Q&A: Questions and Answers


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

I’m the only one in my family who attends church regularly. On the occasions when my family does come, they are uncomfortable because the ward members make a big fuss. What should I do?

New Era

The situation you describe is a difficult one because there isn’t one right answer. It would be nice if the right things were always said and done when two groups of people you care about get together.

First, you need to realize the members of your ward are just trying to make sure that your family feels welcome. We’ve all heard stories about people who felt unwanted because no one was friendly to them when they attended church. Your family may take such phrases as “I haven’t seen you in a while” as criticism that they don’t attend church when no criticism was intended. Your family may be a little embarrassed by the flood of emotion, but your ward members certainly don’t want you or them to feel bad because of it. You should realize they are trying to show they care in the only ways they know how.

It might help to consider how you would feel if the opposite treatment occurred, if a few people said hello but no one made any real attempt to talk with your parents. Wouldn’t they feel hurt if they were ignored?

As for being treated like a special case, you will fit more and more comfortably into the ward as you attend regularly and get to know people. Realize that your youth leaders and bishopric want you to feel accepted.

What can you do about it? There are members of the ward you can talk to about this situation. Of course, you can always go to the bishop. Two other people who might know your family’s feelings are your home teachers. They may have some ideas about how to make everyone feel comfortable. Or talk with your Young Women or Young Men adviser. They can help support you in your Church activity.

You might try talking with your family. Explain some of the things we’ve mentioned here. Does it please you when your family comes to church to hear you participate? Does it make you feel happy? Explain that ward members are just showing what you yourself feel.

Although your family doesn’t like a fuss, it’s quite natural for people to express their happiness. Remember the story of the prodigal son. When he returned home, his father celebrated his return with a feast (see Luke 15:11–32).

The parable of the lost sheep is similar. The shepherd rejoiced when the lost sheep was returned to the fold (see Luke 15:4–7).

The ward is like a family. They rejoice when less active members of the ward return to be with them again. We hope your family can feel the love that is being offered. And we hope you also will feel good about what happens when your family attends church with you in the future.

Readers

Understand that the people in your ward are just trying to fellowship your family, but they probably are overdoing it. Try talking to your home teacher and tell him how you feel. Then he can take that information to where he thinks it will help.

Michelle Biggs, 15 Tucson, Arizona

My advice for this situation is to share your feelings and concerns openly with leaders. This will set in their minds a new course to activating your family. But remember that the fuss is really the love we have for one another as brothers and sisters. Don’t let it bother you. It just means you’re loved.

Elder Daniel-Lynn Whittacre, 19 Australia Perth Mission

My parents are not members, but when I come home from church or related activities, I talk to my parents about what I learn and the feelings I have about them. Remember to share, be an example, and pray to Heavenly Father.

Danielle Marie Bird, 13 Sacramento, California

They’re trying to be nice. Isn’t it better to be recognized than to be ignored?

Austin Houghtaling, 13 Astoria, Oregon

Don’t let others influence your testimony and activity in the Church. Set a good example for your family by continuing to attend church regularly. The Church members get involved because they love and care for you.

Heidi Young, 15 Douglas, Wyoming

I also thought I was a “special case,” but I had a Young Women leader who reminded me why I came and told me that if I prayed maybe I could help my family. Now my parents are active again, and it’s a great blessing. Stick with it.

Jennifer Lochabay, 16 Garland, Texas

People can say how great it is to see me at church 101 times. Those few words just make me feel more wanted and determined to go more and more.

Marika F. Calvin Geraldton, Western Australia

I’m the only active member in my family, and I know it’s hard at times. I finally realized that these people didn’t intend to make a fuss. I realized that they were concerned for me and my family, that they loved us and just wanted the best for us.

Elder Kasey Campbell, 20 Alabama Birmingham Mission

Try looking at things more positively. Imagine everyone in your ward shunning you or looking on you as an outsider. You would feel lonely and left out. Instead they accept, care, and support you and your family.

Suzanne Maguire, 16 Cedar City, Utah

[photo] Photography by Matt Reier

[illustration] Just as the father rejoiced on the return of his prodigal son, (see Luke 15:11–32), we also are happy when we see friends and family return to church. We need to learn to express that happiness in ways that are supportive and not hurtful to them. (Painting Prodigal Son by Clark Kelley Price.)