When the Passion for Prepping Strains the Family Strings 10 Ways to Unify the Family and Hold Down the Fort
By Jeanette Vale
If you are the ‘prepper’ in the family, do you enjoy a unified effort from others in the home? Or has prepping been a sore subject?
I have spent several years watching married people get sore on this point of preparing for the worst. One has their eyes open and the other has a pillow over their head.
I’m not judging either stance, but there is a way to manage the differences all while holding down the fort.
10 ways to help with unifying. Here we go
Maybe, replace the word “prepping” for “homesteading”. The word prepping can be linked to conspiracy theorists, gas-masks, doomsday, and end times. It has a heavy feel to it.
“Homesteading” gives off more cheer, but you’re still ready for anything. If you identify this way, people think of chickens, canning, gardening, self-reliance, and sunshine.
Don’t hit the same piano key over and over. We may be traumatized about the $&@# we’ve been through. People show trauma by repeating stories on loop. They can’t let it go.
I have siblings who do this. I am a prepper and I have to step away from their record player. It is not healthy. It pushes away family members who want to be near. My niece said, “I wish my dad would come home and just ask, ‘how was your day?".
Instead he has one rant. And rightly so, I get it. I get why the awake are screaming. We should all be screaming. But the fear is not helpful. In fact, it blocks out inspiration from God. And that inspiration is the biggest protection.
Rest and play. Plan a fun weekend. Would this shock your family? That might mean this is overdue. As you play together, don’t make one mention of world events. If you whittle wood, bring that along. What is a favorite board game you used to play together?
Take the ingredients for a new dish you have never made and amaze the family. Play charades. Do old fashioned things you don’t do anymore. Build a campfire and go through an old photo album. Tell your kids stories they don’t know about their grandparents.
Paint ceramic, do Lazer Tag, or go to a bounce house. You get the picture. Family bonds get stronger after a you play together. If your marriage has been tense, this might undo the knots a bit.
Conversation Idea Jar. If it is hard to have conversations, do an online search to find random conversation ideas. Fill a jar with these. New conversation brightens the family. Keep the jar your secret. Here is one for today, “Hon, can you call Pizza Hut and ask for Domino’s number?” Okay, that sounded funny to me. Good luck. Click here to read more clever ways to bring a laugh.
Recognize the season. No matter what has happened over the past three years (and even longer than that), there seems to be no justice administered. I think it is a time for bullies to reign and get away with everything they want. It’s called ripening.
It was driving me nuts until I recognized the season we are in. Does it mean I lay down and take it? Well, that is what I have been doing, so yeah. I guess so. We’ve all been taking it. Many have stood up and roared, but we watch as almost nothing comes of it. Just know, there are times and seasons. We don’t stay in this one forever.
Work on a quirk. Is there something about your character that is unpleasant? Focus energy and journal about it. Set a timer for ten minutes and write about why you think you do that unpleasant thing. Then ask why again. Go down several layers of why you do something.
This is how it looks on paper:
Why did I get so angry and yell at my son this morning?
Because he didn’t take out the trash.
Why did it make me so mad that he didn’t take out the trash?
Because I feel he disrespects me.
Why does it hurt so bad when someone disrespects me?
You get the idea, just keep breaking down where your anger is coming from because a few layers down you’ll find the core. Go for a long walk and chew on what you learned.
Your brain and body already know what to do with the information you find. A good ugly cry might be the perfect result. This is releasing a load you're tired of carrying.
Hug your loved ones. A hug does wonders! Tell them something positive. Thank them for how they make a difference in the family. Then bite your tongue so a ‘tear-down’ doesn’t tack on the end. For example,
“Jen, you brighten a room when you walk into it. I just wish you’d pick up your jacket and take it…” The last part.... don’t say it.
Hold a Family Council. After you have played and healed together, some days later, ask them what they think of all the preparations you are doing.
If they need to, let them vent. Don’t take offense. Let their comments slide into an imaginary box by your feet and shelve it on an imaginary shelf. It can stay there, not inside of you.
Acknowledge and repeat back to them what you hear them saying. Validate their feelings. For example, “I know I have been wrapped up in this doomsday stuff for a long time, It must be hard that I’m not emotionally present for you”. And then IF you are sorry for this….Say “I am sorry.”
How much does your family mean to you? Now is a great time to say that too.
Ask your family: Do you see any wisdom in the preparations I have been doing?
They probably DO see the wisdom in it.
You: I actually do need to keep doing projects. But I will be more present for you. I would love some help. Would any of you want to help me? These are two projects I have for this year. Can you see any part that interests you?
Bing Bong! Y’all might become like an Amish family that rocks the homesteading life!
Honor them where they are. If your son never does take the trash out, watch for ways he does contribute. If you watch for the good he is doing, a hidden world will appear.
If he is not helping out with the family, he might be struggling to help a friend who is carrying a heavy load. Trust that somewhere he is doing something good and constantly seek it out. Or, just ask him about his day and listen to him talk. He will give you clues to how he is impacting the world.
We must stop seeing what we want to see, or believing labels. I do this, I am preaching to myself. We paint a person with only one or two colors and that is neither fair nor accurate, but it allows us to marginalize and even diminish them.
A good example of this is in our political parties. If we see one hint of a blue or red ideology coming from a friend, we write them off.
There is a system in place dividing us and we don’t need to help it along.
Finally, number ten. Adopt the hands off idea that “I don’t have to make everything all better”. This is actually a title to one of the best books I have read on healing family strains, instantly.
When you are telling someone of your no-good really-bad-day, you aren’t asking them to fix the problems you faced. What does feel good to hear is, “wow, that must’ve been scary, tell me more, what happened next?”.
Our spouses and children shut down when we go into ‘fix it mode’. We begin lecturing, criticizing, or telling them how to resolve it.
No. Just listen. Be present. Give advice only if they ask for it.
When someone waxes “fix it” on me, I remind that person (okay, my mom) “Mom, You don’t need to make everything all better for me, I’m just telling you about my day”.
And she immediately stops and things are healed up that fast. She is relieved. I am relieved. and the funky energy is shown the door.
If you have older children or even adult children who tend to drain your bank account because you can’t say no, (because you need to 'fix it' for them) this book gives you an appropriate ‘out’.
For example, one of them asks for money because they know you'll just pony it up.
You can say, “That is a lot of money you need, what are some options you've thought of to raise these funds?”
Then you stay silent while the capable person thinks about how they can come up with the money to solve their own problems.
Practice several sentences that puts the responsibility back onto them to think of ways to make money. Because, when you put up this new healthy boundary line, there will be balking and braying!
It's all good. They will gain their dignity back by pulling their own weight and you can use your hard earned money on you!
Your family is where you will find your greatest allies. Prepping can put a strain on the family unit, but it doesn’t have to. If you adopt some of these ideas you can make great strides where everyone comes out on top–maybe, even smiling.
It does no good to prepare for the hard times, if, in the process, we become bitter towards each other or the family breaks apart.
We can build our homes and yards into a sanctuary of safety and in a way that simultaneously bullet-proofs the relationships.
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