Why our FHE made Satan happy

Last night we had the worst Family Home Evening ever.  I commented on Facebook that dead prophets probably rolled over in their graves.

We had a little bit of a sass problem yesterday, and at one point Clark even took a swing at me.  This is, of course, completely unacceptable. Matt got home from work and I was exhausted.  He was exhausted.  We both lay down on our bed bemoaning our exhausted states.  Matt suggested we have a “lying down” Family Home Evening, and it knew right from the start it wasn’t going to go well, but I was too lazy to get up and do anything different.  (Feel free to put this away in your “How to be pathetic” file.)  So we called all the kids into our room, basically to gather around our corpses and be instructed.  They made paper-bag puppets of themselves and then Matt said we were going to talk about respect and responsibility.  After several mind-numbing attempts to get them to define those terms, we tried to think of examples from the scriptures of respect.  Clark volunteered that when Nehor killed Gideon, that wasn’t very respectful.  Right.  This led to a long list of people beating, killing, and basically destroying one another and pointing out as a tangent that “that wasn’t respectful.”  I lay there (yes, lay there) rolling my eyes.

Then Matt directed a puppet show that basically re-enacted the way Clark had treated me earlier when I told him he couldn’t have a playdate with his friend, only the children thought that the representation of their previous poor behavior was hilarious.  They couldn’t wait until it was their turn to be the puppet and yell at and hit their mother.  So our family home evening turned into an unfettered all-out paper-bag puppet brawl of people screaming at and beating on each other until the puppets lay in tattered shreds on the ground.  Matt wearily tried to make some summary statement about how it’s important to be respectful and then we released our feral children to go play something else.  We stood in the kitchen a few minutes later and looked at each other with dumbfounded disbelief.  “That was such a bad family home evening,” Matt said.  We tried to laugh, but we were too tired.

We were supposed to do P90X after the children were in bed, but Matt fell asleep on the couch, so I just ate a chocolate cookie instead.  That’s just as good, right?  I stayed up late watching episodes of Dr. G., Medical Examiner.  Does anyone else do ridiculous stuff like that even though the only thing you want to do is sleep?  Sometimes I just confuse myself.

Elder David A. Bednar said:

“Sometimes Sister Bednar and I wondered if our efforts to do these spiritually essential things were worthwhile. Now and then verses of scripture were read amid outbursts such as “He’s touching me!” “Make him stop looking at me!” “Mom, he’s breathing my air!” Sincere prayers occasionally were interrupted with giggling and poking. And with active, rambunctious boys, family home evening lessons did not always produce high levels of edification. At times Sister Bednar and I were exasperated because the righteous habits we worked so hard to foster did not seem to yield immediately the spiritual results we wanted and expected.

Today if you could ask our adult sons what they remember about family prayer, scripture study, and family home evening, I believe I know how they would answer. They likely would not identify a particular prayer or a specific instance of scripture study or an especially meaningful family home evening lesson as the defining moment in their spiritual development. What they would say they remember is that as a family we were consistent. . . .

Each family prayer, each episode of family scripture study, and each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls. No one event may appear to be very impressive or memorable. But just as the yellow and gold and brown strokes of paint complement each other and produce an impressive masterpiece, so our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results. “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33). Consistency is a key principle as we lay the foundation of a great work in our individual lives and as we become more diligent and concerned in our own homes.”

Man, I hope he’s right.


39 thoughts on “Why our FHE made Satan happy

  1. HAHAHAHA! (sorry to laugh at your pain. But having been through FHEs like that, I am laughing more at my memories than at your pathos. I used to hate to go to church with the kids when they were young because a few of them were so awful and I got mad at them. But I knew I had to keep going, at the very least so that I would set a good example)

    If you are looking at a pat on the back for reassurance, you may have a virtual one from me.

    My son recently told me that I should be glad he was naughty because we laugh about those times now. If he wasn’t naughty, he reasoned, I would have nothing to laugh at (and he knows how much I like to laugh).

  2. I can’t stop laughing. I feel guilty about it but I can’t stop! We have had many a family home evening disaster! I might try the laying down fhe though. That might work for us. Take care and try again next week!

  3. I read this post just 30 seconds after talking with my husband about how successful our FHE was last night. Don’t be jealous though, it was only one success in a long line of chaotic and angst-ridden FHE’s. Sometimes, late on Monday nights, I collapse onto the couch feeling like I’ve wrestled an elephant. It takes so much effort! Thanks for Elder Bednar’s quote. Makes me feel like MaYBe it’s worth it!

  4. I wish I could tell you that our FHE’s are different, but your sounds pretty typical. Thank you for the giggle.

    I hope and have faith that Elder Bednar is right because truly, that is what keeps more going one failed attempt after another.

  5. Keep going. One time my husband and I gathered our five and said that since we (the parents) had been gone the night before, we would be having a short FHE tonight. To which my twelve year old son informed us there was no need. He had gathered all the children the night before and had already done FHE for the week. All of the imperfect, rowdy times were worth this one.

    (Up until last year, all of our FHE have been done gathered around our bed.)

  6. I’m not laughing. I’m actually a little tearful.

    I think our efforts as parents are wasted on the young. It’s not until they become parents themselves that they realize how rotten they were to you, and how they are getting their just reward with the children God blessed them with. Kind of a reverse pay it forward, if you will.

    And I heart Elder Bednar. I love how REAL he makes the gospel seem. (He IS right, by the way.)

    Keep your chin up!

  7. Pardon my laughter, but I can completely relate. We’ve done the exact same thing before. Yesterday could probably have gone better for us. It was just a mess of me with killer cramps, a backache to kill all back aches, a migraine, and me being tired from a meeting that lasted all day instead of a quick lunchtime thing. We actually went out to dinner, but i was ready for a hasty retreat before the salad came and by the time we got home I collapsed into a heap of pain and tears and my three guys wisely ran with fear as far as they could get from the loon their mother had become. I’m pretty sure that the Spirit was at work there.

    On the bright note, they seem to still like me today,which is an obvious sign that Elder Bednar was right in encouraging us that even if there’s not high levels of edification that it all works out in the end.

    We’ll try a proper FHE next week. This week was just a disaster.

  8. The 75% of families out there who did not hold FHE last night are thinking your efforts are light years ahead of theirs. I’m sure Heavenly Father will reward those who try.

    Last night for our FHE I was gone. My husband had the kids color pictures of latter-day prophets, which was boring for our 13 year old. I saw he had colored their skin green and embellished their pictures in other ways. I just shook my head and decided to be grateful my husband had at least tried.

  9. Some FHE’s just deserve to “go down in history”…for one reason or another. The Paper Bag Puppet Brawl will be one of those…long remembered (pleasantly) by your kids, although they’ll have no idea why…and that’s ok! 🙂 One of our fondest memories as siblings was when we got in a huge mud fight (we were actually really mad at each other at the time). We realized we’d have to work together to get it all cleaned up before the parents returned from picking up our exchange student from the airport. There was mud on the house, the car, the garage, the driveway and the street! My parents didn’t find out until like 15 years had passed. It was our wicked little secret!

  10. Ours ended up being a slow, torturous of reading Alma 43, all 54 verses, each being complained about by the child assigned to read them, followed by a lecture on appropriate scripture study behavior. Seriously, it took almost an hour.
    But, we tried. Right?

  11. LOL!!!! I seriously sit here giggling! What a GREAT FHE! And then to follow with Elder Bednar saying HIS family was the same way! What an awesome post! Thanks for helping us know we aren’t alone and reminding us that even the apostles struggle with the little things sometimes! 🙂 (And thanks for the laugh!)

  12. Thank you for sharing your pain!! I don’t feel so bad about our FHE last night now (although it comes close!) I love that quote…it gives just enough hope to continue to try.

  13. My parents share the worst FHE ever was when my then 6 year old brother was not behaving well, and I had brought my roommate and her friend-but-not-boyfriend-who-she-ended-marrying home for the weekend. My parents remember my brother was place (thrown) in a snow bank because of his behavior. The odd thing was the young man felt the Spirit and decided to go on a mission. (I’m sure there were other experiences that led up to his decision to go on a mission.) You never know. I might turn out that you can use the puppet show in the next tantrum about being respectful….

  14. am Shantel’s mom. Back when we were having fHE, there
    were 6 kids and I tried so hard to make everthing as it
    should be. I just knew that nothing was being absorbed or
    retained! Now I see the grown child and I marvel at the
    beautiful spirit that they have. As a mother, I never did all the right things, but I knew that it was such a
    fulfling task for me, and I love them so very much.
    Your wonderful blog, brings back so much for me. Thank
    you for sharing.

  15. Well, you know how my night went last night. FHE was okay, but it was the after that nearly did me in.

    The thing that’s helped me the most with FHE is the “Behold your little ones” nursery manual. Quick stories, games, simple language, and activity. It’s become my go to at 6 p.m. every Monday.

  16. Today I am worried that my children are going to get zero positive spiritual instruction until this baby comes out of me. I just don’t have the energy or the sanity. This is bad news, cuz I still have 6 or so weeks to go. Big sigh.

  17. That quote from Elder Bednar keeps me going. And I will tell you how much better your FHE was than mine, at least yours existed. I’m hoping for a late FHE on Wednesday instead as that is the only night my husband always has off. “Hoping” being the key word in our family.

  18. Thanks for making my day! I laughed so hard my kids came running to see what was going on. I’m only laughing because I’ve been there and it’s so nice to know someone else has “imperfect” fhe’s. I guess misery loves company! LOL Anyway, thanks again for sharing!

  19. I believe the chocolate was the perfect solution. Reading this made my heart hurt for you. Not in sympathy, but in empathy. Sometimes these things–scriptures, FHE, prayer–seem so hard to accomplish as a family. Yet, we keep trying every day because it is something we were asked to do. I guess that’s kind of a life lesson. Sometimes we do hard things even when it feels like it’s not helping anybody.

    On a brighter note, picturing the puppet brawl did make me smile.

  20. Good heavens, do I have to plan all your FHEs for you? Next time a kid takes a swing at you, or you have a sass problem, or any of those over-the-top-naughty behavior days, SKIP the puppet shows and the Q&A and all that other stuff that only works when your children are showing signs of being human – and dispatch the little demons to bed early. If they squawk, read them a scripture or two about final judgment and weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, close the door, abscond with the FHE treat and head for the tub.

    Take Matt with you. It might keep him awake another 20 minutes or so.

    (Talking and eating the FHE treat together. What did you think I was referring to??)

  21. When I got my e-mail from my missionary after conference and he talked about how grateful he was that we had fhe, prayer, and scripture study and how it was mentioned that “those three things were really hit on to strengthen the family, and to be able to endure adversity.”, I was very grateful we tried–no we weren’t perfect by ANY STRETCH OF THE IMAGINATION. He then wrote:“I am grateful to have had you and Dad as righteous parents and examples, who never gave up on me, even though I was rebellious all the time towards family home evening, family scripture study, and family prayer.” When I read that,I thought WOW—it really did help, and he knows it ; ) So, it was worth the occasional battles.


  22. I totally feel your pain. You know how pitiful ours was? Jake (my 9 year old) asked me while we were eating dinner what we were going to do for FHE. My response was something like “Ummm…yeah….I don’t really know”. He asked if he could do it, to which I agreed whole heartily. He said we were going to watch a show (you see I am a mean mommy who only lets him watch TV on the week days on occasion.). Guess what my reply was? “Okay!”. The saddest part is that my husband didn’t even look at me like I was crazy, he thought it was a good idea too…(He works 3rd shift full time and is back in school full time. I work part time just while Jake is at school…we were both tired…great excuse right?). Actually the saddest part is we never actually got around to watching the show and I can’t really remember why…and it was just yesterday. I am racking my brain…what did we do for FHE, if we didn’t watch a show? I guess nothing…Satan was very happy with us too. And I live in NC, so right now it is 11ish and I am soooo tired. But why would I go to bed? I am going to go clean our bedroom….Why? I do not know. See what I mean…I feel your pain…

  23. Sorry…one more thing I meant to saw a second ago, I LOVE your blog but have been pretty busy and haven’t had a chance to stay caught up recently…sorry…But when I saw your post title I head to see what you wrote!!! Glad I did because it was awesome and so are you. Nice to know I am not the only one who had those kind of days…over and over again!!!

  24. We had a similar experience trying to teach reverence. The short version is that it turned into Grant shushing everyone, everywhere, all the time, because he thought it was funny.

  25. Yes, he’s right! We still have FHE, that satan seems to be in charge of now, and my kids are teenagers, but they know we are having it. I just wish we could be that diligent with prayers and scriptures.

  26. I laughed so hard at your children “gathered around your corpses” OH, we have been there…. it’s so hard. But you still did FHE! that is what matters 🙂 I have never been so tired in my life since I became a parent. You guys are awesome and I think you deserve at least two more cookies 🙂 so funny…. I can just imagine the puppet show.

    Do you ever get so ready to put your kids to bed…. I find myself speeding up the closing song for FHE? Have you ever sang “Love one Another” really fast? Zeke just looks at me like, “oh boy, she needs to go to bed!”

  27. I have found that the only way to reasonably get through FHE is to advertise how much of the FHE treat they will get and by what increments it will diminish with bad behavior. We used to try and pretend that we weren’t threatening them to behave during FHE, but now we don’t even fake it. We lead with it, and it seems to be the only thing that really works. 🙂

  28. I’m so glad we’re not the only ones who have family home evenings like that. Thanks for sharing! I LOVE that quote by Elder Bednar. As a matter of fact, I use it all the time. When my kids start getting irritated with one another, and the “He’s touching me…” starts, I just look at them and say “HE’S BREATHING MY AIR!” and they all crack up laughing. Works like a charm.

    Your blog totally saves my sanity. Thank you!

  29. Pingback: And, they’re off! | Diapers and Divinity

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