Avoiding Fear

January 24, 2012

Children, Prepper Mindset

teaching children without scaring them

Last week, I wrote a post about what you may want to tell your children about the reasons you have decided to prepare.  I only touched briefly on the topic of fear, so I wanted to give that some more attention here.

There are a lot of unsettling things in the news these days.  Some rate more as bothersome invasions of privacy (like TSA patdowns and strip-searches) and some could make a person lose sleep (like how far Iran may be from deploying nuclear missiles against the US).  How we handle this information and how we relay it to our children is worth examining.

No “One Size Fits All” Approach

Depending on our personality types and our levels of awareness, we may have tendencies to react in certain ways.  For example, when some people are told they “can’t” do something, it will spur them to prove the speaker wrong.  Others may be more prone to giving up and accepting another’s judgment without trying.  Considering the personality types of those around you may help you to know how to approach them about certain topics.

Avoiding Fear

Fear is not a nice place to live.  It can be a useful survival instinct, but it is not an emotion we want to live with constantly.  For some people, it is almost mentally paralyzing rather than motivating.  So rather than having your loved ones (especially children) constantly watching for the sky to fall, you’d probably rather they think in healthier, problem-solving kinds of ways.

When we have talked to our children, we have tried to be careful to present what we do as a way of avoiding fear and panic in any circumstance.  For example- the power may go out because of ice on the power lines?  No problem- we have a wood-burning stove and propane heat back-up.  A virulent strain of flu is making rounds quickly through the community?  It’s okay, we don’t have to leave home and expose ourselves because we have food, water, medicine, etc. for months if need be.

How are you handling your concerns?

This doesn’t apply only to children.  Adults can really struggle with worry too.  It’s not healthy for us to live under self-imposed stress either.

I remember times when I became aware of an area we had not yet prepared for and how I would have brief periods of anxiety about getting that area addressed.  Since they were things that were very concerning to me, I had to be careful to only discuss them with Joe in private.  Children absorb a lot more than we think and will become worried and scared if they perceive their providers/protectors are worried and scared.

A fellow prepping friend of mine told me about something that had happened in her family that I think illustrates this well.  She said she went into a grocery store once with her younger son.  As they approached the back of the store, he noticed the refrigerated cases were dark and empty.  The cases were just broken and the food had been removed, but he drew a very different conclusion.

His eyes got wide and immediately, in a terrified voice, he asked her if “it” had happened.  She didn’t understand his question or why he looked so alarmed.  He pointed to the cases and asked if the grocery store was running out of food- should they get as many things as they can and hurry home?

Until that point, my friend did not realize how worried she had been and how the kids had obviously picked up on every concern she and her husband had discussed.

Easier Said Than Done

Sure, it’s easy to tell someone else not to worry or be fearful.  And you can know in that rational part of your head that it is not a healthy or happy way to live.  It’s so much harder in practice though.  Adults have adult concerns.  If the office grapevine says lay-offs are imminent, it sure is hard not to feel some anxiety about whether our names are on the chopping block.  The mortgage has to be paid.  The kids have gotten really used to eating 3 meals a day.

I don’t have a panacea for this since I struggle with my own concerns.  The ones that plague me the most are the things I have absolutely no power over, yet it’s hard to just write them off and let them go.

The best advice I can give in this area is just to be aware of your thinking and how it’s impacting you and others.  Try to find balance.  When I’ve struggled, sometimes it has helped to look at the list of things we have accomplished and focus on those.  We don’t have a greenhouse- well, we do have plenty of open-pollinated seeds.  We haven’t found a like-minded physician to help us stockpile medicines- well, we have been to the Medical Corps training class and gotten some more knowledge and practice.

I’d love to hear from you about how you keep things in perspective and avoid worry and fear.  Please comment if you have some suggestions or experiences to share.

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14 Comments on “Avoiding Fear”

  1. william m Says:

    I recently changed my approach to “prepping”. I found that all I was doing was prepping them to be paranoid schizophrenics. I try not to raise my sons to fear a dystopian future. This mentality erodes hope and creates an almost suicidal apathy towards anything constructive. I am raising my sons to be prepared for WHATEVER HAPPENS…to survive NO MATTER WHAT!


  2. CeAdams Says:

    We are prepping our boys for whatever the future may bring. If it is a SHTF senario then we want them to be calm and not afraid. So we practice our skills now for firebuilding, tent set up, etc…. If the world keeps turning we want them to have skills – not just book learning so they are learning about metal working, welding, leather working, as well as cooking, canning and preserving so that no matter what they will be ready. We make things as fun and relaxed as possible. They are still young so we tend to have our adult conversations about the uncertain future when they are in bed, but as they get older they will be brought into those discussions as appropriate.


    • Laura Says:

      That’s excellent! And you make a good point that they can be included in the conversations as they get older. The best part is that they will have absorbed the lifestyle already, so there will be little or no anxiety when they begin to learn the “why” part.

      We homeschool and one of the benefits we see is that we can make sure that their education includes the worthwhile skills no longer offered in schools- many you mentioned above. Recently, my mother-in-law and I were talking about the generational differences between her time in high school and mine. While she was there, all girls were expected to take at least 1 year of Home Economics where they were taught sewing, cooking, canning, and so on. By the time I got to high school, girls were being groomed for the board room and no self-respecting young lady with a promising future took Home Ec anymore. It was still offered at my school freshman year, but had been done away with altogether by the time I was a senior.

      No surprise then that we have several generations of kids and young adults with few practical skills and little basic knowledge. I can’t remember the last time an adolescent told me they were taking “Shop” (wood-working and general repairs type of class) or something like Home Ec. When I was last in the public school classroom, there was a course called Teen Living. I think it’s main purpose was sex ed, though.

      Thanks for your comment.


  3. Mike Says:

    As Winston Churchill reportedly said ” The only fear you should have, is the fear itself”


    • Laura Says:

      I thought it was FDR, but the point is a good one. The key word there is “should” for me, though. It can be really hard not to try and shoulder myself the things I should let God take care of.

      Thanks for the comment.


  4. MtWoman (N Central Texas) Says:

    Excellent subject to discuss. I don’t have young children to be concerned about (or any at home), but I find that when fear and/or concern rise within me, I am deeply affected, and become unproductive. What I find helps the most (and I think this would help parents as well) is to talk through the fears and concerns with others (adults) of like mind that you trust. I, fortunately, have my grown son I can talk to. Just getting the anxious thoughts OUT makes a big difference.

    I am living alone with my 86 yo father (my step-mother passed away 4 years ago), and I have so many concerns, it is really paralyzing at times. I have a friend who lived with her father too as he aged, and when I can talk through what I am going through with her, I calm down, and can focus and take action.

    I also find taking breaks from news and the internet is helpful. And taking walks/being outside for periods of time. When I am in Nature, I am reminded of what our role in the whole picture is, and it seems to put perspective on my fears.

    I also find comfort in inspirational writings; one of my favorites is the Desiderata, part of which says: “With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
    Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”

    In the end, it’s about what we can control, and what we can’t, and how we accept this and do what we can.

    Thank you for bringing up the subject…I think it’s universal, especially these days, with all that is going on.


    • Laura Says:

      What a great point about taking a break from the bad news as a way of de-stressing. I agree with you about that. I have a hard time balancing that sometimes. I want to stay informed, but the news is rarely good. I was commenting to Joe on Saturday that even in our tiny country community with a once-a-week newspaper, the number and nature of the crimes listed is disturbing.

      Thanks for your suggestions of what writers inspire you. I’ll look into that.

      I too find being outside restorative. It is one of the main reasons we enjoy having some elbow room out here- there are more animals than people close by.

      A friend (or family member) to be a sounding board is a wonderful thing! I have been blessed with a husband who always tolerated my preparedness bent, but in recent years also has whole-heartedly adopted the mentality for himself. I also have several wonderful friends now who are fellow “preppers.”

      Having someone to either “talk you down” when you are overly anxious or to help you think through solutions is priceless for giving you peace of mind. And you are right- sometimes just getting it out of your head for a while is all you need.

      I appreciate your comments. I wish you well in your preparedness efforts! You are a wonderful daughter to care for your father. Few people do that anymore, though I anticipate a return to multi-generational living if for no other reason than necessity in the near future.


  5. doc Says:

    First off i dont use the words fear or worry..i may be concerned about something and prepare, but then the prepared are not scared..drill that matra in your head and get prepared- even boy scouts know that much.


  6. cild of Odin Says:

    First, doc and MtWoman. Thanks. Prepping is new to me, though some of my old army and boy scout skills will take the place of preps until I can gather them. Worry has paralyzed me lately. Not for my sake, but for my 3 daughters. I look around and see a world that could easily tip into the abyss and I wonder what kind of future they will have. Can I protect them? Feed them? Provide for them? I am cursed , as a student of history, with he knowledge that empires end and tyranny has long been the norm for humanity, and I see America on the brink. As a new prepper, I have a lot of catching up to do, and as j am currently far below poverty level due to job loss, health issues and the like, I struggle with the knowledge that I have VERY limited resources to draw on. Terrifies me that I will fail them, and lately I have found myself filled with dark thoughts about the future. My wife thinks its all silly, and that all will be fine, had won’t prep.

    The advice to shut off the news or internet for a day so is needed, as is the advice to just do what you can. To focus on what you have done, and can do next. Thanks for that.

    Sorry for that, but it was bottling up, and I figure I’m not alone in having been in this place, among you.



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