The scripture “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6) has been our motto and guide as we try to teach our children good habits and righteous principles. We found it especially helpful to share Sabbath day and family home evening activities with our children, particularly during their teenage years. Following is a list of ideas to help encourage Sabbath and family home evening observance.
1. Define a day. We teach our children that the Sabbath day and Monday evening are reserved as special family times. No other activities should intrude unless they are really necessary and permission is given by Mom or Dad. Our children have usually accepted this. With their support we feel more peace in our home and are grateful to know we are assured weekly time away from worldly distractions.
2. Plant the habit of doing worthwhile activities. Demonstrate that the Sabbath is a special day of worship, service, and personal rejuvenation. Sabbath activities that we began in our children’s youth have spilled over into their teen activities. For example, we often took our children to visit the elderly at nursing homes. Now they occasionally gather with friends on Sabbath evenings to sing at nursing homes. Service continues to bless them with sweet experiences.
3. Visit family and friends. Along with attending Church meetings and fulfilling Church responsibilities on Sunday, we occasionally visit family and friends, especially those with whom our teens have a common interest. Sometimes we have family or friends visit us for a modest dinner or dessert.
4. Welcome newcomers in your neighborhood. One of our teenage daughters earned the neighborhood title of the “Unofficial Welcome Wagon” after resolving to help move-ins feel welcome in the community. Now whenever she sees a “for sale” sign go down or a moving truck drive up, she is there (along with the rest of us) to welcome our new neighbors. These visits sometimes occur on the Sabbath or as part of family home evening.
5. Strengthen youth of part-member families. Some Latter-day Saint youth do not have members of the Church in their family to strengthen them on the Sabbath. We have friends from Canada who periodically have an informal youth gathering at their home on Sunday evenings. The youth sing hymns, make treats and deliver them to others, enjoy the spirit of the Sabbath, and strengthen their friendships.
The Sabbath day provides us an opportunity to grow closer to our Heavenly Father and at the same time to our families. By teaching our children appropriate Sabbath activities while they are young, we enable them to embrace this important day throughout their lives.
Alison Affeltranger, Sego Lily Ward, Sandy Utah Granite South Stake