Q&A: Questions and Answers


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

I share a bedroom with my younger sister. Since we share the same space, we seem to have a lot of arguments. How can we resolve our problems and get along better?

New Era

  • Treat your younger sister like your best friend.

  • You can’t expect behavior from your roommate that you don’t require of yourself.

  • Look for ways to serve your sister.

  • If you resolve your problems, you might find that sharing a room is much more fun than having a room to yourself.

  • Learning how to get along with a roommate now could help you avoid tension the rest of your life.

Sharing a room with a sister or brother can be one of the most memorable growing-up experiences. It can be memorable because it was dreadful or because you became best friends. Only one of these outcomes takes effort.

Tiesha Benedict, from Derby, Kansas, shares a room with her younger sister. She says they weren’t getting along until she realized that her goal was to spend eternity with her family, including her sister. When there are constant arguments and disagreements, living together for eternity can seem more like a punishment than a blessing. So Tiesha decided to treat her younger sister like her best friend. Tiesha says it just took a small change of attitude to make sharing a room with her sister an enjoyable experience.

Several teens who once shared bedrooms but now have rooms of their own wrote in to say how much they missed sharing with a brother or sister. Sam Boston, from Memphis, Tennessee, grew up sharing a room with his older brother. Sam says he didn’t always get along with his brother. But since his brother left on a mission, Sam says he would like to have that time back. “If only I could live that time over again, I’d let him win every single fight,” he says. “It’s so terrible that we never appreciate people until after they’re gone.”

Many teens who share a bedroom wrote to tell us how they have tried to get along. Stories ranged from a strip of masking tape to a barricade made of drawers, shelves, and chairs to divide the room. Others wrote a list of rules that both siblings could agree on. But the idea that seemed to be most popular, and most successful, was to love their roommate by serving him or her. Ideas of service included making both beds, writing a note and leaving it under the pillow, cleaning the room, and just saying, “I love you.” In short, the solutions that divided up space seemed to fail, and the solutions that encouraged service, sharing, and respect succeeded.

One question you should ask yourself if you are having a hard time getting along with a roommate is: What kind of a roommate am I? You can’t expect behavior from your roommate that you don’t require of yourself. If you expect your sister to ask before she borrows something that belongs to you, you must do the same to her. If you want her to keep her part of the room clean, you must keep your side of the room clean. The more you strive to treat your sister the way you want to be treated, the more you will enjoy being together.

Growing up may not be the only time you share a room. Chances are you will share a room if you go on a mission, go to college, or get married. Learning how to get along with a roommate now could help you avoid tension the rest of your life. And, if you can resolve your problems, you might find that sharing a room is much more fun than having a room to yourself.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

“Occasionally, family members treat each other with less courtesy and kindness than they do acquaintances or even strangers. … The true greatness of a person, in my view, is evident in the way he or she treats those with whom courtesy and kindness are not required” (Ensign, May 1992, 86). —Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve

Readers

I’ve had to share my room for most of my life, and it’s definitely something you have to deal with on a mission. One of the best tools is just common courtesy—keep your part of the room tidy, and put your things where they belong. Ultimately, remember to be the kind of roommate you would like to have.

Elder Steven Paradise, 21 Indiana Indianapolis Mission

When my sister and I were sharing a room, we got together and made up some rules and promised to keep them. It worked very well.

Cammie Dodds, 13 Riverton, Utah

When arguments arise, remember Proverbs 15:1 [Prov. 15:1]: “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”

Jenny Wheiler, 17 Shanghai, China

Missionaries have what is called companionship inventory. Once a week we sit down and resolve irritations we have with each other’s actions in a considerate and kind way. When we eliminate the small irritations, it usually eliminates any major difficulties.

Elder Nathan Petersen Oklahoma Oklahoma City Mission

If you get to know your sister and hang out with her more often, you’ll find it harder to argue with her.

Meagan Karch, 14 Phoenix, Arizona

[photo] Photography by Craig Dimond. Posed by models