“Q&A: Questions and Answers,” New Era, Dec. 1996, 17
We received a lot of good advice from our readers, but one excellent letter in particular seemed especially helpful. The author wrote, “I’m in that situation too. Out of six kids, four have left the Church. It’s hard to see them do things that I know to be wrong, but I trust in my Heavenly Father to guide my life away from such things. My mom always says that the best thing we can do for them is to let them know we love them even if we don’t love what they do.
“Try to stand up for your beliefs, even when it’s hard. Try to be the best you can be. Strengthen your own testimony, and if you have an opportunity, share it with your family, especially your parents. It will comfort them to know that you have a testimony when they are struggling so much with your siblings. Most important, pray. Our Father in Heaven can help you no matter what. Don’t ever forget that.”
An important thing you can do is continually work on doing the things you know are right. Make a big effort to follow the commandments and stay close to other strong members in your ward. Sign up for seminary and attend without fail. Go to all your Mutual activities, even if you have to go by yourself. Don’t skip church on Sunday. Your brothers and sisters may try to talk you into doing something with them, but they need to realize that church is important in your life. This is what setting a good example is all about—doing the things you know are true even when it isn’t particularly easy. In your attempts to make good choices, avoid being self-righteous or conveying an attitude of superiority. Look for the good qualities in your family members and express genuine love and appreciation to them.
The other important thing to remember is patience. Even if you set a good example, sometimes the people you care about will not respond or will not be willing to change for a long time. It may even take a lifetime.
If someone came to you right now and said that if you did everything in your power to live the gospel for the next ten years and then, your brother or sister would give up bad habits, repent, and return to all the blessings available in the Church, would you be willing to do that for them? Yes, you would. Just assume that’s what you are doing. You are setting an example, being loving and respectful, and learning all you can about the Savior for your own salvation as well as that of your family. How long it will take is really not important. Would you put a time limit on your efforts?
And the last important thing to remember is that you are not in this alone. You’ll have all kinds of help from parents, other family members, ward members, and other good people. You will also have help from the most important ones of all, our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
First you have to be an example to your family. Show them how much they mean to you and how much the Church means to you. Maybe you can even ask members to befriend your family and help you invite them to church, seminary, and the activities. Most importantly, never give up on them.
Melissa Degn, 14
São Paulo, Brazil
I feel everyone has a certain time when they will listen to the truth. Until that time comes, all you can do is be an example. Express your testimony and what the Church means to you.
Duane Mortenson, 16
You can encourage them to go, and you could tell them what a good time you’re having. Another thing you can do is have family home evening.
Joseph Wellard, 15
The biggest issue is you. You can best help your family by your example. I have done my best in doing what is right. As a result, my two older sisters and older brothers respect me. They say they wish they had been like me when they were my age. Try prayer. It is amazing what the power of prayer can do!
Angela Whitaker, 18
A few years ago my family had the same problem, until my older brother stepped in and started reading his scriptures and sharing his sweet spirit with us. I have a strong testimony of examples and know that people are attracted to the light of another’s example. I feel that you should do your family a service and be an understanding, loving example of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Heather Bond, 14
I thought that just setting an example would be sufficient to bring my brothers back, but I learned it may take more. Just before my mission I started to include my brother with my friends. That’s when I found out how much he respects me. I just needed to be a friend (not just a brother) and show that I care. I love my brother.
Elder Gary Peaslee, 19
California Roseville Mission
Now is the time to put your full trust in the Lord. Search the scriptures, fast, sincerely ask the Lord for help. Listen to the Holy Ghost and do the things you are told. Have faith the Lord will help you.
Dwayne Gentry, 16
North Logan, Utah
I know from experience that if you keep a positive attitude, read your scriptures, and pray for guidance that things will work out. I have a hard time getting my family to go to church, but I haven’t given up yet. Just do what you can, and the Lord will bless you for remaining faithful.
Be a good example. If they can trust that you are consistent, they may come to you with their problems. Then you can render advice that follows the teachings of the gospel. Hang in there, and don’t compromise your standards or beliefs.
Katharina R. Stair, 17
Arden, North Carolina