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Danger Daddy: Family home evening by any other name

Not long after my wife and I moved to Utah about 12 years ago, I

used to wonder how people felt about their church urging them to set

aside a certain time to bond as a family.

I'm talking about the LDS Church's family home evening.

Back then I would imagine that I'd probably resent it. It was a narrow-minded way of thinking on my part.

The longer I've lived in Utah and the more I've learned about the

LDS Church, the more my respect has grown for some of what the church

does.

I like the LDS Church's public service announcements that encourage

moms and dads to take more time out for their children. They tug at my

heartstrings, like Hallmark commercials around the holidays. I like the

PSAs.

When our own girls first learned of family home evenings and that

they couldn't play with their LDS friends on those nights (a hard thing

to enforce during summer), they started asking questions.

"When is our family home night?" one of them would ask.

I'd say something like, "Every night is family home night at our house."

And in a way I was telling the truth.

Like a lot of families, almost every night we read to our girls

(it's rare we miss a night). We frequently try to have family meals at

the dinner table. We watch movies together. At 4 and 7 years old we've

begun playing more games with the girls.

But I always feel like we could and should do more.

Someone this week helped me see that scheduling certain behaviors,

traditions, habits — whatever you want to call them — begins to shed

that mechanical or forced feel to it after a while. If such a schedule

can help spouses work on their relationship, then why not apply the

same technique to the whole family?

I'm not saying that Monday night around my house is going to be

called "family home evening," but a little emulating of the concept

isn't such a bad thing if the goal is to create healthy traditions and

to find easier pathways toward positive family experiences.

It seems like parents can get so emotionally bogged down in the

disciplining and the critical aspects of child rearing (still quality

time, albeit less immediately rewarding in some ways) that the tender,

lighter and more loving side of family time gets beaten down or lost.

I shudder to think that when I'm old the memories of the job of parenting will outweigh the joys of parenting.

So, who cares if you're not a Latter-day Saint?

Pick a different day. Call it something else, if you want.

Family home evening? I think the LDS Church has got something there.