Q&A: Questions and Answers


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

My older brother always seems to be trying to cut me down and make me feel bad. I try to ignore it, but sometimes I can’t help saying something hurtful back. How can I improve our relationship?

New Era

What your brother probably needs most is time. As he gets older, wiser, and more mature, there’s a good chance he will lose interest in insults and see your potential as a real friend. It happens a lot. The key is patience.

  • Pray about it.

    Ask Heavenly Father to help you as you work to improve your relationship. You’d be surprised how far a little faith can go.

  • Talk to him.

    Tell your brother honestly and seriously how you feel. Tell him his remarks are hurting you and ask what you both can do to make things better. Getting it out in the open could very well do the trick.

  • Be his friend—even if he won’t be yours.

    Go the extra mile for him or give him a sincere compliment every now and then. Attend a game or a concert where he is participating, or ask his opinion on something he really cares about.

  • Don’t be a tag-along.

    One thing your brother may need is space, and having a little brother or sister imitating him all the time may be driving him up the wall. Be your own person and let him be his. Apply the Golden Rule.

  • Don’t get angry.

    Your brother may be looking for a reaction from you, and any irritation you show might fuel his behavior.

If nothing seems to work with your brother, remember that you are in control of your own attitude and your own behavior. You don’t have to get angry, hurt, or offended, whether he wants you to or not. Don’t let his actions determine your feelings.

Nephi had problems with two of his older brothers, Laman and Lemuel. They constantly ridiculed and persecuted him, even after seeing an angel, but Nephi did not give up hoping that they would change.

Nephi set the example and was patient with his brothers. He forgave them for all their trespasses against him and prayed that they would embrace the gospel. But though he gave them every opportunity to come around, Laman and Lemuel continued to resent Nephi and reject the Lord.

Nephi did have one older brother, Sam, who was a friend. Sam believed all of Nephi’s words and visions. He supported him in obeying their father, Lehi, and when Nephi was commanded to depart into the wilderness, Sam and his family went with him. It is possible to have an agreeable older brother.

Another supportive older brother was Hyrum Smith, whose younger brother was the Prophet Joseph Smith. Hyrum believed all his brother’s revelations and served alongside him in the Church. After Hyrum and Joseph’s martyrdom, John Taylor wrote of them, “In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated!” (D&C 135:3).

As a teenager, it is important to keep the right perspective on your relationship with your brothers and sisters. Things that look big now, such as age differences, won’t seem so important when you’re adults. So if talking or showing your love in other ways doesn’t work, try a little patience. With a little time, you and your brother might turn out to be best friends after all.

Readers

When he says things bad or hurtful to you, don’t antagonize him by doing the same. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Tell him you don’t like fighting with him and you’d rather be his best friend.

Chris Broczek, 17 Wellington, New Zealand

Someone told me in every fight there’s a mule and a peacemaker. A mule never gives in or apologizes, but the peacemaker always tries to be nice and make peace. I was very inspired by this and from then on tried to be the peacemaker.

Anna Lieber Hinterkappelen, Switzerland

Try to talk with each other and sort your feelings out, but do it with love and kindness and not out of resentment. If there is resentment, then you each need to realize that you both have your own talents.

Audra Ludwig, 15 Orangevale, California

One thing that’s important to realize is that brothers are people too. They have problems in their lives, maybe from school, parents, friends, or a job. Pressure from any of these things can make a person edgy. Since emotions affect our frame of mind and how we treat people, it’s possible your brother does not even realize how unkind he is being to you at these times. Be tolerant, be patient, and be kind.

Becky Jorgensen, 17 Tustin, California

Don’t ignore what your brother says. Ask him why he says those things and tell him that they hurt. It’s not easy to admit that you’re hurt, especially to your brother, but it will help him think twice about what he says.

Leah Schwenke, 17 Wellington, New Zealand

Try not to say anything back to him, because I’ve found they always have something more to say. Saying something back is contention. Contention is of the devil. Pretend that Jesus is in the same room as you all day long, because, really, he is.

Charith Allen, 12 St. Anthony, Idaho

Sometimes when people put someone down they are just doing this to make themselves feel better, but usually it makes them feel worse. Getting back seems like the right thing to do at the time, but it isn’t. Try something as simple as saying good morning with a big smile on your face.

Jan McMurtrey, 13 Houston, Texas

[photo] Photography by Jed Clark

[illustration] Although Nephi was persecuted by two of his brothers, he was patient with them and forgave them every time they asked for his forgiveness. Nephi was able to persuade all of his family to work together for a great purpose, building a boat to take them to a new land. (Painting Nephi Rebuking His Rebellious Brothers by Arnold Friberg.)