Q&A: Questions and Answers


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

My younger brother tags along with me everywhere I go. I know we should get along, but he often says and does things that embarrass me when we’re together. How can we resolve this problem?

New Era

  • Use this opportunity to be a role model for your younger brother.

  • Ask Heavenly Father to help you work on your relationship with your brother.

  • When you can, include your brother in your activities, and try to find time you can spend with just him.

  • Talk to him about how you feel, and be ready to listen to what he has to say.

  • Treat him the way you would like to be treated.

  • Pray for patience.

It isn’t uncommon for a younger brother to look up to an older brother. Sometimes this admiration can be so strong it might be like having a second shadow. He may want to go everywhere you go and do everything you do. He may say or do things that embarrass you.

The bottom line is he probably just wants your attention. Although this may be annoying, it’s also an opportunity. If your brother admires you enough to tag along everywhere you go, you might be able to have a great influence over him as his role model. And, with time and effort, you could become good friends.

One of the first things you should do is to pray about the situation. Ask Heavenly Father to help you work on your relationship with your brother.

When you can, include your brother in your activities. But try to find time you can spend with just him. If you can give him your focused attention for a while, he might understand more when you want to spend time alone or with your other friends. You also might get to know him better and enjoy his friendship.

You should also talk to him about how you feel. Be conscious of his feelings and don’t forget to treat him the way you would like to be treated. Explain to him that you enjoy spending time with him, but sometimes you need your space. When you talk to him, be ready to listen.

What you may need more than anything is patience. It may not be what you want to hear, but sometimes it just takes time for little brothers to grow out of their tagalong phase.

“Patience with family members and others who are close to us is vital for us to have happy homes,” Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve said. “However, we often seem more willing to be courteous and polite with strangers than with those in our own family circles” (Ensign, May 1987, 32).

Although your relationship with your friends might seem like the most important thing to you right now, it’s important to keep an eternal perspective. One of our goals is to spend eternity with our families. That includes your brother. As you grow older, your circle of friends might change. But your brother will be your brother forever.

Elder Marvin J. Ashton

“When we realize that parents and family members can be more than blood relations and are in very deed friends, then we will have a glimpse of how our Heavenly Father wants us to live, not only as brothers and sisters but as very close friends” (Improvement Era, Dec. 1969, 51). —Elder Marvin J. Ashton (1915–1994)

Readers

I think the first thing you need to do is talk to your brother. Tell him, in a loving way, how you feel when he says and does things that embarrass you. I also recommend that you pray for help to resolve the problem.

Joangela Castro, 18 New York, New York

When I was younger, my older brother would take me out with him. I loved it because it showed his love for me and gave me someone to look up to. When I was older, I would take my little brother with me. Some of the best times I remember are when I was with my brothers. Looking back, I wish I had spent more time with them.

Elder Eric Andrew Smith, 19 Illinois Chicago North Mission

Discuss your concerns with your brother. Let him know your feelings. Explain that you love him, and then take the opportunity to lead him by example. Through this your love and friendship will grow.

Nelson Pettey, 19 Breakwater, Geelong, Australia

You should pray to Heavenly Father for help. I’m sure your brother is following you because he looks up to you. You just have to think he must follow you for a reason, and he doesn’t mean to embarrass you.

Leah McCormick, 16 Lakeville, Massachusetts

Maybe you could set some time aside each week for just the two of you. Your relationship will grow, and he may not seem so embarrassing to you anymore.

Melissa Johnson, 19 Sandy, Utah

All I have to do is show respect and love towards my brother, and everything works out great. When my brother isn’t around, my friends always tell me they like the relationship I have with my brother and they wish they could be like us.

Robert Warner, 15 Princeton, California

[photo] Photography by Welden Andersen. Posed by models