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Monday, July 31, 2017

When It's Tough to Get Along with Family

Dear Bro Jo -

You're probably thinking "how can this girl have ANYTHING more to ask me about"... but yet I am back again. I guess I am just comfortable spilling my guts to you :) Lucky you!

Any who. SO things have been going great :) literally everything is falling into place and I know it's because I did the right thing and I am back on track. however... it seems that lately all the little things are bothering me more and more... which I know is just Satan’s way of picking at me with the small stuff to get me fail on the big stuff... but it also seems like serious small stuff.... mostly to do with my family.

All growing up we have always been a sarcastic teasing family. That’s just how we show our love for each other, wrong or right, it’s just what we do. We are highly sarcastic and have insult battles. It’s ridiculous. And adds a lot of contention in our home (as you can imagine). I have a very hard time feeling the spirit within the walls of my own home and that just depresses me. I always looked at my family as a strong and spiritual family, people who valued their relationship with heavenly father and worked hard in their callings. And I'm sure they do... just not to the extent I would expect them too, especially for how harshly they judge others.

My step sister, whom I will be moving in with in the fall, is very.... quick to correct. She always has to point out when someone is wrong or not doing something right, and is just very judgmental (I know I am sounding like a total hypocrite... I am sure there is a huge beam in my eye, but I am so flustered by the mote in my family's eyes) She is also not so strong spiritually, and is very judgmental of "Utah Mormons" or "molly Mormons and peter priesthoods". People who actually dedicate every aspect of their lives to the lord, as they are supposed to, instead of just sliding by. How in the world am I supposed to prepare for a mission if I am just going to be judged and ridiculed for it by my own family? (I also know that there are much worse situations and much stronger missionaries who have families that disown them for going on a mission so I know it won't be as big a deal but this is just one small contributing factor to the dysfunction of my family)

Everyone has something nasty to say about everyone else. And it is driving me INSANE!!!!!

Tonight at family dinner everyone spent a good ten minutes just bashing on my biological sister (whom I love dearly and I give credit to for raising me with two absentee mothers) because she is choosing to raise her children differently than she was raised. CAN YOU BLAME HER??????? DO THEY NOT REALIZE THE CHILDHOOD WE HAD???? GAH! Sorry...... I am a little worked up right now. Which I think is why I am writing. I just need to vent. And as much as I try to talk to my friends, they either don't listen, because I am always the listener, or they really don't understand, because none of them have a divorced or majorly dysfunctional family.

I just.... I don't understand how my own parents can expect me to choose to be sealed to that for eternity.... They can't even get over the fact that my sister only wants her baby eating certain things (my family is not very healthy, hence the reason my sister wants to do this right) how in the world are we supposed to last forever?

I don't mean that, I do completely understand the importance and magnitude of temple sealings, and I value them and cherish them. I just don't see how anyone can think that the behavior of our family is ok....

Sorry. I know there is much advice to give. but. I just needed an ear... or technically and eye. Thanks :)

- The Middle Child

Dear Bro Jo,

I woke up this morning with the thought that I was being totally over dramatic and really shouldn't have emailed you about my family drama.... and then I re-read my email and realized that I really do want some advice on how to make my home happier and more peaceful. I need to be in an uplifting and spiritual environment in order to keep myself strong, and that has never been my home.

How can I change that?

Can I?

I want to talk to my parents about it but I feel like they would be offended, like I am judging their parenting.... which...

I guess I am, but I don't mean to. I just want a happy home, ya know?

What kid doesn't!?

Anyways.... Hope to hear from you soon. thanks!

- The Middle Child

Dear Middle,

You’re always welcome to vent.  I think putting our frustrations on "paper " can be very therapeutic, especially if we're smart enough to not send them to those that frustrate us.

I have Piles of emails I've written and never sent.  And more than a few that I wish I never sent.  . .
I think this falls under the category of "true doctrine, taught lovingly, is more likely to change behavior than teaching about behavior".

Change starts from within.

If we want to change the way people talk to us, we need to change the way we talk to them.  And we need to develop a thick skin.  It may take a very long time of you not being sarcastic and enduring the sarcasm of others before they chose to follow your example.  But I assure you it will be worth the effort.

Sister Jo would have me add that loving and being of sincere service to others . . . CONSISTENTLY . . . not only makes us feel better but it helps them see and treat us differently.

Finally, in all of this, the most important thing for you to do is to choose to be the better person.  Not to gloat, or toot your own horn, but to realize "this is not how I want my family life to be when I'm the parent".  As we strive to be more Christ like, it's essential that we don't fall into an "I'm better than them" way of thinking.

Perhaps start with something simple, such as "this week I'm not going to say anything negative to or about the people I live with".  Then make it a month.

Keep a journal, writing notes about how all of this is going, and any changes or progress you see.

And then, when it's working and you've developed a new good pattern for yourself, add something.

- Bro Jo

Dear Middle,

I think this email may have crossed paths with one I just sent you . . .

No matter.

Instead of focusing on how to change the behavior of others, focus inward.  Let them see the Light of Christ through you instead of shining it in their eyes.

Daily personal prayer and scripture study (which can be brief, you know) will help you.  If you're not starting and ending each day praying together as a family, as your father or mother (privately) if you could please add one of those to your daily family routine.  Be prepared to lead out.  Don't suggest it as a "you people need to be doing this" kind of thing, but in a sweet way (perhaps after having cleaned the kitchen for your mom and garage for your dad) ask if they'd be willing.

If they're not ready for that, be understanding, don't argue your point, and try again in a month or so.

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo

Haha guess they must have crossed over each other, sorry about that! :)

Thank you so much for the advice. I will definitely start with the journal, I love journaling and I know it really does help.

I also know that I am definitely a contributing factor to the sarcasm... it's second nature... and that is a bad nature to have within the family.

I do feel it necessary to defend my father a bit, (I guess I am defending him to myself haha) as he is an amazing example of scripture study and prayer and hard work and love. So hopefully we can team up together and lead our family to a better life style.

Wish me luck against my current goliath!!!!

As always, thank you so much for your advice. It is much needed and very much appreciated.

-The Middle Child

Dear Middle,


- Bro Jo

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