Q&A: Questions and Answers


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

It seems as if everyone in my ward belongs to a perfect family. My parents are divorced, and I don’t feel like I fit in. Is there anything I can do to feel better, and how can I strengthen my family?

New Era

  • Nobody’s family is perfect, even though it may seem that way.

  • Don’t get discouraged about things that are out of your control. We’re only expected to do our best.

  • Help plan and carry out family home evening and family prayer.

  • Always look for ways to serve your family members.

  • Your strength can help your family through hard times.

Every month we get a stack of letters responding to the question in Q&A. Rarely do we get as many responses as we did to this question. And most of the responses started the same: “I know exactly how you feel.” Apparently you are not alone in feeling like the only one who doesn’t belong to a perfect family.

“No doubt everyone would like to be part of a perfect family and live in perfect harmony in a perfect home,” said Elder Marion D. Hanks, an emeritus member of the Seventy. “Yet no one is or does, since no one of us is yet perfect” (New Era, June 1991, 4).

Elder Hanks, whose father died when Elder Hanks was young, also grew up in a single-parent home. He learned how to deal with the challenges of a nontraditional home and gives good advice for anyone in a similar situation:

“Those whose families are not what we wish they were can be thankful to parents who through God’s gift have given us life, and we can do everything we can do to minimize conflict and enhance harmony in our homes. Some small miracles occur where there just doesn’t appear much probability that one young person can make a difference” (New Era, June 1991, 8).

Every family has challenges, whether you can see them or not. Many of the kids in those “perfect” families secretly compare their families unfavorably with other families. It’s just not helpful to compare your family to others. Instead, look for ways to strengthen the family you are in now, and prepare for the family you will one day have.

We are only expected to do our best. Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve says, “Living a pattern of life as close as possible to the ideal will provide much happiness, great satisfaction, and impressive growth while here on earth regardless of your current life circumstances” (Ensign, May 2001, 7). Try not to get discouraged about circumstances beyond your control.

Start strengthening your family by strengthening yourself. Set an example for your parents, brothers, and sisters by attending your church meetings and activities. Read your scriptures and pray daily. Look for ways to serve your family, and try to be a peacemaker in the home. Your strength will help your family get through hard times.

Encourage your family to participate in church and family activities together. When you are with family members, point out their strengths instead of criticizing their weaknesses.

Remember, you also have an extended family and a ward family to lean on. When you feel discouraged, turn to your Heavenly Father. He understands your situation and will help comfort you. Even if your circumstances are not peaceful, you can still find inner peace.

Elder Robert D. Hales

Strengthening families is our sacred duty as parents, children, extended family members, leaders, teachers, and individual members of the Church” (Ensign, May 1999, 32). —Elder Robert D. Hales Of the Quorum of the Twelve

Readers

You may not have a perfect earthly family, but you have a wonderful Father in Heaven who loves you very much. You also have a kind and amazing Brother, Jesus Christ, who died for you. They will always be there for you.

Jana Neuffer, 16 Bonn, Germany

I know how you feel. My family isn’t together either. It is hard going to church, and it feels like you’re the only one there who doesn’t have a “family.” Just because your parents don’t love each other doesn’t mean they don’t love you. Make it a goal to get married in the temple and to give your kids what you didn’t have.

Bryce Adams, 15 Oakley, Idaho

I used to feel like I was the only one with real, difficult problems with my family and that all my friends had perfect lives. It may seem that others are not going through trials with their family when they may be going through greater trials than you might suppose.

Bethany Watterson, 17 Kihei, Hawaii

I felt the same way when my parents were divorced. Try to be optimistic in everything you do. Keep in mind all of the blessings Heavenly Father has given you. I promise, over time, as your testimony grows, you will feel a lot better.

David Manuele, 15 Milford, Utah

I too live in a ward where it seems as if every family is perfect, and I feel like I don’t fit in because my parents are divorced. Don’t forget that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love you, and in their eyes you always fit in as a son or daughter of God.

Alisha Roper, 16 Mesa, Arizona

A couple of years ago my parents divorced, and I felt the same way. Talk about your feelings to people you are close to. Strengthen your family by helping your busy single parent with your siblings, family home evenings, and chores. Members of your ward understand more than you realize.

Lisa Visker, 17 Roseville, California

[photo] Photography by Craig Dimond. Posed by model