Each young woman will encourage and strengthen unity in her family.
Provide paper and pencils for the class members.
Provide pieces of rope, twine, or yarn with one frayed end to use in the demonstration and to give the young women at the conclusion of the lesson. Be sure the rope has several strands that can be easily separated and broken. Practice the demonstration before presenting it.
Prepare copies of the situations in the third section of the lesson.
Assign young women to present any stories, scriptures, or quotations you wish.
Note: Be sensitive to the needs and feelings of young women who may come from troubled homes.
Suggested Lesson Development
Give a piece of rope to a young woman. Ask her to try to break it using any method except cutting. Then illustrate to the class how the rope can be broken by breaking one strand at a time.
Explain that a family has the same characteristics as this rope. A family is strong when all its members are working together and, like the rope, cannot be broken easily. But when individual members no longer work in unity with each other, the family becomes weak, just as the rope did, and can more easily be broken. Everyone in the family benefits when individual members are working together.
Family Unity Is Part of the Lord’s Plan
Explain that the pattern of family life was established before the world was. In heaven, we were part of a heavenly family, and we came to earth as part of an earthly family. The scriptures testify that the Lord wants us to be unified. Ask the young women to read and discuss the following scriptures:
Why is it so important that families be united? (Then they can best help each other become exalted and contribute to the work of the Lord.)
We Can Contribute to Family Unity by Our Attitudes and Activities
Explain that all families are not united. Perhaps some of the young women in the class wish that their family members felt more love for each other and that there was less contention in their homes. Even families who seem to love each other often have times when they need to work harder to be united.
Point out that Heavenly Father loves each family and wants to help them find the joy that comes from unified family life. There are many ways in which just one family member can increase the feeling of love and harmony in the entire family.
Explain that you are going to tell a story from the scriptures that illustrates the effect one person can have on family unity.
Scripture story and discussion
Tell the story of Nephi’s broken bow from 1 Nephi 16:17–32. Then ask the following questions and have young women read the scripture verses that give the answer.
What was the reaction of Nephi’s brothers to the situation? (Verse 20.) How did their reaction affect the feelings of the other family members?
What was the reaction of Nephi’s father? (Verse 20.)
What was Nephi’s approach to the problem? (Verses 22–23.) How did his actions affect his father and brothers, as well as the rest of the family?
What effect did Nephi have on family unity?
Continue the class discussion by asking the following questions:
How could murmuring and complaining affect the unity in our own families?
How could our own selfishness affect family unity?
What attitudes could a young woman have that might cause her to be a “Laman” type of person? A “Nephi” type of person?
Tell the following story:
Anne’s family members always seemed to be fighting, and she often criticized them for finding fault with one another and having negative attitudes.
One day, Anne’s father spoke with her privately. He explained that the family was having some difficult financial problems. Anne hadn’t realized that some of her own habits were adding to the contention around the home. She often complained when it was her turn to wash the dishes, and she expected her mom to have money for the things she needed. Sometimes there was no money, and Anne had complained loudly.
Anne’s father explained the sacrifices that her mother was making. She had no money to buy clothing for herself. The extra money she made by selling vegetables from her garden went to provide necessities for the family. She wasn’t able to afford eyeglasses for herself, and sometimes she had difficulty reading.
After listening to her father, Anne decided to change some of her thoughts and actions. Instead of criticizing her mother, she volunteered to tend the baby so her mother could have an evening alone with her father. She tried to do her chores around the house more willingly, and she tried not to argue with her brothers and sisters.
Anne noticed that other things began to change in the home. Her brothers and sisters were more willing to do their chores, and since she was trying not to argue, there was less arguing in the home. The family began to enjoy being together in family home evenings.
In the coming months, Anne began giving piano lessons to children in the neighborhood. She saved some of her money and was able to put a special package under the Christmas tree for her mother. Inside were the needed eyeglasses. Her father had helped her get the necessary prescription. Through her efforts, Anne had been able to give meaningful service to her family.
Explain that there are many opportunities in everyday family life to do things with and for each other. Sometimes we must sacrifice our personal convenience to provide for the needs of another.
Ask the young women to think about how they could help to make changes in their own families.
Situations and discussion
Distribute the following examples on individual slips of paper. Ask each young woman to read her example and suggest possible ways she could contribute to family unity in the situation:
Your brother has started smoking, and your parents have asked for your help. You are embarrassed about your brother’s habits.
Your brother is serving a mission and depends on financial support from the family.
Your mother is away from home during the day, and your younger brothers and sisters often argue when they come home from school.
Your sister has a disability and needs special help.
Your father followed the prophet’s counsel and planted a garden this spring.
Family night at your house is something no one looks forward to, including you. Nobody wants to participate in the lesson, and everyone leaves as soon as possible.
Explain that we covenant at baptism “to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light,” “to mourn with those that mourn,” and to “comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (see Mosiah 18:8–9).
How can we apply this covenant to our own families?
To give the young women some ideas, read the following quotation:
“May I suggest that we give more of ourselves. … It might be something as simple as smiling more in your home.
“What would you think of speaking more cheerfully? Trying more often to say please and thank you?
“What would you think of finding an opportunity for one sincere compliment for each [person] each day, and then watching them respond?
“What if you decided to be cheerful tonight at the dinner table, and in spite of what others might do or say, hold to your course. See how long you can uplift your whole family” (H. Burke Peterson, in Conference Report, Oct. 1972, pp. 148–49; or Ensign, Jan. 1973, p. 115).
Encourage the young women to decide on a way in which they could increase the unity in their families this week. Hand out pieces of paper and pencils, and have them write down the thing they have selected. Give each young woman a piece of rope to remind her that she can help to make her family unified and strong.