Question: What are some of the family traditions of the Mormon religion? Are there any rules you have to follow and such?
~Answer by Michelle**
This is a great question. One of the things that I love about being Mormon is the focus on family. We receive guidance and counsel that I feel make a significant difference in our family life. I was thinking tonight about how grateful I am for what church teachings regarding family life have done for our family. It isn’t about a list of rules in my mind; it has become a way of life that enables us to feel God’s influence and power in our home and our lives, and helps keep us focused on keeping our family strong.
Following are some of the things Mormon families are encouraged to do regularly. At the end of the post, I include some links to content on our site where women talk about these different practices.
Usually on Monday nights, most Mormons have what we call Family Home Evening (or Family Night). We sing and pray and learn and play together, and usually eat treats, too! We try to be deliberate about not scheduling other things on Mondays whenever possible. We do a wide variety of things together. We enjoy discussing gospel principles and finding fun ways to teach them. This is a great opportunity to talk to our children about things that may be concerning them, or us. We’ll sometimes plan schedules, too. Our children love playing church music charades (a guessing game where you act out what the others try to guess — no talking allowed!). Another favorite activity is “doorbell ditching” — making a treat and then delivering to someone in our neighborhood by ringing the doorbell and running. (The goal, of course, is to not get caught!) We also have gone bowling, played basketball, played board games. Last week, we went to visit a widow from our former ward whom the children consider as another grandma. We love Family Night. Try it, you’ll like it — tailor it to whatever suits your family!
We are encouraged to have daily personal and family scripture study and prayer. Family Dinner is also encouraged (which usually includes a prayer as well). These rituals help us stay focused on bringing God into our daily lives and into our homes, and in learning more about the gospel of Jesus Christ together. I have felt a real impact in our home with the practices of reading the scriptures and praying together. I feel blessings of peace, love, understanding of truth, and eternal perspective as we do these things. I love hearing my children talk to Heavenly Father and discuss and ask questions about what we are learning as we read. In our home, we focus most of our reading on The Book of Mormon, although, of course, we like to learn and read from other books of scripture as well. We also try to read the most recent General Conference talks together to help keep the current counsel of living prophets and other Church leaders fresh in our minds. I shared some of the ways we try to make scripture reading memorable and enjoyable here.
I can’t say enough about family dinner, either. Again, if this isn’t something you do, I’d say give it a try. Research has shown its benefits (see links below, and see a video about this topic here).
Sunday is an important day for Mormons — a day focused on faith and family. The usual routine on Sundays includes our church meetings. How each family spends the rest of the day can vary somewhat. In our home, we love just being together, relaxing, playing games, watching inspirational videos made by the Church, talking, reading, writing in our journals, doing family history work. We also looooove going to Grandma and Grandpa’s! Our goal is to make Sundays different from the rest of the week. Except on rare occasions, Dad doesn’t do work. Mom isn’t running around doing errands or laundry. Sometimes Sundays will include additional church gatherings, meetings (if our callings require it) and service. We do our best to try to stop the usual routine and try to rejuvenate our spirits and our relationships so we can tackle another busy week. (We all tend to lament the end of Sunday. We love Sundays!)
We are also encouraged to have fun and to be creative in our families. In 1995, our leaders published what is called The Proclamation to the World on the Family. This document delineates many important teachings regarding family (a topic for another day). A simple phrase from that document reminds us that wholesome recreation is an important part of family life. The Family Fridays posts we have are designed to explore the many facets of family life, including the things we do to laugh and play and enjoy life together, from birthday parties to family vacations, as well as the day-to-day moments. Family fun often involves extended family as well, such as with family parties, family reunions, and other activities. Every family also develops its own family traditions that can enrich family life.
Now, please don’t misunderstand — we Mormons have our family problems just like anyone else! But just like anyone else, we find that making time for fun family activities can be a really good thing…and also help give us opportunities to learn to work together and love each other.
A broader facet of LDS family life includes doing family history (genealogy). This not only helps us learn more about our ancestors, but is important to us because of our belief in eternal families — in family relationships being able to exist beyond “death do us part.” A central element of our faith includes doing vicarious ordinance work (like baptisms and eternal marriages) in our temples on behalf of our loved ones who have died. This work broadens our perspective on family, helps us face trials and the loss of loved ones, and brings a spiritual power into our lives.
I am so grateful for the family rituals we are counseled to have in our family life. I feel they have blessed my family in so many ways, some of them immeasurable but nevertheless tangible. Our family is far from perfect at doing these things, and we are far from perfect as people, but I feel that participating in these practices helps us be better and draw closer to God and to each other.
To hear more from Mormon women about the above topics, see the links below:
Family Home Evening:
There is more information and some resources here on the Church’s official website.
Family Scripture Study and Prayer
(As a sidenote, you might be interested in some research that has shown the tangible value of family dinner — for parents, for children, even for corporations! Read more here (article includes ideas for making family dinner happen in your home). This research, conducted by Brigham Young University professors in conjunction with IBM, has also been mentioned at The Wall Street Journal’s Front Lines, U.S. News and World Report, and Slate Magazine.)
Sunday Worship and Family Time
Family Fun and Creativity
Family Fridays: Jane’s Family Fun
Family Fridays: Camping
First Person: How I Create as a Mom
Family Fridays: Hiking Together
More posts on family fun, traditions, etc. can be found here, here, and here.
(From a BYU Women’s Conference Sharing Station) Finding Fun in the Family Tree
Family History and Temple Work
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**Please note: The answers in “Ask a Mormon Woman” reflect the thoughts, perspectives, and experiences of individuals. Although here at Mormon Women: Who We Are, we strive to have our content consistent with the Church’s doctrine and teachings, we do not speak officially for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For official information about or from the Church, please visit www.mormon.org or www.lds.org.
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