We Are Family

by Lisa M. G. Crockett, Barbara Jean Jones, and Nancy Kirkpatrick

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Want to feel more at home in your house? These families offer some good pointers.

What’s the greatest thing about your family? What really makes it tick? What are the challenges you have overcome together? What’s your happiest memory? We asked several families these questions and were surprised at how unusual, interesting, and fun their responses were.

As you read about their successes, remember that they are just regular families who have found creative ways to make family life enjoyable. With some effort and a good sense of humor, almost anyone can do it. Even you.

Oh Brother!

When Camille Erickson was born, no one knew quite what to do.

Don’t misunderstand. Her parents already had five other children, so they were getting to be pros at parenting. Her five siblings had excitedly awaited her arrival. It was just that, well, she was a … girl.

Being the younger sister of five older brothers, and then the older sister of one younger brother, Camille knows a lot about “being one of the guys.” When the family splits up into teams for sports, Camille plays right along. As the only girl, Camille was the only person to have her own room—a fact she didn’t get used to for a long time.

“When I was little, I used to sneak into their rooms at night and go to sleep. My mom would find me the next morning, curled up on the floor,” she says.

But Camille, now a Mia Maid in Battle Ground, Washington, hasn’t slept on the floor for a long time. She still likes to play sports and to roughhouse with her brothers, but Camille’s life is more focused on school, Young Women, and friends than in those days when she was little. Also, her older brothers have grown up, and many of them don’t live at home anymore. In fact, since the age difference between her oldest brother and her youngest brother is 22 years, having the family all together is a rare experience.

“My brothers and I try to do things together, one-on-one, so that we have time to talk,” says Camille

Activities Camille enjoys with her brothers include things that are pretty unstructured, like watching videos, going out for treats, and taking walks together. But, occasionally, there is something more planned, like the time she took ballroom dance lessons with her 23-year-old brother, Travis.

“I think the average age in that class was 60,” says Travis with a grin. “But we had a good time.”

There are traditions that keep them close, too. The night Camille was born, Brad, her oldest brother, stayed up late to make her a birthday cake. Now her brothers send roses to her at school on her birthday.

“When my friends see that I get flowers from my brothers, they’re shocked. They can’t believe we’re all friends.”

The Power of Family Home Evening

What’s different about family home evening at the Murphy house? At first glance, not much, you might think.

Seventeen-year-old Mandy (short for Amanda), from Vashon, Washington, is sitting relaxed with her stepmom and dad in the living room of their home, discussing current events and how they tie in to a gospel topic. The scriptures are ready for reference, and they are really paying attention to each other’s thoughts and feelings.

But that’s where much of the similarity to many Latter-day Saint families ends. You see, Mandy is a Church member, and her father, Brian, and stepmother, Robin, are not.

“This is quite a change for our family,” Mandy explains. “It started when I joined the Church. I was led to the Church at the appropriate time, when it really appealed to me. It was so comforting and the families in the Church were so strong, and I really needed that.”

According to Mandy, no particular person really initiates family home evening each week, but after she explained the concept of family home evening to her parents, they were willing to try it.

“We spent time together before, but now it’s more organized. We don’t usually stress studying scriptures because my mom’s not really comfortable with that yet, but every once in a while, my dad and I do. We play games, and sometimes my dad will read us articles from the newspaper and we’ll discuss them.

“We also try to get to know each other better. We do that by just basically sitting down and looking at each other, talking with each other. I’ve come to respect and love my parents a lot more since we’ve started having family home evening.

“Because of the Church, the influence of the Spirit, and the time we spend in family home evening, I have a much better relationship with my parents than I ever could have imagined.”

Do As the Romans

When it comes to setting a good example, the Romans, of Mechanicsburg, Virginia, do it well—Jordan, Denton, and Clayton Romans, that is.

As the oldest of the three brothers, 22-year-old Jordan has led the way in setting a good example, and his younger brothers have followed.

All three brothers are Eagle Scouts, seminary graduates, members of the National Honor Society, and former senior class presidents at their high school. Jordan and Denton, 21, have served missions, and Clayton, 18, will begin his mission soon. The boys have also taken a special interest in their 14-year-old sister, Lindsay, in helping her to do her best.

And who do the Romans say has helped them achieve so much? Their older sister, Chelsea, 24, who has coached and supported her siblings every step of the way.

Illustrated by Paul Mann

One-on-one activities are the key to closeness at the Erickson home. Since Camille’s the only girl, her brothers go out of their way to make her feel included.

Mandy Murphy is a missionary in her own home. Family home evening is one of her best teaching tools.

For the Romans family, setting a good example is what it’s all about. All the boys are Eagle Scouts, and oldest sister Chelsea was recently married in the temple.