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Our older daughter (age 16) was helping me make a fruit salad one morning after drinking a cup of tea from a delicate china teacup and saucer. While she sliced bananas, she told me about a tea set she coveted in a local antique store – cups, saucers, creamer, sugar bowl and teapot.

This is not, to say the least, the typical item a teenage girl covets. “But,” she told me, “I’m deliberately trying to cultivate an interest in things like tea cups and classical music and traditional literature because it’s so anti what typical teenagers like.” She paused and added, “I’m the anti-teen.”

We agreed this was a splendid name for an organization, and as we finished making the fruit salad we polished up the purpose of this mythical association: to demonstrate that not all teens are the skanky, foul-mouthed, slouching, insolent demographic most people see. We even verbally designed a coat of arms: a shield divided into four quarters, each quarter bearing an emblem that exemplifies the anti-teen: a stack of books, a symbol of faith, a happy family group and a musical instrument.

The anti-teens, my daughter expounded, are kids who get along just fine with their parents. They take an interest in their academics and have healthy outside pursuits such as music, sports, or camping. Very few anti-teens have cell phones, and if they do, they’re used strictly for the occasional verbal communication. My daughter is troubled by her peers who wallow in angst and do nothing but text each other all day long, to the point where some kids need remedial training to acquire face-to-face verbal and social skills.

An anti-teen looks with suspicion at anything that’s popular among teenagers because there’s a possibility these popular things will lead to poor choices, attitudes or behaviors. This can include adolescent tastes in literature, movies, music, fashion and hobbies. Anti-teens are smart enough to know there are choices they could make as adolescents that could lead to horrible complications as adults.

It takes mere moments to research new and stupid things in which adolescents are engaging. One such article that caught my eye this week was about how some teens are getting alcohol poisoning by turning hand sanitizer into dangerous ethyl alcohol (which guarantees that some meddling bureaucrat will shortly propose legislation to regulate hand sanitizer). But in the comments after this article, a young man named Matthew wrote: “I’m a teen, and I’m not ‘drunk on hand sanitizer.’ I’m not drunk on anything. These creeps give us responsible, forward-thinking teens – and we do exist – a bad name.” Whoo-hoo, an anti-teen!

I’ve received emails from people who are critical about how we’re raising our girls, calling our efforts “disgusting” because we’re “brainwashing” (I love that term) them in one way or another. What it all boils down to is these critics are offended because our girls aren’t like their typical teens. They’re not being raised to blindly and unthinkingly fall prey to the moral sewage that is popular culture. But I can tell you one thing: It’s a whole lot easier to raise anti-teens than regular teens.

In short, anti-teens are throwbacks to an earlier time when kids were expected to develop the self-control, mature behavior and work ethic that would prepare them for a productive adulthood.

Once we started looking around, we realized anti-teens are surprisingly common. These are the teens who study hard, who respect their parents, who dress in decent clothes, who don’t text every moment of the day, who can express themselves verbally and in writing, who work hard at their summer or after-school jobs and who – once launched into adulthood – will do things in the right order (marriage first, then babies) while working hard to support or raise a family.

But anti-teens rarely make the evening news, because clean behavior isn’t newsworthy. That’s a pity, because I have a sneaking suspicion more teens would join the anti-teen movement if they knew they had peer support.

Actually, this has been scientifically confirmed. Teenagers “are more likely to ponder the risks [and] take longer … weighing the pros and cons of engaging in high-risk behavior than adults. … It’s just that they often decide the benefits – the immediate gratification or peer acceptance – outweigh the risks,” says Valerie F. Reyna, professor of human development at Cornell.

In another study, neurosurgeons out of Case Western University learned what many parents have suspected all along: “Teen recklessness is profoundly influenced by the media.” The author adds that popular media shouldn’t get all the blame. “After all, we as parents are clearly allowing our children to have access to these messages, and are perhaps falling short in our duty of teaching them enough common sense to avoid doing things that are so dangerous and downright senseless. And, of course, our children are the ones acting them out. Nobody is forcing them, though peer pressure can make kids do crazy and regrettable things.”

In other words, teenage stupidity often feeds on itself due to peer pressure. Public schools support peer pressure. Public schools wallow in peer pressure. Public school teach to peer pressure. Can you still legitimately complain because we chose to homeschool?

Right now, if the mainstream media and pop culture are anything to go by, the anti-teens are in a distinct minority. The typical teenage culture thrives on decadence. Music, clothing, language, behavior, attitude, drug and alcohol use, obsession with personal electronics, lack of interest in literature, sewer-rat morals and the normalizing of teenage pregnancy (or abortion) … this is the youth culture in America today. And those teens will grow into adulthood, bringing the moral climate (or lack thereof) with them and affecting yet future generations.

Rather than being the hope for our future, these teens are our anti-hope. But it is the anti-teens that bring true hope for America. We need more of them, by golly.

So anti-teens of America, unite! You are our posterity. Bear that responsibility proudly. We, the older generation, are depending on you to carry the baton of decency and morality into the future.

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