Expansive Family Home Evening Lessons in 2024
Uplift Kids is for families of all beliefs or lack thereof. One community that has been particularly interested in what we’re doing is the Latter-day Saint (formerly known as Mormon) community. We regularly hear from LDS families who are seeking an expansive approach to family home evening or home church. In this article, we explore this offering in detail.
What Is Family Home Evening (FHE)?
While it’s a familiar term to Latter-day Saints, the concept of family home evening (or FHE) is universal. Essentially, families in the LDS tradition are encouraged to meet together once a week to have a lesson on ethical and moral topics. The concept of FHE was introduced in 1915, and it has since become a fundamental practice in LDS households.
Beyond a lesson, families are also encouraged to sing together, play a game, have a treat, etc. For Latter-day Saints, the evening is typically on Monday night. In 2018, The Atlantic wrote an article titled “Mormons’ Weekly Family Ritual Is an Antidote to Fast-Paced Living”which highlights how the practice is a nice way to explore spiritual health and connect as a family. (We call this spiritual parenting.)
Official Resources for FHE Lessons
If you’re looking for official resources for family home evening, we recommend checking out the LDS website, which has an FHE resource book, a lesson book, lesson ideas, and more. These pages center on doctrines and principles from the LDS Church, and they’re a great way to reinforce those teachings in the home.
Expansive and Alternative Lessons
You might be seeking an expansive or alternative approach to lessons on spirituality and values. Perhaps a child is no longer interested in the official approach to family evening, or maybe a spouse has left the LDS religion or was never LDS to begin with. Or it’s possible that you’ve simply gone through all the official resources and are simply looking to add some variety to the process.
If that describes you, here are some lesson ideas to consider — all of which are from our lesson library. (You can check it out with a free two-week trial and see firsthand how each lesson has a section for teens, a section for kids, and a section for littles. See our testimonials page for what families are saying.)
Foundations to Expansive Spirituality
These lessons establish the foundation of expansive spirituality, including a lesson on aligning with your inner compass. Here we pull from the work of Lisa Miller, professor of psychology at Columbia University, whose exploration of neuroscience suggests that spirituality is pivotal to wellbeing. She writes, “Spiritual development through the early years prepares the adolescent to grapple more successfully with the predictably difficult and potentially disorienting existential questions that make adolescence so deeply challenging for teens (and their parents). It also provides a protective health benefit, reducing the risk of depression, substance abuse, aggression, and high-risk behaviors, including physical risk taking and a sexuality devoid of emotional intimacy.”
The power of this teaching is that regardless of whether your kids shift their beliefs, they can develop the practice of developing an inner knowing — of being able to say yes or no to something because it doesn’t align with their inner compass.
Other lessons in this area include:
- Family stories: An exploration of the “good” and the “bad” of our history. By owning and integrating their full family history, kids get a sense for who they are and where they came from — and they feel empowered to forge the future how they want.
- Polarities:Polarities are complementary opposites, two virtues in conversation with each other. “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things,” reads 2 Nephi 2. “By proving contraries, truth is made manifest,” wrote Joseph Smith. In this lesson, kids explore these opposites and learn to hold the opposites together. Courage and caution, confidence and humility, justice and mercy.
- Growing up: This lesson encourages kids to celebrate every moment of life, whether they’re teens, kids, or littles. In this way, kids start to intuit the basic principles of human development theory and even stages of faith.
FHE Lessons on Timeless Values
There are a wide range of values that work for families of any beliefs. Honesty, kindness, humility, grit, mindfulness, self-compassion, courage, giving, and so on.
Here are some specifics:
- In our lesson on fairness, we cite from the Book of Amos: “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” We also cite from the Tao Te Ching: “The granaries are empty; yet there are those dressed in fineries … Far indeed is this from the Way.” (Similar sentiments are found throughout the Book of Mormon when it comes to mention of “fine apparel.”) Through this lesson, kids are able to get a sense for how small-scale fairness eventually grows up into a healthy sense of justice.
- In our lesson on curiosity, we encourage kids to ask questions without judgment and to delight in the process. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.” Healthy curiosity helps a child follow their intuition and inner compass in a process that could be described as faith. They won’t know where their curiosity leads from the outset, but they can take the first step.
- In our lesson on respect, we help kids learn to respect other people and themselves. As the poet Maya Angelou wrote, “I respect myself and insist upon it from everybody. And because I do it, I then respect everybody, too.” We also explore having respect for all beliefs, citing a quote from Jainism that says, “Those who praise their own doctrines and disparage the doctrines of others do not solve any problem.”
No matter who we are or what our beliefs may be, these timeless values are always relevant.
FHE Lessons on Emotional Health
Kids and grownups alike need help naming and managing emotions. These lessons give kids the vocabulary they need to get started. To get a sense for what they entail, check out our free printable emotions chart for kids.
- Naming emotions. It might be surprising, but learning to name various emotions in the body is quite a challenging task for many if not most kids. A simple game of emotion charades using our printable emotions cards for members can reveal whether your kid struggles to embody the difference between boredom and curiosity. It comes more easily for some kids than for others.
- Managing emotions. Once a kid is able to name their emotions, discuss ideal strategies for managing their emotions. What’s their game plan for when they feel bored? What should they do when they feel angry? How about when they feel lonely? All of these emotions are totally normal, so it helps to have a game plan in mind.
FHE Lessons on Life Topics
The possible life topics to cover are wide and ripe for conversation. Here are a few ideas:
- Boundaries. We all need guidance when it comes to being assertive rather than passive or aggressive. When we’re assertive, we clearly and confidently state what we want and don’t want — and respect what other people want and don’t want. Boundaries can help with that. As Mark Groves, public speaker, said, “Walls keep everyone out. Boundaries teach them where the door is.” And Anne Katherine, psychotherapist, said, “Boundaries bring order to our lives. As we learn to strengthen our boundaries, we gain a clearer sense of ourselves and our relationship to others.” Teach kids the basics of what a boundary is and how to maintain it.
- Social Skills. It takes practice to learn social skills and manners, so it makes for a perfect idea for a family home evening lesson. In this lesson, kids can roleplay a variety of scenarios — asking for where the bathroom is at a friend’s home, saying thank you after someone does something kind, telling a friend no when they don’t want to do something. All of these scenarios require practice.
- Bullying. It can sometimes be difficult for kids to understand the difference between a victim mindset and a bully mindset, so carving out some time to walk through it together can help. Sometimes kids might be inhabiting a bully mindset and might not even realize it. The same is sometimes true of the victim mindset. In either case, a healthy mindset is when we’re able to speak up for our needs and desires without trampling over the needs and desires of others. That’s why a lesson on bullying can be so handy.
There are so many more crucial life topics, including the hero’s journey, habits, humor, racism, flow, finding purpose, and much more.
Conclusion: Expansive FHE
The official resources from the LDS Church might be enough for what you need as a family right now. If so, that’s terrific! Use all of those resources.
If you find that you’d like to explore the lesson ideas above as a family but don’t have the time to prepare each lesson from scratch, consider becoming an Uplift Kids member with a free two-week trial. You’ll get instant access to all of the lessons in our lesson library.
Members have said, “The lessons are completely ready to go and take very little effort on our part. Our kids have enjoyed choosing lessons and are learning the importance of mindfulness, identifying and working with (not against) emotions, respect for different ways of thinking, and the list goes on. We love Uplift Kids and would recommend it to anyone!” And, “The lessons are simple enough that even our five year old takes a turn preparing them, but have enough layers that our fifteen year old is engaged.”
It’s easy to add whatever you’d like to each lesson, whether it be a favorite story or passage from the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. At Uplift Kids, we celebrate whatever draws families closer together and nurtures authentic spirituality.