Throughout modern history, teenagers have been a royal pain in the … (My editor told me not to swear so much in my articles.) And I know about teens firsthand, because I’ve raised four of them. I have a son 27, daughter 24, daughter 19 and son 17. They are all unique and wonderful, but they were also challenging at times. Let’s face it, anyone who raises kids knows that around age 13, give or take a few years, parents become incredibly stupid. And this phenomenon lasts for several years until the teen gets out there and lives life and makes a few mistakes of their own. Then, all of a sudden, like magic, mom and dad are smart again. (I love it when that part happens.)
But when we talk about a TEOTWAWKI (The End of the World As We Know It) scenario, a rebellious, know-it-all teenager could rapidly move from the “nuisance” category into the “you-could-get-us-all-killed” category. When society collapses, the power grid goes down, food stops flowing, all wealth is lost, roving gangs of hungry thugs seek out sheep to devour, you’re going to want those children of yours to move quickly from the liability column into the asset column.
How do you do that?
Here are a few handy tips.
1. Make them work. I’m not talking about five minutes a day before they can spend 5 hours watching reruns of “Glee”, texting, FaceBooking and Twittering. Get rid of all that electronic crap and put them to work. Make them mow the lawn, hoe the garden, pick the beans, split the wood, do the dishes, cook the dinner, and the list goes on and on.
The Bible tells us that those who don’t work don’t eat, but in a TEOTWAWKI situation those who don’t work could very well ensure the rest of the family doesn’t eat as well. And that is unacceptable. Two of my sons and daughters once came to me seeking a redress of grievances. They explained to me I was participating in child abuse when I made them weed the garden and pick the beans. They gave me an ultimatum: “Knock it off or we call Child Protective Services.”
I handed them my cell phone and walked away.
It sounds extreme, but if you have spoiled brats for kids you need to take the bully by the horns. Ironically enough, I had to risk losing my kids to the government before I could keep them for my family. It worked out okay.
2. Teach them respect. Rule them with a tender heart and an iron resolve. Teens are half adult and half kid. If they see you as a cream puff who just wants to make them happy, they will never respect you. To the contrary, they’ll smell blood in the shark tank and rip you apart. If you don’t take control – they will. Love is important, but it’s not enough. They are not qualified to be in charge, especially in a societal collapse. Life and death decisions will have to be made, and the people in your charge will have to obey, sometimes immediately and without question, or good people will die. (Prior military training and combat experience may prove helpful when preparing kids for TEOTWAWKI.)
3. Keep them lean. My daughter went through a phase where she refused to eat our food; it was unhealthy, nothing but lean meat, fresh-ground grains, home-grown organic fruits and vegetables. It must have been terrible for her eating all that home-cooked food. As an experiment, we allowed her to buy her own groceries. Using all the power of her superior, 17-year-old intellect she purchased frozen dinners, boxed macaroni and cheese, and a good supply of chocolate.
The experiment was a disaster.
When your kids want something they don’t need, tell them to get a job! Here are a few standard one-liners that all parents can use to keep their kids lean, mean effective fighting machines in a grid-down situation:
“No, you can’t have that!”
“That’s my refrigerator – get out of it!”
“I’ll go into your bedroom anytime I want.”
“When I say ‘jump’ you ask how high on the way up!”
“If you want to send a ‘tweet’ go outside and tell it to the birds.”
4. Teach them teamwork. I was always amazed at my kid’s loyalty to their sports teams. They would die for their friends, while, simultaneously feeling zero loyalty to the most important team in their life. The family. God set up the family as the basic building block of civilization. Without a healthy building block you don’t make squat. You and your spouse are tasked with building a family – a team – working together to keep each other alive and thriving in a period of hard times or societal unrest. Keep the family front and centered around God. Eat meals together. Work together. Pray together. Worship together. Take vacations together.
When I was in the Marine Corps; they had this down to a science. If one of us failed – we all crashed and burned. It wasn’t unusual to hear my drill instructor say, “Oh, private Cupcake doesn’t want to do push-ups today, so we’ll just have to start over!” (Throw in a few creative and colorful expletives and you’ll get the flavor.)
Of course, there are many other things you’ll need in a societal collapse scenario, but all the beans and bullets in the world won’t help if your kids, the ones you love, are spoiled and lazy brats.
Next week we talk about skill-sets and training in a post-apocalyptic world.
Image: Swiss Family Robinson; author: J. D. Wyss; Illustrations: T. H. Robinson; public domain
Topics: Survival Plan, Teenagers,