How to Get Your Family On Board With Prepping

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This week we have seen at least two posts that were directly inspired by comments on the Prepper Journal so first I want to take a minute and thank everyone for both commenting and suggesting topics. We want to write about what you are interested in so if you have questions or ideas, please let us know on our contact form or directly in the posts as your feedback is invaluable. This post is actually going to give you some suggestions on how to get your family on board with prepping and your efforts to be prepared.

I received two separate emails on this subject that essentially ask the same question and that is How do you get your family involved with prepping. I have copied their questions below:

A friend of mine introduced me to the prepper frame of mind, and although I think it’s important, my family and the large majority of my friends do not share those beliefs. I was wondering what sorts of preps you would recommend for people who cannot get their families on board. Any tips you have would be great. – Sam

I have become interested in preparing for the worst in weather, economic instability, EMP etc. for my family of 6. My wife doesn’t see the dangers, thinks prepping is a waste of time and money, and will not read the books I have suggested. Could you post an article on the best ways to help your family see the importance of prepping? –  Mark

These are great questions and a lot of preppers, myself included have either dealt with these subjects or are still trying to figure out how to deal with it. I talked a good bit about this in the post on How To Convince Someone about Prepping. In that post, my focus was the experience I had with trying to get my wife on board with all of my prepping efforts and plans. For this post, I’ll expand on some things I have learned in my own journey with a family and in dealing with friends and even strangers when the subject of Prepping comes up in the conversation.

My family and friends do not share those beliefs

This is a common thread on survival blogs if you read the articles or the comments. It seems as though everyone feels like they are rowing that boat all by themselves and we are collectively going to wake up one day to tragedy and be the only ones who are remotely prepared or saw it coming. I don’t think that is completely accurate because I think that most people (I’ll get to the exceptions in a minute) on some level agree with all of the core concepts that we preach in the Survivalist and Prepping circles. Everyone will agree you could argue, that it would be ideal for you to have extra food. Anyone can see the value of having stored water and almost universally, people can imagine tragedies happening to them because they have seen it on the news, watched movies or have enough history to have heard themselves of something bad happening to others because they knew someone personally.

What is different between you and your family and friends’ maybe is the sense of urgency. You see the problem now and want to do something about it now because you for one don’t want to be caught with your pants down metaphorically speaking. Most other people in the world don’t share your same sense of urgency to the point that they put off doing anything in the realm of preparedness because they don’t think anything is going to happen anytime soon. If you ask them if tragedies happen all of the time they will agree with you, but it isn’t high on their priority list.

Rather than try and convince everyone to take this as seriously as you are my personal philosophy is when examples like this come up, to highlight areas or situations that can draw attention to the urgency you feel without them associating that urgency to you. I think that in order to prep, you really need to feel the importance of this yourself and nobody will motivate you as well as you can motivate yourself. It’s similar to dieting and exercise for me at least. I know they are important and that I need to do them every day, but nobody is going to convince me to get out of bed at 5 in the morning. I have to motivate myself to do that and I think it’s the same with prepping.

So, instead of thinking you have to convince everyone, maybe your approach could be to set examples that your friends and family can see. Let your example speak for itself and I think that will reduce your stress level and increase their own introspection more than you could ever do. I’ll explain how a little later.

What preps do you recommend for people who cannot get their families on board?

This should be the easiest thing to start on because most of the important items are ones we live with and use everyday. I would start with Food, Water, Shelter and Security.

Sometimes its easier to get younger kids on board with your plans for safety.

Sometimes its easier to get younger kids on board with your plans for safety.

Food is always coming into your house unless you are the Yuppy couple in that show American Blackout who apparently didn’t have a single thing to eat in their house. The trick is to slowly build up the supplies of food that you normally use. This doesn’t require any tricky Mylar bags or 50lb. bags of rice and can be done by most people without anyone even batting an eye. The next time you are grocery shopping, just buy a little more of the foods your family already eats. The next step is to ensure you are rotating the supplies so that your spouse won’t see a lot of wasted and expired food and throw a fit.

What if you don’t buy the groceries?

Ah, that’s my situation too but I can still go shopping. My wife has a grocery budget and anything extra has to come out of my allowance so I stock up on the overflow items while she just buys what she normally buys.

Water is easily stored and if you store it the right way, you can forget about that for a year. Buy a few 5 gallon jugs, fill them up and stick them in the basement (off the concrete) or in the pantry and set a calendar reminder to refresh them with new water yearly.

Shelter is one that I handled under the guise of camping. Almost any camping supplies can double as grid-down, survival supplies because when you are out in the woods without the conveniences of power and flushing toilets, that is just about as close as most people can come to practicing a survival situation without the imminent threat of death. Sleeping bags work just as well in the woods as they do in your home if the power goes out and it’s cold. A camp stove will heat food just as nicely on your back porch as it will in the National Forest and camping is a great way to test your survival skills and that Bug Out Bag (backpack) you have been dying to build.

Security in my home is guns for the most part. For most people, the inherent risk of someone breaking in is enough to see the value in purchasing a firearm for the home. If your spouse isn’t convinced, just open the paper in your town for a few days and read about the murders or home break-ins a couple of times.

My Wife doesn’t see the dangers I see

Just like above, I think your wife sees different dangers than you do. For me, my wife was worried about most of the same things I was, but she was so adamant that the boogeyman I saw wasn’t real. She could easily see the importance of stocking extra food, or saving money but when I tried to get her to believe in some of the conspiracy theories I had, that blew it. I had to learn how to convince her without trying to win arguments.

The current events of almost any year speak very persuasively to someone who is rational and I just pointed out events like Hurricane Katrina for example. Wouldn’t it be horrible to be without power for months? What if we had a storm (we have) that left us in that type of condition? By highlighting real events that occur, it ceases being something kooky you are worried about and now it’s more tangible and real.

I sometimes focus on my children more than my wife because kids don’t have the preconceived belief that I don’t know what I am talking about… Yet. 🙂 When my kids see the value or even the coolness of an idea, they help me convince my wife when I am not there. Kids love camping and adventure so any excuse to get them a new knife or cool gear is a bonus in their eyes. Strength in numbers.

My wife won’t read the books I suggest

Neither would mine and I would recommend that you don’t even try for most people. The books on the subject of TEOTWAWKI are all fiction for the most part unless you are reading a historical accounting of the Weimar Republic or Zimbabwe and doomsday scenarios aren’t my wife’s cup of tea. I did actually convince her to read one that I thought was a little less sensational and that was One Second After by William Forstchen. She did read that book, but it was begrudgingly. When she was finished it wasn’t like a light bulb had gone on in her head and now she wanted to buy camouflage and get into hunting with me. I think it might have subtly persuaded her in some aspects, but probably no more than a movie. If you want to get someone to see the events as you see those, movies would be easier to do I think.

My daughter was an exception and she read One Second After and it really woke her up. She isn’t normal though and I wouldn’t expect the same reaction from everyone… Just kidding. She is very normal but after the initial reception of that first book, I loaded her up with everything. Patriots, 1984, Brave New World, and bought her a copy of Survival Mom. The books quickly lost their glow for her and none of them seemed to drive her urgency any further. Survival Mom was more of a text-book and less sensationalistic so she seemed to enjoy that more. Everyone is different.

I think if I had to sum it all up my suggestion would be not too different from common leadership examples and that is to demonstrate how you want to live as opposed to trying to convince everyone. Lead by example. Be the example in your family that helps others out because you have extra stored food, blankets or fuel. Be the go to guy or gal with additional medical training that always has a serious med-kit in their car. Raise your own chickens or grow a garden and people will see you are serious when you have food that doesn’t come from the grocery store. They will start to realize the value in what you are doing on their own. I think most of the time they will come around. Just don’t be someone who said I told you so when they do.


  1. Mark

    January 10, 2014 at 7:32 am

    Thanks for the suggestions, P. I tried the same method with my wife that you did with yours, and got the same “that’s crazy” comment. Now I have had to back off, show her I can organize what we have so far, and slowly get her to buy in.

    • Pat Henry

      January 10, 2014 at 10:58 am

      Thank you Mark,

      Just remember this takes time and that for me is measured in years, not days. Each time I can demonstrate how something we have done to prepare worked out is a point for me. I can almost never win the argument for why, but I can show her and that worked better for me.


  2. Dawn

    January 10, 2014 at 10:01 am

    My husband agrees that we should be prepared, but he doesn’t see a grid down or economic collapse the way I do. What he does see though is the week we had no electricity because of a hurricane and the three months he was laid off and we used our food supply to get us through. We may not see eye to eye on the whys, but a three month supply of food is still a three month supply of food in whatever situation.

    • Pat Henry

      January 10, 2014 at 10:59 am

      Thanks for the comments Dawn!

      Yes, exactly! It is funny how real world experience is the best teacher sometimes, isn’t it?


  3. Orlandocon

    January 21, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    Not sure Hubs buys into economic collapse, I see it as real possibility, but like Dawn, we’ve been through hurricanes and slow work so no problem getting him on board for storing food and supplies, course his LOVE of food may play a role too. lol

  4. Orlandocon

    January 21, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    Wanted to add, I also can lots of meals, got a deal on hams last month bought a few so tomorrow I will can some ham and bean soup and ham and potato soup, just heat and eat, have chicken soup, chili, beef stew, beef tips along with jams and the like. Very easy and so convenient for busy days.

    If you don’t can, you may want to consider it, it’s very easy and allows you to take advantage of deals at the grocery store without having to worry about losing it all if you lose power.

    • Pat Henry

      January 22, 2014 at 11:12 am

      Thank you so much for the comments and suggestions Orlandocon!

  5. Raine

    February 2, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    In my household they all think i am crazy for being interested in prepping. My mom goes ballistic over it. Being a girl doesn’t help either. So I’m not going to try persuading them any more. I will do what I can on my own when the time comes, then they will be on board. I’m in my early 20s so it helps to be already practicing.

  6. Raine

    February 2, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    In my household, everyone thinks i’m crazy to be interested in prepping. One of them goes ballistic over it. So good luck in persuading them for now. Once something happens, they will see how right i was. Being a girl though doesn’t help. This still gives me some pride that I’m a girl doing this kind of stuff. I’m in my early 20s and in college so funds are kind of hard to come by, esp since its from my family. Soon though i will be driving my own car, so i can find a job and practice my skills more.

    I love checking out all of these websites, excellent info and tips that i can keep in mind as i go about my daily life. Getting family on board is probably one of the hardest things, esp when they each have different mindsets.

    • Pat

      February 3, 2014 at 8:12 am

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting Raine.

      I totally understand what you mean about family and can appreciate how this is for a parent. Parents will always think that their children don’t know as much as they do, or I think that is the general rule. I think the phrase is pampered butt syndrome… hard to take advice from someone whose butt you put in diapers, but don’t give up. They might need you before its over.


  7. M Young

    March 12, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    In my case its my husband. I have been a prepper since the moment we met. Always had a garden, always cooked real foods, extra supplies. I was brought up like this because my parents parents went through the depression my parents went thru ww2. Its normal to be self suffecient in my family. To know the old ways.
    The second I mention “prepping” he tunes me out. he knows the drill though. tolerates me. So I just work around him and don’t use certain vocabulary. My children on the other hand are cool with everything. know how to do for themselves use tools and weapons. that’s my job and I stick to it.

    • P. Henry

      March 13, 2014 at 8:19 am

      Thanks for the comments!

      I have to tip toe around certain ways of saying things myself sometimes and I think you and I are in similar situations. My wife largely tolerates what I am doing because I know that in the back of her mind she is thinking that it is better to be safe than sorry. Although, I think there is a part of her that wants to see me proven wrong, she is just smart enough not to totally bet on that just yet. 🙂


  8. Herman Nelson

    April 8, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    The “One Second After” approach works the best. I had the lil lady read it, overnight she was on board and helping with deciding what were priority purchases and figuring out what we needed to put away and store.

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