Preparedness is a lifestyle and a state-of-mind. You never know what disaster or emergency will befall you, it could be something you cannot possibly prepare for, for me and my family the times we have had to use our bug-out-bags were not related to national emergencies, but to family and local emergencies. I’m not saying not to prepare, I’m saying to prepare in ways you may not have ever thought to do, and these tips I have learned over the years could help someone else. These are not so much extrinsic items for survival, but intrinsic necessities.
When you have children, how you structure your family unit and your parenting skills can either keep you all alive or be the reason none of your family survives. So if you are a parent, I have a series of questions for you to ask yourself. How would you and your family answer these questions?
QUESTION #1. Do you have a picky or finicky eater? I’m not talking about allergies, I’m talking about pickiness. My youngest grandson has a good friend who won’t eat fruit, cheese, pizza, cake or ice cream or anything normally served at a kid’s birthday party. Not because he is allergic, just because he is finicky. While he is best friends with my grandson, there is no asking him over or inviting him to parties, because he is finicky to the point of being rude. He is the product of over indulgent and even neglectful parenting skills. These parents are not preparing him for the future in an unpredictable world. A child who is a finicky eater becomes a dead child in emergency situations. If you don’t want to see your children starve to death, teach them to eat anything that is put in front of them by loving, caring parents. Don’t allow them to become so very selfish as to be picky and finicky all the time. Now I am not talking about real allergies. Allergies are real medical conditions to be dealt with through planning, food storage and professional medical care. I have a real food allergy to shell fish and sea foods. If I eat French fries cooked in the same oil with shrimp, it can put me in the hospital. I carry an epi-pen, and have one packed in our emergency bug-out bag. My whole family knows and helps me deal with my food allergies. However; an allergy is different from pickiness, like not eating strawberries because you don’t like the seeds or birthday cake because it might make you fat or pizza because it is the wrong type. Teach your children that within reason, they need to eat what is put before them and be thankful for it, some day it might just save their life.
QUESTION #2. How many times to you have to tell your children to do something? Do you ask two, three or four times? The average these days is asking about four times. What if you only had time to tell your children once? Hearing and listening are two different sides to this issue. How many hours a day do your children or grandchildren have earplugs on? What if they could not hear you, or did not listen to you when you called for them in an emergency situation? Do you realize in a disaster situation, it could cost your child his/her life if they failed to listen or respond at a critical time? My own son hated it because I required that he respond to me the first time I spoke to him. I was not being mean in teaching him that mom would not tell him twice. I was trying to teach him an important element to being ‘ready’. This generation has iPhones, iPods and headsets on all the time. I believe it is critical to teach children to be obedient from an early age. Little children don’t need strict lessons, they only need gentle guidance, and then they grow up right. If you wait till a child is older to teach them, good luck, the learning curve is over. Don’t let this lesson come as a surprise; prepare them now by teaching them to be obedient the first time. Just today as I finish this article, there is a G2 magnetic storm and an S2 solar radiation storm. My daughter called me on her cell phone a few moments ago, it cut in and out so badly I could not hear her, I suspect due to these atmospheric storms, but I did listen to what I did hear, so I got the message. If the time ever came when there were no cell phones, iphones, ipads, ipods working, our children and grandchildren would be lost. So I encourage parents, especially parents of teenagers, to have your children put their electronic devices down for a few moments each day and teach them obedience and to respond to your first asking, not the third or fourth. It just may save their lives some day.
QUESTION #3. When you ask your children for details about a party or event or school project, do you ever get the response, “I don’t know”. Teach yourself and your children to be observant of details. If your children are younger, this can be a good game to play in the car to prepare them, with questions like ‘what color was the last car that passed us’ or ‘what color dress did the lady have on at the filling station’. My children loved this game when they were real young. Teaching them to be observant can help them reestablish contact if they ever become separated from you. Being observant to details is not inborn in all of us, just in the technical-minded. But, I am convinced that we can all learn to be observant to details. Any police officer who has ever worked a crime with ten witnesses and no details will tell you how important it is to teach people (children) to be observant of details. I witnessed two men stuffing a lady in the trunk years ago in what was a kidnapping crime. As I gave the police officers my statement, one made the comment that I was “no help” because I did not have details. I had become emotional as I witnessed the event and in my emotions, I failed to pick up any details that would help the police find the assailants. All these years later I still carry the burden of that event in my heart, and if that lady did not survive, it was my fault for not thinking clear enough to gather details that would help find her alive. Teach your children to be observant of details all around them.
QUESTION #4. Did you ever stand in line at the grocery store and realize how very loud the world has become? Background music and noise, people talking on their cell phones (some as loud as they seem to be able), beeping from the scanner, creaking from a bad wheel on the shopping cart, rattling of paper and plastic, etc, etc. Silence seems to be a thing of the past. Many religious societies use silence as a structuring agent, they say that when you stop using one sense, it somehow seems to heighten all the others. No one teaches the value of silence anymore. Teach your children the importance of silence. In the early 1960s, I watched a documentary about a man who had survived the Holocaust and I regret that I do not remember his name. He owed his survival to silence. He had been hidden in the floorboards of his neighbors’ home and had to stay in a coffin sized area, in silence 23 hours a day. He said sometimes he was in there 24/7. His documentary struck me so intensely; I remembered it all my life. Because of that documentary, and much to the dismay of my children, I taught my children to be silent and to sit still, one hour at a time. I was a chatterer, so are my children and grandchildren, so this has not been easy, and quite possibly the hardest lesson they had to learn. It is a lesson parents today need to teach their children, even one hour at a time, ‘silence is golden’. Others might remember another more current television show that relates to silence was a M*A*S*H* episode where a bus load of people needed to be quiet to avoid the enemy, and a Korean lady held her hand across the mouth of her crying child until the child died. It was a show with a tremendous message for any parent in a life-death situation. I would pray that never happened to anyone, and realize it was about a baby whom cannot be taught, but older children can be taught. Teach your children the importance of silence, complete silence, no shuffling, no wiggling or tapping during silent time.
QUESTION #5. Does it ever seem you and your children’s lives are spinning out of control? Balancing your inside life to the outside life can be complex. Parents and children today have so very many distractions, schools activities, getting the grades, extracurricular activities, church activities, friends, Scouts, etc. It seems like everyone everywhere is running around like chicken with their heads cut off, especially if you have school age children. Take an evening and list your family priorities, include prepping for the future. Make another list of every activity and organization everyone in your family is associated with, and what benefit they derive from it. The world is changing fast, if you don’t do this as a family once a year or at least once every couple of years, you are going to find out your probably out of touch with your family goals and priorities. Perhaps five years ago prepping wasn’t on your family list of priorities, now it is, have you made changes? Have the courage to stop the things that aren’t working for you and your children, whatever it is. Clubs, organizations, activities that worked in the past, but not now might have to be cut in order for your family to realign themselves to new ones. One person cuts here, someone else cuts there and it will work for everyone. A family that has not readjusted and reassessed their family goals every two years, is behind and not current.
QUESTION #6. Can your family keep calm? Learning to keep calm in the face of crisis is a difficult emotional challenge, but is a skill that must be developed if you plan to get your children and yourself out of disaster alive. If parents are anxious or upset, the children will be twice as upset. Myself, I turn to the Bible, you turn to whatever gives you peace and comfort. Most religions teach hope, so if you are a religious person, turn to that hope. In a national emergency a Christian or Jew may turn to Psalm 46: 1-3 ”God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.” Pick what is important to you and your family and prepare them ahead of time for any upcoming crisis. For six generations now, our family has stood on Psalm 91, by the dying wish of my great grandmother who pinned a note on her children as she lay dying, committing them to the care of angels. Giving your family faith and hope in normal times, gives them calm courage in desperate times. Pray ahead, don’t wait and let your prayers get ‘behind’ and you will be surprised at the calmness your children will display. Be honest with older children about crisis situations, they have a way of knowing anyway.
QUESTION #7. Have you sat down with your children lately and ask them, who they are? Do your children know? Their answer might surprise you. Some say the only way to know who we are is to do an extensive genealogy. True, that will give you and your children insights into yourself, but it will not tell them their personal values. That is something kids (and adults) need to learn for themselves. I firmly believe the high school and college kids that get into trouble with drinking and drugs do so because they are trying to figure out just who they are. If they are taught family values as younger children their image of themselves will grow strong with their age. A self-identify gives a child security and courage. Hopefully, if bad times do come, your child will know themselves well enough to handle difficult situations, and have confidence to make snap decisions. Hesitation can kill, a person who knows themselves has the confidence needed to respond appropriately and quickly in any situation. You can’t hand a child self-image on a platter. It has been learned early and formed all through a lifetime. Ask your child what their values are, what their friends values are and who they identify themselves to be. Ask yourself too.
Answers to these seven questions teach your children acceptance, obedience, observance, mastery of self and emotions, prioritization, courage and faith. If you can answer most of these questions with a ‘yes-done’ you are in good shape for any future emergency or disaster. If not, I strongly recommend you consider implementing some of this immediately. Any of these preparations can be made fun for children. They may not necessarily need these skills as a child, but they will retain them for life if you teach them while they are young. Preparations need not all be physical, the physical can disappear. Parental responsibility is not just caring for the children’s physical needs; it is caring for their mental, emotional and spiritual needs too. I encourage you to do some unseen preps soon.