As a former Children's Pastor (and still one at heart) one of the most important things I wanted to teach our parents was the importance of religious education at home. We protestants tend to delegate the religious education of our children to an hour or two on the weekend while at church. Yet we parents have hundreds of hours with our kids with which to instill our values and beliefs. And we can integrate those lessons into our daily lives.
One thing our mormon friends have going for them is their concept of Family Home Evening. As described by Wikipedia:
"Family Home Evening (FHE) or Family Night, in the context of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, refers to one evening per week, usually Monday, that families are encouraged to spend together in study, prayer and other wholesome activities. According to the LDS Church, the purpose of FHE is to help families strengthen bonds of love with each other as well as provide an atmosphere where parents can teach their children principles of the gospel.
For most LDS families, Family Home Evening includes a game or fun activity, treats, and a short lesson. The responsibilities for each are often rotated among family members, so that even the youngest may be assisted in presenting a short lesson or devotional on a given topic. Parents often use this night as an opportunity to teach their children how to prepare talks and lessons, as well as how to conduct meetings. Family business for the week may be addressed and the family schedule reviewed."
But the Family Home Evening concept takes the religious education of kids up a notch in making it a more "formal", regularly scheduled event. I love that! I love the format. I love that it includes treats. I love that it allows a regular time for families to connect and review schedules. I love that every member of the family has a chance to develop part of the lesson.
So we're working to incorporate some of these elements into our lives. In addition to short devotionals we try to do a few times a week (this includes a bible story, song, and prayer as a family), we've now got twice-a-month scheduled family fun nights. Right now they're just lighthearted and geared toward family time. Hopefully, as we all grow, we'll incorporate some of the more formal elements of FHE. (Of course, with our protestant beliefs.)
Darin gets to plan one family night, and I get to plan the other.
Darin let me go first this Sunday.
I was hoping we could take part in a local park tour, but the weather wasn't cooperating. So instead we built a fort in the dining room, ate chocolate chip cookies with milk, and made up funny handshakes and codewords. Minus the kinks in the adult backs, we all had an awesome time.
Here's Daisy peeking out the "skylight" for a photo op!
I'm certainly no super-mom, but I hope these times of family togetherness build the bonds that will last for years and years. (And I'm already praying that as teenagers our kids will still enjoy hanging out with us on family fun nights!)