The stream of tough topics for parents to explain can feel unending: social unrest, hate crimes, natural disasters … the pandemic. Many children and teens have struggled to process what they see at school, in their neighborhoods and on the news.
Miguel and Eva of Las Vegas, Nevada, gather their family of seven together every Thursday evening after dinner to confront this challenge.
“I think setting this time aside as a family is important,” said Maximus, 13, of his family’s weekly discussions. “We’re going to be stronger … and it’s going to help us overcome various obstacles that we may have in the future.”
Those obstacles aren’t reserved exclusively for the future. Miguel and Eva’s family has recently needed to address riots on the streets of Las Vegas and bullying in their children’s school. Regular family discussions not only help the family address these issues as they arise but also allow them to work on constructive projects together. During the pandemic, Miguel and Eva’s children were able to improve their Spanish language skills during this reserved family time.
In an ever-changing and challenging world, experts recommend regular family discussions to help young ones build resilience.
“Good communication is essential for a child’s survival in this world,” said James Wright, a California-based family counselor and conflict resolution mediator. “Why not have a family discussion once a week and talk about what’s going on in your lives?”
Miguel and Eva’s family is not alone in holding to a set time to have family discussions. For nearly two decades, families of Jehovah’s Witnesses like theirs around the world have been encouraged to make “family worship” an uninterrupted weekly routine.
“For many of our families, their weekly discussions are among the most important hours of the week,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “It has brought thousands of our families closer together and helped children feel safe and loved.”
In hurricane-pummeled New Orleans, the Andrades address safety concerns with their two sons during their regular family worship night.
“On one of our family nights, we were able to put our emergency go bags together and practice what we would do if we were to get separated during a natural disaster,” said mom Ashley Andrade, who safely evacuated with her family before Hurricane Ida uprooted trees and downed power lines on their street.
Her family strengthened this routine in 2009 when Jehovah’s Witnesses reduced their midweek meetings from two to one, freeing up an evening each week for families to enjoy such time together.
“Meeting in large groups for worship is a Bible command, but the Bible also tells parents to make time to talk with their kids,” said Hendriks. “The change to our weekly meetings helped families to prioritize unhurried Bible discussions tailored to their needs.”
Family nights are a favorite for Miguel and Eva’s children. Bella, 10, loves the opportunity to share the events of her day with her parents. “I feel really happy and joyful,” she said, “because I get to tell them how I feel.” Her older brother, Maximus, couldn’t agree more. “I just want to say that family worship is what makes your day,” he shared.
Miguel and Eva are grateful for the articles designed for families and children found on jw.org. “Any topic that we would like to discuss … you’re able to look up,” said dad Miguel, referencing free resources on the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses, where they often turn for practical and Scriptural solutions to family concerns.
Miguel and Eva of Las Vegas, Nevada, use resources from jw.org to guide their weekly “family worship”.