17 Dumb Teenage Decisions We Hope Our Kids Don't Make

Family Matters on 03.19.12
Contributor bio

Photo: stevendepolo/Creative Commons

Way back in the mid-1990's, amid a sea of flannel and Alanis Morissette chart-toppers, I was an obnoxious, surly teen for a couple of years. Like a lot other kids my age, I felt that my parents were out to ruin my fun. Clearly, before I came along, they were fuddy-duddies who never made mistakes, went over the top on anything or otherwise had any semblance of a good time. It simply seemed that everything they said was designed to keep me from experiencing the youth that so many of my friends were enjoying.

Once I got older, however, I learned the truth behind their disciplining, rule-making ways - they once did stupid things themselves. That's right, my straight-as-an-arrow mother and father had once engaged in silly and sometimes dumb behavior (for the record, my Mom was still pretty tame, especially compared with my Dad's wild ways).

Although their curfews and rules couldn't completely shield me from acting like an idiot from time to time, they did manage to curb some bad behavior. Now that I'm a parent myself, I fret about middle of the night phone calls from the police station (I do have three boys, after all), emotionally charged decisions and other stuff that'll cause them to look back and cringe later on. I polled friends and fellow Parentables bloggers for examples of dumb behavior from their collective pasts -- the stuff they hope their kids don't do -- and got plenty of great stories. 

The Illegal 

1. "Smoking. Anything."

2. "My husband's input was drinking and driving. I must agree. Keeping it real...I've done it too many times when I was much younger."

3. "Get arrested at age 12 for breaking and entering into a boarded up house (we thought it was abandoned but it was boarded up for hurricane weather!) while on vacation in Maine."

4. "Take a bottle of Tequila with a worm down to the lake at age 14 because they want to emulate Chevy Chase with the salt and the lemon in Caddy Shack and have several shots so that they can get the scene just right."

5. "Double dog dare their brother to drive to the local 7-11 at age 13 (I was 14 and rode shotgun telling him how BUSTED he'll be if he cracks up the car!) after midnight while our parents were asleep upstairs (we had to put the car in neutral and roll it out of the garage)."

6. "Break in to the local school gym in order to skateboard on those shiny gymnasium floors....."

The Emotionally Scarring 


Photo: Chris/Creative Commons

7. "Date idiots. That's a hard lesson for some of us."

8. "My stupid thing was stay with the wrong guy for WAY too long. But the more my dad told me not to, the more determined I was to prove him wrong!"

9. "Make out with total strangers in a closet on New Year's Eve."

10. "I'd say the one "stupid" thing I'd steer my daughter away from is her view of what matters up through high school. I sold out some good friends in a march up the popularity ladder. Was too mean to too many people, thinking that was "cool." She's such a naturally sweet person so maybe it won't be an issue, but peer pressure influence during teen years is huge, so I'd do my best to make her think longer terms about friends and not get trapped into the short-term right-in-front-of-your-face mentality most have at that age."

11. "For my part, I hope my kids do not get suckered into the pervasive idea that not trying is cool and that enthusiasm for something makes you a geek. Took me a little while to call BS on myself for that one."

The Downright Dangerous


Photo: tinou bao/Creative Commons

12. "Bottle-rocket wars. Hindsight, not a bright idea."

13. "While hiking with friends in the Shenandoahs we meet a group of guys that were on leave from the Navy. We trusted them to teach us rock climbing and repelling down a 100 foot rock wall."

14. "My friends and I would swing out over a 20 foot deep ravine that only has a two foot creek running at the bottom with jagged rocks. I never thought about it until I saw it when I went back once as an adult. I thought 'How did we ever survive the stupid things we did as kids?'"

15. "Going places alone. As in the mall parking lots, walking out of movie theaters into the dark, hanging around older boys. I was just a young girl, long blond hair and a nice body back then, what was I thinking?!?!?!?!"

16. "Going to the top of a parking garages and seeing how many levels you can go before hitting the brakes on the car going around the corners."

17. "I hope my kids never do the same stupid things I did as a young driver (like racing friends, passing over a double yellow line, etc.)"


I also got this piece of wisdom from one friend about her stupid teenage rebellions: "My dad's constant discouragement made me continue to do my stupid thing!" Which is a good reminder that making something forbidden doesn't always mean you're making it stop.

Do you tell your kids about the wild stuff you did as a teen?

Top Articles on Teens
Teen Marijuana Use Up, Alcohol Use at Historic Lows

If You Know a Teen Driver, You Need to Watch This Show

Why Teen "Sexting" May Not be as Bad as You Fear