Consider this possible scenario: Let’s imagine for a moment that nuclear fallout or a tornado is approaching your home. If you said to your child, “Stop what you are doing- go to the basement right now!” - would he obey without question or hesitation? Would he even pay attention to your voice if he were deeply involved in a video game or a text message? Would he whine “WHYYYYY? Do I HAAAAVE to? It’s not faaaair. Bubba got to play longer than meeeeee!” Would your daughter pout, glare at you, and sulk if she had planned to go to a party instead of to the basement? Would your toddler know how to “hush and be still” on command, or would he strain against your arms and accelerate into a loud temper fit? What decisions do I need to make right now, if I really believe that some time in the perceivable future, events may occur which will require my family to function as a tightly-knit team, whether we decide to stay put and dig in or in the event we need to make a mobile evacuation. The groundwork we lay today may mean life or death tomorrow.
I share these concerns from a position of experience. I am the father of nine children, three grown and raised, six still at home. We have put these following principles to the test while traveling in hazardous conditions, preaching in ghettos and foreign (dangerous!) countries, and being in natural disaster zones. Our family has spoken at home-schooling and preparedness conferences about developing a lifestyle that fits the times in which we live. This is not a time to be numbed by addiction to amusement, stuffed with junk food in our bodies and brains, or to be slackers in our child training. Public school will not teach these principles to your children. You must or they will not survive.
With this in mind, let’s take a reality check. The first priority is to establish authority. This may step on some toes but home was never designed by the Creator to be a democracy, but a benevolent theocratic dictatorship. God rules, then Dad in cooperation with Mom, period. Children must see and know that Dad and Mom are under God’s authority. Under God, children must obey their parents. If this chain of command does not exist in your house, fix it. Buck up men; you are not in position to win a popularity contest but to lead your family to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil. This is not always fun or “happy”. It requires a stiff backbone, the ability to say “No!” and mean it. These principles apply to Moms too. Good Moms are not “sappy” pushovers. As a popular movie stated- walk tall and (when necessary) carry a big stick. Children from wimpy parents become narcissistic whiners, unfit for counting on in hard times. This is not to say that respectful (again I emphasize respectful!) appeals cannot usually be brought to the table for consideration and negotiation- after all, I did state this is a “benevolent dictatorship”- but ultimately the authority must be firmly established in the home. Passive or active rebellion, complaining, or whining are deadly enemies. Right heart attitudes are your ultimate survival tool. Read one chapter each night from the Bible book of Proverbs for some great attitude adjustment and family survival training.
After establishing authority, you can focus on intensive Spiritual Preparedness. This is achieved by attending to three training areas:
These statements are not in agreement with the majority “false unity” movement who makes statements about “laying aside doctrinal differences” to promote a one-world homogenous religion that offends no-one and promotes a New Age Gospel. The truth causes division. There is still only One Way, Truth, and Life. Follow Him and live eternally. His followers love and obey His commandments. His Precious Blood is the only payment for our sin. Because of His loving sacrifice, we owe Him our full obedient worship. Period.
One solution we have found for building right heart attitudes is community service. There are always elders who need snow-shoveling, widows who need weeding, and new mothers who could use a spare hand. By being community servants, you build community solidarity and favor- necessary preparedness tools in hard times.
Where do we start, you ask? In the Bible book of II Timothy chapter 3 it says “Know this: in the last times perilous times shall come. People shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false-accusers, lacking self-control, violent, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof…ever-learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth…” Does this sound like front-page news?
Start by expecting your children to be capable of living the opposite of this. Expect them to be unselfish, appreciative of what is theirs’, humble, obedient, respectful, pure, kind to their brothers and sisters. Expect them to keep their word and have integrity, to refrain from slander,
to be willing to defend the weak but accept persecution for His sake, to have righteous friends. Expect them to be loyal to their faith, their family, and their country. Expect them to be truth-seekers. Set the bar high, live it in front of them, and expect them to follow your example, more than your words. If you don’t like the way your children act, look closely at the way you act around them. (Ouch-painful, but true for us all!) Reward the good, discipline the evil. Simple.
As foundations are laid in spiritual preparedness, the next priority is …
One method we have found indispensable in a large family is “the buddy system”. Since early childhood each child has been assigned to another child who is about five years younger as a delegated authority. They take care of daily responsibilities pertaining to this child. In the morning they see that their buddy is properly groomed, served breakfast, and supervised throughout the day. If we go to a restaurant or to visit another family, they get their buddy’s plate, cut the meat, watch their manners, wash hands before and after, and hold their hand when leaving or crossing the street. On an everyday basis, this sense of order presents an excellent testimony to our community; we like to rock the perspective that children need to be disorderly, loud, and self-centered. Not true! Once again, community favor is an important survival tool! In the event of an emergency, each “big child” needs to know where their buddy is and get them to safety. Backpacks with emergency supplies are prepared to provide for each “big child” and “little buddy” team. It would be our hope to be together throughout any emergency, but in the event this plan fails, each big buddy is a competent delegated authority who would protect and defend his/her buddy. Because the relationship was formed over years of service and set in place by the parents, the correction and leadership of the “big child” has been deeply respected. This is enforced by Mom and Dad.
These backpacks contain, among other things: A 2-person dome tent, a large but lightweight sleeping bag (sharing “buddy” heat is simple with toddlers), a water filter, clothing and diapering gear if necessary, vitamins and snacks, meds and first aid equipment, whistles, signal mirrors, fire-starting gear, a multi-tool, small Bible and child-friendly survival manual, mini-coloring books and colored pencils with sharpener for distraction, fishing line and hooks, snare wire, rope, mess kit, etc. By the way, all this is done in a way that is very non-threatening and pro-active. We do not live fearfully and we do not promote this with our children.
In summary, teach by example. The thing I have learned (sometimes the hard way) is that children are watching everything we do, say, react to, and then they will imitate our actions-good or bad. They overhear our conversations with others. They hear what we say when we hit our thumb with the hammer. They see whether we treasure our wife as the Messiah adores His Bride or if we treat her like a doormat or a workhorse. They don’t need to see us absorbed in fearful preparations, worried about what we will do if someone comes to “take our stuff”. They need to see us living a life of faith and prudence, using discernment in our speech and actions, loyalty and generosity in our friendships, and courage in adversity. Children and unbelieving neighbors are watching us and following our example. They are looking for answers. Our priority must be our responsibilities as Kingdom ambassadors in a time of great darkness. We need to shine a clear light. If hardship becomes more intense in future days, we will be thankful to have used our time wisely in giving our children the best chance to flourish in spite of adversity. If things improve, (unlikely, but always possible) our children will have learned to enjoy adventure, function with optimal life-skills, and they will be a worthy contribution to the leadership of our future communities, congregations, and our nation. We can store a warehouse full of beans, an armory of ammo, and a vault of precious metals but eventually it will all burn. The only thing we can hope to take into eternity with us is our children.