Exploring new and different family home evening games and activities can be a useful tool for engaging your teenagers.
As any parent can tell you, there will come a time when your teenager thinks they’re too cool or busy to participate in family activities or play family home evening games with the rest of you. This has been a problem for each generation, but with today’s constant attention toward smart phones, it’s infinitely easier for your teen’s attention to wander. In 1915, the First Presidency promised families that participate in family home evening greater happiness and harmony in the household: “We promise that great blessings will result. Love at home and obedience to parents will increase. Faith will be developed in the hearts of the youth of Israel, and they will gain power to combat the evil influences and temptations which beset them.”
The ability to resist temptation becomes ever more important as your children get older and face peer pressure from their friends and media. That’s why keeping your young adults focused and engaged in their home study of the Scripture becomes both more difficult and more imperative.
President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “We are trying to preserve the traditional family—father, mother, and children—working together in love toward a common goal. In large measure we are succeeding against great odds. We advocate a family home evening, for instance, one night a week reserved for family activity together. Lessons from the scriptures are taught. Family business is discussed. Vacations are planned. We sing together. We pray together. It works!”
And he is correct. Families that participate in a weekly gathering are promised by the Prophets to be happier and more successful in resisting temptation.
As your children grow into teenagers and beyond, you must adapt your family home evening games and activities to keep their interest and attention. Other than games, which we will get into shortly, there are a few techniques you can use to keep your older children invested in family home evenings: relate your lesson to modern events, give them the responsibility of organizing and leading the lesson, and tell personal stories from your experiences at that age (including mistakes and failures!).
Something you might have noticed with your teens is that as they get older, they tend to get lazier. Forcing them to participate in activities where they must run around might seem “uncool” to them, and they might be less likely to take something away from the family home evening game.
And sometimes, having your FHE games be separate from the lesson (maybe acting as an intermission or as the final activity before closing prayer) can actually invigorate your teens willingness to learn and participate. Working off of this theory, here are ten games you can play with your whole family that your teens will actually enjoy.
Try These 10 Family Home Evening Games
The board game Pictionary can be as fun and difficult as you make it. It allows your teens to use their creativity and insight, while it gives your younger children many opportunities to laugh and learn.
What family doesn’t love charades? Like Pictionary (but without a game board), charades are a fun way to get your family “on the same page,” helping them to understand each other, while still having a blast.
3. Go Fish
Go Fish is a fun card game you can play with your family without any need of a special game board or special cards. It’s a game of strategy, intuition, and risk that excites your teens while remaining easy to understand for your younger kids.
4. Mini Golf
Do you want to take the FHE games outdoors? Mini Golf is a fun, silly way to get your teens up and moving and active in the family. Teens tend to be very competitive, so games like Mini Golf are sure to interest them. And every family enjoys a break from the routine, indoor family home evening!
Jenga is a high-stakes game that is sure to raise even your teen’s heart rate! There’s something about being the one to send the wooden blocks clattering to the floor that is both terrifying, yet exciting.
6. Settlers of Catan
Settlers of Catan is a board game that teaches both the value of team work and standing independent, depending on how the game is played! It teaches teens about resource management and thinking about the future, instead of what they want right now.
In this game, your family will sit in a circle. One person will whisper a short sentence or phrase into the ear of the person to their right. The goal is that when the message comes full circle, it’ll be the same as when it was first whispered. However, this never happens, and the results are hilarious! It is also a good time to sneak in a lesson about gossip and rumors.
8. Two Truths and a Lie
Another game that can easily be segued into a life lesson is the old standby, Two Truths and a Lie. To play, each person will tell the ground two truths (about themselves, the Scripture, a book, anything) and a lie, the intention being to disguise the lie among the truths. The other person will then guess which statement is the lie.
9. ABC Scavenger Hunt
This game is especially fun for teens if there’s a great prize at the end! It’s a fun, simple game for the whole family where everyone is tasked to find something in the house that begins with each letter of the alphabet all the way from A-Z. Whoever can get to Z fastest is the winner. Be warned: this is a lot more challenging than it sounds and requires both flexibility and creativity on the part of the players. One parent should act as a judge to confirm each finding fits the rules.
10. Guess Who
This game can be adapted to use only characters from the Scripture, characters from pop culture, or even friends or family from Church! Write down a name on a sticky note, place it on each person’s forehead. Then, each person can ask two questions from each family member to try and guess who they are. Naturally, they can’t provide any hints directly relating to the name of the person.
As you can see, these are just a few fun family home evening games appropriate for teens. Every FHE game should be engaging, exciting, and make a lasting impact on your family so that they will come to each following FHE with their hearts and minds open to the Spirit.
President Ezra Benson said, “Family home evenings should be scheduled once a week as a time for discussions of gospel principles, recreation, work projects, skits, songs around the piano, games, special refreshments, and family prayers. Like iron links in a chain, this practice will bind a family together, in love, pride, tradition, strength, and loyalty.”
Fun brings families together!