Nikki and Breck Fullmer quarreled constantly. Most of their fights were about Nikki borrowing Breck’s T-shirts, and Nikki enduring Breck’s music. Nikki and Breck were both looking for a way out of their conflicts when they decided to participate in their stake’s “Time Alone” experiment.
In “Time Alone” you invite a family member to spend an hour doing something they like with only you. It’s a laser focus of attention on a single sibling or parent. “Time Alone” is a simple formula for friendship that might make a change in your family. Some family members experience results in just a few meetings.
Nikki knew her brother gulped gallons of soda pop every week, so she invited him to go get a drink with her. He thought it was a fine arrangement, since she was buying. After the soda they talked and drove around for an hour. After just one rendezvous Nikki said, “He’s at a stage where he’ll do just about anything to be cool. And now he thinks it’s cool to be with me.”
Other young people who participated in the experiment didn’t fight with their brothers and sisters but felt their relationships weren’t as strong as they could be. Curtis Morley missed the close relationship he and his younger brother had as young boys. He decided to get up early with his brother and join him in his bike ride to volleyball practice during the summer.
“At first we just talked of common things, but as the days progressed he spoke more from the heart. I anticipated a noticeable change in him. It didn’t happen. Instead the change came over me. I had regained a friend, someone who would always be there when I needed him—and an awesome volleyball partner.”
Here are some ideas to create your own “Time Alone”:
Choose a person in your home with whom you would like to be closer. Invite this person for a “Time Alone.” You could say something like this:
“I’d really like to talk to you alone.”
“Want to take a walk?”
“You look like you could use a Slurpee. I’m buying.”
“Let’s ride horses up to the creek.”
You don’t need to spend a lot of money, or any money at all, but choose an activity that the person you are inviting will enjoy.
If the person says they’re busy, ask them to suggest a later time.
Make sure your time alone will take you away from the telephone, television, and other distractions.
Ask questions which show your sincere interest. For example:
“What three things made you happiest this week?”
“Are you discouraged about your math class?”
“What’s going on with the basketball team?”
Try not to ask for money or favors. Concentrate on the person. Avoid sensitive topics which may create tension.
Listen with your full and complete attention. Forget yourself and imagine their thoughts, feelings, ambitions and conflicts.
So, does this “Time Alone” really help sibling relationships? Here’s what some of the participants from the Edgemont South and Sharon Stakes in Utah Valley said:
“Brady and I didn’t have a bad relationship. The problem was, we didn’t have a relationship at all. Involvement in school and my friends meant everything. I never took the time. When I heard about the experiment, I immediately thought of Brady, and after praying about it I was sure he was the one. At first it was a chore; then it became a little easier; then I realized he is fun! I just had to make the first move. Now he comes to invite me to do things with him.”
“I can’t say that I found out anything really new about my sister, but I can say I felt closer to her.”
“My whole teenage world was caving in. I said a silent prayer asking for someone to make my hurt go away. Within 20 minutes my sister pulled up in her car. I can’t tell you how good it is to find your best friends under the same roof.”
“My brother was so obnoxious no one would even sit by him. I knew exactly who to pick for a time alone. We camped out in the living room and rode our bikes to McDonald’s for breakfast. Though there hasn’t been an earth-shaking change, I’ve noticed he doesn’t tease as much as he used to and he shares more.”
“My older brother was leaving for college and I realized I wouldn’t see him for a while. I asked if I could put my sleeping bag next to his bed. We talked almost every night for the next month. Maybe we didn’t get as much sleep as we needed, but it was a small price to pay for such a close friendship.”
“My sister and I used to get into some pretty ugly arguments over silly things like using the phone or borrowing clothes. Then we wouldn’t speak for days and would exchange dirty glances. For our fourth time alone, we made a batch of taffy. We sang along to a Beatles tape, pulled the taffy, and pulled ourselves closer together.”