Friday, August 17, 2012

Involve the children with prepping

I once had a conversation about the economy with a friend who has four kids ranging from 11 to 18. “I don’t want them to overhear us,” she cautioned, as we moved into a different room. “I don’t want them to get stressed or anxious about the economy.”

I don’t agree with her position. My kids are always overhearing discussions between my husband and myself about the economy, about the state of the world, about our personal finances, about politics. They’re not left to speculate and suspect the worse because their parents are sneaking around and speaking in whispers.

Besides, it’s all over the media. How could they help but hear what’s happening?

Children, especially young ones, have an astounding ability to internalize things they hear, and often turn it around to blame themselves. If the family is in financial difficulties, the kids think it’s their fault. If the parents get divorced, the kids blame them selves. Believe me, it’s far, far better to matter-of-factly involve the kids in whatever issues you’re handling, as long as you present it in a manner commensurate with their age.

Once you involve the children, ask for their help. Get their input. See what kind of ideas they can come up with. You never know… depending on their ages, they might surprise you.

Since we’re self-employed with a seasonal business, we have always been upfront with our kids about our finances. We invite their participation and help in how to economize during lean times. We treat them during times of plenty.

So don’t hesitate, depending on their ages, to solicit input from your children, as well as their cooperation. If they know daddy lost his job, it makes them feel good to ask for $3 sneakers from Goodwill instead of $120 sneakers from the mall. Doing so puts them in control of their requests and lets them contribute toward the family’s strategy to weather hard times.

When it comes to prepping, it’s best not to shelter your children – prepare them! Let them learn what it takes to keep body and soul together in hard times.

This also applies to prepping tools and equipment. Rather than “sheltering” children from handling dangerous tools, teach them to handle everything from a pressure canner to a chainsaw to a gun with safety (within age-appropriate limits, of course). These items are powerful tools, but they must be handled correctly or injury can result. For preppers, teaching the use of tools should be just as important as teaching history or science. If your children are prepared to handle tools, they are prepared to use them when the occasion warrants.

Our modern society tends to coddle and protect our children from all “dangers.” I believe this does them a disservice, as children learn from experience. Teach your children safety in handling tools, then let them practice under your supervision. If you try to keep your children “safe” by forbidding them to handle knives, guns, power tools, etc., then what you get is children who cannot think for themselves and who are careless and irresponsible about potential dangers.

But involving children is more than just teaching them to properly handle tools and equipment. It’s teaching them to create delicious meals out of basic food items. It’s teaching them that money doesn’t grow on trees. It’s teaching them that an economy can change, and they must roll with the punches with financial blows happen. Rather than “protect” your children from these truths, give them the dignity of learning how to handle them, and involve them in helping mitigate the problems. The key here is action. Action always alleviates fear and uncertainty.

Children who grow up unsheltered (within reason) about the realities of life mature into capable, competent adults who are able to cope with those realities. Don’t do your children a disservice by sheltering or protecting them. Involve them.


  1. We totally agree, Patrice. I mean, TOTALLY! But what you suggest is exactly the opposite of what liberal-progressives are advocating. We believe liberals go to such extremes to coddle and protect our children, not to keep them safe, but to CONTROL them. This makes them easier to handle when they are adults. Easier to condition and indoctrinate.

    There's an e-mail that's been making the rounds for several years that talks about all the "dangerous" things we older folks did when we were kids. It's called "We lived a dangerous life!" It talks about things like: "We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles. Doors and cabinets were never locked and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets. We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle. We were taught courtesy and consideration for others. Grown-ups were always addressed as Mr. or Mrs., NEVER by their first name! And if we were disobedient, we got our fannies paddled. We learned not to defy our parents or we paid the consequences!"

    And despite what the liberals want us to believe, paddling a sassy fanny is NOT abusing your child! We're talking about a rare but sometimes deserving couple of smacks on the derriere, NOT beating and punching and hitting your children with things that could severely injure them. There IS a difference. Some children never need a spanking, just a "mom's look" will suffice. Others sometimes need a smack on the backside, but from the way so many of them act, you know they've never had one! --Fred & Deb in AZ

  2. I SO agree. Good advice!

  3. Children are more capable of adjusting and dealing with many situations, often better than many adults.
    Our daughter just turned 9yrs, she is autistic. Autistic children do not understand abstract. They must have life experience to be able to grasp a concept. By involving our daughter and teaching her skills she understands and has less stress. I think this is true for all children.
    Supervised, she has learned how to shoot and now understands what a bullet does and the danger it can inflict.
    She has watched us raise and butcher chickens, and has eaten the bounty. She now understands why we provide for our animals so that they can provide for us. She also understands that death is forever and not a cartoon or game.
    We play freeze and be quiet games to hide from bad people. We have explained that there are people in the world that would hurt children if given the chance. When she was in public school she was bullied by a group of mean girls in first grade. The good think was she learned not everyone is nice. So now she has the understanding of bad people a little bit.
    We explain on her level and thereby remove a large portion of the fear and give her an understanding that she can handle at this age. We discuss the news, the economy, are plans in front of her. She ask questions and her fears are removed, or at least lessened. A child can turn a small thing into something big without the guidance and love of a parent.

    1. Stuck in CA
      You are describing my 9 year old son. He also has to actually have the experience in order to learn something. I had to teach him very specifically that when someone asks "How are you?" you answer "I am fine, thank you." Things that most kids pick up instinctively or learn by watching, our kids have to be taught specifically. He was also bullied last year and I will be home schooling him this year, and for as long as I am able. Thanks for your comment.
      Mrs. Lewis, I LOVE your blog. You have inspired me more than this measly comment can relay. Thank you to the tenth power!

    2. Glad to hear from you also. I didn't realize my little post would hit home with so many moms of autistic children. Looks like we are not as alone as I would have thought. Best wishes and prayers as you prepare your son for life and WTSHTF.
      God Bless,
      Stuck in CA

  4. Stuck in CA - I think I love you! My son is 13 and autistic and we're handling it very similar. (Though we got unstuck from CA back in '08.) His dad has taught him how to safely handle a .22 rifle. I teach him independent skills every chance I get. This week, he was quite the help in measuring, preparing and canning his favorite salsa.

    Current activity is fiscal responsibility including how to save up money, how to have a goal, comparison shopping and the like.

    1. Awesome to hear another parent of an autistic child that sets the bar higher! We look forward to leaving CA in 3-8 yrs ourselves when I can early retire. Would love to hear more about your son and compare stories of prepping our "special" kids.
      Sad, but around here we find our daughter has more responsibilities ( chores), and understands budget shopping (she helps me make the list and check and compare prices) better than the " normal" SoCal kid. Part of it is she is homeschooled and we don't have TV service. You should see the looks and hear the comments we get for that!
      Sounds like you and your husband are doing a great job to helping your son be all he can be.

      God Bless
      Stuck in CA

  5. I agree with you, but I think many parents protect children from the "reality" of life, but throw them to the wolves, so to speak, when they allow them to watch movies and television shows that are not appropriate. They justify it by saying that they will be exposed to the foul language, sex, and violence in the "real" world anyway. I believe when you allow your children to see such things, you are not just exposing them in a setting where you can explain it, but rather, they see you as condoning it.

  6. I grew up with the reality of knowing that I couldn't have many of the things that other girls my age had. At the time I felt cheated, but as I matured I realized that it was good preparation for adulthood. I couldn't afford a lot of things as an adult, but I knew that I could do without the "extras". That kept me from credit card problems, a lesson that I passed on to my daughter. In 22 years of being on her own she has carried over a credit balance only twice--once when she bought all the necessary garden tools for her new house and garden and the other when her husband was out of work for 8 months (it was only the 8th month that they exhausted their emergency fund--six months is not really enough). Her own children are learning the same lessons. Teaching the realities of money management are important as are teaching young children how to cook basic foods, tend a garden, and repair clothing.

  7. Very good, thought provoking post.

  8. it is amazing how many adults do not know simple skills of running a household, a budget, parenting, etc....these days. the department of education really did a bad thing when they took home ec., shop and other curriculum out of the public schools. the lack of these skills and good parental skills/leadership in families has gone on for at least two generations now....and while the shtf these are the ones who will have a terrible time surviving if they even live to see these times through.

  9. I agree wholeheartedly with you. It is our job to prepare children to live in this world, whatever the problems are. (and there will always be problems)If we pretend everything is always just peachy, we are doing them a great disservice. Teach them to be responsible and show them by example. Not always easy I know. Buying them whatever they want and not letting them know what it costs to live will only hurt them in the long run.

  10. We are not supposed to be raising children, we are supposed to be raising adults. So many people these days lose sight of that fact and that is why there are so many grown children in the country today and far too few real adults. Keeping our children in the dark about what goes on in our everyday life, and not teaching them the proper way to do things does them and our posterity a great disservice.

  11. as usual, Patrice, I am totally with you on this. if I ever have kids of my own, I will be raising them to be adults, not overgrown toddlers!