What makes a good home teacher?

AdamFMormon 20 Comments

Nope, not April Fools. 🙂

I have mixed feelings about my experiences with home teaching. My father taught me from an early age about visiting the widows, the less fortunate, those who did not fit in with the Saturday golf games.

We probably went every month, and usually had a message, but we also spent a lot of time helping these people move, chopping up wood in backyards, and just talking. I watched my father care for these people. When a few members questioned his politics when he was called to be our bishop, I knew that politics had nothing to do with it. He taught me by example what really mattered, and I learned to love these people as well. Not because I was assigned, although that’s how it starts. I did fall asleep a lot though. Those old couches were always really comfortable.

On the other side of the issue, I have had very reliable, come-every-month types. Some stand out more than others – like the one who invited my wife and I over for dinner more than once, made dessert, played board games, and helped us move. I know it was important to him that he did his monthly duty, but I also knew he cared. He listened empathically as I expressed my frustration with the Prop 8 letter being read in Sacrament meeting (this was in Washington) last year–right after he gave a lesson about following the prophet.

As a home teacher, I have struggled with certain families. It often seems the standard, “Is there anything we can do for you” question at the end of the visits doesn’t get much in response. Not that we need to be pushy, but I think we can try a little harder to be of real service to our families.

Perhaps even more importantly, I think we need to do a better job of allowing our own home teachers to serve us. It is one thing to take care of others. For some people, it is an entirely different–and often more difficult–challenge to allow others to do the caregiving from time to time.

What makes a good home teacher to you? What are some of your better experiences?

Comments 20

  1. The family with the tree in the backyard we chopped up grew to love and appreciate you as my teenage son and companion. They were pleased you would make an effort to go with me each month and partake in the discussions and lessons. Remember the time you were late and showed up at their house part way through the visit? It impressed them a great deal. They were very interested in your mission activities in Japan and always wanted to know where you were and what you were doing. They were probably an ideal family to have assigned to any home teachers, sincere honest, caring and involved.

    Fond memories…. Thank you!

  2. We’ve had some great home teachers through the years. The best are those who:

    1. Come — not EVERY month, but often enough for us to know them.

    2. Talk to our kids — we had one home teacher who would come and talk to my wife and me, but never the kids. It was a a tough half hour to keep them in the room.

    3. Were our friends even outside the HT visit.

  3. The best home teachers we have had are the ones that:

    -Actually come. We don’t get ones that come very often.
    -Have lessons appropriate for children- it’s the stage of life I’m in- and I appreciate lessons that I’m not wrangling my kids through.
    -Say hi to me at other times (like in the hall at church even)

    I think it’s hard, because a lot of people will just say they’re doing fine even if they need help with something, so I think a good home teacher really has to become friends with the families they home teach, so that the families are willing to ask for help if it’s needed, and so they’re aware of the family situation- for instance if you know someone will be putting in a lawn, or moving, you can offer to help. If you don’t know anything about the family you’ll have no idea where help might be needed.

  4. My favorite HTers came often enough that we knew who they were. And they talked to the kids and genuinely liked them. I also liked HTers who were just likeable friendly people. I don’t remember any of the lessons they shared, just whether or not they were worth chatting with.

  5. My favorite HTers were an older American couple who made every appointment through my (non-member) husband – their reasoning being that he is the head of the household. It was the first and only time that has happened. Since I have suggested it to every HT we have had but no one has taken me up on it.

  6. “What makes a good home teacher to you? ”

    dude who calls every now and but never comes around to ‘teach’ something. the teaching is best done at church.

  7. How not to be a good home teacher. My last home teacher felt that he had the right to question me on my whereabouts when ever there was a ward function that he felt I needed to be at. He would “issue” an invitation which in his mind meant that I was to show up regardless of what I had planned or if the activity was appropriate for me as a single woman of 45.

    He also gave me one lesson on forgiveness and then felt he had the right to ask me what my sins were,s to which I promptly told him it was none of his business and any sins I had were my personal business and if needed would be discussed with the BP.

    He only got worse. He gave a concert at the church which happened to fall on my birthday, so I went and spent the day in new york and don’t you know it called me up to demand to know where I was and I didn’t show up to his concert. Completely inappropriate.

    When I told him to back off and that he didn’t need to call me and demand to know where I was at every minute of the day. He told me that as a former BP he had the right to tell me that I had severe emotional and personality problems that needed to be evaluated both spiritually and professionally. To which I told him to F*** off and that he didn’t have the right or authority to be telling me any of the crap he was telling me

    So, what makes a good home teacher? Someone who doesn’t do any of the things listed above and if they are Ht single sister, treat her with the respect that she deserves and not a child that needs to be monitored.

  8. George, how wonderful and sweet to hear from you! I love seeing my teenage son going out with his father on visits. I love that the tradition of caring service is being passed down through the generations.

    Years ago, we had a father and son who were assigned to our family. The father traveled quite frequently, and about once a quarter he was gone for the entire month. The son, who was 14, would ask one of his friends, also 14, to accompany him to our home. He had his 16-year-old sister drive them to our house. They always gave a well-planned lesson, and took their responsibility seriously. My 14-year old daughter once mentioned that she gained a testimony of the priesthood from these boys’ visits, because they were so different when acting in their priesthood role than they were at other times!

    I must say that I never take home teachers very seriously if they don’t talk to me at all outside of their monthly visit. And you’d be surprised how very many of those home teachers we have in the Church.

  9. I don’t know, Stephen, I see the difference, but that question is going to get the same answer as the other one. None of us like to ask for help. So a better question would be, “What time should I be here on Saturday to help you clean out your garage?” from a HT who knows you well enough to know that’s what you were planning to do over the weekend.

  10. I don’t have a Home Teacher. When I asked why, I was told that I didn’t need a Home Teacher because I wasn’t going to go inactive. Which leads me to ask, “What about the ninety and nine?” My daughter was sick recently and I didn’t know who to call for a blessing. My quorum leader lives at the other end of the county.

    Then on the other hand, I’m given the hardcases to Home Teach. I drew the line when I was asked to Home Teach a person on the “Do Not Contact” list.

    I feel like I’m being told that I should Home Teach. but that I’m not worth being Home Taught. I’ve seen people go inactive so that they can get extra attention. Meanwhile, I do my duty daily.

  11. re #11: I remember when I was a ‘youth’, my sisters complained (only once) that the activities always seemed to be planned around the kids who didn’t come, not the ones who did, and they didn’t think it fair. As an adult I’ve tried to remember that each of us is deserving of love and attention, even if we’re in church each Sunday.

    When I was an EQP hundreds of years ago (it seems), I assigned every family a home teach (so most companionships had 10 families). Most people took it in stride, and we agreed in PPIs that there were some families they should probably see each month and others maybe less frequently.

    What I found was interesting. 30% home teachers were still 30% home teachers. But now they saw three families a month (with 10 assigned) instead of only one (with three assigned). And my one or two “hundred percenters” still saw every family, even with 10.

  12. My best home teachers are the ones that don’t do a “monthly” visit. I know I can call them for anything I need. But I would rather they spend their time home with their own wives and kids.

  13. #11, that is a shame. I remember once in RS, the RSPres used me as an example, saying, “You don’t have to go see Sister B. every month, she won’t be going inactive any time soon. But make sure you visit the sisters who are struggling.” At the time I had 4 little children and none were school age yet. I was dying for adult companionship. You just never know who is struggling, even if they are showing up at Church every Sunday with a smile on their face.

  14. Post

    Thanks for the comments.

    On the monthly visit – I usually like having them come every month, UNLESS it is obvious that they are trying hard to come every month, haha. Perhaps “consistent” visits I like the most. Maybe not every month, but often. I also don’t care when it is during the month, although the last Sunday of the month is a little lame. When I’m in that position as an HTer I often purposefully schedule for the first week of the next month. Maybe that’s a little contrived, but I don’t want to send the message that I care more about reporting 100% to the EQ than I care about the family.

    #11 – Thanks for sharing that. I’m also wondering, what have been your positive experiences AS a home teacher?

    Two more things – I LOVE when they contact me via email, and I actually like it when we just set up a regular time, like 2:30 on fast sundays, or whatever. Makes it more mechanical I guess, but it is easier for everyone.

  15. A good home teacher, aside form being knowledgeable, should never be late and not use traffic as a reason to be late, should connect well with her student and should know how to make lessons interesting, especially for kids. One of the best home teachers my son had was Linda from Preply.com ( http://preply.com/en ). I don’t know if she’s still connected with them but she was simply the best.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *