Quality time with loved ones has slowly become a victim of today's busy world. And as more and more people report feeling lonely — especially the younger generations — it's important to hit pause and bring the family back together. But how do you make the most of your few precious hours of free time to reconnect with your kin? This is where we could all learn a thing or two from the Mormon practice of Family Home Evening (FHE).
Family Home Evening
What is Family Home Evening? One night each week — though it's usually on a Monday — Mormon households gather for Family Home Evening. "Family home evening is a time to strengthen family ties," according to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' website. "We do this by learning the gospel together, by listening to each other’s feelings, thoughts, and ideas, and by enjoying activities together."
Family Home Evening activities range from playing games and snacking to singing and praying. In some respects, family home evening and secular game nights are similar. Humorist Robert Kirby jokingly referred to FHE as "family home screaming" — a description some families might use to describe their game nights that get a little wild. But when FHE works, it's so much more than your average game night. Sociologist Vern L. Bengtson, PhD, who has studied the ways in which people practice religion at home for more than four decades, called FHE "the most successful [religious] programs fostering intergenerational connections and the nurturing of families."
Family Home Evening History
Because Family Home Evening has its roots in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, many of the recommended activities are religious in nature. In 1915, when leading members of the church first imagined FHE, they wrote that "This home evening should be devoted to prayer, singing hymns, songs, instrumental music, scripture reading, family topics, and specific instruction on the principles of the gospel and on the ethical problems of life, as well as the duties and obligations of children to parents, the home, the Church, society, and the nation." However, cetain aspects of FHE — like music — don't require religion.
Family Home Evening Lessons
With all the distractions of modern life — especially social media — it can feel nearly impossible to set aside time to regularly check in with the kids, your husband, and, most important, yourself. But reserving a chunk of time one night each week could be just the thing you need, because it forces you to restart your routine, pull yourself out of the black hole of social media, and actually pay attention.
Using Family Home Evening ideas as a springboard, you can build your own family ritual and start creating meaningful experiences again. The worst-case scenario is that you are forced to spend time with the people you love, while the best-case scenario is that this new custom — be it a true FHE, FHE-lite, or something else entirely — is the spark you needed to reaffirm your family bond and find a few minutes of peace in this ever-changing world.