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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

FHE: Forced Heavenly Endeavors

by Eliana:

I have been known to say that Family Home Evening was clearly a program created by a man who was not home with his children all day long. I mean no disrespect, but let's be honest here. This is not something a harried mother thought up and figured would be a great addition to all the tasks already before her. No, a man, though inspired, sauntered in after a day away. He looked at his darling children, so eager to be at his side and so open to learning, and came up with the whole shebang, not thinking of who would be doing most of the work.

I could never make myself have FHE when it was just my husband and I. He would have laughed. I would have cringed. We have good qualities but we're way too cynical to sit side by side on the couch, have a hymn and teach each other a lesson. We had a lot of years together before kids, a lot of years spending time doing lots of things, but not studying the gospel. I wish we were like that but we aren't.

So once there was a little person, FHE with a baby seemed silly too. Are you noticing a trend? If not, let me spell it out: there will never be a perfect time to start doing something. Anything.

In my defense, out family spends all our time together. It might feel that way to other readers, but really we do—we don't do date nights or have bowling leagues. Every night is family fun time at our house. Also, we talk to our kids about The Big Stuff pretty much every day. Once I read somewhere about not having one sex talk but lots of them, over time, it clicked in my brain that the concept applied to pretty much everything.

Still, over the years FHE has been a rare and shining thing. When we do it, I'm pleased. Then it seems like a lot of work and stupid and annoying and it just doesn't happen.

Until 2013.

And now I have to repent. While I may not always be in the mood, having established a routine that this is what we do has made things much easier. My boys (five and eight) love it. They are doing lessons and learning and feeling proud. We're figuring out things that are especially important for us right now and focusing on those lessons.

I was wrong. FHE is good. Hassle? Sure, everything organized with kids is going to take something from the grown folks. But when the five year-old listened to his big brother reading a story from The Friend and noticed how it was similar to an experience they recently had while hiking? Priceless. FHE is even motivating my kid to practice the piano so he can play songs for us to s-l-o-w-l-y sing along to.

From the trenches, some last thoughts:
  • Use the church website. Short videos are great for all age groups.

  • I try include a tactile activity into every lesson—coloring, brainstorming and writing, a maze. Anything that requires movement.

  • Lessons don't have to be about gospel topics; the most memorable one from my (admittedly odd) childhood was about supply and demand. There was another mid-1980's special night burned in all our collective memories that involved how to properly use toilet paper.

  • Whatever your topic, keep it brief and focused. I get overwhelmed with all that I want my children to know to be prepared for the hardships in life, so I have to remember that this 15 minutes on Monday night is not the only time they'll ever hear about time management or the plan of salvation.
I'd love to hear what works or doesn't work from you. We're only six months on the FHE wagon so I could definitely use some feedback and wisdom.

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Eliana Osborn was raised on cold weather and wild animals in Anchorage, Alaska, setting the stage for her adult life in the Sunniest Place on Earth in Arizona. She grew up in the church and didn't know there were places where conformity was preached. She has a degrees. She writes. She teaches. She has some kids. She even has a husband. She's trying to do her best.
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