“Q&A: Questions and Answers,” New Era, Jan. 1998, 17
Sometimes in your teen years it is difficult to see very far into the future. Even if you are a lot older or a lot younger than your brothers and sisters now, you will be adults together for most of your lives. Just because you don’t have a lot in common with your four-year-old sister today doesn’t mean that you won’t be close and good friends for the 50 or more years when you will both be grown up. You should, therefore, be more conscientious about developing a relationship with them now so that the connections grow strong for years. Perhaps one of you will still be at home while the others are off on missions, getting married, and gaining an education.
There really is nothing wrong with spending time with your friends, but if you also work hard at giving plenty of time to your family, you’ll be rewarded for years to come by having good friends that you’re also related to.
In many cases, the oldest children can set the pattern in a family. Younger brothers and sisters are usually taking in all that the older siblings are doing and will copy it. For example, if an older sister wants to have a good relationship with a younger sister, she can spend time teaching her how to do her own hair, or making cookies together, or helping her learn how to mix and match her clothes to create more outfits, or helping with her homework. If the older sister speaks kindly and is interested in her younger sister, then the younger sister learns how to treat other brothers and sisters. And most of all, everyone gains by having more people who care about each other.
An older brother can influence younger brothers and sisters by playing games together, teaching them how to be good sports, helping with chores and teaching them how to do a good job, and having fun just doing things together. The older brothers and sisters can also be a huge influence over the younger ones when it comes to searching for a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel and a testimony of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. They can set an enduring example of being dedicated in attending Church meetings and activities. And they can be influential by letting their siblings know of their testimonies.
What can a younger sibling do to develop closeness with older brothers and sisters? If they live nearby, you can call them often on the telephone just to tell them what’s happening in your life and to ask about theirs. Or if they live far away, revive the art of letter writing. If they aren’t good about writing back, just keep writing.
The secret to being close with brothers and sisters, whether younger or older, is to be interested in their lives. When possible attend their games or recitals or performances. Don’t skip out on family picnics or get-togethers. Be determined to have fun with them and to help them have a good time too.
Even if you don’t have the best relationship right now, you can be the one to start changing things. At first, everyone will act as they are used to acting, so don’t be discouraged or frustrated. When they find out you are seriously going to be nice and pleasant around them all the time, they will change. And the payoff is a great one. You will make some new friends, friends that can be with you throughout the eternities.
You need to pray and ask Heavenly Father to help you have things in common with your family members because “charity begins at home.” If you are all members of the Church, then during family home evening you should be able to state your differences, love your friends, and let your family know you love them too by giving them positive feelings.
Anita Joshua, 19
Even though my brother is only a year older than I am, my outlook on life totally changed when he started going out of his way to be my friend. His strong spirituality and desire to attend sacrament meeting had a profound effect on me. He helped me gain a desire to know for myself that the gospel is true. My father always taught us that our best friends should be our brothers. The older I get, the more I agree.
Karl T. Martineau, 18
Grand Junction, Colorado
There are 14, 17, and 18 years between my brothers and sister and me. Just because we have all eternity to spend time with each other doesn’t mean that we can’t find something in common now. Even though we are from two different worlds, I try my best to bring them both together. Remember to pray that you will find a special bond you can’t find anywhere else.
Ginger Snow, 18
I am the youngest of seven, and my oldest brother and I are 22 years apart. You should spend as much time with your family members as you can. I always look forward to the times my family come over. Although friends are great, just remember that families are forever.
Melanie Vance, 17
It is fine to spend time with your friends. However, at the same time, you should remember your brothers and sisters and make them feel like they are a part of your life. They should know that you care for them.
Joshua Francis, 18
If you’re treating your friends like family, maybe you ought to treat your family like friends. Try it. You’ll be forever grateful you did.
Nancy Wheelwright, 18