“Q&A: Questions and Answers,” New Era, Jan. 1999, 17
As amazing as it sounds, you can do things right now that will help rid your family of contention, especially if you are older than your siblings. Even though you did not ask to be an example, your younger brothers and sisters will follow your lead. If they see you yelling at every little thing that they do, then they learn that is the way to react when things don’t go exactly as they would like. If they see you trying to treat them with kindness, they will learn that this is what being a good brother or sister means.
If your brothers and sisters are older, it may seem harder to be an example, but it can be done. All of you may be in the habit of speaking angrily to each other. You can work on this yourself. When you stay calm, they will calm down. It’s hard to hold an argument when only one side is yelling.
If possible, ask your parents if you can hold a family meeting. Ask if there are ways that you can each work on overcoming angry habits. This meeting will be an excellent time to try out a new way of behaving. Stay calm and listen to everyone’s suggestions. Then try to follow up on the good decisions you have made together.
Try an experiment. Next time your brother or sister does something like getting into your things without permission, instead of following your first impulse to yell or rip the item out of their hands, hold your temper. In a pleasant voice, start talking about something else. Ask them a question about something they are interested in. Show them something you are working on. Do anything but get angry. Just talk pleasantly for a few minutes. Then discuss the problem in a calm and pleasant way. By breaking the habit of yelling first and talking later, you can change the reaction you get from them. In a surprisingly short time, you can develop friendships with your brothers and sisters that will only improve as you both grow up.
Treat your brothers and sisters as you do your friends. When you see them, say hello. Don’t ignore them. When one of them is watching a television program, don’t just walk in and change the channel. If they are listening to their music, let them. At least be polite and ask first before you change anything going on. Respect their belongings or rooms. If you would like them to knock before coming into your room, then you should do the same.
If this is starting to sound familiar, remember that it is called the Golden Rule. You treat others, especially your brothers and sisters, as you want to be treated. Then you can learn from each other how to be kind and considerate of each other. That is what becoming a family is all about, learning together how to support and love each other.
It is clear that some serious problems in families cannot be changed so easily. Sometimes the Lord doesn’t remove the burden, but helps by strengthening us to be able to bear it (see Mosiah 24:14). Those situations need patience, prayer, guidance, and the influence of the Lord to soften hearts. There may be nothing you can do except be open to influence and comfort from our Heavenly Father.
But in the normal annoyances of family life, you personally can do a great deal to influence how pleasant your family is. Be kind, be patient, and be loving. It will be returned to you by your brothers and sisters.
Because it is hard to get along does not mean it is impossible. Concentrate on your siblings’ positive qualities. Look at situations from their point of view. Be forgiving. Be patient.
Elizabeth Stuart, 13
West Valley City, Utah
Being together with your family for eternity is very special and sacred. Take it seriously. Love inside the home is important. Whenever you quarrel, read this scripture, Mosiah 4:15: “But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.” Always keep in mind that contention is of the devil and when you fight you are not being Christlike.
Terrie C. Hendricks, 17
I found that the easiest way to make peace in my family is to follow my little Down’s syndrome brother’s peacemaking example. He is lovable, huggable, and forgiving. When my family gets into an argument, he leaves the room and comes back with tears in his eyes. He gives me a big hug as he tells me that he loves me and that he’s sorry. Maybe if we can just learn to say “I’m sorry” and to be peacemakers, we wouldn’t have as much contention.
Bree Craghead, 16
Pleasant Grove, Utah
My family and I are friends. Just like friends, we don’t always get along. My friends and I work out our differences and then move on. In our families, we also must work out our problems and move on. I believe that through serving our families, we can come to love them.
Marissa Mueller, 18
Salt Lake City, Utah
See your family as Jesus does. If you do that and try hard to have a good relationship, the fighting will stop and you will all look forward to living together for eternity.
Andrea Whatcott, 13
The solution is simple, but sometimes easier said than done. It’s love. Make breakfast for your brothers and sisters. Help them with chores or homework. Show your love by service. Invite one of your brothers or sisters to go places with you. Avoid pitfalls such as teasing. Love is contagious but can’t spread until somebody has it.
Jacob Wright, 18