In the opening article of this series I painted the following picture: 
Close your eyes and imagine a world without electricity:  no Fox News, no facebook, no email, no Blackberry, no cold drinks, no heat in the winter, no automobiles, no food and no way to cook it even if you had it. It’s the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI) and you and your family are going to die.
That’s a pretty bleak picture. But I left you with a little hope.

I clarified it by saying:  “Unless, of course, you are prepared.”

Through all my research on preparing for societal collapse, I found a dearth of information on preparing the family’s mind and relationship for hard times. So that’s what I want to focus on today, because if your family doesn’t have the will to live, it won’t matter how much “stuff” you have stored in your basement. You’re going to die.

Think of it in terms of self defense. You can be carrying the largest handgun in the world, but if you don’t have the balls to use it, then you’re going to die. So let’s start out by talking about mental toughness. I was introduced to mental toughness in the Marine Corps many years ago. They drove it into me, honed me, tore me apart and built me back into a man who could handle some stress. When I think of military training, I’m reminded of a Bible verse:
Proverbs 27:17:

      As iron sharpens iron,
      So one person sharpens another.

In the Marine Corps I learned about teamwork, loyalty, and honor. I learned that if one team member is weak, the whole team suffers. Now, as a husband and father, I’ve learned that my family is a team; it has weak links, and it’s only as strong as its weakest team member. Those of you with family know this to be true. For example, if one family member is addicted to drugs, making bad decisions, then the whole family pays the price. That’s just the way it is.
Surviving a societal collapse as a lone wolf will be nearly impossible. You’ll need people around you who are trustworthy and loyal and prepared. That’s where the family comes in. Think of yourselves as a military unit. Depending on your size, you could be a fire team or an entire squad. If you live near extended family, you could be talking about an entire platoon!
The family, even in the best of times, can be an asset or a liability. I have two teenagers at home, and, as much as I love them, they can be a real pain in the butt! I try to prepare them for hard times, but sometimes I just don’t know if they’re getting it. At times they seem spoiled, lacking in perspective and common sense. As a matter of routine, I give them an hour of chores per day. They complain, whine and moan as if they’re being marched off to the gallows. In today’s world, their undisciplined, disrespectful behavior is a nuisance that causes me stress. After societal collapse, their immaturity could well mean the death of a loved one. No, I’m not being overly dramatic. Today I ask them to wash the dishes, but after society collapses, I’ll hand them a gun and send them up on the roof as a sentry from midnight to 2AM. If they shirk their duty, the whole family could be slaughtered in its sleep.
Why am saying this? Because there are things you can be doing right now to prepare the minds of your spouse and kids. Share your concerns about society’s downward spiral. Don’t shatter their hope for the future, just plant the seed, and let them know we must hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Many kids today have little sense of family loyalty and responsibility. Drill that into them now while you still can. Once the crap hits the fan, it’s too late.

How can you do this? Strengthen your family unit by spending time together. Train together, work together, and play together. I know what you’re thinking “But I can’t afford the time!”

Correction:  “You can’t afford not to spend the time!” Do you really want that rebellious, undisciplined teenager up on your roof with a shotgun, knowing full well that he may fall asleep an hour into his watch? Teach your kids they are a part of something greater than themselves. Teach them when they’re young that the family needs them. It will strengthen the unit and give them self esteem in the process.

This aspect of preparedness is the most important, but also the most difficult to attain, because it depends on the cooperation of others. Anyone can buy a case of beans and bullets, but that doesn’t make them a survivalist any more than owning a rifle makes them a marksman. Listen to this next statement and take it to heart:

“After societal collapse, you must place your life in the hands of your children.”

Think about it. You can’t survive alone. The most obvious people to hinder or help will be your own family. After all, what are you going to do – kick your daughter out of the house because she’s a wimp? You won’t be able to do it. So train her now.

Military veterans, look back on your time in service. The people I went through boot camp with are like brothers to me. I ate with them, slept with them, and marched with them. And when one of us screwed up we all did bends and thrusts with our collective face in the dirt! But after 11 weeks we were close enough to die for one another. Can you say that about your family? Would your son or daughter die for you? That’s what it will take for a family to survive after a societal collapse.
Now don’t get me wrong. Don’t go home and act like a drill instructor to your spouse and kids. I’ve tried it and you won’t like it! If your family isn’t already close, then start out light. Start out by playing together. Build some rapport. Do fun things. Children (especially teenagers) don’t obey their parents unless they feel loved. Once you build the rapport you can insert valuable life-skill training into your fun time. You can take them shooting, hunting, camping or even to a colonial village where they can be introduced to life back in 1794.  You are limited only by your determination and your imagination.
Another thing you can do is encourage your kids to engage in mind-toughening exercises. My daughter runs cross country. My son, who is not athletic, loves to shoot and play chess. Both have found a means to an end, building mental toughness.
But enough about kids. Let’s talk about husbands and wives now. Men, if you have a lousy relationship with your wife now, it’s going to get worse when society goes south. You won’t be able to bully her into submission. I read someplace that many a husband was poisoned by his wife back in the frontier days. Think about it. There was very little in the way of forensics and law enforcement, so the wife just fed him some poison berries and buried the abusive jerk out back and no one was the wiser.
Now, wives, before you start chuckling over that, think about what happened to that same frontier woman. After societal collapse, the world will revert to its natural state, which is law of the jungle. Those who rule will do so with tooth, fang and claw. In times like that it sure would be nice to have a man standing beside you, a strong man who was prepared to die protecting you.
My point is the two of you have to be a team. You have to be willing and able to share command, to make sound decisions on who hunts, who cooks, who gardens and who stands watch. You two are the officers, and no unit runs smoothly and effectively when command is in disarray. So do whatever it takes to improve your relationship with your spouse, whether it’s counseling, anger management classes, parenting classes, or just plain old fashioned “Making up and making love!”
In many cases, just getting on the same page in regards to preparing for societal collapse can improve your relationship. It takes a long time and a lot of hard work to make all the preparations necessary, but, after a while, you might even start having fun. Case in point, my wife and I once went on a date to a militia meeting. We had a good time and met a lot of nice people.
Preparing your family for the end of the world doesn’t have to be work. If you’re patient, determined, and wise, you might even survive your “preparations” for the end of the world as we know it long enough to survive the actual event. Strengthen your family, and you strengthen your chances of surviving in a world where the strong kill the weak and the evil murder the good. Because together, with a lot of effort, your family can become both strong and good.

Editor’s Note: Skip just published Lessons from Armed America by Mark Walters and Kathy Jackson. Check the book out here. It’s a great read!