Wednesday, July 13, 2011

#14 Family Traditions


To teach the importance of spending time together as a family, which can be a lot of fun with family traditions!

Family traditions are what cement the foundation of a happy home.  They are what create the wonderful memories that families have together like nothing else can.  They are practices that have been handed down from generation to generation or have been started new in our own families.  They come from our cultural or heritage or from our religious practices. 
Family traditions can be as simply as kissing each other goodbye, tucking the kids in at night and reading a bedtime story, to pancakes on Fridays, to baths on Saturdays, to big birthday parties, to certain Christmas Eve parties, to etc.
Some of the most important ones, should be ones that help bring spiritual understanding. We should be saying family prayers, to daily scripture study, personal prayers, personal scripture study, family home evenings, keeping the Sabbath Day holy, etc.  

Examples of Family Traditions1
1. Let each person choose the dinner menu for his or her birthday.
2. Celebrate birthdays of famous people or the days of their discoveries in history: Pizza for dinner on Columbus Day (round pizza to signify the earth) while discussing the voyage; cherry pie for Washington’s birthday; German chocolate cake for Beethoven’s birthday while listening to one of his symphonies (most children will choose the Fifth).
3. Assign someone to choose a topic of conversation for the dinner meal.
4. Give a Bible or Book of Mormon to each child on his or her eighth birthday.
5. Have a family reunion on a great-grandparent’s birthday each year.
6. Assign each family member to take notes when listening to general conference, then discuss them in family home evening.
7. Run, jog, bike ride, or walk regularly as a family.
8. Read aloud to your children, regardless of their age, and have them read to you.
9. Celebrate the birthday of an ancestor.
10. Attend tithing settlement together as a family.
11. Hold individual interviews with children on Fast Sunday afternoon.
12. Play soft music nightly (especially classical or semi-classical) to set a tone of serenity in the home.
13. Hold family home evenings in different rooms of the house. Have each child serve as host or hostess in turn, arranging for seating and treats.
14. Support each family member participating in athletic events, musical performances, or other productions.
15. As a family, cut firewood and then have a picnic.
16. Discuss Sunday School or Primary lessons at dinner time.
17. Keep a family journal, letting children write in it too.
18. Visit grandparents on Sundays.
19. Tell a bedtime story each night.
20. Always have children report in after an evening activity, at the parents’ bedside.
21. Kiss each other good night.
22. Set family goals on New Year’s Eve, or let each plan an adventure he hopes to have (individually and together) during the coming year.
23. Make items for family members on special occasions.
24. Collect in a binder songs that the family can learn and sing together in the car or at home.
25. Write a family letter and circulate it among relatives, each adding something to it. Save the letters to make a book for family reunions.
26. Allow each child a regular time to stay up fifteen minutes longer than the other children to spend time alone with parents, or plan a “night out” with each child.
27. Establish your own holidays, for your own reasons.
28. Make a flag for each family member, possibly designed by each, to be flown at your house on special occasions.
29. Have a special plate, glass, or cup that is used at dinner by a family member who has an event or reason to celebrate.30. Let Dad and children cook breakfast on Saturday mornings, allowing Mother to rest.
31. Establish one night a week as “Oral Reading Night.” Select an appropriate book and read it aloud, as a family, for a predetermined period of time.
32. Set a time for family testimonies or gospel study.

1 Ensign March 1986 Traditions Worth Keeping

#13 Divine Nature

To help family members understand that the Lord values us by what’s on the inside rather than what’s on the outside.

·        A beautifully wrapped box with several heavy rocks inside
·        A plain wrapped box with treats inside

1.  Show your family both boxes. Ask: “Which one of these boxes do you want?
     a.  Tell your family that the two boxes have something to do with a story in the old testament.

2.    Explain that the Old Testament prophet Samuel was sent by the Lord to the home of Jesse.  Samuel was told that one of Jesse’s sons was going to be chosen to be the next king.  Jesse had many strong and handsome sons whom Samuel thought could be chosen to be the king, but the Lord chose none of them.  Read 1 Samuel 16: 1-13 (or chapter 27 of old testament stories) to find out who God chose and why.
a.    Ask, “Where does the Lord look when He evaluates a person?”
3.    Allow family members to open both gifts. 
a.    Help them understand that our value is not based on what we look like on the outside but what we are on the inside.

4. Here are several inspiring stories and video clips you may want          to share with your
a. Story, The Snob
b. Story, The Award
5.   Testify that the Lord does not judge us by our outward appearance, but by what is in our hearts.

      One of my favorite parts in the proclamation to the family is the part where it says,”Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny,”  I absolutely love that part. We each have divine nature and destiny. We will better understand it as we better understand God and his teachings. 


#12 Wholesome Family Recreation

To provide families with wholesome recreational activities that will create bonding experiences.

In the book Strengthening Our Families: An In-Depth Look at the Proclamation on the Family2, there is a focus on the following phrase from the Proclamation,
“Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of... wholesome recreational activities” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World, ¶ 7). We need to make sure that we plan activities with our families.  Some think that recreation is simply idleness, not working. Recreation and idleness are not the same thing.  Wholesome recreation can not only be fun, but can serve as a teaching tool and a bonding experience for families. We can learn to cooperate with each other, take turns, develop team work, fairness, and have personal growth.

Some of the principles that can help guide us in our family recreation include1:
•   Plan in advance
•   Plan age-appropriate activities
•   Plan activities that will foster development and bonding of each member of the family
•   Limit the consumption of media (TV, Internet, video games, Videos)
•   Intentionally establish rituals that connect family members
•   Create one-on-one time with each family member
•   Be of service as part of wholesome family recreation

Here’s a site to check out some activities to do with the family

1David C. Dollahite (2000), Strengthening Our Families: An In-Depth Look at the Proclamation on the Family (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft).

#11 Working Together as a Family

To gain an understanding that successful familes are established and maintained on principles of work.

Work, our primary means of both growth and happiness, is ordained of God. A family will be strengthened by working together, and individual members will gain self-esteem by realizing they can make a worthwhile contribution to the family.
  • Ask what it would be like if no one worked?
  • What if no one in the family did any work, what would it be like?
  • Or, what would it be like if only mom, did all of the work? How would it be like for her?
·        How does the work of each family member help the individual and the whole family?              
In your discussion, share the following quotation:
“Thank God every morning when you get up that you have something to do that day which must be done, whether you like it or not. Being forced to work, and forced to do your best will breed in you temperance and self-control, diligence and strength of will, cheerfulness and content, and a hundred virtues which the idle will never know.” (Charles Kingsley, quoted in Liahona: The Elders’ Journal, 12 May 1914, p. 761.)
How was Adam’s curse—to eat “by the sweat of his brow” (Moses 5:1)—a blessing?
Draw attention to skills and talents each individual in the family has worked to develop in the past few months, or year. (Mention skills such as tying shoes, making the bed, reading, playing an instrument, or cooking.) Ask each person how he felt when he accomplished that skill or developed that talent. Discuss how these new skills improve the individual, the family, and the community.
Discuss as a family the good feeling that can come while working to accomplish a chore or a job and the satisfaction that comes when that job is completed. Point out that this satisfaction is part of the reward.
    • Would there be growth if we were rewarded first?
Read the following from Ether 12:6: “Dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” Discuss how this relates to work.
Share the following story, Larry W. Gibbons, of the Second Quorum of the Seventy.

Two Secrets to Happiness
When I was younger, I never liked fish much. Then I moved to Boston, Massachusetts. People said, “You’ll love the fish in Boston. You have to try Boston scrod.” It doesn’t sound good, does it? Scrod is a young cod. I tried it—and I loved it. It’s the best thing I’ve ever eaten!
It’s the same way with work. I think one of the most important things to learn is how to work hard. Ask your parents for a hard chore you can do. If you try it, I promise you’ll like it.
My mother taught me to work hard. She asked me to get the work done first and then go play. One day a few of us helped my mom move a piano from upstairs to downstairs. It was a big, old piano. It wasn’t easy to move. We moved it around corners and finally down the stairs. When we set it down, my mother was glowing with happiness—just because we’d moved a piano! I said, “Mom, I think you would rather move a piano than listen to a piano.” She nodded. She loved to work.
Learn to enjoy work. When you get an assignment, do your very best. Ask your parents, “What can I do to help?” If you try it, you’ll like it. A man once told me, “You never work for anyone else.” He meant that we are the ones who benefit from working because it gives us a good feeling. You will be happier as you learn to work.
Another way to be happy is to learn self-control. When I was younger, I loved to play basketball. But I did not have good sportsmanship. Winning was everything to me. Whenever someone fouled me, I would get angry.
Then I learned that basketball is only a game. I decided to change. One day, someone elbowed me in the chest on purpose. He pushed me hard. In the past, I would have gotten angry, but this time I walked away without saying anything. I had the best feeling. I knew that I had learned to control myself. It felt better than winning!
Work hard, be a good sport, and learn self-control. As you do, you will be happier.

I believe that work is an important principle of the gospel.  I believe that families can be strengthened and draw closer together as they work together.  It is something that I am trying to incorporate into my family.  I have the faith that it will help strengthen the relationships of my children.

“Work,” Family Home Evening Resource Book, (1997), 231.
Feb 2009 Ensign

#10 Love, Respect, and Compassion

Help family members show greater love and appreciation for each other.

          1. Write a note to each member of your family, telling each one why they are special to you and that you love them. Put each note where the person can easily find it during the day of the home evening, such as in a lunch pail, on a pillow, or in a pockt.
          2. Have a pencil and paper for each person.
           3. Make a chart titled “Love One Another"
           4.Printout 1, Printout 2, Printout 3, Printout 4
      Cut out all the hearts (printout 1 and 2), and lay them face down on the floor. Cut out the stem, words and grass (printouts 3 and 4) and tape on the wall. (The stem should be taped together with the circle on the top, The grass across the bottom underneath. Put the words on the top and bottom of the flower and grass)
Begin the lesson by asking the following questions:
                     • How would you feel if Jesus came to visit us in our home?
                     • Would we want to change the way we act toward each other?
Explain that the Savior would be unhappy if family members were not kind and loving to each other. He cares about each one of us and wants us to feel the love that he and Heavenly Father have for us. We cannot feel their love and support in our home when family members do not show love and kindness.
Find out if the family members discovered the notes that you wrote. Have each family member tell how he felt when he read his note.
                     • In what way did it affect your day?
Explain that when we express our love for one another, even in little things, both the receiver and the giver feel good inside.
Explain that when we show our love and appreciation for one another at home we also help bring a good spirit into the home. This is the kind of feeling our Heavenly Father and Jesus want us to have in our home. This is why we were commanded to love one another. A happy home is one that is filled with love, one that invites the Spirit of the Lord to be there. (See Galatians 5:13–14, Ephesians 5:25, 1 John 4:7.)
Tell the following story:
A Family Night
It was almost time for family home evening in the Reynolds home.
Jeanette was busy in the kitchen taking the last batch of hot cookies out of the oven. She had worked all afternoon to prepare refreshments. Father called all the children to come into the living room.
Debby, Jeanette’s little sister, ran down the stairs and grabbed a handful of cookies on her way through the kitchen. Jeanette angrily caught her blouse sleeve as she dashed past, and the sleeve ripped. Debby hollered, “Look what you did!”
“Well, if you had just asked first,” cried Jeanette. “It’s not my fault.”
Soon the two girls were arguing, and mother had to come into the kitchen to stop them. She became upset herself when she saw Debby’s torn blouse.
Finally father got everyone into the living room together. Debby sat down in one corner of the room, and Jeanette in the other. Even after the opening prayer, everyone in the family felt uncomfortable. The warm spirit they usually felt during their family nights was not there.
During the lesson mother brought some photo albums out and handed them to the children. “I thought you might enjoy looking through these old pictures tonight,” she said.
Everyone gathered together to see the pictures. The little children were especially excited to see themselves. They laughed and pointed whenever they found themselves in a picture. Mother held up a picture of Debby and Jeanette when they were little. “Remember when you two got into my oil paints?” she asked. The girls had to laugh when they saw themselves in the picture covered with red and blue paint.
Soon all the family was caught up in reminiscing. Even Jeanette and Debby talked about the fun times they had together on their camping trip.
The spirit had changed. Everyone in the family could feel the spirit of love in their home again. When they knelt together in prayer, they felt the Spirit of the Lord with them.
                     • What happened to the spirit in the Reynolds home when the children started arguing?
Have someone read Mosiah 4:14.
                     • How did this affect their family home evening at first?
                     • Why did the spirit change when everyone started sharing good thoughts and acting kindly to one another again?
                     • Why is it important that we try to be thoughtful and loving to each other in our home?
Explain to your family that, just as in the Reynolds’ home, when family members are kind and loving toward one another, the Lord’s Spirit can also be in their home. But when they argue or are angry with one another, the Spirit leaves.
Explain that it is easy to be polite and kind to friends and people we don’t have to live with, but it is not always easy to be kind and loving to those closest to us, our own family members. Sometimes a family member may say or do something that offends another family member, which may result in bad feelings. We can overcome those bad feelings and learn to be more loving toward one another if we really try. (See 1 Corinthians 13:4.)
Use the following story to show how expressing love helps us overcome negative feelings toward each other:
It Works
“I will not iron your shirt. Iron it yourself,” Sybil said to her brother Phillip, who was two years younger than she.
“No, you won’t iron mine, but you’d jump at a chance to iron a shirt for Tim Cruthers,” retorted Phil as he ran outside.
“It worries me, Sybil,” mother said, “to see you and Phillip treat each other the way you do.”
“Oh, he makes me so mad that I can’t stand him!”
“Would you be willing to try an experiment—just you—without his knowing anything about it?”
“Tell me what it is first.”
Mother challenged her, “No matter what Phil does or says, you do and say only those things that show your love for him. See what happens. I’ll be an interested observer.”
“Oh, that would be hard. I’m not sure I could do it. Do you think he’d change? It would be good to have a brother who was a friend. You know, Marianne and her brother have the best relationship with each other. Maybe she can give me some pointers. I’ll think about it, mother.”
On her way to school next morning, Sybil stopped at Marianne’s house so they could walk together as usual. Marianne was carrying a heavy load of posters. As they came out, Phil passed by. Sybil called out to him, “Oh, Phil, please carry my books so I can help Marianne with these posters.”
“Yes, I will, just like you ironed my shirt.”
“I’m sorry about that. I’ll iron it tonight.”
But Phil showed no signs of having heard her.
Having missed lunch that day to prepare for a test, Sybil was very hungry when she got home. She made herself a sandwich. Just as she was about to take a bite, Phil came in and said, “Hey, Syb, make one of those for me.”
She opened her mouth to say, “Yes, just like you carried my books,” but instead she said, “Here take this one. I’ll make myself another.”
Phil looked shocked. He grabbed the sandwich and ran.
A few days later, mother said to Sybil, “I think it’s beginning to work, though Phil is still suspicious of your motives.”
Sybil shook her head, “I think I feel a little better toward him. But it’s even harder than I thought it would be. Once I slipped back into the old way and really let him have it.”
“It will take a while for him to feel that you are sincere. But, in the meantime, I must say it is more peaceful around here.”
About a week later, Sybil excitedly said to mother, “It works! You know I was doing the dishes alone. It was Margaret’s turn, but she had a cold so father sent her to bed. And, would you believe it, Phil came out and said he’d dry them. We had the best talk. I really do love him.”
                     • Why did Sybil and Phil change their attitudes toward each other?
Point out that it only took one of them to show love to change the situation.
                     • Why is it important that we express our love for one another? (By serving and helping one another, we will help our love for each other to grow.)
Have your family look up and read the following scriptures:
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God” (1 John 4:7).
“Charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
“Wherefore … pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love.” (Moroni 7:47–48.)
Explain to your family that they can turn to Heavenly Father when they need help learning to love one another. If they will pray with all their heart, they will be filled with his love and their ability to love others will grow.
Remind your family that Jesus’ love is unconditional. That means he loves us no matter what we do and say. Explain to your family that if they are to truly love one another as Jesus commanded them, they need to love each other in this same way. Have a family member read John 13:34.
                     • How would we act if we loved each other the way Jesus loves us?
Discuss with your family things they could do to overcome bad feelings or to help the feeling of love grow in your home. Read the examples below, and add those of your own:
                     1. Sincerely pray for help to get rid of angry, impatient, or hurt feelings.
                     2. Look through family photo albums, and talk about the things that the children did when they were little or that the family experienced together. Husbands and wives could look through wedding pictures or honeymoon photos.
                     3. Challenge family members to experiment as Sybil did, showing nothing but love for a week no matter how any other member of the family acts.
Love One Another Chart
Show your family the chart entitled “Love One Another.” Explain that each time they see a family member showing love to someone in the family, they are to color in one of the rays around the heart. They are also to write that person’s name down on the chart. Each family member could have his name on the chart several times.

Put the chart up in a place where all the family members can easily see, read, and color it, such as on the refrigerator or a bulletin board.

Challenge each family member to show love in your home throughout the coming week so that all the rays of the heart will be filled in before your next home evening. Challenge them to feel the spirit of love in your home.
Flower game
Take turns choosing hearts until all the hearts are gone. As you pick one, read the behavior and discuss it. If it does not bring "love at home", then discard it. If it does, tap it to the flower stem. In the end you will have a beautiful flower made from heart shaped petals that indicates what things you can do to increase love at home. Closed by singing "Love At Home." Keep the flower up for a while to have a reminder of what needs to be done to have Love At Home! -  Cassandra Spaeth

In the book “Strengthening Our Families” edited by David C. Dollahite, on chapter 12 pg. 167 it says, “Love is portrayed as solemn responsibility, sacred duty, practice to be taught, principle of family establishment, and aspect of family leadership.”  Love is an action.  It is something we do.  Our love will grow and become stronger as we serve one another in our families.  Jesus taught us to love one another as he has loved us.  I know that when my children are serving each other there is more love and peace in our home.
“Lesson Seventeen: Love at Home,” Family Home Evening Resource Book, (1997),74