Sunday, January 31, 2010

I See... How to Get Away With Being an Irresponsible LDS Youth


In reviewing the parade of previous posts emanating from the Mormon Third Eye, I realized that I may appear discriminatory or biased against our LDS youth, which just isn't true; I am, in fact, father to two of my favorite LDS youth. Hence, I only thought it fair and appropriate to offer them some valuable how-to advice on how to handle their parents.

What do you do, say, if you are an otherwise valiant LDS youth, but feel the need to occasionally act irresponsible? How do you go about doing that without having the rest of your foreseeable future (which, by the way, does not seem to be very long- it's one of the downsides of being young and lacking perspective) crushed by irate parents willing to ground you for eternity? How do you “get away with it?"

The answer is so simple, yet so seemingly beyond the cranial capacity of most normal Mormon youth I know, that as a service I introduce here in two little words: have witnesses.

The best way to explain it is with a really good example. Let's imagine that you are a typical Mormon boy driving friends to a Stake Youth Dance. You are not thinking beyond the thrill of the moment, and decide to impress your fellow passengers with your complete lack of rational judgement and regard for human life by speeding down a deadly stretch of freeway at about 90+ MPH. However, weeks, perhaps months, later, the guilt of possibly irresponsibly ending your life and those of your friends sinks in, as well as the long-term sorrow such an action would create for their parents and families, and you realize you need to find a way to confess to Mom and Dad without creating unbearable parental backlash and revenge. How do you “get away with it?” (this is a real concern- I've seen the heads of parents actually explode over the exploits of irresponsible offpsring...)

Have witnesses. The example continues... During an entertaining family reunion edition of the “two truths and a lie” game, where participants introduce three fascinating facts about themselves, and others have to guess which one is a lie, it was my teenage son's turn. He proclaimed nonchalantly, “ I have 1) had both my wisdom teeth pulled (which I knew wasn't true), 2) driven 90+ MPH in a car, and 3) I can't remember the third one, because I was too obsessed about 2); it better not be true!

Unfortunately, it was. When nobody guessed right, and he won a lot of “points” (in the game, not with his parents!!) by confessing that he had indeed driven 90+ MPH in a car, I felt myself going ballistic. I was going to ground him for the rest of his life, tag him with a tracking ankle bracelet, but not before yelling at him uninterrupted for a very long time, with every sentence starting with a concerned parent's favorite four-word phrase- “What were you thinking?”

Lucky for my son, there were too many witnesses. The only thing worse than exploding in response to a teenage offspring's irresponsible behavior is exploding in front of witnesses- four of my brothers and sisters and their wives and children. I made myself an unbreakable promise that later, at an appropriate moment without witnesses, I would angrily lecture him for several hours before implementing unthinkable penalites. However, by the time our family reunion was over, my heart had been softened by family firesides, dinners, and beach parties. The angry lecture was reduced to a mild rebuke with only one “what were you thinking?”

So, irresponsible teens, take note, and make sure you have witnesses before you break us the bad news about the dent in the side of the car or the D+ final grade in Algebra! It may be your only hope for making it into adulthood!


  1. Richard, I remember the event well. Brian played it magnificantly, but I never knew for sure if he divluged this on accident or on purpose. Either way, it seemed to work out him.

    Excellent write up of the experience!


  2. I'm pretty sure that I've heard more than once that this works with spouses (though I've never tried...) to spill the beans about something in the chapel... No yelling!

  3. Yes, this works well in the chapel... so many witnesses!!

  4. Bill,

    Thanks for trying to defend my son, but my very reliable sources tell me that his confession was not accidental...

  5. Keep writing Uncle Rich. I like it :)

    Kathy F.

  6. Richie, I remember you being young and irresponsbile way back in the day! Want details?

  7. I have no idea what you are talking about...