Clean our rooms. Do our homework. Most of us had to follow our parent’s rules growing up and many made sense. However, some parents are a bit more "strict" than others, and their rulebooks were a bit thicker than the average family’s. How about "no turning left in the car" or "no yawning or sneezing in the afternoon"? The rules that some kids had to follow at home are crazy, to say the least. Reading these parental pronouncements may make you feel your childhood wasn’t really that bad!
I wasn't allowed to leave the house until I went to university. When I was in grade five, my mom hired a babysitter who would come with me to my class and waited until my class ended. My mom didn't want me to take a cab alone. The first time I went to a friend's house, my father waited in the car the whole time.
I had to write essays on TV shows that I wanted to watch in order to have my parents unblock the parental controls. I remember writing a riveting piece on the educational and cultural benefits of Disney's That's So Raven. Also, I wasn't allowed to watch PG-13 movies, even after turning 13.
There was no sneezing or yawning between 12:30 PM and 4:30 PM. Just those four hours.
We had to duck when opening the door for strangers, just in case they were holding a weapon at our head-level.
When I was 16 years old and got my drivers’ license, I was only allowed to borrow my parents' car on one condition: that I agree to never turn left. My mom felt that right turns were much safer and that I would still be able to get wherever I was going by taking the long way and only making right turns.
I couldn't shower for more than four minutes. My dad would actually stand outside the bathroom door with a timer. He would say that "a real man doesn't need longer than two minutes to shower".
By the time I moved out at 17, I had given my parents well over $1,000 that I earned at my job at the Sonic Drive-In. How did it happen, you ask? Well, if my parents found out I was going too fast in my car (it was a small town, so other parents would snitch on me) I had to pay a "speeding ticket" fine to my parents. On top of that, they would make me pay for the whole family's phone bill if I texted a boy.
I was visiting a friend's house. It was late, like 11 PM, and the phone rang. It was my mom. And she was angry. She called me late at night because I had left two t-shirts slung over the chair in my room instead of hanging them in my closet. I had to go back to my house immediately. Upon getting home, my mother had gone through my entire room and tossed every item out of my dresser, and that wasn’t even all.
I was then grounded for an entire week. Fun stuff.
I wasn't allowed to say "I died," while playing the video game Super Mario. Instead, I had to say, "I lost one of my chances to succeed". I really thought that when my grandfather passed that my mom was going to tell me, "Son, your grandpa lost one of his chances to succeed".
My stepmom decided that I was using too much shampoo. She went and found a little medicine cup. Before showering she would pour the designated amount of shampoo into my cup and that was all I was allowed to use. It was never enough because I had really long hair. I also wasn't allowed to use conditioner.
I wasn't allowed to cross any streets until middle school. Thus, my best friends were the ones who lived on the same block as me.
I was not allowed to do the following: use the washing machine, wash the dishes, pull the weeds, vacuum outside of my room, and I must ask to use the vacuum. I can't cook a meal, I can't use the television remote, and I get instructed on how to use the microwave that I've been using for years. I have to dress in jeans, a shirt and running shoes no matter how hot it is because dad doesn't like shorts, and no jacket, no matter how cold.
We could not listen to music with guitars in it. I will never forget the day my brother was listening to Black Sabbath’s Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. My father was so enraged that he picked up the radio and threw it through the window. I spent my childhood listening to Richard Marx and Michael Bolton. Thanks, dad.
We couldn't go sledding during the winter, or any other season, obviously, because my mom was a neat freak and didn't want me or my siblings slogging snow into the garage. So, there was no snow playing of any kind, really. I have never built a snowman. I did go sledding when I was an adult. Gotta say, it's pretty great.
All of our clothes in our closet had to be arranged by color, descending in order by shade. So, for example, midnight blue at one end of the blue section, and pale blue at the other. There was a system in place for colors, too, so if the yellows were by the purples, for example, we’d get into some big trouble.
My mom frowned upon sleeping late because she thought it would turn me into a lesbian. It was because one of my mom’s college roommates spent a lot of time in bed, and my mom came home one day to find her in bed with another girl. I wasn’t allowed to eat chicken, too, because the hormones would turn me gay.
There were no Legos or puzzles allowed in the house, as they make messes and look like disorder. It’s probably why I now love puzzles as an adult. It’s one of my favorite hobbies.
Me and my brothers were limited to 30 minutes of internet time a day. 99% of that time was highly supervised, as in mom looking over my shoulder and commenting on conversations. We had Microsoft’s WebTV (RIP) and when my parents weren't home they would literally lock the computer keyboard in a toolbox.
I was not allowed to talk to boys. One Christmas Eve, I was doing last-minute shopping in the downtown of our little town. I ran into two male friends from my German class and we talked for several minutes and wished each other a Merry Christmas. I was 15 years old at the time. My older sister drove by and saw me, and when she got home she told my parents I was "hanging out with boys".
When I walked into the house, both my parents were waiting and the yelling began. Some Christmas Eve.
The straw that broke the camel's back (and ultimately made me move out at 16 years old) was that I had to live like a boarder. Showers cost five dollars, a load of laundry was one dollar for the washer, one dollar for the dryer. Telephone time cost 25 cents per minute. Who knows how much I ended up paying them.
I had to be home by the time the streetlight that was at our house turned on. If I didn't make it I'd get grounded. It wasn’t until years later that I realized the chilling reason why they were so obsessed with the freaking street light. My parents had control of it the entire time. There was a switch in our utility room.
One of the weirdest rules my parents had was also one of the most embarrassing to me. I was not allowed to shave my legs or armpits. I hit puberty at an early age so I had really hairy armpits and legs and was forced to wear shorts to gym class. I was so embarrassed about my legs that I would wear shorts with opaque pantyhose, which just made the whole situation worse.
I was the subject of many jokes in middle school. My mom has apologized thousands of times since, but it still brings back horrible memories.
In my freshman year of high school, I had one of those wispy teen-staches that all teenage boys have. Not because I wanted it, oh no. My mother refused to let me shave. I got called all sorts of names from the people at school. Today, 15 years later, the joke's on her! I have a long Viking beard and she constantly nags at me to shave.
I like to tell her: "Sorry mum, can't. Not allowed".
We weren’t allowed to drink with our meals. It's hard for me to eat without drinking cause my mouth and throat gets dry and hurt and I would basically be choking, but we couldn't get a drink of water until after we were finished eating. If we said we were done eating just to get something to drink, and then wanted more food, they would say, "No, you had your drink now. You can't eat anymore". It was very odd and I really don't understand it.
One thing I have to deal with right now is my parents saying they own everything I own, even if I bought it with my own money. I bought an Xbox One when it first came out. My parents told me I had to share it with my brother. Bring a good sister, I agreed. But I totally regret it now! I want to sell my Xbox now and my parents say I can’t do it. Why? They say my brother still uses it.
My parents also say the Xbox belongs to them because they are the ones who found the job that I get paid at. This isn't the only time this has happened.
My dad would play Texas Hold'em online whenever my mom was working and he wasn't. In order to properly keep an eye on my brothers and I, he would order us to sit quietly behind him. No talking. No games. Just sit in silence for hours on end while he screamed at the monitor whenever he got a bad hand. So not really a strict rule, but more of an absurd situation that happened way too often for my own liking.
I wasn't allowed to eat too many grapes in one day to avoid them being eaten "too quickly". My parents did well enough financially, so it's not like it was to save money. I'm still not entirely clear why they enforced it.
I wasn't supposed to drink water. When I got thirsty, my parents allowed me to only eat a pear, or some other piece of fruit. I never understood why plain water was banned. Everyone else could drink it. It was so confusing and weird. Years later, I finally found out the disturbing reason behind the rule. When I was an infant, my mom’s doctor told her that you do not let a baby drink all the water they want out of a bottle, because the baby just likes to suck, and will keep drinking water until it kills itself.
So my mom always thought that all kids of all ages would do the same thing—drink too much water and damage themselves.
I wasn't allowed to go outside as a kid. As in, literally other than to go to school I never went outside to play. I have no memories of ever doing anything active as a child. My parents bought me videogames and a TV for my room at a young age solely so that I wouldn't try to go outside and play.
I wasn't allowed to sleep in my bra. My mom would check if I had one on by running her hand over my back. Anytime I got caught doing it I would be automatically grounded.
My stepmom did this to me. Anytime my closet was a little messy or any clothes weren't folded the way she liked, she would dump everything onto the floor and into the middle of my room. I have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and coming home from school seeing that gave me the worst anxiety. It didn't do anything but make me better at hiding my messes and make me incredibly resentful toward her.
If me or my brother wanted to see a movie in the theater and it was based on a book, then my parents would force us to read the book first. My brother was nine and wanted to see Jurassic Park as soon as it came out in theatres. Mom told him he had to read the book, first. The catch was, my brother had pretty severe dyslexia so my mom had to read him the book.
If you've read the book, you'll know this plan backfired on mom in more than one way. I think they made it less than halfway through before she gave up and we took a family trip to the local theater.
I was not allowed anything over a G-rating at the movies. When multiplexes first opened in the 80s, I couldn’t go and see movies there because, and this is a direct quote, "You could be going to see Bambi, but someone in the church could think you were going to see Debbie Does Dallas!" In my head, I’m thinking "Why in the name of all that is good and holy would Bambi and that movie be playing at the same time at the Everett Mall?"
But when my mom was setting down the rules, they rarely made any sense.
My dad had a strange aversion to drums. We could only listen to classical music when he was around and most TV show theme songs would have my dad running into the room telling us to turn it off. I never watched a full episode of C.H.I.P.S. in my life.
My ex is 23 years old, and his mom constantly needs updates. If his phone dies, she panics. We've been broken up for more than a year but we are still good friends. His mom messaged me on Facebook two days ago at 7:30 PM asking if I'd heard from him, because she hadn't heard from him since 7 PM, and she was worried.
My dad didn't believe in periods. When I cried that I needed feminine products he gave me food stamps to go buy them. I was humiliated.
I could stay at a friend’s house until 2 AM, but I wasn’t actually allowed to have a sleepover.
I’m not allowed to go out if "I’ve already had too much fun this weekend". I guess they have a fun-o-meter that measures how much fun I’m having. This is the only reason I’m given for being stuck in my room. They think I’ll become corrupted if I have too much fun and that I won't know how to work. I’m in college.
I have almost zero social skills, and here’s why: I wasn't allowed more than one "outing" per month. That included, but was not limited to, hanging out for a couple of hours after school, seeing a movie with friends, going to a birthday party, or a sleepover. Pretty much anything with people. I was a lonely child. It didn't help that we live outside town so I couldn't see anyone without being driven or taking buses for two hours.
I couldn't take rides from other people unless my parents said it was okay, which was rare. Finished my first year of college a few months back, so it’s much nicer being out of that house.
There were a lot of stupid rules, but the most ridiculous one to me was they didn't want me volunteering during high school. I was visiting the elderly and they said it was too dangerous to be around strangers like that and the time I was volunteering was taking away from my studies.
They had a huge problem with most extracurricular activities I wanted to do, but it never really hit me how absurd this line of thinking was until it was about the danger of being around senior citizens.
My mother had a crazy rule that I couldn’t volunteer with a church to feed the poor because poor people carry diseases and she was afraid I was going to get assaulted. Every time I tried to argue with my mom about something like that, she would bring up the fact that she lost her firstborn as a small child, and say "I can't lose you, too". I wanted to respond with, "If you don't want to lose me, stop trying to smother me," but I never did.
My mom was very strict about the ratings of movies and video games. One year for Christmas a relative gave me a Star Wars video game for my Nintendo 64. It was a T (teen) rated game and I wouldn't be turning 13 for another four weeks. One month! My mom ordered my dad to drive me to Toys R Us to return the game...but things didn’t go the way I thought they would.
We walked into the store and dad had me pick out an E (everyone) rated game. We proceeded to check out and as we went to the car he handed me not only the new game but the game we were supposed to have returned. He told me not to let her catch me playing it.
I had a friend in school who wasn't allowed to say the word "stupid". There was one time that I said it and he actually reported me to the teacher. I was so surprised when the teacher agreed with my friend and started yelling at me—but the bigger surprise came right after. When the teacher was finished yelling at me, I quickly learned he was just playing along to placate my friend.
The teacher told me that it was okay in to say "stupid" in private, but "not to say it around that one kid". My friend was a nice guy and I wasn’t mad at him. He just had a helicopter mom. What a stupid rule.
I was forced to drop out of school in grade five because my grandmother believed that most people have no souls and are demon-possessed. She said that the world was an unsafe place in which to roam freely because Satan was trying to corrupt God's children. This led to a very sheltered life and very silly rules. Like what? Well, we had to pray over every item that entered the house. Food, toiletries, dish soap, you name it.
That wasn’t the only thing to deal with living with a crazy grandparent. I'd get woken up at 2 AM to be screamed at for three hours at a time over something God had told her that I did wrong.
It took me a few years of living on my own to realize I wanted a couch instead of an empty living room. It’s because of my parents' crazy rule. I had to shower and have clean clothes on to sit on any furniture other than a wooden chair. Just came in from outside? Sit in a chair or on the floor. Home from school? Chair or floor.
We had an old, ugly couch so it made no sense. But there’s more. I wasn’t allowed to bring a blanket out of my room to use on the couch. Oh, and you had to sit on the couch. No laying, just sitting. Once I realized I could snuggle on my own couch if I wanted to, it was off to the furniture store!
After getting a job while in school and working my tail off, I finally got my first paycheck. My mom literally took my entire paycheck from me! Not to put in savings, not because the family needed it. If that were true, it would’ve been fine, but we actually had an extremely comfortable life, no question. She just took it. And my parents never told me why.
I was also not allowed to have any "personal" knick-knacks or decorations in my bedroom unless my mom approved. The only thing I actually got to have was a 3x5 framed photo of me and a friend who had passed on during our sophomore year. That’s it. Crazy.
Try imagining if every day you had to cross the border twice and board a flight, but the border agents are all your mom. This was my life. And it isn't about rules as it is about interrogations. Not even the whitest of lies, or the tiniest of omissions were acceptable. It's hard to explain, but there was this Socratic lawyer-type method being applied constantly to invent lies to catch you.
Where were you? Why? When did you get there? When did you leave? Who else was there? What did you do? Why did you do this? And did so-and-so do that? Why did you let them? And how is that related to this other thing? Why did you just lie to me? Every single day on my way home from anywhere, I had to prepare a huge list of answers, try to find where she would dig in and build up the walls. Keep stories simple. Build big emotional walls.
It mostly didn't work. We didn't really have a relationship. We didn't talk about my feelings.
My father was very strict. The oddest thing that still bugs me to this day, is that he would burn all my things as punishment. I get it, seeing my toys and valuables burning sucked, and I probably learned some lessons. But he not only burned toys, he would burn everything. I think I know the disturbing reason why. I suspect that he was a closet pyromaniac.
Every year or so for school we would go and buy new school clothes and shoes. He would also burn those, sometimes days after he bought them. At eight years old, I remember looking at the fire and thinking, "You just have to buy me more new clothes now". But that wasn't the point, I suppose. He once took me to Detroit to see the Harlem Globetrotters play one year.
That night he bought me a Globetrotters basketball and a jersey. We had a fun night. The very next day, I had left something on the floor in my room and his punishment, among other things, was to burn the basketball and jersey he bought. It just never made sense to me. He spent like $150 on those basketball items less than 24 hours earlier. My friends would joke about it all throughout middle and high school.
My mom was insanely controlling about food. Weird rules were in place like "one slice of lunch meat per sandwich". No one but her was allowed to cook. She'd make one giant batch of spaghetti or something and we'd have leftovers for days, so she only had to make dinner twice a week. She did not have a job, so time wasn’t the issue here.
Breakfast was always cold cereal and you'd only be allowed to use a small bowl with just enough milk to moisten it. Occasionally she'd bake something called corn toasties, which was simply cornbread baked in a sheet pan. She'd cut them into squares and fill the freezer with them and we could have one of those for breakfast.
Once when I was 14, I bought a pack of hot dogs at the store, snuck them home, and lit the grill so I could have a little feast. I was almost done cooking them when she came out screaming about fire hazards and swatted the plate out of my hand. She had been making spaghetti, and she shouted that I was ungrateful. And she had a plan to punish me.
So she ordered a pizza for the rest of my family. Meanwhile, she wrapped individual servings of her spaghetti in freezer paper and put them away. She told me I will be eating nothing else until all the spaghetti is gone. It took about two months to choke it all down. I went without eating a lot of days.
My mom is a neat freak. Like, a really serious one. The first house she bought with my dad had white carpet in every room except the bathrooms and kitchen. Snow-white carpet. It was perfect. That carpet was her baby and most of her waking hours were spent keeping it white. Nobody was allowed to wear shoes in the house, for obvious reasons.
A month into owning the house, some small appliance broke, so they called a repairman. When he came, my mom nicely asked him to take off his shoes. He hesitated and looked sort of awkward. This irritated my mom a bit. She thought, "It's my house, just take off your shoes". But she didn't say anything. Finally, he broke the silence and said, "Well, um, I guess I can hop".
She looked down and he was wearing a prosthetic leg. She was horrified and apologized profusely. "No, please, leave your shoe and leg on. I'm so sorry. It's so realistic!" Needless to say, he sheepishly walked in with both shoes on. She has told this story for the past 20 years now and cries nearly every time of laughter. "What are the chances I'd find the one handyman with a prosthetic leg to take his leg off?"
My dad was a narcissist. The biggest rule in the house was not to make any noise around him. If he was home the whole house got quiet and tense. Even my mom used to eat her cereal in the bedroom because she'd get in trouble for chewing crunchy food. Now she's long rid of him and married to a way better guy, but she still apologizes for eating crackers.
Anytime my younger brother did something wrong I would get in trouble for it too, no matter how small. One time in elementary school my brother got all As and a single B+. My brother was distraught that it was the first time he didn’t get all As. Rather than praise him for doing an excellent job, my father decided to yell at me for "being a bad influence" on my younger brother.
I was then briefly punished and my father threatened to have me sent away if his grades continued to drop. Another time when he was in high school he almost got caught for vandalism and my dad had to go to the station and sort things out. He then came back at 3 in the morning and woke me up to tell me how I need to set a better example for my brother and that what I do has an influence on him.
I had a 3.7 GPA in college and made the Dean’s list the previous two semesters.
When I was in grade five, I wrote some stuff in my diary about pleasuring myself. About a month later, my mom went through all my stuff. It was nothing new. Every so often she would randomly go in my room and tear it apart. I'd always get in trouble for something, and then I'd have to clean up the mess and be grounded. So anyway, she found that diary entry. Her reaction was truly disturbing.
She picked me up from school and didn’t talk to me the whole way home. When I got home, my door was removed from my room. The diary entry was taped on the wall and I was threatened with more grounding if I didn't answer all her invasive questions.
My mom had a rule about no shoes in the house under any circumstances—but one day, it came back to bite her. My brother's friend had prosthetic legs, so he always had shoes on. He came over one day and my mom got really mad and confronted him, yelling: "Why do you think you're so special that you don’t have to take your shoes off in our house when everyone else does?"
He responded by lifting up his jeans and showing his Air Jordans resting in a pair of fake legs and said, "I'm sorry, ma'am. If I take them off, I'll have to take my legs off, too". My mom offered a half-hearted apology and went upstairs. She never commented on it again.
My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.
Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.
Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.
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