Monday, September 08, 2008

Empty Nesters FHE

One of the teachings of the LDS church is to encourage families to hold "Family Home Evening" - one night a week dedicated to spending time together, teaching gospel principles, enjoying wholesome recreation, and generally strengthening family bonds. I am absolutely convinced this is an inspired program and that this practice brings many blessing no matter what faith a person is.

In fact, I believe in it so much it is one of the options for the student projects I offer in the Sociology of the Family course I teach onlilne. Of course I don't CALL it FHE for the class, and I leave out all the religious elements. But one of the six choices students have to pick from for their term project is to hold family meetings for 5 consecutive weeks with emphasis on building positive rapport among family it IS essentially FHE. Most the students who do that one love it.

We were sort of hit and miss about doing FHE with our own kids while they were growing up. We had some great ones we all still remember and some that pretty much fell flat. But we tried to keep it as much of a steady tradition for our family as we could muster, despite our busy lives.

In the ward where we live now they have something called "Empty Nester's Family Home Evening." Twice a month the older members past raising kids (whether married, single, widowed or divorced) all meet together for a pot-luck supper, an evening of visiting and a short uplifting message. Even though we are past our days of actively raising a family, we still benefit from the blessings of Family Home Evening, and it's a great way to build ties with other ward members. Everyone in the group takes turns meeting at each others' homes. We've been attending these ever since we moved and have very much enjoy gathering with this group.

Tonight it was our turn to host FHE. There were 19 people in attendance (counting us) - some who come every time and some who had not been before. My beloved grilled hamburgers and brats and everyone who came brought something yummy to contribute - (let me tell you, the ladies in this group can COOK! It's always fun to see what each person will bring.) The food was delicious, the company gracious, the weather was perfect and it seemed like everyone had a pretty good time.

For the message/activity portion of the evening I talked about writing personal histories using the Question method...I have a set of question that deal with all sorts of things - everything from "tell about a significant event involving weather" to "tell about the yard at the house where you grew up" to "tell about the circumstances of how you learned to drive". The idea is that rather than trying to write your whole life story, you focus on ONE question at a time. But by the time you answer all the questions, you end up with a pretty good collection of life stories. I had my father-in-law answer these (see Remembering Fred) and the end result is an absolute treasure. He just wrote out the answers by hand in an old note book, usually doing one or two each week on Sunday afternoons. He never spent a lot of time on it at any one setting. But as he got them done he would send them to me and I would transcribe them. I now have 32 typed pages of priceless stories of his life.

Well, anyway, I passed out the questions and had everyone pick one and tell that particular story to the group. It was a fun way to learn more about everyone. I then made copies of all the questions to give to everyone and encouraged them to write stories for their own families. There was a lot of laughter as we went around the group allowing everyone to tell their story. Everyone seemed to have a pretty good time.

This also reminded me that it's time for me to get cracking on answering these silly things for myself. So I think I'll start doing them over on Apprentice Human. That's as good a place as any to put them. I will do it sort of like when I did the Alphabet Soup - Count Your Blessings Exercise where I wrote something about what I was grateful for that matched each letter of the alphabet over on Life by Design.

This time around I won't have any particular schedule or do them in any set order. I'll just start writing answers to these questions as I find time - probably mostly on Sunday afternoons. I suspect most of it will be fairly inoccuous. Still, it will be interesting to see what comes out of it. And who knows? Maybe my grand kids will get a kick out of reading about some of the adventures their old grammy had growing up in this crazy old world.


Louise said...

I would love to get your questionaire. I am in charge of a FHE for Empty Nesters next week and would like to use your idea.

Thank you

Belladonna said...

Contact me via email.

lrichins said...

I too would like to get your questionare as I am starting up an empty nesters FHE. your comment previously stated to contact you via email, but I do not know your email address. Please let m eknow how I can get this list from you.
Thank you,

Belladonna said...

The questions are here on the blog. Just click on FHE in the tags to this posting and it will bring them right up.

Jeanne said...

I am computer illiterate where Are the tags

LJB said...

Copy this and put it in Google or in the top at your address bar:

Carolyn said...

Thank you so much for this! Our Empty Nester FHE is struggling....maybe dying. Maybe some of these ideas will help us.

LJB said...

Carolyn, It is NORMAL for groups to wax and wane over time. I would encourage you to consider reaching out to some who have not been involved in the past for new blood, fresh ideas. Of those who have been engaged in the past, try some one-on-one conversations to see what they liked or didn't like, being open to really HEARING and UNDERSTANDING their needs. I wish you the best in getting some new energy in your group!

Carolyn said...

Thanks for the encouragement!

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