My parents are what I would describe as “Preppers”. They spend inordinate amounts of time researching, experimenting, and even building survival gear. They spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on preparedness. They spend hours talking, and mainly associate with other like-minded Preppers: about how to dispose of human waste, how to cook food storage, how to set up camp when we’re “called out,” what vehicles are necessary to own, etc.
I’m a temple worthy mother with my own family, who believes my parents are extremists. I believe they look beyond the mark. I believe in following the Brethren: who have counseled us to gradually build reserves of food and water, build financial reserves and most importantly to prepare spiritually. They have specifically counseled us not to go to extremes.
How do you deal with family members who treat anyone who believes they’ve gone down the road of fanaticism, as ill prepared, foolish, or spiritually inferior?
Even though we all get to choose the kind of life we want to live, it becomes difficult when others, especially our own family members, are openly critical of our choices. While there may be areas of agreement in your relationship with your parents, the areas of disagreement have become wedges that sabotage unity. Thankfully, you can choose to have a Zion heart and experience peace as you respond to your parents.
While I’m not going to referee the split between your different preparation strategies for the future, I will share the invitation President Russell M. Nelson extended in the October 2020 General Conference: “The adversary never stops attacking. So, we can never stop preparing! The more self-reliant we are—temporally, emotionally, and spiritually—the more prepared we are to thwart Satan’s relentless assaults.”[i] President Nelson also emphasized the need for personal revelation as we carry out our preparations. In his April 2018 General Conference, his first formal address as the President of the Church, he shared the following:
“You don’t have to wonder about what is true. You do not have to wonder whom you can safely trust.
If we are to have any hope of sifting through the myriad of voices and the philosophies of men that attack truth, we must learn to receive revelation.
…in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.”[ii]
Instead of relying on ourselves and others to sort through the competing ideas about how to best prepare, President Nelson is pleading with each of us to turn to God for customized and personalized guidance. He’s outlined three areas of preparation that all need attention: temporal, emotional, and spiritual. Reassuringly, there is enough room in these three broad categories for individual adaptation.
I trust that as each of us work on receiving personal revelation and guidance in these three areas, we will have more peace and confidence about the future. Remember that the Lord told us that, “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear.”[iii]
Recognize that it’s hard to not be thrown off by someone else’s confidence in their plan, especially when those people are your own parents. We are wired to care what our parents think. It’s built into our survival reflexes and those don’t automatically disappear with time. You can certainly consider their input, but, ultimately, you’ll want to embrace the guidance you receive from God about how to best protect yourself and your own family. As you do this, you’ll be able to better tolerate any undue pressure from your parents.
Your parents are getting answers that work for them. Remember that their answers don’t have to work for you. They sound like they’re deeply connected to their purpose and community. You also can feel deep purpose and connection as you continue your own preparations. We can find great unity in seeking revelation from the same Source even while our individual answers have some variance. As we each get personalized direction from God, we will need to tolerate a certain level of differentiation from each other. None of us are the same, so how could our individual answers be carbon copies?
Healthy families are based on connection, but they’re also based on a certain level of separateness. Too much closeness can be smothering and enmeshed. Too much distance can leave us isolated and disengaged from important supports. It’s challenging to find that balance of connection and separation, but it’s a healthy tension that allows us to thrive both individually and as families.
Your confidence in the answers you’ve received for yourself and your family will make it easier to respond to your parent’s assertions that they know what’s best for you. You can share your appreciation their concern for your safety and well-being. You can also let them know that you are receiving direction for your life and don’t need them to manage your life. If they are intrusive about their opinions on how you’re living your life, you can respond with directness and clarity. You will grow emotionally and spiritually as you learn how to respond in loving, confident, and healthy ways to your parents.
Geoff will answer a new family and relationship question every Friday. You can email your question to him at [email protected]
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About the Author
Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He is the co-author of “Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged by Virtual Infidelity”, host of the podcast, “From Crisis to Connection”, and creates online relationship courses. He earned degrees from Brigham Young University and Auburn University. He is married to Jody Young Steurer and they are the parents of four children.
[iii] D&C 38:30