Why Teenagers Act the Way They Do

February 27, 2012

You’ve seen him. The kid with the green Mohawk. Thirty-six tatoos. Enough peircings to set off a metal detector from three blocks away. Pants hanging loosely around his knees. Arrogant attitude. Filthy mouth. Vacant stare.

We pass him in the mall. Or see him at a stoplight. Or stand in line with him at the gas station.

We sadly shake our heads and wonder what the world’s coming to. Why are kids these days so…weird? Why do they act and dress like that? 

I have a theory. Would you like to hear it?

My theory is based on the following scientific experiment: I took an item, placed it in a cold refrigerator, and left it there for some time. Upon removing it, I discovered it was cold.

I know. You’re shocked.

To verify this amazing finding, I conducted a second experiment. I took the object and placed it in a warm oven. After some time, I removed it, and discovered it was…you guessed it…warm! (I’m expecting a call any day now from Harvard, offering me an honorary doctorate.)

So what do ovens and refrigerators have to do with wild kids?

I’m not surprised they act the way they do. I would be surprised if they DIDN’T act the way they do. Because that’s what they’ve been conditioned to do.

Chances are, they were not born into a loving family, but to two teenagers who broke up six months ago. Their father is in and out of jail. They long for his love.

Their mother is often gone, and they are raised by various relatives. They don’t even know what the concept ‘family’ means. They are abused, neglected, ignored, blamed, forgotten. They eventually get swapped between parents during weekend rendezvous in parking lots. Their minds are a mess. Their hearts are a mess. They hate the world. They hate people. They hate themselves.

They numb their pain by watching hours of TV; soaking up the immorality, cursing, and shallowness. They numb their pain with alcohol, which eases the torture for a few moments. They numb their pain with drugs.

They are so starved for attention that they’ll fall into the hands of anyone who will give it to them. They join gangs, and hang with bad crowds, desperate to belong to someone or something.

When they spend the first thirteen years of their life in a cold refrigerator of hurt, worthlessness, abandon, abuse, immorality, and confusion… don’t be surprised when they emerge as icy teenagers.

I know many young people, on the other hand, who do not have green mohawks. They are not members of any gang. They have never tasted alcohol, or done drugs. They are respectful and have wonderful attitudes.

Do you know why?

Because they were raised in a loving home, with both parents. They developed in a greenhouse of Biblical instruction and constant love and care.

  • Put something in the refrigerator, it will come out cold.
  • Put something in the oven, it will come out hot.
  • Put a child in a broken, ungodly, unloving, and abusive home…and they will come out broken, ungodly, unloving, and abusive.

Please note: Every one of us is responsible for our own actions, and I am not excusing young people for their choices.

But if it’s true that if we “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it,”(Proverbs 22:6) then isn’t the reverse true as well?

So the problem is not really with the kids; it’s with the way they are raised. It’s the failed marriages, broken homes, absent fathers, poor role models, and lack of discipline.

So let’s be slow to judge him the next time he walks by. Because that tattooed, pierced, painted, and strangely wardrobed facade on the outside…might just be hiding a cold, broken heart on the inside.

A heart that needs Jesus.

Do you agree? Why or why not? You can comment here.