We do once-a-week family nights with our kids. We spend an hour or so teaching lessons that pass on our values, playing games or doing activities together, and eating a treat. We do it because making a point of having a formal time to pass on values–religious, political, moral, and so on–keeps us accountable and means we actually are passing on the values we intend to.
Spending time together purposefully makes our families closer.
We build family memories.
Setting aside time once a week, making our kids and our family an “appointment” keeps our priorities straight and sends a message to our kids that they are important.
We like treats.
We can see needs–spiritual, manners, knowledge, whatever–and address the needs to the kids in a way that doesn’t point fingers and is controlled, not heat of the moment.
We like playing games together–all of us at once in the same room, no fussing allowed.
As we have them participate in the family meeting our kids build real life skills like speaking in front of a group, conducting a meeting, following an agenda, making announcements concisely, leading music, teaching a lesson, saying public prayers, and planning activities for a group.
How To Plan A Family Night
First of all it doesn’t have to be complicated. Just pick a night this week and plan an activity for your family to do together. It could be taking a walk, making cookies together, playing an outdoor game, or serving a neighbor in need.
We do family nights every week on the same day of the week. It’s always an evening set aside all the time. Ours are semi formal meetings where we all sit in the living room, someone conducts, we have a lesson, we play a game, we say prayers, and we have a treat. We do this partly for training for the children, who are gaining leadership skills, and partly to make sure we include all the things we want to make a part of the character training of our children. Think about what elements you want your children to ingest: scripture memorization, thoughts from great leaders, songs, spiritual or character lessons, happy family memories, new skills, and so on. Then incorperate these things into your own “program”. We have exactly the right number of elements so each person in our family has one job each family night.
The lesson portion of our evening is generally about deliberately choosing our thoughts and actions. For example we might have a lesson on honesty, kindness, or helping others. They are often lessons on character. We use our religious traditions and beliefs to back up what we are saying to our kids. Everyone takes turns teaching the lessons, even the small children who get help from Mom or Dad.
Think about starting a family night tradition in your house. Click here to see some of the family nights we’ve had.