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Dealing With Family That Doesn’t Understand Prepping

Dealing With Family That Doesn't Understand Prepping
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Any person who has begun to seriously prepare has had to make compromises between current wants and future needs, how much to spend on preparations, and how many people to stock supplies for.  If you’re married, you need to have a spouse that shares your concerns or you’re going to fight over every no. 10 can the mailman delivers.

I don’t need to go into detail on how much you should store, or how to store it or what makes the cut on your list of lists, as has visited this issue in depth.

The purpose of this article is to help communicate the need to prepare with those in your family that you want to help without alienating them, or downgrading your own preparedness plans.  Learning how to deal with family that doesn’t understand prepping is as important as learning how to prep

I am a professional firearm instructor, and am also employed full time as an emergency management planner.  Due to my job, my hobbies, and my personal beliefs, my former mother-in-law delighted in trying to insult me by calling me “Sgt. Tackleberry”.  She was unreachable, and not worth my effort to try to convince her of the importance in prepping.  She would rather buy timeshares of vacation property than spend money on a basic 72 hour kit.  That works for her, and I cannot judge her, but she would not be “come live with me if it ever did happen” as she believed.  Other members of my family have thought my preparations were a “phase” or some harmless idiosyncrasy.

Those family members did not have a negative view of my preparations.  Historically my family looked at my preparations with amusement.  They tolerated my teenage experiments with wild foods or earthquake kits.  As I have grown older, and they have seen things on the horizon that personally touches them, they have begun to ask me for my opinion on coming winter storms, or should they buy gold or guns.

It’s like being a firearm instructor and people asking you which gun to buy.  If you do your homework and build credibility people respect you more.  If you take the long view and work diligently these members of your family could be “converted” with patience and work.  While I cannot assume responsibility for them and make them prepare for disasters, I can be a role model and sounding board to help them understand the issues at play so that they can build a plan that works for them.

If the world as we know it collapses, it’s not only about survival.  Once your survival needs are met, you’re going to have to rebuild, your going to have to continue with your life.  Having your loved ones with you makes that a lot easier.  The problem is that each person I add to my retreat lowers my safety margin IF MY SUPPLY AMOUNTS REMAIN FIXED, but if those people I add to my retreat bring their own supplies with them it dramatically increases my safety margin.  To me it is definitely worth it to help your family prepare.  Getting your family to understand prepping is vital to long term security.

I have a few concepts that I use when dealing with family that doesn’t understand prepping.

My first precept of dealing with family is not to preach.  My preparations are based on my needs and the things that I believe are important.  Each person has their own priorities, and preaching that you are right and they are wrong only pushes them away from the direction you need them to go.

My second is never to prepare for a particular event.  I am sure there is still a lot of rotting food out there that was bought in bulk specifically for Y2K and some of those that bought it are convinced it was a waste of money.  I tell my family that my food storage can be used for Y2K, Armageddon, TEOTWAWKI, Pandemic Flu, Nuclear Winter, Job loss, or when I just don’t feel like cooking.   By having an all hazards approach and building capability and skills rather than building for specific events my planning work gets more bang for the buck.  The first time I read of the Deep Larder was an “Ah Ha” moment for me and changing my terminology has worked well in changing the response I get from my close loved ones.

My last precept of helping my loved ones see the need to prepare is that if I have limited resources and time (and that’s a given) that is better to foster an appropriate mindset than concentrate on gear acquisition.  I could buy my mom a Springfield Armory M-14 and 10,000 rounds of match ammo, but it would be much more effective to get her to go with me to the range a couple times with a .22 and help foster a desire to shoot and then help her choose a firearm that fits her needs and desires.

Whenever the family conversation gets around to disaster preparation I bring up concepts like “buying car insurance is considered a responsible action, but you don’t have any tangible benefit from buying it, if you never get into an accident.  With having a deep larder, even if zombies never attack, I still have the food.”  Or as Dave Grossman has said you never hear of elementary schools burning down but they all have fire extinguishers.  My favorite is “Noah built the Ark BEFORE the flood”.  I try to break everything down into manageable bites rather than cram it in and have them tune me out.  All this is is disaster insurance.

The best case scenario is that your loved ones see the need to prepare for themselves and begin planning and preparing on their own, therefore augmenting your plan.  You cannot out argue someone into adopting your position.  As Dale Carnegie said “Those convinced against their will are of the same opinion still.”  What has worked for me is a quiet and consistent approach.

I love my family and want what is best for them.  The best way I know to do that is to help them become more aware of the need to prepare.  My goal is to foster a since of self sufficiency and personal responsibility, and to help mentor them through the beginning steps of basic preparedness.

Imagine how overwhelming it was when you first began to prepare, there is a LOT to learn, and even more skills and equipment to acquire.  We know that we cannot stock everything needed or prepare too much.  The process of preparing is every bit as important as the items you acquire.

Researching and prioritizing is mental prep work so that when a large disaster occurs we are not comatose with emotional overload.  If I coddle my loved ones and try to remove the responsibility to prepare for themselves from them then I am doing them a disservice, and when the hard times comes they may not be emotionally ready to deal with the collapse.  What’s worse is that making them dependent on my charity would cause strain on otherwise healthy family relationships.

Because of this, I feel it is worth supreme effort to work with my loved ones to prepare so that we can grow together in adversity and make our family bonds stronger.

This Christmas I had my breakthrough, my parents asked me what they could do to prepare, and we had a very long discussion and came away with a workable plan.  Their location is more favorable for a long term retreat than my own, and they are going to provide the location and storage space for most of my preps.  We both win in the end.  Shortly after that discussion our town had an unusually long cold spell.  In the days before it we talked more about our short term plans and communication protocols and procedures.  While we did not have to evacuate to my parents, it was nice having all the details ironed out in the event we had to.

All things considered being part of a Family That Doesn’t Understand Prepping is difficult, but if you are consistent, calm, and show (not tell) that you are doing this because you love your family then eventually they will understand.

Don’t let your prepping cause you to loose the reason you are prepping in the first place.

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  1. Some times people can just be a stick in the mud. That’s why it’s important to teach kids the importance of prepping and survival- less societal barriers at a young age.

  2. I’ve been preparing for when shtf for years and it’s served my family well many times. I learned the basics from a great-grandma and grandma who lived what they taught me. Now my son is practicing what I taught him, at least to a point. Right now he is into firearms, which is good, but I can’t help but wonder when the food starts coming into the picture. So to encourage my son I’ve tried making holiday/birthday presents something to do with prepping. The problem is that I’m on a limited income now and trying to prepare myself as well as helping him is hard.
    Meanwhile, my daughter-in-law is into “God will take care of us”, and “to stockpile food and oher supplies for hard times shows a lack of faith”. She will not hear of prepping anything and I don’t know how to get through to her.

    • I get that also, I have a post coming up about an old 1950’s article about the Christian ethics of locking your shelter door. It was pretty controversial at the time, probably will be this time also, but God gives us rules, has an ultimate reward for those that live up to his number one rule, and a pretty severe punishment for those that don’t live up. He wants us to be happy, but he also gives us the tools to do it ourselves. While I don’t push my faith on this site, the “God will take care of us” comment reminds me of 1 Timothy 5:8 “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

  3. notyoung notyoung

    Our family spreads out over some 800+ miles, with the physically nearest person being about an hour away by car. Most of them have zero interest in preparing for anything beyond a power outage of a day or less. They have, at best, whatever food is in the pantry (probably a week or less). The exceptions are a couple of my wife’s cousins about 100 miles away who grow family gardens and store some of what they grow.
    I had limited supplies for Y2K (kerosene heater, Coleman stove and lantern from camping days, etc). I was working in the communications industry then, so was very aware of the potential for failure. Being prepared for living without power proved worthwhile as we had an ice storm in January 2000 that took out power for a couple of days – having alternate heating and cooking plans established my credibility for my wife, if no one else.
    I’m now retired and working with a limited budget, but am slowly acquiring food, water, etc, for an off-grid shelter-in-place possibility – currently approaching 90 days worth of supplies. Certainly not where I’d like to be but, depending on season and weather conditions, I have some heirloom vegetable seed and space for a small garden.
    I’m not preparing for other family members – the kids are anywhere from 2+ to 11 hours away on a good day and it’s just not that likely that they could get here in the event of a major disruption.

  4. Preppingtosurvive Preppingtosurvive

    Very good topic. I too try to go about it in small bites. We began our blog as outreach to family and friends. I think our family members rarely read it. As far as I know, none are doing anything beyond the “12 pack of Ramen Noodles and a case of water.” Some are coming around mentally, but are still putting off actually doing anything concrete. Like you mentioned, I’m pretty sure some just think they’ll show up at our house if “it” ever happens.

    Soon, I’m going to post a piece I entitled “How to Be a Good Refugee.”

    • Anonymous Anonymous

      Thats awesome, let me know so I can put up a link to that because that is a topic not talked about enough. People tell me all the time that they would “just come to your house” but think I’m rude when I answer in the negative – They don’t understand why what they said is rude, dangerous, and untenable.

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