On Girls, Boys, & Brothers

Chantel with her brother Craig in Colonial Williamsburg

by Eleanor Hunter, late 1800’s

Think a minute. Do you never snub [your brother] or criticize him or make fun of him? Do you never dispute with him? Do you constantly think of little things to do that will please him? Are you gentle and sweet in all your ways with him always? If you are not, you do not love him enough, for it is in such ways that sisterly love is manifested, and I do not think the boy ever lived who could resist a kind and gentle sister.

You [could be] at least partially responsible for your brother’s manners and also for his morals. If you talk and laugh loudly…if you are rude and indifferent in your manners, so will he be. If you do not lead a true and noble Christian life, neither will he be apt to; and what is very sad, if your standard of morals is not high, he will measure all other girls by the girl he knows best. He will think they are no better than you; and one of the worst things that can befall a boy is for him to lose his respect for the character of women; and if your brother does not revere women, you could be responsible for it.

It is not every girl who thinks seriously of these things, nor every girl who is unselfish enough to win her brother’s affection; but those sisters who are loving and kind and true are more than repaid for any sacrifice they may make, for there is no blessing greater than a loving, manly brother.

A girl has a great influence over a boy, and every girl should realize that fact, and she should always try to use it rightly.

[Games] are just as good for girls as for boys. But be sure in all the fun never to do one deed or say one word that shall lessen a boy’s respect for you.

Never let a word of slang soil your lips, and keep the gentle manners of a lady always. Take for your model the lovely lady, Elizabeth Hastings, who, in the midst of a court where she had every temptation to do otherwise, yet she behaved so beautifully that she won this rare compliment from a gentleman who knew her. Said he, “…To behold her is an immediate check to loose behavior, and to love her is a liberal education.” That is the way your boy friends ought to feel about you.

A girl ought to be more to her boy friends than simply someone for them to have a good time with. She ought to be a positive force for good to them; but a girl is often afraid to speak to a boy upon a serious subject for fear he will laugh at her… That is a mistake. If you have a boy friend who is in danger from some bad habit, sometime, when you have a good chance, speak to him frankly and kindly upon the subject.

Girls have a great influence over a boy’s religious nature. Do not be afraid to use it.

Talks to GirlsExcerpted from Talks to Girls:
Classic Teachings on Virtue and Value
by Eleanor A. Hunter.
Originally published in the late 1800’s by American Tract Society,
©1996 by American Tract Society.
Used  in the YLCF Journal #22
by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.


    1. Tiffany, as a middle child with both brothers and sisters, I believe that, yes! Our influence and example in how we treat our parents and others, how we love and serve our LORD, and especially cheerfulness in little duties, our outlook on life and the bumps it brings, when it comes to sisters, is a huge thing in helping to encourage strength of mind and heart.

  1. The fact is, most boys follow their dads. Mom’s can be the greatest Christian that ever lived, but if they see their dad slacking when it comes to Christianity there is a good chance they will follow in their dad’s footsteps. That is is the case in my home.

    Reading this article reminds me of other teachings I’ve heard over the years about marriage. So many people have said that if I man isn’t doing right it’s because his wife isn’t as loving as she should be, she isn’t keeping house like he wants her to, she isn’t supporting him in his decisions like she should, and so on. What about the man? Does he make mistakes? When he does, does it effect his wife? Every person (man and woman) is responsible for their own actions once they become adults. No matter how anyone treats them, they CAN become the person God wants them to be.

  2. This is painful to read because I didn’t have the maturity when I was growing up to think of this, while my brothers were around. We got along well, but I didn’t really think about how to build them up.

    Of course I often thought about how I would treat my future husband with respect, and sometimes noted that my father and brothers were no less deserving of the same attention. But in your own family, you get lazy.

    I wish I saw my brothers more once a year or two, but I do pray for them. I remember reading in Hudson Taylor’s biography about how his sister prayed for his repentance, and that passage always makes me cry.

  3. I’m sorry, but girls are not morally responsible for their brothers’ moral development and maturation. They can certainly impact it, but to suggest that a girl’s actions directly cause her brother to develop into one or another type of man is a stretch. Girls and boys are accountable to their parents and to Christ for who they become, not to each other.

    1. I agree with you, Mattie, that we’re not directly responsible for our brothers’ choices. And actually, your comment reminded us to highlight the date this article was written, because it comes from the late 1800s when writing tended to have a less nuanced tone than we’re used to today.

      I think it’s possible to read it in two different ways. One, a heavy feeling of responsibility, is not what we’re looking for. The other, an encouraging “Hooray! I have influence in my brother’s life, but I’ll leave the results up to God” is what we’d like you to walk away with. In fact, I think most of that influence happens without you even being aware of it. If you are following Jesus whole-heartedly (because you love Him), the delightful side-effect is that you influence others towards Jesus too.

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