Reluctant Family Members Revisited

About a year ago, I wrote a post here on the blog about Dealing with Uninterested Family Members. This topic comes up on a regular basis on all manner of online forums as well as via email from my readers. So, I thought we might revisit the topic a bit today.

When we begin talking to loved ones about the importance of being prepared, often the problem is “too much, too fast.” We start conversations about prepping by bringing up EMP when we should be starting with being stranded in a car for a few hours. Rather than going directly to total societal collapse, we should begin with power outages due to ice storms.

Many of us are very passionate about disaster readiness and we get confused, even upset, when our loved ones don’t share that passion. Rather than back it down a couple notches, our tendency is to force the issue further, which only serves to put the person on the defensive, solving nothing. We want so very much for that person to “see the light” because we care about them and want them to be safe. Yet they don’t see it that way and think we’re just being paranoid.

For those of you who have raised children, think back to conversations like this.

Mom: Please be careful driving home today, the roads will probably be slick.
Son: Don’t worry about it, Mom, I’ll be fine.
Mom: I’m serious, please take it slow tonight.
Son: I know, I know, jeez.
Mom: Don’t give me that attitude! I’ve been driving for thirty years, I know what I’m talking about.
Son: Mom, relax! I’ll be fine, the roads probably won’t be that bad at all.
Mom: Oh, now you can predict the weather?
Son: I never said that!
Mom: Don’t talk back to me, mister!
Son: What is your problem?
Mom: My problem is the roads are going to be icy and you won’t listen to me! And there are sex killers around every corner, just waiting to snatch up my little boy!
Son: …
Mom: [thinking to herself] Did I really just say that last part out loud?

Sound at least somewhat familiar? Now imagine the same conversation but instead of talking about driving in bad weather, it starts out with the idea of having a get home bag in the trunk.

The best advice I can give is to start with the small steps, like a get home bag, and let the other person guide the conversation from there. Most folks don’t like to think too much about how bad it *could* get if something major were to happen. They get uncomfortable discussing it. So, at least in the beginning, avoid that part of prepping. Just concentrate on the basics. Let them get comfortable with the idea of having a vehicle emergency kit, then branch out from there. I realize an argument could be made that we might not have enough time for these reluctant people to get fully on board before TSHTF. I counter that by saying you gotta teach ’em to walk before they can run and if you go too hard and too fast, they’ll give up before the race even starts.

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Jim Cobb

Jim Cobb has been a student of survivalism and emergency preparedness for almost thirty years. As a young child, he drove his parents nuts with stockpiling supplies in the basement every time he heard there was a tornado watch in his area. Of course, being a child, those supplies consisted of his teddy bear, a few blankets and pillows, and random canned goods he grabbed from the kitchen cabinets. Later, he was the first (and likely only) child in his fifth grade class to have bought his very own copy of Life After Doomsday by Bruce Clayton. Today, he is a freelance writer whose work has been published in national magazines such as Boy’s Life and Complete Survivalist Magazine. He is a voracious reader with a keen interest in all stories with post-apocalyptic settings. He maintains the Library at the End of the World blog and is also the Content Director for He currently resides in a fortified bunker in the upper Midwest, accompanied by his lovely wife and their three adolescent Weapons of Mass Destruction. Jim's first book, Prepper's Home Defense, was published late 2012 and his second book, tentatively titled The Prepper's Complete Guide to Disaster Readiness, will be out in mid-2013, both coming from Ulysses Press.

3 thoughts on “Reluctant Family Members Revisited”

  1. What I run into are those people who have a double-pronged resistance to prepping:
    1. Don’t want to think about that
    2. God will take care of me

    What those folks fail to understand is that there are people with those same attitudes in every disaster; Katrina being a great example. God was going to take care of them…well He did, for some…they didn’t die.

    But how many of those had to leave their homes, not because it was destroyed, but because the infrastructure was destroyed? How many when they did leave, left with nothing but what they had on their backs?

    In both cases, the answer is too many. Unfortunately, I think reason #2 is the hardest to overcome.

    1. Here’s what I say to those who cite your reason #2.

      One day, there’s a flood in this little town. The waters are rising fast and the local preacher is on the roof of the church. A couple guys in a rowboat come by and holler, “Preacher, you best get in with us!”

      The preacher replies, “Nope, I’ll be fine. If I need any help, the good Lord will take care of me.”

      A little later, the preacher is on the very peak of the roof and another boat comes by. “C’mon preacher, hop in!”

      The preacher replies, “Nope, I’ll be fine. If I need any help, the good Lord will take care of me.”

      A little later, the preacher is clinging to the steeple and a helicopter comes by. “Preacher, grab the rope ladder, we’ll save you!”

      The preacher hollers back, “If I need any help, the good Lord will take care of me!”

      Well, a little bit later, that preacher is standing in front of the Pearly Gates. The preacher says to God, “What happened? I’ve always said that if I needed any help, You would take care of me!”

      God replies, “I sent you two boats and a helicopter, what more did you want?!”

  2. I was a Red Cross volunteer for Katrina things I learned yes you can lose everything you’ve got except for your life.
    You definitely need to leave earlier rather than later.
    Do not trust mayors and governors FEMA anyone else to take care of you.
    Always have a god bag with copies of birth certificates drivers license insurance papers this was the most common problem people did not have any identification papers.
    It is very hard on children to go to a shelter. It is even harder for the elderly without family.
    The main thing I learned is avoid going to a shelter if at all possible you can’t keep pets often your family may be separated men one shelter women and children another no real choice in foods what there is is what you get. If you can drive out with food shelter camping supplies pets do so if not walk out away from the danger area as far as possible and camp. Again leave early stay away until all danger is past only go to a shelter if life is in immediate danger leave shelter as soon as possible.
    One of the things that always amazed me was that you often had to forcibly evict at least 10% of those in the shelters after the shelters were closed I guess three hots and a cot was better than what they were getting normally.

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