shocked. He grabbed the sandwich and ran.
A few days later, mother said to Sybil, “I think it’s beginning to work, though Phil is still suspicious of your motives.”
Sybil shook her head, “I think I feel a little better toward him. But it’s even harder than I thought it would be. Once I slipped back into the old way and really let him have it.”
“It will take a while for him to feel that you are sincere. But, in the meantime, I must say it is more peaceful around here.”
About a week later, Sybil excitedly said to mother, “It works! You know I was doing the dishes alone. It was Margaret’s turn, but she had a cold so father sent her to bed. And, would you believe it, Phil came out and said he’d dry them. We had the best talk. I really do love him.”
Why did Sybil and Phil change their attitudes toward each other?
Point out that it only took one of them to show love to change the situation.
Why is it important that we express our love for one another? (By serving and helping one another, we will help our love for each other to grow.)
Have your family look up and read the following scriptures:
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God” (1 John 4:7).
“Charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
“Wherefore … pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love.” (Moroni 7:47–48.)
Explain to your family that they can turn to Heavenly Father when they need help learning to love one another. If they will pray with all their heart, they will be filled with his love and their ability to love others will grow.
Remind your family that Jesus’ love is unconditional. That means he loves us no matter what we do and say. Explain to your family that if they are to truly love one another as Jesus commanded them, they need to love each other in this same way. Have a family member read John 13:34.
How would we act if we loved each other the way Jesus loves us?
Discuss with your family things they could do to overcome bad feelings or to help the feeling of love grow in your home. Read the examples below, and add those of your own:
Sincerely pray for help to get rid of angry, impatient, or hurt feelings.
Look through family photo albums, and talk about the things that the children did when they were little or that the family experienced together. Husbands and wives could look through wedding pictures or honeymoon photos.
Challenge family members to experiment as Sybil did, showing nothing but love for a week no matter how any other member of the family acts.
Show your family the chart entitled “Love One Another.” Explain that each time they see a family member showing love to someone in the family, they are to color in one of the rays around the heart. They are also to write that person’s name down on the chart. Each family member could have his name on the chart several times.
Put the chart up in a place where all the family members can easily see, read, and color it, such as on the refrigerator or a bulletin board.
Challenge each family member to show love in your home throughout the coming week so that all the rays of the heart will be filled in before your next home evening. Challenge them to feel the spirit of love in your home.
Tell the children that you are going to pretend that a special visitor is coming to your house. His name is Jesus. Ask them to think how excited they would feel to have Jesus come to visit them.
What should we do to get ready? (Clean the house. Dress in nice clothes.)
How will we act when Jesus comes?
The children could act out the things they would do.
Explain to the children that if Jesus were here they would have a good feeling. They would know he loves them.
Tell the children that if Jesus were in your home they would want to try very hard to be good and to show their love for one another.
Explain that each day they can have that good feeling in their home by sharing, by not fighting, and by being kind to one another.
Sing “A Happy Family” (Children’s Songbook, p. 198).
What does the song say we all do in our family? (Love each other.)
How do you think mother knows you love her? (Help the children name some things they do that show love.)
How does father know you love him? How does sister? How does brother?
You might use pictures from books and magazines to illustrate some of the things you talk about that show love.
Explain that you always want to have love in your home so that a good spirit can be there.
Little children can also participate in helping with the chart entitled “Love One Another.” Explain that when they see someone who is showing love in the family they can come and tell you. You will write that person’s name on the chart for them. You could also help them color in a part of the chart.
Explain to the children that they can also be a good example in showing their love throughout the week.
Use the section “If Jesus Came to Visit Us,” and ask the questions there. Both teenagers and adults could benefit by trying the experiment with notes of love and by expressing their feelings toward the family.
Discuss the importance of love in the home.
What happens to the spirit in our home when we argue?
Why does that spirit change when we are showing our love for one another?
Both adults and teenagers could participate in the activity in the section “A Game About Love.”
Also use the section “When It Is Hard to Show Love.”
For teenagers, adapt the story “It Works.”
Take time to read and discuss the scriptures in Moroni, John, and 1 John that are noted under the heading “How We Can Make Love Grow.”
Have your family list three of their favorite scriptures about love. Let each person read one or explain it. Have each family member tell what his favorite scripture means to him personally even if that scripture was discussed by another family member. Observe the good things members of the family do throughout the week in your home, and let them know that you appreciate and love them.
Tell the family that they are going to play a game. Begin the game by saying, “I am thinking of something.” Then give the following clues:
We cannot see it.
We can feel it, but not with our hands.
It can be divided up indefinitely.
We will never run out of it.
It makes us happy.
It makes us want to do things for others.
It makes us humble.
It gives us patience.
It makes us want to avoid unrighteous actions.
It helps us to be contented with what we have.
After each clue, give family members a chance to guess what it is you are thinking of. Add other clues as you think of them until the family discovers the answer or reaches a time limit.
When they have discovered that “love” is the answer, have family members take turns explaining how love fits each of the clues that you have given. For example, the clue “It can be divided up indefinitely” means that we can love everyone without decreasing our love for any individual.
Read and discuss Paul’s definition of love (charity) from 1 Corinthians 13:4–7, 13.
Suggest that family members choose one of the qualities of love they have discussed and try to apply love throughout a whole day to test whether it is a true quality.
Choose a time a few days before family home evening when you can observe most of the family at home for an hour or two. Without being observed, keep score on the ways that family members show love. This will give you a sample of the level of love in your family.
During home evening, give each person a chance to respond to the following questions:
What made us unhappy or upset today at home?
What did you enjoy most today at home?
How did you contribute to the happiness of someone else?
Share with the family the results of your observations. Challenge the family to increase the level of love in their home. Take another survey during the next week, and ask other family members to do the same. At the end of the week, discuss your findings.
Take the family on a walk around your home, your neighborhood, a nearby park, or a woodland or farm. Invite each person to look for ways love is shown. For example, have family members point out an item and tell how love has been expressed, such as “My aunt loves me: she took many hours to knit this sweater,” “Our neighbor shows love when he waters his flowers,” or “We can learn a lesson in love by watching the mother bird bring food to the baby birds.”
Point out that sometimes we express love by saying no. A mother does not let her little child play in the street where it is not safe.
It is important for teenagers to know that parents may express their love by saying no. Read and discuss Revelation 3:19.
Why does God rebuke his children?
How can this apply to earthly parents and their children?
Divide the family into teams. Within a time limit, see which team can make the longest list of ways to say, “I love you.” Reward the winning team members with hugs or treats.
Discuss the lists, and choose the best items from each. Have a family member act as a secretary and copy these items on small cards, one to each card. Mix up the cards, and give each player the same number. Also write “I love you” on enough cards for each family member to have four.
During the coming week, each player tries to see how many cards he can cancel by saying or doing the thing on the card sincerely and at an appropriate time to another family member. The player may want to write on the card when and how that card was used in order to be ready to report at the next family home evening. Anyone who uses up all of his cards can receive special recognition.
Play “Spin the Bottle.” Seat family members in a circle with a soda bottle on its side in the middle of the circle. Before each turn, announce what the person whom the bottle points to will do. Then spin the bottle. For example, after the bottle stops spinning, have the person that the bottle points to give someone a hug or a kiss, tell something helpful that someone did for him lately, say what he likes about someone, do something for someone that can be done quickly, or promise to do a small deed for someone during the next day. You can add other things to do that are appropriate for your family.
Have family members write down on slips of paper things that someone else could do for them that would be helpful and appreciated. Emphasize that these should not be trivial but needed services. Have them sign the slips and place the slips in a box or bowl.
Then read 3 Nephi 14:12 or Matthew 7:12, and have family members tell what they think Jesus is asking of them. Explain that serving and sacrificing for someone else usually increases our love for that person.
Read John 3:16. Point out that by sacrificing and serving, Jesus perfected his love for us. Ask family members to tell of any examples in their own lives or in the lives of others where service resulted in increased love or overcame feelings of envy.
Suggest that each member put this principle to the test. Tell the family that they are not required to but that each person is free to draw as many slips from the bowl as he wishes and perform the service indicated. (If a person draws one of his own, he can return it and draw another.) Have those who participate in the experiment keep track of the results and report back at another family home evening.
These suggestions work best with teenagers and adults.
Have family members define what is meant by unconditional love. They may wish to give examples, such as “I will go on loving you even if you do things I don’t like,” or “I will love you whether you love me or not.” Discuss the examples given, and help them to refine and clarify their definition of unconditional love.
Have a scripture search for examples of unconditional love. As you find scriptural examples, draw parallels for your own family—liken the scriptures to yourselves (1 Nephi 19:23)—so that family members can see how the same unconditional love can be applied in their own lives. Emphasize that this doctrine is not vain and idealistic, that we can learn to love our enemies and have compassion and charity for all if we will exercise our faith in Jesus Christ and apply his teachings.