Q&A: Questions and Answers


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

“My brothers and sister tell jokes about me that hurt my feelings. But I don’t know how to tell them that they are pushing me farther from them. What should I do?”

New Era

  • Pray about your concerns. Heavenly Father will answer your prayers.

  • Remember that you and your siblings are children of God and should treat each other with respect and dignity.

  • Remember your family is intended to be eternal, so good feelings are important.

  • Explain to your siblings how their teasing is affecting you.

  • Counsel with your parents.

  • Be kind. Turn the other cheek if you need to. Give your siblings a chance to change.

No one has the right to make jokes that hurt another person. Even if the joke seems funny to one person, if it hurts someone else’s feelings, it is wrong. But hurtful teasing sometimes happens between brothers and sisters, especially during the teenage years.

Your siblings may tease you just to see what your reaction will be. If you get upset, it may encourage them to keep teasing you. One way to deal with this situation is to change the way you respond. If you can, try to walk away. If you can’t, try ignoring their jokes. Remember that as they mature, your siblings will probably learn that hurtful humor is inappropriate.

It is also possible your siblings don’t understand how their teasing is affecting you. They may not even realize they are being cruel. They may just be copying the kind of humor they hear at school or on TV. If that is the case, explain to them that their teasing really does hurt your feelings. That means you need to speak with them honestly. That may seem hard to do, so pray for help in deciding how to approach the subject with them.

You can also talk with your parents. They may be able to help you decide if the best approach is to discuss this as a family, talk with your brothers and sister by yourself (either as a group or one-on-one), or perhaps to start by writing a note. In one family, sisters kept teasing a brother who was overweight. Finally he turned to his parents. “After that,” he recalls, “whenever we were together and my sisters would say something mean to me, my dad would help by changing the subject.” Eventually, the jokes stopped.

Remember that your family is intended to be eternal. That means good feelings are a high priority. Both you and your siblings are children of God. You should treat each other with respect and dignity. Remember this counsel from For the Strength of Youth:

“Do your part to build a happy home. Be cheerful, helpful, and considerate of others. Many problems in the home are created because family members speak and act selfishly or unkindly. Concern yourself with the needs of other family members. Seek to be a peacemaker rather than to tease, fight, and quarrel” (10).

Does this mean there is no room for good-natured teasing? Not at all. Kindhearted humor is a sign of affection. And so you’ll need to ask yourself if you’re being overly sensitive. Be willing to listen to your siblings’ feelings, and you’ll discover that deep inside they love you. They just may not know the right way to show it.

Let your siblings know you love them. Be kind to them in every way you can. Turn the other cheek when you need to, and give them a chance to grow and change.

Elder M. Russell Ballard

“Nothing is more critically connected to happiness … than how well we love and support one another within the family.” —Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “What Matters Most Is What Lasts Longest,” Ensign, Nov. 2005, 42.

Readers

If you are one who is offended easily, pray for strength to ask them to stop. And if you are too scared or embarrassed to ask them in person, write them a note. I have done this, and my life has become easier and happier. Bethany R., 13, New Mexico

I would describe my feelings to them and ask them if they could tell nice jokes that are not about anyone. Then I’d tell them that those jokes about others are a lot like telling rumors. I would say that being unkind is taking you further and further away from Christ. Think about it. Would the Savior do what you are doing? Briana K., 13, Washington

I try to tolerate people who say jokes about me as much as I can. However, when it really hurts, I remember and do as the Savior taught: “If thy brother shall [hurt] thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother” (Matthew 18:15). But then if they continue, take it to an authority—your parents—so it can be resolved with love. Elder Obaseki Alexander Jesuorobo, 21, Nigeria Port Harcourt Mission

I think the best way to correct it is to simply ignore your siblings’ teasing. It is really hard sometimes, but it is always effective. Andrea M., 16, Arizona

Once during family home evening my dad asked us what we wanted to change in our household. One of my sisters said, “Teasing.” My dad told us to turn to Moroni 7:44–46. Verse 45 says, “And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity.” This scripture reminds us all to have charity. Lauren H., 14, California

I suggest you leave a little gift for them or say something nice to them. They’ll probably be surprised, but they may return your favor. When you feel like you’re on better terms, talk to them individually. Tell them how you feel, and ask them if they’re teasing you for a reason. Finally, make up with them! Sarah E., 14, Utah

Don’t be scared to tell your brothers or sisters that they are hurting your feelings. They shouldn’t be teasing and mocking you. They should be your best friends. They should be kind to you and help you with your problems. If they still tease you when you ask them not to, my advice to you is to tell your parents and ask for their advice. Laukau M., 12, New Zealand

They will do that until all of you grow older. Ignoring their offensive statements is the key to dealing with it. If you ignore their words, or completely change the subject, they will notice that you no longer react to their jokes. Soon, they will find that making unkind comments out loud is not as entertaining as it used to be, and they will do it less and less until they quit altogether. In the meantime, pray for help so you will have enough strength not to overreact, so you can still be close to your family. Haley A., 14, Colorado

If my brothers and sister did that to me, I would say, “Um, guys, please don’t get mad, but those jokes kind of make me feel like you don’t love me that much. Could you please change the punch line?” They don’t mean to make you feel unloved; they usually just want to be funny. Rachel I., 12, Kansas

Try telling your brothers and sister about how you feel and that their comments hurt your feelings. If you express your feelings in a serious and rational manner, they will respect your feelings and try to make you feel better. Another approach is to go to a parent and share your feelings with them. Your parents can give good advice, and they can also talk to your siblings. Lauren J., 18, Utah

Next Question

“I feel like I have to be perfect all the time. I’m always thinking I could’ve done better. Even when I make a simple mistake, I feel guilty. Are my expectations for myself too high?”

Send your answer, along with your full name, birth date, ward and stake, and a photograph (including your parent’s written permission to print the photo if you are under 18) to:

New Era, Q&A, 9/06
50 E. North Temple St. Rm. 2420
Salt Lake City, UT 84150-3220, USA

Or e-mail: newera@ldschurch.org

Please respond by October 15, 2006.

[photo] Photograph by John Luke, posed by models