WFMW: Inviting children to act



When listening to this talk in our recent general conference, I was struck particularly by this part:

Inviting children as gospel learners to act and not merely be acted upon builds on reading and talking(….)bearing testimony spontaneously in the home. Imagine, for example, a family home evening in which children are invited and expected to come prepared to ask questions about what they are reading and learning in the Book of Mormon—or about an issue that recently was emphasized in a gospel discussion or spontaneous testimony in the home. And imagine further that the children ask questions the parents are not prepared adequately to answer. Some parents might be apprehensive about such an unstructured approach to home evening. But the best family home evenings are not necessarily the product of preprepared, purchased, or downloaded packets of outlines and visual aids. What a glorious opportunity for family members to search the scriptures together and to be tutored by the Holy Ghost. “For the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner; . . . and they did all labor, every man according to his strength” (Alma 1:26).

Are you and I helping our children become agents      who act and seek learning by study and by faith, or have we trained our children to wait to be taught and acted upon? Are we as parents primarily giving our children the equivalent of spiritual fish to eat, or are we consistently helping them to act, to learn for themselves, and to stand steadfast and immovable? Are we helping our children become anxiously engaged in asking, seeking, and knocking? (See 3 Nephi 14:7.)DSC_0048

The next day was Monday and so I decided to put this method to the test. We had our activity portion of Family Home Evening first and as we drove out to launch our rockets I informed the kids that they should come to our discussion later prepared to ask a spiritually related question that we could discuss.  I suppose it should not have surprised me that they all instantly came up with several.


When we returned to our house we invited Gabe (9) to pose his question. He asked how he could know what his personal mission in life was. What things needed to be accomplished that were specific to him and no one else. What a great question. I think we all need to know why no one else can take our place, don’t you?

What followed was an amazing discussion that had our family looking in the scriptures for answers together, discussing relevant issues that the kids are struggling with right now, talking about how our life missions were not to be something that we looked forward to “one day” but that they were occurring right now every day. We talked about how generations-including their own can be affected (and have been) from the decisions and obedience of one little six year old girl (who happened to be my little sister). We talked about the lives they had changed and how they well may be an answer to the prayer of a mother whose child goes to school with them, when they are kind and compassionate even when it isn’t the popular choice. We were all in tears at one point even five year old Finny who was bemused by this and wondered why his “eyes are watering!”  In short, it was an amazing success, our discussion is one we have reflected and built upon every day since, it has shaped the way my kids live their lives and see themselves. From this small and simple thing, great things are happening.

We had a similar experience this week when our family home evening followed a similar format when Finny asked about why “Jesus was so nice to us?”.  I know I will never be pulling out a “packet” of [re-prepared photocopied cuteness to use for family home evening ever. again. Why do we make it so complicated when it can be so simple and so much more powerful?


I can’t adequately express my gratitude for the wisdom and eloquence of the people who speak to us at conference. Putting their counsel to the test is what works for me.

For what works for others check out We are that family.


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Amy said...

Thanks for posting this, it was exactly what I needed to read tonight. I'm not sure why I always feel the pressure to have "perfect" FHE's when the best ones are unscripted (as you so eloquently described). This was a great reminder for me tonight. I'm so glad I stumbled by your blog :)

Michelle said...

As always, I am inspired and uplifted by your blog. Which is amazing today, given I am Jewish! But your message is universal and resounds no matter what the faith of the reader may be. We also encourage our kids to constantly question and reflect. It's, in fact, the way we are guided to bring up our children. So that they can grow up to be strong, thinking adults and compassionate members of the human race.
Thanks again for hsaring your beautiful family experiences. xoxo

Marilyn (A Lot of Loves) said...

I will admit that we're not the best at grasping teachable Bible moments in this house. I am trying to talk more about Jesus and his teachings to my son but it's not something I always feel comfortable doing. This post makes me realize I need to loosen up a little.

Anonymous said...

You guys are just SUPER parents! Almost wish I could do it again, but don't quite feel I have the energy. So great to hear that you are implementing what you learned. We have yet to watch the first half. Watched the second half on BYU. Our official showing dates are the week-end of the 24th and 25th in our little branch. Hope it is not just dad and I. I am proud of the two of you.

Kallie said...

I wish I could do it again too -- and I'm still doing it the first time. I just feel like it all slips away way too fast and am I doing all that I can??? I know I'm not -- but it helps to get WFM ideas from you -- very inspiring, you are. ;) I'm forwarding this to Ryan.

'Becca said...

This is a beautiful tradition that really does apply to any faith. I have learned so much from my son's questions and from reading him the real Bible instead of a dumbed-down children's version and hearing his insights on it.