Would you encourage or discourage a preteen obsessed with prepping for
an apocalypse? If you had a preteen who was becoming a bit obsessed (as in pretty much the only thing they talk about or want to spend money on) with prepping how would you react?
I would probably be a little bit worried about why someone so young is obsessed with the world coming to an end.
Most preteens are focused on enjoying life with their friends, family, and looking forward to birthdays, holidays, vacations, & movies.
It's not as though we're living in the era where people were building bomb shelters for fear the Russians were going to attack us.
Based upon my own observations most who people believe the world is coming to an end in (their lifetime) tend not be happy with the way their life is going. Some of them actually (hope the world be destroyed) soon. They can't wait to get out of here!
People who are "happy" with their lives generally look forward to the years to come! I would make sure my child isn't depressed about something possibly involving social connections with other children their age. Sometimes kids pick up adult stress issues.
Personally speaking during my early childhood I was depressed but didn't know what that meant at the time. I just wanted my childhood to be "over with". It wasn't until I got to be around age 16 that I started to see a light at the end of the tunnel. High school graduation was within sight and I would be going away to college where I would "free".
You might ask your child if they're unhappy. Once again it's hard to be having a great time in life and obsess over the apocalypse at the same time. Consider if your child has any "best friends", what activities are they involved with other children socially, outgoing, or is he/she more of an introverted loner.
This time of year most children are thinking about what they want for Christmas and not the destruction of the world.
My son has been on this topic for about a year, he watches those survival shows on discovery. He is a bit introverted, but popular in school. I prep mildly, but his obsessiveness on the topic makes me a bit nervous. He wants prepper stuff for xmas.
It's illogical and irrational behavior, so of course I would discourage it. Preteens and teens can become obsessive over some pretty crazy stuff (well, so can adults, I guess). To some extent, maybe it's not abnormal to be 12 and think some stuff that's a little out there... but that being said, what you're describing sounds incredibly unhealthy. They won't talk about anything else, and are even spending money on this "preparation"? Yeah. Might be indicative of some greater problem and honestly, could be a mental health thing that would be better addressed by a psychologist.
Your pre-teen child or teenager announces they want to start prepping for an apocalyptic event. What should you do? Book them for therapy? Here's some tips for parents before you pick up the phone! read more
Will will come to an end one way or another. Your pre-teen is still in the part of life that comes with little responsibility. He/she should enjoy life and make the most of every day. Dwelling on the negative allows negativity to fester.
I would be hugely concerned if it were my child, especially since I have a positive attitude about everything; I'd hope that my child absorbed that from me.
Without being obvious, engage your child in fun, exciting discoveries that life as it is at this very moment has to offer. Try to re-direct her thinking. But do it in a way that she discovers the beauty of life on her own. If she's feeling this way now, what's going to happen when she has to work in order to put a roof over her head and food in her belly and any children's she may have?
Don't let the despair grow. Shine some light on that seedling. Let it reach for the sun until it sees rainbows.
I'd react by looking for super cool hobbies to tempt my child with, like the 3D printing makers' movement, linking them into survival prepping for as long as necessary until his or her focus shifted.
I'm an Aspie who grew up with an Aspie Cold War prepper/survivalist dad and was a prepper right along with him.
My dad became obsessed with prepping after my eldest brother passed away. There was nothing he could have done to protect his son any better, but, by damn he was going to protect his remaining loved ones to within an inch of their lives!
I guess my point is that my dad, though prone to latching onto all sorts of hobbies, latched onto prepping in response to anxiety and fear of further loss. Perhaps you could try to find out what underlying anxiety has begun to manifest itself in this way and try to work on that with your child?
Looking back on our joint prepping activities, they weren't very healthy. It did give us something to do rather than just letting our minds seethe with anxiety but the concepts we were dealing with bred further anxiety. Aspies are planners, but there are much healthier things to plan for than the death or long-term disruption of human civilization.
Skills learned through growing up a survivalist did save my life when I was homeless, but I'd likely have never been homeless in the first place if my parents had focused for preparing me for life in the real world rather than for surviving the world of my dad's nightmares. As an adult, I permanently set my doomsday prepping urges aside because I came to the realization that I had no desire to survive a nuclear war or the complete collapse of civilization. All my favorite things in life are parts of the society I live in or require it to exist.
I think it was my parents running away and my homelessness that brought that into focus. I realized that knowing homelessness could be ended and that there was a society if only I could find a way back into it were the only reasons I tried so hard to survive it. A post apocalyptic world would be far worse, far more miserable, and it would go on for as long as I survived with no hope of anything better.
That may sound horribly depressing from the outside but it was such a relief to reach that conclusion. I could just get on with living in what the world is now and focus my intensity and problem-solving skills on it and on other things like personal development, art, science, writing, and love.
I see that I am answering this 20 months after posted, so my answer is definitely not timely, but hopefully I can make it substantive.
I wouldn't worry. I just wouldn't. Most preppers engage the process not out of anxiety, but rather out of a host of more benign reasons. Some just want to be tacticool, and this (gender bias aside) falls into the category of "boys will be boys". Some, have experienced loss and scarcity and so having stuff around is insurance, plain and simple. Some simply value individuality and self-reliance, and don't trust their opposites, collectivism and the welfare state. Some simply want to protect, starting with the smallest circle and working out to the largest they see themselves capable of exerting some amount of control: self, family, friends, neighborhood, etc....
The point is, if your preteen is seeking to extend his control over his environment, pulling him back from that and asking him to "trust" that the world (or your situation at home) will just be alright, is leaving him over the abyss. It will soon become evident that he has other responsibilities with his time and money and an exclusive focus on prep will naturally become obvious as detrimental.
You say that your son has been into politics and world history since he was very young. One thing that a study of history will expose you to over and over is instances in which savages, tyrants, secret police, plague, economic depression, natural disasters, and a plenitude of other things rolled over individuals, some of whom made it and some of whom didn't. The fact that your son feels that he can become one of the ones left standing, with those he loves around him, speaks volumes of good about his character. It also speaks volumes about the fact that his concerns are all directed outward and that he must therefore consider the things at his back (family, home, school) safe.
And if you and he are capable of having a conversation, don't, for the love of Pete, send him to a counselor. Last thing he needs is a label he doesn't choose for himself or isn't given by someone who loves and respects him.
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