Questions and Answers

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    Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

    I’m worried about my family. It’s difficult to get my brothers to go to church, and my older sister is not active. They show little respect for my parents. How can I make my home happier and more spiritual?

    Our Answer

    One of the most important ways you can help is to continually work on doing what you know is right. Make an effort to keep the commandments and stay close to other strong members in your ward or branch. Attend seminary without fail. Participate in Church youth activities, even if you have to go by yourself. Don’t miss going to church on Sunday and partaking of the sacrament. Your brothers and sister may try to talk you into doing something with them, but they need to realize that the Church is important in your life. Set a good example by doing the things you know are right even when it isn’t easy.

    In your attempts to make good choices, avoid being self-righteous or conveying an attitude of superiority. Look for good qualities in your family members and express genuine love and appreciation to them. Share your testimony when the opportunity presents itself, even if it is only to your parents. They will be comforted knowing you have a testimony as they struggle to help others in the family develop theirs.

    An important quality to cultivate is patience. Even if you are 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 take a lifetime—or longer.

    If someone told you that if you did everything to live the gospel for the next 10 years, your siblings would return to enjoy 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 for the benefit of your family. How long it takes for your efforts to have an impact on your family is not important. Just have faith that as you are doing your part, the Lord is doing his.

    The most important thing to remember is that you are not in this alone. Your parents, other family members, Church members and leaders, and other good people will help you. You will also have help from the most important source of all—our Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.

    Readers’ Answers

    Performing temple work in a spirit of fasting and prayer can help our families be more faithful. In the temple we draw closer to our Father in Heaven.

    At one time and at great sacrifice, my mother and I went to the temple. There we said many prayers for our family, especially for my younger brother who had not been active in the Church for five years. On our return home, we discovered that at the very moment we were praying in the temple, my brother was asking the full-time missionaries to help him and his friend live better lives. In time, he was able to baptize his friend, and now both of them are preparing to serve missions.

    Celeste Mongi,
    Los Olmos Branch, Villa María Argentina District

    I am one of 13 children in a Latter-day Saint family that has experienced similar problems. We joined the Church 14 years ago, and over the years some of my brothers and sisters have become less active. Many have shown little or no respect for our parents.

    My family underwent a great transformation when my youngest sister died following an accident. We realized then that for us to be together again as an eternal family, we needed to change our lives. Five of my less-active brothers and sisters began to attend church again, our attitude toward each other and toward our parents improved considerably, and quarreling diminished. We attended a temple preparation class taught by my brother-in-law, and five months after my sister’s accident, we were sealed together as a family for time and eternity.

    Hopefully, you will not need something as drastic as a death in your family for the change you desire to occur. Any family can grow in affection if each member of the family does his or her part in trying to make the home a happy place to be. The Lord gave the responsibility for family harmony as much to the children as to the parents. If we are cordial, loving, understanding, and considerate, as we speak, pray, sing, and work together, family members will draw closer to one another. We must be willing to sacrifice our time to strengthen the family, to communicate, to listen, to express our feelings with love, to avoid judging, to keep confidences, and to practice patience.

    Éder José Lagemann,
    Parque Ouro Fino Ward, Sorocaba Brazil Trujillo Stake

    On my mission, I have learned to read the scriptures to find specific answers that help those investigating the Church. The same method will work with family members. Furthermore, by reading the scriptures daily, we ourselves become happier and more spiritual, and some of that same spirit is communicated to those around us.

    Elder Amador Braulio Torres Juárez,
    México México City North Mission

    My father, a brother, and a sister are less active, and sometimes they do not support those of us in my family who are active. I find comfort in two promises. I was told in my patriarchal blessing that I could strengthen my family through prayer and love, and the General Authorities have said that reading the Book of Mormon regularly will increase love and harmony in our homes (see “The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, November 1986, 7).

    I testify that prayer, love, and reading the Book of Mormon are bringing about a change for the better in my family.

    Valéria Cristina de Souza Ferraz,
    Rio Doce First Ward, Olinda Brazil Paulista Stake

    We can hold our families together through family prayer, scripture reading, family home evening, and family councils. Strengthen your unity by expressing love and kindness to your parents and siblings, by showing a spirit of forgiveness, and by being patient with them.

    Do not expect your family relationships to be perfect at once. Progress is made by focusing on the little things, by going from one small step to the next each day. God will bless you and your family in your efforts.

    Veilomani Mapapalangi Lapu’aho,
    Nifai (Tongan) Ward, Auckland New Zealand Tamaki Stake

    I have been a member of the Church for five years. At first I was the only member in my family; my wife was very active in another faith. Now two of my children have been baptized, and my wife and a third child are receiving the missionary discussions. I firmly believe that these blessings have come about because I fasted and prayed and attended the temple. I exhort you to do the same and to have patience. Your desire may be granted when you least expect it.

    José Marcos García,
    Newark (Spanish) Ward, Scotch Plains New Jersey Stake

    Help your family to be in harmony with one another and with the Lord through prayer, scripture study, family activity, and perhaps sharing meaningful articles from the Liahona. However, if they still show no interest, don’t be impatient. Pray every day with a feeling of love. I know from my own experience that Heavenly Father and our Savior are watching over us even if we are not reaching out to them. Never give up hope.

    Kazuko Oikawa,
    Kitakami Branch, Morioka Japan District

    If there is anything that has helped me at home, it is my faith in the principles of prayer and fasting, principles which truly soften hearts. Be sure to include your desires for your family in your prayers, and exercise great faith in Him who is powerful to save. Remember that He hears your prayers and knows of your fasting. Your sacrifice will bring forth the blessings of heaven (see “Praise to the Man,” Hymns, number 27).

    Roneiline Martí,
    Guacara Ward, Valencia Venezuela Los Sauces Stake

    It’s very sad when a family member does not feel about the Church the way you feel about it. It is even sadder when a loved one does not enjoy the blessings that come from being part of an eternal family. I know, because I am experiencing that situation.

    I have learned that we must be patient with our brothers and sisters and, if necessary, turn the other cheek (see Luke 6:29) when they offend us. Help them understand that to have parents is a blessing from our Heavenly Father, and we need to love them and make them proud of us.

    You will need to develop patience and charity (see Rom. 5:3–5; 1 Cor. 13:4–7), because progress can be slow.

    Florence Deloumeaux,
    Guadeloupe Branch, West Indies Mission

    Seek counsel from your local priesthood leaders. They are called to help you, to pray with you, to guide you. Always pray to your Heavenly Father, who loves you and each member of your family.

    Louie A. Arcangel,
    Lal-Lo Branch, Aparri Philippines District

    One of the secrets of happiness is contained in 1 John 4:19: “We love him, because he first loved us.”

    Show love toward your brothers and sisters. Listen uncritically to their point of view. Work within the framework of their God-given agency. Share your testimony with them and invite them to read the scriptures with you. Pray to your Heavenly Father in faith to help you.

    There is hope. There is a way to help your family return to activity and be united in love, but only if you don’t give up. You have within you the potential to do great and marvelous and good things. Do what is right, and the Lord will bless you in a wonderful way.

    Lerma Mahilum,
    Calatrava Branch, San Carlos Philippines District

    As Paul exhorts in 1 Timothy 4:12–13 [1 Tim. 4:12–13], we need to be examples of gospel living in every way. Sometimes an act of love, service, or patience is worth more than thousands of beautiful words on family unity.

    Beatriz Elena Valero Tobón,
    Almendros Branch, Santa Marta Colombia District

    You can increase the happiness and spirituality in your home if you regularly talk with your parents. You can ask them to share their testimonies of the gospel and to tell you of their spiritual experiences. In so doing, you show love and respect for them and serve as an example to your brothers and sisters. Be prepared to answer questions about the Church and the restored gospel.

    Pray for the help you need, and remember the Lord’s promise: “If men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. … If they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).

    Clemente B. Dapiaoen,
    Pila Branch, Santa Cruz Philippines Stake

    I am also going through a difficult trial with my family. I know that I need my Savior and my Heavenly Father.

    Help your brothers and sisters realize that families have the potential of being united forever, so they should be united in this life. Be a sincere friend to your parents and siblings in all you do or say or think. Try to live as the Lord wants you to, and he will help you.

    Claudia Tania Domínguez Herrada,
    Tlalpán Ward, México City México Tlalpán Stake

    Some people, sometimes even our loved ones, seek to travel roads other than the one that leads to Jesus Christ. Eventually, when they realize their error, they are grateful to rediscover the path of righteousness. Similarly, when a man in the desert realizes he is without water, he is very grateful to discover a life-giving well.

    Pray always that the Spirit of God will rest upon your family and guide them on the correct path to Jesus Christ, the “living water” who quenches spiritual thirst forever (see John 4:10–14). In time, they will come to realize that they cannot live without his influence in their lives.

    Simon J. Daum,
    Freiburg Ward, Bern Switzerland Stake

    Photograph by Welden Andersen; posed by models