Our house doesn’t seem like a home at all. It’s just a place to eat and sleep. We fight a lot, and we’re all going in different directions. What can I do to bring us together?
Remember that the responsibility to solve your family’s problems does not rest on your shoulders alone. You are a child in the family and may not have any control over what goes on.
But there are some things you can do to make a difference in your home. Here are some ideas:
Listen. If conversations end in fights, try new ways of communicating. Listen carefully when family members tell you how they feel. Then they may be more inclined to listen to your point of view, too. Learning to listen rather than just arguing is a great place to start.
It helps to talk. Several times a year during family home evening, one father organizes a time when members of the family anonymously write down on a piece of paper all the things that bother them. Members of the family then read them out loud and set goals to help overcome these problems. It can be a lot of fun to set goals together and to support one another as you complete them.
Support your brothers and sisters. You can become closer to your brothers and sisters if you become interested in their lives. If your older brother plays on a sports team, go to his games. If your sister sings in a choir, go to her concerts. Don’t criticize or tease them about how they do. Point out the good things and don’t saying anything about the bad.
Plan family activities. Take the initiative to plan an activity or ask if you can plan a family home evening for the whole family. You can ask your mother and father for help, but if they are too busy, go ahead and plan it yourself. Don’t be discouraged if your idea is not met with overwhelming enthusiasm or if some family members refuse to participate. If the first try doesn’t work out, don’t get angry and give up; rethink your plan and try again.
Keep your promises. Follow through on the things you are asked to do. If your mom or dad needs your help, don’t complain; just help them. If you have a curfew, don’t miss it. Be home when you say you are going to be home. Your trustworthiness can stop a lot of arguments before they ever get started.
Your kindness and consideration for your family can make a big difference in the atmosphere of your home.
But even after all your efforts, there are many things about a family that are beyond your control. Remember, you can turn to your teachers, advisers, and bishop for help. If your family has serious problems, professional counseling may be needed.
Most importantly, your Heavenly Father is always there to listen to and comfort you.
My father isn’t active in the Church, and that is the cause of conflict in my home. I work really hard to set a good example for him, and I know he can see the difference in my life.
But sometimes I have felt like there was someone trying to undo all the good things I did at home. It was really discouraging. One Sunday after church, I talked to my sister about it and we agreed to start doing secret acts of service in our home. Each week we chose someone in our family and tried to spend time with that person. We left notes of encouragement and did little things like making sure a sister’s dress was pressed for church or a brother’s soccer uniform was washed.
It didn’t take long for our family to realize who was providing the service, but now everyone joins in and does something. We can see the love in our home now—it is in everything we do.
Name withheld upon request
Talk to your relatives, friends, or bishop if you need help, and then talk to your parents about the things you are feeling. If you tell and show your family how much you love them, their love for you will grow, too.
Odexa D. Frogoso, 12 Cabagan, Isabela Ward, Tuguegarao Stake, Philippines
Why not plan a special activity to bring your family closer together? It can be something simple like putting together a picnic. The important part is to have time to talk and get to know each other better. When we spend time with our families, we remember how great they are and why we love them so much.
Tomoko Misono, 16 Shibuya Ward, Tokyo South Stake, Japan
“No other success can compensate for failure in the home.” The words that President David O. McKay spoke are true, and to be successful, you have to be willing to do all you can to strengthen your family. Even taking the time out to talk may be difficult, but if you start to be aware of others’ needs and love them, they will follow your example and love each other more.
Maria Golda Meir Victoria D. Fabricante, 19 Hagonoy Branch, Malolos Stake, Philippines
Forgive your family. If you argue with your family because someone has been hurt and has had bad feelings, you both need to talk about it and apologize. Then forgive each other and try to be more sensitive and loving to them. If they will not forgive you, try to forgive them anyway. Love is what makes a house a home, and you cannot feel love when you are angry.
Maria Cecilia Latuna, 16 Legazpi First Ward, Legazpi Philippine Stake, Philippines
Our Young Women president gave each of us a challenge to tell our parents that we loved them. It was really hard for me and my sister, because even though our parents knew we loved them, we had never told them.
We decided to prepare dinner and write on their napkins that we loved them. It was a big surprise to our parents and turned out so well that we tell them that we love them every day now.
I believe the key to family unity is family love. Pray, and Heavenly Father will help you find a way to express your love to your family.
Dania González S., 19 Bío Bío Ward, Hualpen Chile Stake, Chile
My parents are inactive members, and, even though I have served a mission and my sister is serving one now, they aren’t motivated to attend Church. It is really sad, but the children are setting the example for the parents.
When there is contention in our home, we try to follow Christ’s example of turning away wrath with a soft answer, and not arguing back. We love them and pray and fast that someday they will want to come back to the Church and make our family eternal.
Soraia Fagundes, 25 Riacho Ward, Contagem District, Brazil
Make a change in yourself. You may be looking at all the things that are wrong with your family and not the things that are right. Compliment family members on the things they do well, and be the first one to help when someone needs you.
If you are calm, patient, and reasonable when your family has problems, you will see your family start to change toward you.
Once there is trust, you will be able to start good habits with your family—like prayer and family home evening.
Maria Cecilia R. Silos, 16 Naga City, Philippines
Set an example by having a happy countenance. As you try to be pleasant to your family, they will react to your happiness and become happy, too.
Alapati Lo‘I Va‘atu‘itu‘i, 26 Falelatai Branch, Upolu Samoa West Stake, Samoa
My parents have had a lot of financial problems, and that led to a lot of family problems. My brothers and I didn’t realize how much they were struggling until our father told us. We set a family goal to all help pay off our debts and found jobs during the summer to help out. My father even let us pay the bills one month so we could see where the money went.
When we realized how much our parents were sacrificing for us, we gained a lot of respect for them; and when they saw that we were willing to help, they gained respect for us. Now we are all happier.
Name withheld upon request
Pray, pray, pray. The best thing we can do to strengthen our families is to pray. Pray for inspiration to be able to help your family, and encourage them to pray together. The Lord loves us, and he will answer our prayers.
Elder Gerald Sorita, 24 Hawaii Honolulu Mission
As a Melchizedek Priesthood holder, I share my testimony with my family. I know that having the priesthood in our home helps us, and when I share my feelings about the Church, I feel motivated to set a good example and activate the members of my family who are not active.
Gilberto Morea Salazar, 20 Los Almendros Ward, Cali Stake, Colombia
Every member of the family is important in building a better home. We meet together as a family and plan time to spend together each week. By planning our weeks together, we can support each other and are more understanding of the responsibilities that each person has to accomplish. Start with yourself and try to be understanding toward your family.
Rowena C. Rivera, 20 Talavera Branch, Cabanatuan Stake, Philippines