Many times when I talk to people about prepping, the conversation veers somewhere into the neighborhood of how they can convince someone in their life, usually a spouse that their efforts at getting more prepared aren’t crazy. They want to know how they can frame their arguments in a way that will turn doubters into believers. How they can position this philosophy in the simplest terms and ostensibly make their own life easier at least from one aspect?
Having buy-in from your spouse is vital even though it isn’t strictly necessary and it will certainly make prepping much less stressful. It isn’t going to take care of the myriad of items that you could have accumulated on your list of prepper to-dos but if your spouse isn’t actively fighting you on every purchase or suggestion, making snide comments in front of the in-laws at the Sunday dinner table or poking fun at your attempts to grow a garden in front of the kids, all the better for you.
Talking to your spouse about prepping is usually what I hear the most, but there are others out there who are trying to convince parents that prepping to some extent is good. The funny thing is that this question comes from both high school age children who want support with their efforts as well as fully grown adults who are trying to change the habits of their senior citizen age parents. No matter how old you get, your Mom is still your Mom and she always knows best. Unless you are talking about technology it seems. Talking to your parents about prepping isn’t easy but it can be done and you may get them on-board with prepping too.
How to convince parents when you are a minor
Talking to your parents when you are still living under their roof and possibly still going to school (which they may be paying for) is believe it or not, the easier problem to deal with, but it does take a little more finesse. A reader sent me the following question:
“I am trying to prep, but I am 14 years old. I don’t have much money of my own and my parents seem to think the idea of stocking up supplies is crazy. How can convince them that we need to have something for emergencies?”
Focus on what you can control – There aren’t too many 14 year olds that I know who have the resources much less the dedication to prepare for all the contingencies that many of us have stored in the backs of our minds. When I was 14 I didn’t see much in the future past the weekend let alone preparing for years after some emergency, but don’t follow the example of my wasted youth. What you can do without really involving your parents is to make your own plans. Identify the risks you think are likely. Prepare a bug out bag of supplies and begin learning skills that could help you in a survival situation. I routinely promote backpacking as an extremely valid exercise for practicing a real bug out. Getting into this hobby is fun and your parents normally won’t think anything more of it. If you can get them involved, even better.
Paint a different picture for your parents – When I was a much younger lad, fate had it that I spent the night alone, outside in late fall. This was a miscommunication on a couple of levels and I was safely picked up early the next morning by worried parents no worse for wear. Most of the subjects we deal with as preppers focus around bad things happening and without getting too ‘doom and gloom’, you can paint a picture of something bad happening to you in order to bring up some topic of preparedness. For example, you are going away for a school retreat out-of-town and your parents are going over the details with you. You could use this opportunity to say, “let’s just pretend hypothetically that something happens and I am unable to get home on the bus… what do I do and where do I go? What will you do? How will I get in touch with you if the phones are dead?” Again, you have to work this into the conversation with some skill. You can’t just blurt it out or they may blow you off and think you are just trying to scare them. Thoughtfully approach the subject and ask more questions. Get them to think about it and offer ideas if you have them. Your parents love you and probably care more about you than you can imagine. They naturally want to do anything and everything they can to keep you safe.
Make sure the time is right – Don’t start trying to get your parents to stock up on freeze-dried food while they are busy watching their favorite TV show or filling out their taxes. You know when your parents will be most receptive to talking to you and you want the conversation to appear normal.
Look for strategic opportunities – The best times I think to bring up preparedness topics is unfortunately after some tragedy that is in the news. When news of earthquakes are dominating the headlines, that is a reasonable time to ask what would we do if one hit our town? How long do you think we could eat on what we have in the pantry mom? Maybe we should but a couple cases of water next time we go to the store, huh Dad?
How to talk to parents who are old and set in their ways
Convincing parents who are moving on in their lives is far tougher in my experience because like I said above, they are by design going to think they know more than you about life. Sure, they might come to you for legal advice if you are an attorney, but getting most parents to worry about something they think is foolish is a tough sell. Another reader sent me the following question:
“I am 49 and my parents are both retired and living in another state. I try to get them to prepare in some way, but they wont. When I visit them, I see how much food is on hand and it wouldn’t last a few days. Neither one is in the best shape and I worry that they will die if I can’t get to them and the stores are closed. Any advice?”
Take your time – Convincing someone who has been taking care of themselves for over 50 years that they aren’t able to take care of themselves can be problematic and I have seen two very different responses in people I personally know. Some will brush off any discussion I try to start as silly. That won’t happen! Many people in my parents’ generation still believe that the government will save them should a disaster happen. The flip side is the fatalist who simply says they will die. It is hard talking to either one of these types but don’t give up. You wouldn’t give up on any one of your family would you? It may take years and you may get nothing for your trouble, but it is a worthy goal. You probably won’t convince grandma she needs to set aside food when she has been walking to the corner store every day for decades.
Focus on health – Far too many seniors are overly dependent on medication just to live. That along with a more sedentary lifestyle can be a recipe for trouble if the situation prevents the steady flow of medicine or requires a lot of physical effort to move as in an emergency evacuation. Even stress can kill many seniors if the disaster is severe enough. Health is very important and as much as possible you can try to reinforce this to your parents.
Give the gift of preparedness – I have sent my parents gifts of a survival nature before in the hopes that they would use it in an emergency. I sent my dad a weeks’ worth of freeze-dried food for Father’s Day and he was pretty disappointed I think. I fully expect him to try to serve those meals to me the next time we visit. Nevertheless, if something did keep him from going to the store, I know he would have food to survive at least a week. Hopefully, he would remember it. Actually, I really hope he didn’t throw that away now that I think of it… Christmas, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, whatever day. You don’t even need a special day to give them something.
Develop contingencies – But if all else fails you should plan on being there for your parents. This means being prepared to do for them all the things you couldn’t convince them were necessary. They may have to live with you or you may have to move your command base to their location taking all your supplies with you. Have you thought that through?
My main motivation with anything I do as a prepper is to take care of my family and the people we love around us. I wish everyone shared that goal because prepping wouldn’t be a thing then. It would simply be what we all did. Until that day though, you have to keep working to make sure you are prepared and lovingly trying to nudge those around you who don’t. Best of luck to us all.