If there’s one topic I’ve heard survivalists continually struggle with, it’s how to get their loved ones on board with the idea of survival. Because many of us out there are facing a hard reality, their families simply don’t place the same importance on preparedness and survival as we do. I struggled with this myself, my wife and I would initially fight on what was being spent on this “hobby” in our house, because at first - she just didn’t get it.
This was 15 years ago now, and I’m happy to say she’s now as big of a believer as I am. But it was a long-road, that required many small steps to bring her around to the same way of thinking. If you’ve got someone already who is on the same page, congratulations, but if not, follow this foundation to hopefully inspire your loved ones to start prepping as well.
Start a related hobby
For starters, you need to get them outdoors. Because at the core, many aspects of survival revolve around skills and knowledge you can gain doing many other things. Think about ways to gently teach your loved ones survival skills, that aren’t obviously related. You might think this is a little deceptive, but I see it as a win-win. You just need to find the right hobby.
Like going hiking overnight. You’ll have tents of course, but they’ll learn everything from packing a kit, to starting a fire from scratch, and everything else along the way. Hunting is another good hobby, so is fishing, trapping camping, kayaking, or whatever you’ve got around you to inspire a love for the outdoors. These fundamental skills will help start the ball rolling, as they learn about prepping, without focusing purely on prepping. To this day my wife still responds more positively to “let’s go for an overnight hike” than a request like “let’s do a trial run of our bug out plan,” or "I want to practice fire making," and I’d hazard a guess yours will probably be the same.
Take an expert-led class
I still remember the shock my kids had on their first wild edibles tour. It was hosted by a local in a neighboring community, who has an unsurpassed amount of knowledge on the vast amount of edible food you can find in our area. My kids were blown away at the berries, plants and nuts they’ve grown up around their entire lives, but never knew where to look for them, or that they could actually be eaten.
And that’s before they discovered how tasty it all was. These kids have used that knowledge well, and are more than happy to go our “collecting” every time we’re camping, to bring in a good haul of all the native edibles they’ve been able to find. It’s not “prepping” per se, but I’m much more confident they’ll be able to at least get some form of food should a crisis hit, as they’ve got experience with a fundamental skill they also enjoyed learning. You could do the same with classes in bushcraft, firearms, or whatever you can find.
Start with small conversations
Remember, that a full-scale doomsday situation is one potential scenario, it’s also unlikely a non-prepper is going to see the logic in preparing for a major event. You need to start much smaller, approaching the topics slowly with questions to gain their approval and trust. If you’re pushy or they feel like you’re trying to force a point of view, you’ll struggle getting anywhere. I had the most success with my wife using the sustainability angle.
She knew I had a passion for going off-grid, and most of our earliest projects were to reduce our carbon footprint on the world and live more sustainably. We started collecting rainwater, composting for our garden, and many other projects, that were all centered around being better global citizens. They also helped us be more prepared, and that was a big win, because before you know it we were installing solar panels, setting up a wind turbine, and digging out a new basement for extra storage.
Relate it back to the news
Another approach is to tie in your requests to what’s happening on the news. You might know that your area is prone to flooding, or hurricanes, or whatever the case may be, but if your loved ones aren’t seeing it as an issue, you will struggle to get them to see the logic around preparing for an event like this. I used to use the news to sow little seeds of concern, as a way to get my wife thinking about these outcomes too.
One particular situation I remember was a blackout that kept an entire community in the dark for more than 4 days. I asked my wife if our big hunting freezer would still be cold if we were to suffer a similar outage, and left it at that. Two months later, at Christmas that year, my present from her that year was a portable gas generator. When I asked her later about it, she told me she’d seen a horrifying story of a family like ours, they’d lost hundreds of dollars in frozen meats and she couldn’t bear the thought of that happening to us. See what I did there? Presented the facts, and left her to make up her mind. If I’d told her we needed a generator, it would have been a much different conversation (and most likely a fight).
Ultimately, I want you to remember that being prepared isn’t an end state, it’s a journey. And if you’re reading this it’s quite likely you’re much further along in that journey than most of your loved ones. So be gentle, take it slow, and warm them up to the ideas you’ve come to know and appreciate. With the right approach, they’ll learn to love this lifestyle as much as you do. Just give them the space to discover it on their own.