Thursday, May 4, 2017

Family Night: Improving Family Communication 3

Note: Many of you know I teach communication classes at two local colleges. I love my subject matter and have greatly benefitted personally from it. I believe there are many families who could use the information I teach to better improve their relationships at home. In response to this belief, I have created a series of family night lessons that focus on various aspects of communication. The following lesson focuses on civility. You can see an earlier lesson here and here. Want to receive notification of future lessons to be posted in this series? Like my Facebook page.


Purpose: To encourage family members to treat one another with love and civility.

Scripture: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:31–32).

Thought: “Imagine the cumulative effect if we treated each other with respect and acceptance, if we willingly provided support. Such interactions practiced on a small scale would surely have a rippling effect throughout our homes and communities” (Gordon B. Hinckley).[1]

Key Term: Civility – Polite, reasonable, and respectful behavior and speech.

Lesson: Christlike communication uses both kindness and confidence. In other words, we need to communicate with civility—with compassion, respect, and humility. President Gordon B. Hinckley learned the necessity of civility as a child when he and some friends once made rude remarks to an African American family passing down the street. President Hinckley’s mother overheard the comments and immediately began to lecture them. “She gave us to understand, in no uncertain terms, that among the peoples of the earth there is neither inferiority nor superiority; that we are all sons and daughters of God and therefore sisters and brothers with each other; and that we have an obligation to respect and help one another.”[2]

As the root of the word “civilization,” to treat others with civility is to invoke the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (see Matt. 7:12). The scriptures counsel us to “let all bitterness, … and anger, … and evil speaking, be put away” (Ephesians 4:31). This would include vulgarity, criticism, blame, and dishonesty—all of which are uncivil. There may be need at times for correction and counsel of other’s words; however, this should always be tempered by love. Christlike communication in the home will help us to develop loving, eternal relationships that are a reflection of heaven on earth.

Activity: Blow up five balloons, draw faces on them, and assign names to each. Inside the balloons include a note of what the person is really like on the inside. Present the balloon people and have family members describe how they appear on the outside. Pop the balloons and read the inside note. Discuss what assumptions we might have made about each. Would we have treated them with greater civility had we known?[3]

For Little Ones: Play a game of Mother May I. Use the game to teach your little ones to use please and thank you, and to treat people with kindness (even if they lose the game).

Challenge: Watch the four-minute video “The Civility Experiment[4] and discuss the woman’s experience with the homeless man. Ask, “Where does civility come from?” and “How can we learn to look at people in a way that promotes civility?” Set a goal to treat others with greater civility in the upcoming week.

Suggested Music: “Have I Done Any Good?” (Hymns no. 223) or “Kindness Begins with Me” (CS p. 145).

[1] Hinckley, Gordon B., Standing for Something: Ten Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes. New York: Times, 2000, 50.
[2] Ibid., 47.
[3] Thompson, Shauna. "A ‘popping’ Back-to-school Family Home Evening.", 7 Aug. 2010. Web. 20 July 2016.

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