Even God Can't Keep Your Teen Out of Trouble

church steepleSo much for the notion that taking your kids to church every Sunday will turn them into model citizens. About 100 Pittsburgh-area teens ditched the church picnic they were attending with their families this weekend to start a riot in the streets ... for no apparent reason. The kids, from Mount Ararat Baptist Church, went from a McDonald's to a Trader Joe's to a Target, ripping items from the shelves, throwing chairs -- basically destroying whatever they could get their hands on -- until the police came on the scene and chased them all away (arresting several).

Apparently no one was seriously injured, so I guess that's one good thing, but there was still a ton of damage done. To what end? Was the church picnic so boring that it sent the teens into a state of mass psychosis? Was the potato salad spiked with peyote? Or does this story simply prove one of my greatest parenting fears to be true ...


Teenagers really are out of their minds.

I've suspected this for a while now. Because teens do things that are beyond crazy, usually just because they're bored or wondered what would happen if they did. What would happen if they ... lit their old chemistry set or tried to bungee jump with a bed sheet or inhaled some toxic substance on the grounds that, hey, it came out of a can? Or tried to hit the side-view mirrors of passing cars with rocks or blow up the neighbor's garbage can with fireworks?

Or went on a berserk rampage of retail property destruction, like the church picnic refugees?

What scares me about teens (to put a finer point on it, what scares me about my kids becoming teens) is that teenagers seem to have all the common sense of a 2-year-old combined with the size, strength, and motor skills of an adult. Bad, bad mix. Which is not to say that all teens are hazards to themselves and others, but even the smart, responsible ones have momentary lapses of sanity. Unfortunately, these momentary lapses can lead to permanent consequences, especially when drinking, drugs, sex, or crime is involved. (Usually at least one of them is.)

So how are parents supposed to keep teens in line? Clearly it's not enough to just put the "fear of God" in them. None of these kids paused before knocking over a baked goods display in Trader Joe's to ask him or herself: What Would Jesus Do? Do unto others? Not quite.

I don't have an answer to this question, sadly. What I do have is a great story to whip out in my defense the next time some relative hassles me about not taking my kids to church.

Do you think going to church can keep teens on the straight and narrow?


Image via Tim Samoff/Flickr

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