These Helicopter Parent Fails Show How NOT To Raise Kids

July 3, 2020 | Elisabeth Ritter

These Helicopter Parent Fails Show How NOT To Raise Kids

Becoming a parent changes you–for better, or, if you became a helicopter parent, for worse. From controlling behavior to strange rules, these helicopter parents' actions left kids feeling angry, helpless, and like they’re always doing something wrong. But sometimes, there’s a funny side too. Here are the best stories about strange parents, crazy rules, and rebellious children.

1. Binocular Mother

I wasn't allowed to hang out with girls when I was younger. One day I was at the school park with some of my friends and there were a couple girls there. My mom called me to ask who I was hanging out with. I only mentioned my guy friends. Big mistake. Apparently, my mom was spying on me with binoculars. She drove to the park, made a big scene, and made me go home.

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2. Sit Tight

Until I was 16, I was essentially grounded non-stop with the exception of holidays. I'd come home, do my chores, do my homework, then sit on my bed until bedtime. I'd just sit on the bed in my room until dinner time. And thanks to my stepdad, no, I could not lay down, I had to sit upright. That meant no sleeping either. Just sitting on my bed.

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3. The IT Dad

My stepdad is an IT guy and constantly monitored our Internet browsing habits and blocked certain channels on TV (normal ones!). Anytime I tried to wear something new or do something different, he criticized it so heavily that most of the time, I just went and cried. The first time I got a buzz cut, it was like I committed a crime.

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4. Mom’s Principal

I finally got an iPod touch. Everyone else would bring theirs to school and use them in their free time. But no, I couldn't take mine to school. If I tried, my mom would freak out. Well, one day I took it anyway. While I was sitting in one of my classes, I got called to the principal’s office. My mom called the school and told them to take my iPod from me.

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5. Facebook Sneak

My mom would go through my phone when I wasn't around. How do I know this? Glad you asked. I'd find out because she would bring up embarrassing information in front of all my friends and family. Once my mom even found my crush on Facebook and messaged him an extremely long message. To this day, I don't even know what it said.

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6. Communal Readings

My mother loved to read the texts I sent to my boyfriend out loud to my family at dinner. It was extremely embarrassing, even though my boyfriend and I were only middle schoolers, so the texts themselves were innocent. Talk about privacy violations!

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7. Chewing Gum Woes

My parents had this ridiculous rule where they wouldn't let me spend any money unless I told them about what I'll buy first. I once bought a pack of gum without asking them and let me tell you: it wasn't pretty. Because of a single pack of gum, my mom and dad shouted at me for a solid hour, then took away my phone for a week.

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8. A Bad Stalker

My mother once drove to my workplace after school to check and make sure I was actually working. She didn’t drive all the way into the parking lot since she drives a very distinct car, and didn’t want me to see her, but because she didn’t drive all the way in, she also didn’t see me at work. As a result, I came home to her freaking out, claiming I had skipped work. I was 17.

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9. Jumping to conclusions

The worst thing about helicopter parents is how quickly they assume you’ve broken a rule. When I was 14, I had a stomach bug. My parents were convinced I was pregnant even though I'd never even had a boyfriend. I have no idea when they thought I was dating because at the time I was always at school or working in the family business.

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10. Panopticon Problems

My parents were horrible. They would regularly read my diary and go through my computer, until apparently that wasn't enough. They once left video cameras up while I was hanging out with a friend and talking. They loved to repeat things I had said or written to me, just to let me know that I had no privacy. It created a huge surveillance culture and terrified me!

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11. Come Clean

One day, my dad walked into my room. I was watching a movie and eating pizza rolls. He was visibly upset, and then started yelling at me that I should “give him the contraband” and “come clean” because he could smell that I was smoking. I was not smoking. I had never smoked. The neighbor’s house, on the other hand, was on fire.

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12. Bar Mom

My friend and I were going to college three hours away. We ended up at a random bar, had some drinks, had a good time. Next thing we know, his mom showed up, grabbed him by the ear and dragged him out to her car. She proceeded to drive him back to our hometown. The next day, it was his responsibility to figure out a way to get back to college—in time for class, of course.

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13. Prom Date Quiz

When I was a freshman, I made a lot of friends that were upperclassmen. At the end of the year, I got invited to go to prom. My parents made my date (who was just a friend) come over two weeks before prom. They asked him every question imaginable. They got his phone number, home number, email, the works. He was super chill about it, but it was brutally embarrassing.

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14. Lost Little Boy

I went on a retreat during my freshman year where no one brought phones. I told my parents that I was going away for three days and not to call me. On the day we came back, the guy driving us got a call. It turned out that when my parent couldn't reach me for three days, they came to my college, and went around campus asking everyone if they'd seen their lost little boy. I was 18 at the time.

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15. Flew the Cuckoo’s Nest

My father was on a training exercise in the Air Force once. His mother (my grandmother) freaked out when she couldn’t get ahold of him. She began calling every number she could think of it. She called the base commander, and later, even Washington DC. When my dad got back from the training exercise, he was met with a crazy work detail as punishment for his mom being nuts.

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16. Diary Dabbles

I kept a diary during high school, and one day my mom found it, and read it. From reading my diary, she learned that I had recently lost my virginity to my boyfriend. She freaked out so much that she called my school principal and accused my boyfriend of assaulting me. She did a lot of crazy things, but that one was the scariest by far.

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17. Mystery Machine Luxury

The first time I went to prom, I wasn't allowed to ride in the limo with everyone else. Instead, my mom drove me in her ugly Astro van. She had my siblings packed in there. When we got to the venue, she got out with me and asked an administrator if she could stay. Thank god he said no. Oh, and I had a curfew: 8:30 pm. It was 7 when I got there.

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18. Girl Next Door

The girl next door had crazy helicopter parents.  Whenever she came to hang out, her parents would watch her leave, walk across the lawn, enter my house... and she then had to call when she got inside. It was about 15 seconds of travel time.

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19. No One Should Have To Use Bing

My father was always worried about the internet. When I was 16, he started letting me take my laptop to my room, but tried lots of methods to stop me from being Dangerous Online. When he found out about the chat sites I used as a workaround for FB, he blocked those. I resorted to using Bing bar’s FB chat function, and I just remember thinking: no one should have to use Bing.

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20. Bring Your Dad to Jury Duty

I was 21 the first time I was called up for Jury Duty. My dad tried to follow me into the court because he didn’t believe I could do it myself. Thankfully, he was stopped by security guards outside the area, but then he threw a huge fuss about not being able to accompany me. Most of the courtroom was confused and weirded out. Luckily, they didn't need me throughout the trial, so I was dismissed.

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21. Legal Adults v Precious Children

I don’t have helicopter parents, but as a doctor in the ER, I encounter them all the time. They bring their children in to get them tested for illicit substances. If their children are over 18, I get to turn to them—the legal adult—and ask them “do you consent to this?” Their parents hate it, but I remind them that their precious child is a legal adult, and without their consent, I cannot perform any tests.

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22. Redeeming Qualities

When I was in high school, I asked if I could go to the movies with my friends. It was a G.I. Joe movie that I wasn't super into, but hey, everyone was going and it looked fun enough. Or so I thought. My dad said he wouldn't let me go unless I wrote a paper on the movie after I watched it about its redeeming qualities and Christian principles.

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23. Bad Censorship

When I was in middle school, I wanted to go see Titanic. All my friends were seeing it, and it was all anyone talked about. I desperately wanted to see it, but my parents forbid me from buying a ticket. Their reason? I wasn’t allowed to go because “there were bare chests in the movie and that's inappropriate.” I was 13 years old, and a girl.

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24. Satanic Panic

The rule was that my mom had to pick out my friends because she didn't want me hanging out with anyone who was into Satanic content. The problem? To my mom EVERYTHING was Satanic. Everyone I brought home was influenced by the devil because their parents let them listen to modern pop music and watch Pokemon and DBZ (mid-late '90s.)

Visiting my friends’ homes was strictly forbidden on account of the fact that the only opinions she wanted me to have were hers and hers only. It also didn't help when I wanted to play at the park with my friends and my mom would literally follow us and watch us the entire time. Eventually, no one wanted to be my friend anymore.

Needless to say, I'm not a Catholic anymore and my mom and I are not in good terms. There were a ton of crazy rules living with my parents (mainly from my mom; my dad only followed to avoid arguments), but this rule was the one that affected me the most.

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25. Helicoptering Everywhere

Our next-door neighbors were the epitome of helicopter parents. One day they even came over to tell my parents that my brother and I needed to go to bed at 7 pm just like their kids, because otherwise their kids could see our bedroom lights turned on and it made them jealous. My parents politely declined, thank god, but wow! Wild!

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26. Band Dreams

One of my friends had a terrible overbearing mother. He gets into an Ivy League school, and finally gets some freedom away from her. He joined a band, discovered singing, and was apparently really good at it. When he graduated, he wanted to stay with the band. His mother berated him, and called him childish, so he gave in. Now he works on Wall Street and hates it.

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27. Asian Solidarity

I grew up in an Asian household. My mom pressured my older brothers and I to be doctors or nurses. Of course, it's because she wanted us to do well in life, but also everyone in her social circle was married to a doctor, had a son who is a doctor, or any variation of being involved in the medical world. It's sad to say, but I think she secretly just wanted brag and be on the same level as her peers.

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28. Sleepovers, but with parental guidance

A girl came to a sleepover I organized when I was 14 or 15. This girl had to call and ask her parents before she could watch the PG-rated Disney movie Mulan. They said no, because it “glorified the occult.” We must have come up with 20 other ideas for movies they might let us all watch, but nope. She had to leave early because we didn’t have any movies that worked for her parents.

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29. Common (App) Crime

My parents called Common App, broke into my account, and locked me out because I started to send my college applications out without telling them. That was the last straw for me. I already had my college advisor's and principle's approval, so I sent out of applications and decided to go to a boarding school...all the way across the country from my parents.

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30. Dates for Sons

My dad showed pictures of me to everyone in his workplace (without my knowledge or consent) so that he could "encourage" people to consider dating me. Some poor woman actually gave him her number to give to me. My dad was then annoyed when I refused to call her back. My biggest problem with all of it? I’m gay.

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31. Driving Issues

I've had a friend since elementary school whose mom was always super strict. We're in our 20s now and in college, and her mom still "won't let her" get her license. The worst part is my friend lets her mom continue to control her even though she's now an adult. She's at school with a full scholarship so it's not like she depends on her for financial support. It’s sad!

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32. Phone Locations

My ex was, for lack of a better word, controlled and stalked by her own family. She was not supposed to date and they monitored her location via her phone at all times. Not just her parents, but her aunts, uncles, cousins, all kept watch on this 20-year-old girl. She would only make plans with me around our university because it was the only place they would accept her hanging out.

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33. Too Religious for Religious School

My best friend in first grade was not allowed to come to school on Halloween. The whole class dressed up and had a little parade, but she had to stay home. Her mother claimed it was the Devil’s birthday. We attended a private religious school, so it's not like the other parents didn't have their quirks, but none of them went as far as her. It was ridiculous.

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34. Gay Dating

After her first son came out, my friend’s mom became obsessed with making sure her second son wouldn't be gay too. She decided that she had to make him do things with girls. So she pulled up the name of a girl that he once had a crush on, went to the girl's mom, and asked that the girl go to prom with her son. The girl's mom agreed. Unsurprisingly, they had a terrible time at prom.

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35. Craigslist Dates

My grandfather was very controlling with my father, though he always said it was because he loved him. When he worried that my divorced father wasn’t dating enough, he began looking through Craigslist personal ads. Day after day, he forwarded them to my dad, totally unaware of any of the connotations. It was embarrassing for everyone involved, to say the least.

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36. New Fashion Skirts

As a teacher, I encounter weird overbearing parents all the time. My favorite anecdote is that time I had a parent end a sewing lesson on how to make skirts, for fear the student might make a short "tarty" skirt with this knowledge.

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37. Starbucks Renegade

I wasn't allowed to come to Starbucks with my friends after school because it was allegedly too late and too dangerous. The Starbucks was in an upscale densely populated area of town, it was 5:30 pm and we were 15. It definitely was not too dangerous.

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38. Dirty Water

I wasn't allowed to swim in public swimming pools because apparently, I would catch a disease. When my PE class would go to the pool one week a year, I had to walk laps around the pool because I couldn't participate.

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39. AIM Kidnapping

In middle school, I had an AIM, which I loved and used often. We had moved out of state and I'd made no new friends yet and AIM was a lifeline to me. Of course, my insane stepmom read every single conversation I had on there. Then, I don’t know why, she decided to print out pages and pages of my chats. She added handwritten notes about myself on the pages.

On the drive home, she told me that an officer pulled a guy over and found that info packet on me in his backseat. She didn't even change her handwriting, so I knew it was her, but wow!

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40. Helpless Helicopter

My friend only learned how to use a toaster or microwave when she was 14. Her parents literally do everything for her. Even though she’s 17 now, she still doesn't know how to do her own laundry, load the dishwasher, or anything practical!

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41. Dinner Time Conversation

My parents monitored my internet activity and brought up the “adult stuff” I watched at the dinner table. This happened multiple times, including in front of my younger siblings and a friend who was over for dinner. One time, they told me that watching “adult content” would leave me morally depraved and difficult to love. I was 13 and I was watching anime.

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42. Phone Purchase

When I was 20 I said I was going to get a cell phone. Immediately this triggered a big fight with my parents because they didn't want me to have one. I had been working since I was 15 so I said that I was going to pay for it myself. Even then, they point-blank refused to let me get one. It was ridiculous! The day I moved out was the best day ever.

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43. Missing in Plain Sight

One day, at around midnight, my mom calls and it goes straight to voicemail. Any logical person would just figure the phone ran out of batteries. Not my mother. She called the authorities and tried to report me missing. Fast forward about 2 hours and my mother has called and woken up all of my friends hunting for me with no luck. She calls my best friend and she tells her that I am at my boyfriend’s apartment. My mother showed up, but because she didn’t know the apartment number, she woke up every single tenant. I was 18 at the time.

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44. Define “Home”

Once when I was home on leave during my Afghanistan deployment, I decided against my better judgment to stay at my parents' house instead of a hotel. First night back, I was out late getting hanging with some old friends from high school. At 9, my dad started blowing up my phone telling me to get home. I just told him that "home" was Fort Huachuca, AZ and I was on vacation.

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45. Trade Secret

My parents called my trade school when I was 19 years old to make sure I was attending. They didn't have a reason to suspect I wasn't going. They weren't even the ones paying for it since I had a scholarship. There was absolutely no reason for them to call and it was so embarrassing. It had a bright side though: It was the last straw for me, and I moved out very soon after.

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46. Summer Chats

I had a friend who had some pretty crazy parents. Even though he was 20, he was not allowed to leave his condo (that they owned). His parents lived about 30 minutes away and constantly called to make sure he was there. He was literally expected to go directly from class to home every single day. When we went out (for dinner, to the movies, etc.) he had to use cash because his parents checked his bank statement.

One time we went to a summer concert in downtown and his mom called him. He ran out of the concert so he could find a quiet spot to talk to her, and then was so scared that he made us all leave the show.

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47. Fire Alarm v Fog Machine

I was in the school musical. It was my first lead role and I was singing a duet with the cutest boy in school. True, I was playing his mom, but THIS WAS MY MOMENT! Then the fire alarm went off. The stage manager signaled to us that it was just the fog machine and to keep going. So we did. The audience, confused and uninformed, began to shuffle out the doors because that’s what you do when you hear a fire alarm. But the show must go on!

All of a sudden, my mother runs up to me on the stage, rips me away from Cutest Boy and screams into my face microphone, "What are you doing?!! There's a fire! Get these kids out of here! WHO IS IN CHARGE HERE?!!" Obviously I was shunned for weeks and 12 years later my drama teacher still tells that story to his students.

Helicopter Parents factsFlickr, Tony Webster

48. Call Your Mom

While I was away at college, my mother decided to call me. I was at the movies and had my phone off. A normal person would call, get no answer, leave a message. Not my mom. I got out of the movie and found she had left 13 voicemails, all at least a minute long. I also had one from my father. He, being the completely normal human being, simply said "call your mom."

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49. Too Much Information

My next-door neighbor's parents had signs around the house by the door and phones that gave specific instructions on what to do or say to a stranger who called or rang the doorbell when the parents weren't home. My next-door neighbor was 18.

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50. Cricket Tutoring

When I was a teacher, I heard of these parents who came into school to coach their child alongside the sports teacher during cricket practice. They even brought their own net! I felt so bad for the kid, since he was already quite shy and timid. Having his overbearing dad come in to "help" him with a sport definitely didn't help him make friends.

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51. Silica Dreams

My best friend and his brother shared the same room throughout childhood and puberty. They were well-behaved teenagers but their mom was always concerned about dangerous substances and stuff so while they were sleeping she would smell their shirts and pants. If she detected a small trace of smoke or alcohol odor, she would go insane.

So one day the mother is checking the older son's sneakers and she finds a tiny packet. Oh lord! She beat this poor guy using a broom while my best friend woke up because of all the noise and screaming. At the end she yelled at him that none of her children would become addicts. And then she threw the packet in front of the two puzzled teens.

It was a silica gel packet he forgot to throw away before using his new sneakers for the first time. Their mom didn't understand English, and so had assumed the worst. Awkward!

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52. Motherload!

I was not allowed to use the money cheat on Sims growing up because that's not how the "real world" works. I got so frustrated that I used the cheat code once and couldn't explain where all the money I had came from. My parents were so offended that they grounded me and snapped the Sims CD rom in front of my face. Wild times.

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53. Milk Carton Blues

My mom wouldn’t let me open a new milk carton or anything without her permission. Even if we had another milk jug in the fridge, I would have to call her and ask. So that meant if she didn’t pick up then I would have to wait for her to call back so I could get some more milk. The first time I realized this wasn’t normal is when my friend went to open a new gallon of milk and I got super anxious and was like “Dude you have to call your mom right now or she’ll freak out.”

She was like “Umm, don’t worry, it’s okay.” It suddenly clicked that my mom was a control freak.

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54. Dish Duty

I once got grounded because I did the dishes without having to be reminded. My mom said that I was trying to manipulate her and that I must have only done it because I was trying to get something out of her. In reality, all I really wanted out of her was to stop yelling at me about how I never do the dishes without having to be reminded.

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55. Mail Ego

Nobody in my house was allowed to get the mail except my dad. It didn't matter that he always got home late. We had to leave all the mail in the mailbox. Of course, my dad would also personally open all the mail, no matter who the recipient was. If we tried to, god forbid, read our own mail, he'd flip since he could always tell if anyone touched it.

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56. Razor Ban

No one in the house was allowed to shave or have a razor at all. I could go to a barber or shave at a friend's house, but had my PC taken away when I tried to shave my beard at home. I still don't understand my mother's logic behind this one.

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57. Winter Sunsets

I always had to get home before the sunset. It sounds kind of reasonable, but you have to understand that I went to school an hour and a half away. So I would get home at the same time each day, but always found myself in trouble during winter because the sun would set hours earlier in the winter. I tried to explain this to my parents and they refused to see any sense.

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58. Encyclopedic Knowledge

My grandmother was the controlling parent in our household. When she came to visit, she made me write out the encyclopedia entry on witchcraft when she found out I had read the first four Harry Potter books. I learned a lot!

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59. French Fry Madness

My parents were all over the place with strictness. When I was old enough to drive, my younger sister and I would drive to McDonald's, just a few miles away. My parents would admonish us "Whatever you do, do NOT eat French fries in the car!!!!". Invariably, we would get home, they would run out, open the car doors, sniff, and start screaming at us for eating French fries in the car. We never did.

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60. Anxious Walks

My dad wouldn't let me go out, like, at all. The only time he would ever let me leave the house was to walk to school and even then, he had to walk me to the entrance of the classroom. It was really frustrating and embarrassing, and I got teased for it all the time. He never raised my sisters that way, just me. Unsurprisingly, I am an anxious adult.

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61. Heartless Candy

My mom didn't let me have candy. Once I snagged a box of Valentine hearts candy from preschool and sneaked them home. Out of the goodness of my heart, I decided to share them with my undeservedly revered older brother. Said brother quickly decided that getting free candy was nowhere near as entertaining as me being punished.

He told my mom I was eating contraband candy. So like any reasonable adult would do, she freaked out and pulled a Valentine heart out of my mouth while I was trying to eat it. Moral: Never trust anyone.

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62. Brother’s Keeper

I wasn't allowed to shave my legs until I was 16, but I was a super hairy pre-teen so when I was 12, I hit my breaking point and shaved for the first time. My mom found out and grounded me. I had to ask to get a drink of anything or eat anything. I couldn't go anywhere unless my little brother could go with too. If he didn't have anyone to play with, then I couldn't either.

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63. Bad Dad

I had a stepdad who was an officer. He was a huge control freak, and made every person in our household afraid. And most of his rules didn’t even make any sense! I had to eat beans first on my plate and then clockwise. If I didn't follow this rule, I would get no food and sent away from the dinner table.

His other big rule was that I had a time limit on hugging my mother. If we hugged too long he forced us apart. It was all for my own good, he explained. He was protecting me from weakness.

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64. Clean Teeth Privilege

I had braces, and my mom wouldn't let me brush my teeth after breakfast in fear that we'd be late for school. I offered to make my own breakfast earlier in the morning in order to compensate, so I could get all the gunk out of my braces after eating. When I made my breakfast the next morning she revoked my "ride to school privilege."

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65. Too Many Rules

My parents had so many rules. My bedtime was 9 pm every night; I wasn't allowed to be on the phone past 8:30 pm; I couldn't have friends over after 7 pm; I wasn't allowed to go outside by myself. And this wasn't when I was a little kid, all this was when I was a teenager! I couldn't even go to a male friend’s house until the summer after high school.

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66. Tracker Times

I went over to my friend's house in Long Island a week ago. I don't have my own car yet, so my brother-in-law and sister dropped me off. When it was time to go home, I asked my friend if he could drop me off. Initially, he said yes, but as we were all ready to leave to go home, my friend informs me that his parents have a tracker on him and he can't drop me home. We were so perplexed when he said it, as if it was normal. He was 23! It was not normal!

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67. Move Scandals

My parents made a rule in our house that you could rent movies, but you weren't allowed to go to the movie theater. The logic was people may think you’re seeing an R-rated movie if someone sees you at a theatre. My parents did not appreciate it when 13-year-old me pointed out that movie stores actually had those curtained rooms with the real stuff.

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68. Working for Mom

My mom once called my work—where I was working full time—to complain that she and my dad didn’t see me enough. That's when she went too far. She asked my boss to cut my hours so I could come home and be their little boy again. My boss was angry, and my mom's crazy antics almost cost me my job. I went home and screamed at my parents. They’ve never done it since.

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69. Her Anxieties Never Held Water

My grandmother (who lived with us) did not let me walk up and downstairs, and I was also not allowed to let shower water hit my chest. She believed that if I either fell on the stairs or did them too quickly, I would die. She also told me that if shower water pounded on my chest it would destroy my heart and it would be my fault if I had a heart attack and died. Both of these were enforced rules (amongst 10 million others) in my house.

She did have a kid who had died of heart problems, but the shower water thing is only an instruction for like RIGHT AFTER open-heart surgery. Jesus.

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June 7, 2018 Christine Tran

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Warmest regards,

The Factinate team

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