There aren’t too many things I heard preached from the podium of a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall while growing up that I still value. One tidbit proved an exception: advice to parents which has stuck with me.
A Witness speaker once compared raising children to releasing the tension in a stretched rubber band. If you keep the band tensed up and then let it go all at once, it will fly off in some random direction. But if you ease up the tension slowly, you can place the band precisely where you want it to be.
It was unconventional advice, sourced as it was from an organization that prides itself on repressing human nature. The speaker was arguing for parents to give their children more freedom as they mature, so that they can handle themselves as adults when the time comes.
When you fail to do that, you get stories like this one out of Indiana, from NBC affiliate WNDU:
Five Amish teens face alcohol-related charges after their 2001 Dodge Caravan was clocked at 110 miles per hour.
The teens were spotted Friday night while driving southbound on US 31 in Fulton County.
As the Indiana State Police troopers caught up with the van, the teens allegedly started throwing alcohol containers out of the vehicle.
An investigation found that the 17-year-old male driver was operating the vehicle on a learner’s permit and had consumed alcohol.
Inside the vehicle, troopers spotted numerous alcohol containers, multiple cases of beer, and a jug of whiskey.
There were two female passengers, ages 16 and 17, in the van. There were also two 16 year-old boys in the van. Police believe all of the teens had consumed alcohol.
Such antics may not be unique to repressed Amish youth. However, there’s little doubt that culturally imposed inexperience sets kids up for an eventual maladjusted clash with reality.
Letting teens grow slowly accustomed to alcohol is one of the few things we could learn from Europeans. As that old Jehovah’s Witness preacher put it, release the band slowly.