Published May 2014: The Messenger – Faith: A Fresh Take
A Little Bit of Freedom, A Lot of Faith
As a mother of two teenagers, I hear the question “Why don’t you trust me?” a lot. I get it — my kids want freedom. And yes, I do trust them. But, I’m finding it difficult to allow as much freedom as they crave, and I have to admit that I’m scared for them.
Society is much different than it was years ago. I can remember riding my bike to a friend’s house along a major highway when I was 12 without a cell phone or even a helmet and my parents had absolutely no qualms about letting me do it. They knew that the people in our town would look after me. They knew that if I didn’t arrive at my destination, that someone would call. People looked after each other, drivers were a bit more cautious and aware without the distraction of cell phones and parents were quick to correct other people’s children when safety was a concern.
In this day and age, people are reluctant to get involved. They shy away from intervening when a “stranger” is in need for fear of liability. It makes me sad and contributes to my reluctance to give my children more freedom. Who would look after my daughter, who is about to get her license, when she is stranded on the side of the road and unable to reach me? Who would help my teenage son if he finds himself in a peer pressure situation in a public area?
Even though these worries consume me at times and the accusations that I don’t trust my children build up, I am slowly realizing that maybe I’m not trusting my faith enough. Every day I see the good that people in my parish do for others. They stop people on the sidewalk and say hello. They offer food, drink and companionship to the homeless and the elderly. They nurture our youth and support families in need. I see that there are people in this world who are willing to reach out and help both the young and old and disregard the risk of liability.
So, this week I agreed to let my daughter ride along with her friend to an event. I let my son go to the movies unsupervised with his friends. And, even though I felt compelled to follow the car when my daughter left and sit a few rows behind my son, I didn’t. Instead, I said a silent prayer asking for God and my faith community to keep an eye on them when I couldn’t. I prayed that my children would make good choices and I prayed that others would stand up for them if they were in need.
I trusted my children and they both returned home safely. And, most of all, I trusted my faith.
— Shannon Philpott