Giving up Fear for Lent

What a good idea! If any of you try this (or decide to give up worrying for a specific amount of time, just as an experiment), please let me know how it goes! – L

Dear Free-Range Kids: The other day I let my 5 and 2 year-old kids walk down the block. It was a big deal. It was a rainy day, they wanted to go puddle splashing, but they had never walked that far alone. It involved crossing one street. We live in an area that doesn’t get much traffic. But I told my daughter (the five year-old) to hold her brother’s hand and not step one foot into the road if she saw a car coming from any direction.

My husband and I stood outside our house and watched them. They waited while one car about half a mile down the road passed them and then finally stepped into the street. They carefully crossed it, got to the other side, walked two houses down to the “succulent house” with their favorite plants, and walked back. Just as they were approaching me (my husband had run inside to make them hot chocolate) a man pulled up in a car and started yelling at me. He told me that if he were still a police officer he would have me arrested. How could I let them walk down the street alone, they could have been hit by a car! It was raining and where was my husband?!

In retrospect he sounds ludicrous, but I was really shaken. It took me a couple of days to think through the whole scenario and believe that we had made the right choice. Did I mention my kids were beaming with pride when they got back? All this lead me to your book, which I’m very grateful to have read. I didn’t even realize how immersed our country is in fear until I started to think about all of the assumptions that I have about danger and how far-fetched most of them are. Now I’ve given up worrying —  not planning, not taking precautions, but worrying — for Lent.

Yours,  Determined Mom of Two

Maybe this says, "Thou shalt not freak out about unlikely dangers."

“Thou shalt not freak out about unlikely dangers.”


, , , , , , ,

17 Responses to Giving up Fear for Lent

  1. Lola March 20, 2014 at 9:07 am #

    I appreciate other people’s interest in my kids’ well-being. I am sincerely grateful for every piece of advice they think can be useful.
    But man, it makes me mad being scolded at by a complete stranger whose judgement was based on watching just the last five minutes of our lives.
    Don’t give in, Determined. Next time, someone else will stop by to congratulate you on your kids.

  2. SOA March 20, 2014 at 9:22 am #

    The very fact that she was outside watching them for that man to be able to go yell at her means she was supervising them.

  3. Gary March 20, 2014 at 9:44 am #

    “a man pulled up in a car and started yelling at me. He told me that if he were still a police officer he would have me arrested.”

    And I would charge you and your department with harrassment if you did, FOAD, keep driving…

  4. Gina March 20, 2014 at 10:09 am #



  5. Heather March 20, 2014 at 10:18 am #

    Just out of curiosity, did he expect your husband to discipline for the crime of letting your kids walk down the street? What a weird mix of unhelpful attitudes from different decades!


  6. CrazyCatLady March 20, 2014 at 10:38 am #

    This guy sounds senile. As though there is a reason he is no longer an officer. You could clearly see the kids and they followed directions. And REALLY? Where was your husband? What century did he come from? Too bad your husband wasn’t out there…I wonder what this ex-officer’s response would have been then?

  7. Beth March 20, 2014 at 11:48 am #

    What’s a FOAD?

  8. wahoofive March 20, 2014 at 12:07 pm #

    What’s FOAD?

    Similar to MYOB but not suitable for all audiences.

  9. SOA March 20, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    Where is your husband? LOL I would answer in the house in his underpants ignoring his kids and myself where he usually is during the day? You got a problem with that? My husband is a good husband and father but if he is not working he is usually lounging around in his undies on the computer. He is not the type to be outside playing catch with the kids.

  10. Havva March 20, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

    Honestly I doubt I would be able to handle such a crazy person without being thrown off balance. One of the things I most admired about the friend I mention yesterday was her withering wit under fire.

    Perhaps she rubbed off a bit because my brain did pop out “You were planning to drive on the sidewalk?!” without hesitation.

    Though I doubt I would have it under control in a moment like that. One thing I have pick up on from reading notalwaysright is that the most bombastic people are usually not what they claim to be, and usually insecure. I wonder what he would do if the mom had pulled out a cell phone and asked “I wonder what the cops would think of you threatening me and my children?”

    Claiming to be a former police officer and yet talking about how he “would have had her arrested” rather than that “he would have arrested her.” Suggests someone who never was a cop, in addition to someone with the abusive sort of personality that police departments try to avoid taking. I suspect my friend would instantly pounce on him with…

    “There is a reason the police force didn’t want you.”

  11. John March 20, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

    I know I’ve harped on this before on this forum and I’ll probably harp on it again. Children in third world countries are much more independent and capable than American kids are because they are constantly on their own BUT YET THEY SURVIVE!

    A few years ago while I was with a group of other American tourists in New Delhi, India, these two young street boys whom I’m guessing were around 5- and 7-years-old, kept on following us and asking for money. I don’t believe they were homeless but just out begging tourists for money (this is somewhat of a profession over there). So we just ignored them as we crossed a very busy street embedded with taxis and tuk tuk drivers. It was quite the challenge dodging all of the vehicles and NEVER did we think these boys would even attempt to cross that crazy street! Well long behold, after 10 minutes or so, there were these two young boys right on our tails again! Somehow they also made their way across that busy street all by themselves and unscathed and I know they weren’t following directly behind us.

    Now I’m certainly not implying these kids are in an ideal situation living in poverty in a third world country and I’m certainly not implying that American kids should live in the same condition, but this just proves that even young kids will learn survival skills on their own if we let them. Just by being out on their own, these two young boys learned how to gage the chaotic New Delhi traffic and get across the street unmolested! Just think if we Americans could instill just a tad bit of that independence in our kids who are in a much more fortunate position than kids are from poor families in India.

    By the way, since I’m a sucker for kids, I ended up buying each one of these boys a Shwarma sandwich!

  12. BL March 20, 2014 at 2:29 pm #


    Minding his own business, unlike some people on that street.

  13. John March 20, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

    Just one more “third world kid crossing the street” story! A few years back while I was in Thailand, I was attempting to cross a very busy street in Bangkok that was loaded with tuk tuk drivers, motorbikes and taxis. There was no cross walk or lights of any sort that would assist me in getting across. So those vehicles kept on coming and coming and coming and as soon as I’d inch my way out onto the street, there’d be a motorbike storming it’s way down the street which would brush me right back to the curb!

    Well long behold, a little schoolboy of about 9- or 10-years-old all dressed out in his school uniform of brown shorts, a white shirt, white ankle socks and brown school shoes, grabbed me by the hand. At first I was thinking that he wanted me to help HIM across the street but then with a very gentle tug, he told me in a very reassuring voice “come”. That’s when I realized it was HE who was wanting to help ME cross the street! It was probably a street that he crossed everyday and therefore, had it down to a science.

    So he gently guided me out onto the street and would then say in his very limited English “stop” which allowed a string of motorbikes to spin by, then he’d say “come” and we gradually made our way across the street unscathed!

    At first I felt a bit humiliated having a kid help me cross the street but obviously this youngster had the experience seeing that he crossed that busy street EVERYDAY by himself or at least with a bunch of other school kids his age.

  14. Lisa March 20, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

    I gave up worrying last year for Lent. I was/am mostly concerned for my children’s spiritual and mental/emotional health/safety and not physical dangers, but I think this all relates to physical dangers and fears that people have. I think we need to educate our children on good wholesome tv, movies, music, clothing, lifestyles, recreation, etc. but then not worry to death and try to super control everything they see, hear, and do. I used to be so afraid of all of that type of stuff. Giving up fear and worrying help tremendously although it is a slow process. I read a lot of Bible verses on trust.

  15. Bob Davis March 20, 2014 at 9:01 pm #

    Regarding the story from Bangkok: Most likely when the boy got home, he had a great story to tell about helping a visitor from far away.

  16. Ben March 21, 2014 at 4:15 am #

    I’m not sure I would let a 5-year-old help a 2-year-old cross the street and play on their own several houses down the street. But at the same time, I also know I would mind my own business unless I saw any direct danger. Since mom looked on from a distance, I feel she took the right approach in teaching these kids some age-appropriate independence.

    As for the “where is your husband?” comment. Did he not consider that she might have been a single parent? It happens these days…

  17. A Dad March 21, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

    Well, FOAD is “F@@@ Off And Die”

    I like the “Are you driving on the sidewalk?” reply. Gotta remember that.