12 Incredibly Dumb Things We Did as Teens That We Hope Our Kids Don't Try

12 Incredibly Dumb Things We Did as Teens That We Hope Our Kids Don't Try

Teens in Car

By most standards, I wasn't that wild a teenager. I never smoked, never tried drugs, and always kept my grades up. Even so, I still look back on some of the things I did as a teen and cringe. I happily hopped into cars with boys who showed off by driving recklessly, I drank more wine coolers than I should have, and I once mooned an elderly couple. Not my finest moment. 

Now that I'm a mom, I can both see that I was a pretty good kid AND that I would be furious if my kids did some of the things I did. 

The reckless driving, I mean. I can survive it if my kids mooned an old person. 

Because we grew up before social media, moms of my generation are lucky in some respects. Our stupidest mistakes and most regrettable decisions aren't online to follow us forever. Our kids aren't so lucky, which means that some of the things we got away with might become things our kids can never live down. 

I talked to 12 moms to find out what they did during their teen years that they hope their kids NEVER do. Consider this the ultimate "do as I say, not as I did" list.


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  • Lighting Up

    Image via iStock.com/Mixmike

    "I started smoking cigarettes at 14 and pot at 15. I didn't quit smoking until I got pregnant at 26 and it kills me to think about how much money I wasted on smokes and how hard it was to quit. I'd be SO MAD if I found out my daughter was smoking. It might make me a hypocrite, but so be it." -- Jessica M., Daytona Beach, Florida

  • Drunk and Cheering

    Image via iStock.com/Amy Myers

    "I was a cheerleader in high school. We used to pre-game by drinking vodka and Gatorade. We'd even bring it to the game in our school water bottles. It was so dumb. I can't believe how risky it was, in hindsight. We drank and then drove to school and then stood in front of tons of people, tipsy and trying to do flips. We are so lucky nobody ever got hurt. We could have been expelled if we'd been caught. We just did it to seem cool. " -- Name withheld by request

  • College Visit Mistakes

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    "When I was a senior in high school, I got invited to visit a college for an overnight stay in the dorms prior to interviewing for a full-ride scholarship. I was dirt poor and I needed all the financial aid I could get. 

    So what did I do? I went there, got drunk for the first time in my life, hooked up with another prospective student, and showed up 15 minutes late for my scholarship interview, totally hungover. 

    I would be LIVID if my kid ever did that, but my mom never found out." -- Connie P., Ripon, Wisconsin

  • Rural Fun

    Image via iStock.com/fotogray

    "I grew up in a small town, where there wasn't much to do. We'd go drinking in the corn fields. Everyone drank, including whoever was driving. We even did car surfing, which was where one person would get on top of the car and hold on for dear life while someone else drove down the dirt road, trying to fishtail them off. 

    It is a miracle nobody died, really." -- Ashley T., Topeka, Kansas

    More from CafeMom: The 6 People Who Hate Your Teenager

  • Sex Too Young

    Image via iStock.com/Martin Dimitrov

    "I started dating older boys really, really young. I made out with a 17-year-old when I was 12. I lost my virginity at 14 to a 22-year-old. I had lots of issues with self-esteem and I am grateful every day that social media and smartphones didn't exist back then. I would FOR SURE have made bad decisions with what I posted. 

    I just don't want any of that for my kids. I want them to make decisions they feel proud of later." -- Name withheld by request

  • Jeeps and Abandoned Mines: What Could Go Wrong?

    Image via iStock.com/Jacob Ammentorp Lund

    "I grew up bouncing around the Black Hills in various Jeeps, exploring old abandoned mine shafts. For real. No one knew where we were, we didn't have phones. It was not safe. At all. But so fun. It strikes me now how dangerous it was. We'd have bonfires INSIDE mine shafts. I mean. The guys with the Jeeps also liked to purposely get the Jeeps stuck and then winch themselves out of, like, streams and mud.

    I can think of quite a few times where that could have gone tragically wrong as well." -- Sarah W., Baxter, Minnesota

  • St. Francis Takes a Trip

    Image via iStock.com/Tinieder

    "I have photos of me and my two Christian college roommates with a St. Francis statute THAT WE STOLE. We put him all over campus and took pictures and put them in a book." -- Lisa B., Huntsville, Alabama

  • Dumb Drivers

    Image via iStock.com/Halfpoint

    "We used to fill up my boyfriend's car with way too many people and go cruising. Once, when I was driving, we had eight people in the car, nobody wearing seat belts and one guy in the trunk. It was a hatchback and when we'd stop at stoplights, he'd open the hatch and scream at the car behind us, just to scare the other drivers.

    Oh my gosh, if my kids did that? I'd kill 'em! It was so stupid and so dangerous. If we'd been in a car accident, people could have been easily killed." -- Lynn T., Spokane, Washington

  • Drinking and Driving

    Image via iStock.com/Wavebreakmedia

    "When I look back on it, I can't believe how casual we were about drinking and driving. I got in so many cars with drivers who had been drinking. I didn't even really worry about it. 

    What the hell were we thinking? Teenagers are really so dumb." -- Kim P., Des Moines, Iowa

    More from CafeMom: 18 Rules for Teenagers From America's 'Strictest' Parents

  • Honor Students?

    Image via iStock.com/BraunS

    "I was an honor student in high school. AP classes, accelerated classes, and all that. I went to a totally competitive high school and cheating was rampant. I was in high school in the early days of the Internet and I plagiarised part of my big senior project from a dissertation I found online

    It was so risky. I was going to college on a scholarship and if I had been caught, I would have lost that. I actually went on to go to grad school and now my dissertation is online, ironically. 

    I talk to my kids about how much easier it is to catch cheaters now. I'm also hoping to raise them to have enough self-confidence to know they don't need to cheat to do well in school." -- Susie D., Minneapolis, Minnesota

  • Beer Pong Champion

    Image via iStock.com/Starcevic

    "I was the beer pong champion of my high school! I was known for my ability to keep up with the boys when it came to drinking. 

    Looking back, I did so much regrettable stuff when drunk. I drove. I snuck into a public pool and dove off the diving boards. I had loads of unprotected sex. It is a miracle I didn't get pregnant. 

    I want so much better for my kids. So I'm a total helicopter mom about this stuff." -- Lisa E., Saint Paul, Minnesota

  • Shop Lifters

    Image via iStock.com/Highwaystarz-Photography

    "My friends and I went through a shoplifting phase in high school. We didn't steal big things -- mostly earrings and candy and stuff like that. Still, I feel a lot of shame about that. We got caught once but were able to talk our way out of it. 

    I still don't know why we did it. We had jobs and money. It was just teenage dumbness. But if I caught my kids doing it? I'd be mortified." -- Name withheld by request

behavior dating discipline driving drugs & alcohol friends safety

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