“Family Home Evenings are for everyone, whether it be in a two-parent home, a single-parent home, or in a single-member family,” said Elder L. Tom Perry in the May 1994 Ensign. Though they may not currently be in traditional family situations, this prophetic direction still includes empty nesters, newlyweds, and single adults.
The number of parents entering the empty nest chapter in their lives as the last child leaves home is on the rise in the Church, leaving parents unsure about continuing to hold Family Home Evening.
A growing number of wards across the country are forming FHE groups where empty nesters, regardless of marital status, meet regularly once or twice a month and have a potluck dinner, a lesson or message, enjoy entertainment, share stories, play games, or go on outings such as attending the Easter Pageant or the Christmas lights together. These groups provide socializing and an opportunity to bridge the gap of loneliness sometimes felt especially by adults who live alone.
Along that line, young single adult members away from home often meet in their local ward or stake in Home Evening groups. The purpose of these meetings and the empty nester meetings is the same as that of a regular family-based Home Evening, but rather than meeting with family members, the groups are composed of other young single adults. These groups are more common in, but not limited to, areas with large college-age membership.
Newlyweds also have the opportunity to establish the pattern of holding regular Family Home Evening lessons that will be firmly in place before they start their families. FHE can also provide some quality time together before children arrive and attention gets focused elsewhere.
On the other hand, single parents’ lives are hectic as the demands of taking care of a family are placed on one set of shoulders. Family Home Evening is the one time of the week in which parent and children both can set aside the cares of the world and have quality time together they may not otherwise get to have.
Building a strong relationship with the Savior, growing spiritually and strengthening family ties are all important parts of FHE. Family Home Evening provides these opportunities regardless of circumstance. Having an activity as part of FHE also serves an important purpose. During this more casual and relaxed time, families and groups large or small may engage with each other by playing games, working in the garden, doing a service project or going on an outing.
It may be tempting to bypass Family Home Evening in the absence of a traditional family, but the counsel still applies. Sometimes it is difficult to think of something new or different to do. Help is available at LDS.org in the Family Home Evening Resource Book. The resource book includes Family Home Evening lessons, ideas, and pre-planned, easily adaptable activities.