It’s 7:00 P.M., and you’re on problem number four of your math homework. The first three problems have taken 20 minutes. Your sister pokes her head in the room and says, “Come on. Family home evening’s about to start.” What do you do?
If you’re Tracy Brook, 15, of the Ottawa Ontario Stake, you drop your pencil and go. She says, “When I have a lot of homework, at first I think, ‘Oh, I don’t have time for family home evening.’ But then after family night is finished, I feel a lot better.”
Why does Tracy feel this way? Because family home evening blesses her life. “It strengthens everyone’s testimony,” she says. “We get to understand more about the Church and the scriptures.”
Tracy’s brother, Carl, 17, finds other blessings in family home evening. “It’s a good way to catch up with my family during the week because I have a busy schedule,” he says. “We read the scriptures as a family and experience special moments together. It brings the Lord’s Spirit.”
Their older sister, Lisa, 19, agrees: “Homework used to get in the way, but now I’ve realized it’s not that big of a deal. I can handle a half hour less studying. Spiritual things and the time I spend with my family—those are the things I remember and appreciate most.”
If you visited the Fifields of the Bismarck North Dakota Stake or the Maucotels of the Kent Washington Stake, you would hear similar comments from the teens in those families. They also do their best to have family home evening every week. These three families, like others that hold weekly family nights, have several things in common: (1) They make family home evening fun and involve everyone. (2) They make family home evening a priority. (3) They enjoy family home evening so much these teens all plan on having family home evening with their own children.
These teens all used the same word to describe their family home evenings: fun. One reason they enjoy it so much is because they help home evenings succeed. They pray, share scriptures, teach lessons, and choose hymns, activities, and treats.
During lessons, they like hearing from their brothers and sisters. Sara Fifield, 14, says, “It’s fun to hear things that happened to them that have to do with that topic. Everyone feels like they can share their experiences because everyone listens.”
Her sister, Lisa, 19, tells about a time she learned from her siblings: “Once we were talking about personal revelation, and we were all sharing experiences of times we prayed and felt the Spirit. That was a neat family night because we shared experiences that we hadn’t heard before from everyone.”
Lisa Brook enjoys teaching: “My favorite thing now is sharing ideas from the scriptures, like a devotional. I find so many good scriptures to use. I make a mini-lesson out of it. My sisters also enjoy giving a lesson.”
Her sister Tracy likes how their lessons are active and visual. “When we were younger, we used to act out scripture stories with dolls,” she says. “Now we use pictures and movies.”
The Maucotels suggest another way to make family night enjoyable: relate the treat to the lesson. For instance, one Monday night they read some scriptures on patience and, at the same time, made homemade ice cream.
Fourteen-year-old Isaac taught the lesson, sharing scriptures on patience. He said that making ice cream by hand takes patience. You have to put in some work while you wait for the results you want.
His parents and four siblings listened to Isaac while they shook their bags of ice cream. Then they dug in, eating the cold, creamy chocolate ice cream right out of the bag. (See sidebar: A Lesson on Patience.)
It’s obvious that the children in these families don’t leave it up to their parents to do everything for home evening. Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “The full burden of planning and preparing for family home evenings should not be left to parents alone. The most successful ones I have witnessed are when the youth of the family take an active part.”1
These three families have family home evening every week, no matter what. If the children are busy with music practice, homework, or some other project, they take a break for family night.
Lisa Brook says, “I’ve noticed the importance of making time for it, rather than just trying to fit it in—really making it a priority over things. The family, in the big picture, is so important.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley also makes time for family home evening. In general conference he said, “There is nothing more important than your families. … The decision was made that Monday evening would be devoted to [family home evening].” President Hinckley appreciates invitations to community gatherings on Monday evenings, but he turns them down “with the explanation that I have reserved Monday as family home evening time. I earnestly hope that each of you will do the same.”2
The teens in these three families enjoy family night and have learned so much from it that they want to share its blessings with their future families. They say that peace, family unity, gospel-teaching skills, cooperation in the home, greater gospel knowledge, and improved communication skills come from holding family home evening.
Carl Brook says he loves “the feeling of having family home evening. I want my children to feel the same things I feel. It’s a warmth that you can sense. It’s a way to bond as a family and share a common goal and practice.”
Jeanee Maucotel, 16, will have family home evening with her future family “because I’ll love my children and want what’s best for them. With my own family, I’ll want them to have the kind of good experiences I had as a child.”
Home evening blesses their lives while creating some good memories. These families laugh as they recall memorable lessons they’ve had and silly games they’ve played. The Maucotels, for instance, change their emergency-preparedness kits every six months. They eat the food stored in them and refill the kits with new snacks. One time, they had put a can of portable-stove fuel with the snacks. They laugh as they remember taking a few bites of the snacks, which tasted like fuel.
The greatest blessing is that family night brings these teens closer to their families and to the Lord. Jeanee Maucotel says, “By the time you start seminary, you’ll be more familiar with the scriptures,” she says. “Your testimony is already growing pretty well. Then you enter seminary, and it grows even more.”
Lisa Fifield says their lessons help her feel the Spirit, which lets her “know that whatever we are talking about is an important and very influential piece of my life. It’s brought me closer to my Heavenly Father through my family.”
These teens, from one side of North America to the other, are saying the same thing: if you make family home evening a priority, it can be a fun time to learn the gospel, be with your family, and bring peace into your home.
When family home evening first started in 1915 as a formal program, the First Presidency promised youth blessings for joining in home evenings: “Faith will be developed in the hearts of the youth of Israel, and they will gain power to combat the evil influences and temptations which beset them” (in James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency, 4:339).
The Maucotel family of the Kent Washington Stake shared this sweet idea for a family home evening lesson. Read the following scriptures on patience while making homemade ice cream.
Ice cream: Gather some sealable one-gallon-size plastic bags, sealable sandwich-size plastic bags, ice, salt, and spoons.
Combine the following ingredients in each sandwich bag: 1/3 cup whole or chocolate milk, one tablespoon sugar, 1/8 teaspoon vanilla. Seal the bags.
In each larger plastic bag, put three to four cups of ice and six tablespoons of salt. Add to that bag one or two smaller bags filled with the ice cream ingredients. Seal and shake for a few minutes until the ingredients are frozen. Enjoy.