“I Thought It Was Normal For Too Long”: 30 Weird And Disturbing Rules Parents Had Their Children Follow
As children, we don’t really give ourselves the luxury to question our parents' decisions. Nor do they allow us that.
Especially when it comes to the rules they set around their house and family life that you have little option but to comply with. Only when we grow up can we take a step back and look at these rules from a whole different perspective. And sometimes, we realize they made zero sense.
“What bizarre rule did your parents enforce that seemed normal, but when you grew up realized was not normal at all?” someone posed a question on the Ask Reddit community. Many people took the opportunity to get their childhood rules off their chest and share the stories with others. Below we selected the most interesting ones.
Not me, but this guy in my neighborhood. So the 1st day of high school rolls around and there is this new kid at the bus stop. I try to make small talk, but he doesn't seem interested. I see him around school and he never talks to anyone. Everyday at the bus stop I try to make small talk and slowly, over many weeks, he says more and more.
One morning he says to me that I can come over after school for a snack. I'm like "Sure, dude". After school we go to his house and it is super clean. Like operating room clean. We sit at the kitchen table and his mom sits with us. He looks a little worried, but I don't understand why at the time.
As we eat our snack (sugar wafers and milk do NOT go together) his mom starts to ask me questions. Things like what music I listen to. What does my dad do for a living. What are my grades. What church do I go to. Lots of weird questions for a kid in the 9th grade. With some of my answers she would look to her son, who gave more and more worried looks. Eventually she stopped grilling me and said that her son needed to do his homework and I should leave. I was glad to get out of there at that point.
I go home and mention to one of my older brothers what happened and he was all "Holy s**t! You met the mole kid!". Turns out that this kid had lived in my neighborhood for all these years and I didn't even know it! He was home schooled and not let out in the front of the house.
Over the next 4 years we ruined this kid for his parents. He rebelled against their rules and became one of the guys. We introduced him to the world of sports, beer, weed, and girls.
After high school we lost touch (my fault. rough patch for me).
Hey Jason, if you read this, look up the guy who had all those older brothers back in high school. I miss you.
We had to wake up whenever my parents got up, even if it was 4 a.m. One of them would yell up the stairs for us to get up. Didn't realize I could get up at my own leisure until I got married and moved out. One day I got out of bed when my husband did and we were sitting in the living room watching tv when I exclaimed that I was still tired, he said "So go back to bed then" and it was like those moments on a show when an actor just looks at the camera with a surprised expression. The sudden realization that I could wake up whenever I wanted was over whelming.
Also now that I have a kid I have no idea why they wouldn't let us sleep so they could have some free time? Like damn if my son is sleeping I'm taking in all the quiet and enjoying myself some free time.
4 minute shower restricted to once a week. This was when I was in high school. This is all my folks did to save money so it was all I was allowed as well. If I exceeded the 4 minutes they would turn off the hot water from the main valve by the water heater. Imagine that- a high school boy allowed one shower a week and only a 4 minute shower.
I now take a shower a day and sometimes two. And sometimes until the hot water runs out.
Trust Game! Mom would hold knives to our necks sometimes and say "it ll all be over in a feeewwww minutes" or wake us up putting a pillow over our face and plugging our noses, same thing " it ll all be over in a fewww minutes" if we freaked out she get upset say we didn't trust her. Hence the trust game.
Normal parents take a toy away until their child's behavior improves, then returns the toy as a reward for good behavior.
My mother just took my stuff and never gave it back. She'd claim that we could 'earn' our toys back with extra chores and good grades, but she never followed through even though I was on honor roll every single semester. I was in college when the closet organizer in our hallway closet had a critical failure, so I came home to help move stuff. I found an entire box of my confiscated books and toys. I s**t you not, my mother picked up a beanie baby and looked at me sadly while she said, "I was waiting for you to earn this back." What, were you going to surprise me with after I walked the stage and got my diploma?
I wasn't allowed to have boys phone or come calling for me because my mom didn't want me to turn out to be "some little s**t".
Joke's on you, mom.
We had a lock on the fridge and were never allowed to help ourselves to anything - you had to ask, usually the answer was 'no'.
I started buying junk food and hiding it in my closet - I think my father was completely clueless about growing teenage appetites and smoked, so his appetite was almost non-existent.
I struggle with binge eating to this day - I still love a good gorge, it means freedom and a giant middle finger to that lock on the fridge.
My parents are pretty much hoarders so we would get in trouble for cleaning. My mom always blamed our house being messy on her just being "too busy" so once in junior high I thought I would surprise her and have the whole kitchen clean when she got home. I cleared all the piles off the counters, threw away a bunch of decades-old magazines, and took out like 2 giant bags of trash. When she got home she was NOT pleased, but panicked, and promptly went digging outside in the trash can to bring the stuff back in. :/
Until the age of 13 myself and siblings each had to take baths with dad to ensure we cleaned everywhere.
My parents wouldn't let me do anything with friends if they felt I had "done enough that week" or "didn't need to" even when I hadn't done anything at all that particular week. My friends started calling it the fun meter. "Wanna come play basketball at the park or is your fun meter full this week?"
Not a rule, just something that I never realized was weird until I was an adult. My mom had a phobia of needles, so she managed to find a dentist who didn't believe in giving novocaine shots. For any reason. Didn't even use that numbing gel.When you had a cavity, and needed to have your teeth drilled, he would just tell you to hold onto his assistant's hand, and squeeze when it hurt. Thank God, none of us ever needed to have a tooth pulled. As a result, I developed a phobia of dentists, and after I left my parents house at 18, waited 23 years, before I ever got up the nerve to go to a dentist again. When I finally did, they were shocked. The hygienist said, "Your teeth are beautiful. You don't even have any cavities." I said "I know. I do everything in my power to avoid having to come see you people."
"You eat everything you're served". So if they put a whole lot of food on our plate, and we had already eaten enough and were not hungry anymore, we would have to stay on the table until we were done.
I was raised in a fundy Christian household. Though our media options were limited to veggie tales and the like, we always had to ask before watching any video. Usually, the answer was a simple yes or no. But this one time, I was around 14 and asked my dad if I could watch Winnie the Pooh (it was for my little siblings, but I was bored). He told me, dead serious, that he needed to pray about it. Right there, he asked God for wisdom in deciding whether I should watch it or not. I stood there just trying to figure out if he was messing with me. He was not. After about a minute, he looks at me and says, "I guess that would be okay."
Juice always had to be watered down to 50%.
It wasn't a bad rule--saves calories and money--but it totally blew my mind when I found out that other families drink orange juice *full strength*.
No one was allowed to s**t in our house. We had a large house and all 4 of us had our own restrooms. There was this little girl with special needs I used to play with when I was little and once she had to use the restroom. My mom asked me where she was and I said she's in the bathroom. My mom walked in on the poor girl mid-s**t and told her to go home and finish.
My dad had several weird ones to this day I still don't understand.
I wasn't allowed to read at the table while I was eating or drinking. Even if I was completely by myself drinking coffee, if he walked in on me he would berate me for having a 'toy' at the table.
No one in the family was allowed to drink at the counter in the kitchen. I have a habit of just draining a glass of water and pouring myself a second one. I didn't see the point of filling a glass, going to sit down, spend about a minute drinking, and then getting back up just to refill the glass. I tend to drain most drinks in a matter of seconds, so I got into the habit of just drinking at the counter. First time my dad saw me doing this he lost it yelling at me about how it wasn't normal and to sit down at the table while I drank.
Reading books before bedtime was forbidden. Everyone in the house throughout the day has to be 'productive'. Reading is for right before you go to bed. Finish all your chores before everyone else? F**k you, your brother/sister is still cleaning, you're just being lazy by sitting down to read a book!
He also had major issues with me just reading in general, even for class assignments. I actually had a full on argument with him a couple of times about The Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye I was reading for my English Lit class. He was trying to prevent me from reading them, but I shot back I had too because it counted towards my grade. The entire class also took a huge test on each book, so NOT reading wasn't an option.
Yeah, he was a bizarre person. Suffice to say we don't talk anymore.
I wasn't allowed to say anything my parents didn't like - it would result in an immediate grounding or "fine" from my allowance. As for rules, no sleeping past 10 am. Ever. All chores must be done before going out or doing anything. Only one hour of T.V per evening and only one dessert per week. One hour of internet at a time (this was early 2000ish) and only if my dad wasn't using the computer (he always was).
Now for the weird ones...
- no farting
- no ketchup on potatoes or eggs
- no more than a tablespoon or so of a condiment at any given time
- no hiccups
- if you had hiccups, no eating or drinking (edit: or speaking)
- no being "hyper" - ever.
- no getting angry
- no using the washroom upstairs
- no speaking during T.V shows at all (on the rare occasion that I was allowed to watch T.V upstairs).
And the pièce de résistance...
- (For a year or so) no using the word I
I wasn't allowed to sleep over at friends' houses until I was almost in middle school. Why? Because my mother was afraid that we would play Russian Roulette.
Here's a christmas-y one for ya'll!
No christmas presents after you turn 12
- t'was okay since we barely got presents from my mum (who we lived with) and my dad (I don't think I had even seen him in 4 years at the time.)
she spread the rule to my abuelita and grandpa (the only other people we got presents from.) ugh.
Oh and we also had to make all our own food since we were 13 which made me take to only binge eating at lunch and nothing else all day.
Oh AANNDD she would hurt our pets if they hurt her. I mean like if a cat ever scratched her (wow really who woulda thought cats do that?) she would scream really loud and bite the cat.
Fun fact: I've never had a full punch on with anyone other than my mum...maybe my sister but ya know...kids.
Not I, but my father's stepmother used to make he and my aunt clean up the living room, kitchen, and dining room while her and her "real children" were taken to McDonalds, every Friday.
The most f****d up thing is, my father said that the first time she made them clean up, she said that her and the two step-siblings would switch off every week as to who would clean and who would go to McDonalds. He said he doesn't ever remember going to McDonalds. Neither does my aunt.
He was 7, she was 12.
Only 3 sheets of toilet paper allowed per visit. This included if you went number 2. I swear my mum used to stand outside and listen and she just knew when I used more and I would get yelled at and the door nearly broken down. This ran into my teens.
That 'the man' was watching us (my sister and I as kids).
Not santa, literally 'the man'.
So say if we were playing up, they'd go 'you'd better stop that, he's watching' and we'd quit immediately for the impending dread this man would bring. How f*****g creepy is that?
No saying "no." As long as someone asks kindly you have to say yes.
I wasn't allowed to be a witch on Halloween because my parents were afraid it would offend actual witches. I also wasn't allowed to be a ghost because they were afraid I would attract actual ghosts and I wasn't allowed to be a vampire because they were afraid a real vampire might mistake me for a real vampire. Both my parents were highly superstitious and into the occult, which I didn't realize until later since we went to temple and I went to hebrew classes, but apparently my father was secretly a practicing wiccan and my mother was just going along with everything. Somehow they both got it into their heads that I was attracting poltergeists that were specifically out to get my mom and so they decided I wasn't allowed to do anything that could attract evil spirits. For some reason this rule didn't seem to apply to my brother...
My step-dad when I was growing up was a very strange man. We had to sign and date the inside of our toilet tissue rolls because he wanted to make sure we weren't going through TP too fast. Want to borrow a pencil? I did in 7th grade. I had to write and sign a one page lease (with said pencil) outlining the whole scenario and how I would return it, when, in what condition...
My allowance was $1/week. This paid for toothpaste, shampoo, and conditioner. Nice...
My mom had to put receipts of the grocery trips on the fridge and he'd pay her for specific items he deemed were his. He was such a piece of work.
My mother was a bit younger than he, so his children weren't in her children's age bracket, and none of us were very close. In middle school he gave me his daughter's diary from years before when she was in high school. I read about a page and was horrified that he was abusing her privacy in such a way. He loved to mention when I was 16 that I was as pretty as I would ever be and if he were younger and not married to my mother...(as if). I even had to pay rent to live at home IN HIGH SCHOOL.
He was special. And I don't mean that in a good way. The only positive thing about it was I was naturally a very shy person, but he put my hackles up so much that I became very argumentative and adversarial in regards to him. Overall, that wasn't a bad skill to develop. That man's bare feet never touched the ground or felt blades of grass in his life. He was afraid of germs and Catholic guilt and "that one experience in college" with his roommate. He was just a man who couldn't deal with himself so he lorded himself over others in strange ways. What I've mentioned is the tip of a very large iceberg of weirdness.
He was something strange to grow up with. I'm still a people pleaser to a degree, but when my bs meter goes off I have zero patience for it and speak or act accordingly--mostly because I spent my last few years when they were still married being defiant towards him. Who wouldn't?
Sadly, I had a friend from that age whose step-dad was WAY worse than what I had to deal with, but that isn't my story to tell.
My mom never let us whistle - she sad it would attract mice. I now know she was just making stuff up because whistling was annoying to her lol
My parents made us kids use the back door to get in and out of the house, the front door was for parents and guests only. I thought it was normal for too long.
8:30 bedtime. My. Entire. Damned. Life. Though, I knew as a teenager that making your high schooler go to bed when it was still light out half the time was whacko.
Well into my 20s I'd come back to visit for the holidays and dad would get up to use the toilet at night, see the light on in my room from me being awake reading a book at 10 p.m., and yell at me to go to sleep.
I was raised a Jehovahs Witness, so yeah. Not having friends outside of religion was pretty strictly enforced until I got into my teens.
We weren't allowed to take our clothes/shoes to mom's. We had to change into what we wore when we arrived. It wasn't until I was in middle school that I learned that other kids *own* their stuff. Weird.
Note: this post originally had 91 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.