35 Times ‘Insane’ Parents Did Things That Were So Absurd, They Got Shamed Online
“We’re just trying to protect you! We only have rules because we love you!”
Kids need structure, and it is their parents’ responsibility to ensure that they are safe and well taken care of. But there is a difference between providing love and protection and creating an authoritarian regime in your household.
If you grew up with strict parents, you are likely either an expert at lying and sneaking out, or you’ve never broken a rule in your entire life. The effects of strict parenting can vary, but one thing’s for sure: strict parents are extremely creative with their arbitrary rules and punishments. Below, we’ve gathered some of the most ridiculous rules people who had strict parents shared in this Reddit thread, so you pandas can either bond over being raised in a similarly harsh home or be thankful that your parents didn't ground you for coming home at 8:03pm. Keep reading to also find interviews with parenting educator and coach and the woman behind the Word from the Bird blog, Hillary Gruener, and Editor-in-Chief of Parent for Brain, Pamela Li, MS, MBA.
Be sure to upvote the rules you find particularly silly, and let us know in the comments what household rules you were required to obey growing up. Then, if you’re interested in reading a Bored Panda article discussing harmful ideas parents should stop teaching their kids, check out this story next.
I got grounded from an end of year party at age 11 for getting a B on a paper, even though I still got all A's. I was devastated. It was thrown by my best friend... and I had been looking forward to it all year. I had the perfect dress to wear because my aunt's mother took me shopping and bought this cool dress that made me feel like Molly F*cking Ringwald. I was never allowed to wear it before, and it had been in my closet since September! I was seriously having a Cinderella moment—although I honestly related more to Jane Eyre because I was adopted and a bookworm.
The day of party I was bawling. I was a good kid. I tried to be perfect every waking moment... then I was grounded from my best friend's party.
The mom of my best friend knew how tough it was at home. I was screamed at, belittled, hit all the time. This party was a f*cking beacon.
Arlene, the BFF's mom, barged in my house, and told me to get ready and get my stuff together to spend the night. My mom protested.
Arlene said, "How about I call CPS about the 50 f*cking cats in your house?"
I went to the party, and Arlene taught me to be a badass.
To hear from an expert why strict parenting is not the best method of raising kids, we reached out to parenting educator and coach Hillary Gruener. First, we asked Hillary what some of the problems with strict parenting are. "Connection should always come before correction," she told Bored Panda. "Strict parenting leans more towards constant correction, and unhealthy expectation of a child to perform the 'right' way. This can lead children to feel inadequate in the eyes of their parents, possibly causing them to struggle with lifelong insecurity. It can also lead to people pleasing or rebellion."
"But when parents can guide and teach their child through example and loving discipline, it gets our agenda out of the way, and has the child’s best interest at heart — for them to have genuine hearts instead of perfect behavior. Strict parenting misses their hearts and becomes hyper focused on behavior," Hillary explained.
My mom wouldn't let me have any female friends growing up. Joke's on her, I'm gay!
We also asked Hillary why parents sometimes feel the need to be too strict with their kids. "I know for myself, it’s convenient when my kids listen, are well-behaved, and things are peachy," Hillary shared. "Sometimes, being strict gets the job done, but it often misses the heart. My desire to control any given situation can often cause me to become more strict, have unrealistic expectations, and forgo the heart of the matter — for my kids to have genuine hearts."
"I think most of us desire control in some way or another," she explained. "It’s human. So other than it coming from that, it can also be a result of how we were raised. Unhealthy cycles are repeated when we don’t address them and do the work to be humble and apologetic to our kids, while also making changes where we need. Misbehaved children are a call for us as parents to look within and make sure their behavior isn’t a result of something we need to adjust in our parenting."
When I was in 5th grade I wrote some stuff in my diary about masturbating, and like a month later, my mom went through all my stuff. She would randomly go in my room, tear it apart, I'd always get in trouble for SOMETHING, and then I'd have to clean up the mess and be grounded for whatever amount she felt like that day.
So anyway, she found that diary entry. She picks me up from school and won't talk to me. I get home, my door was removed from my room, that diary entry was taped on the wall, and I was threatened with a belt if I didn't answer all her invasive questions.
We also asked Hillary if she had any advice for parents who are tempted to be extremely strict with their kids. "Always have your child’s best interest in mind," she said. "As the adult, it’s your job to set the tone of your household. Ask yourself, 'Do I want to raise genuine hearts or people-pleasers? Do I want my children to fear me when they have done something wrong or feel safe to come to me with anything?'"
"Set realistic boundaries and hold to them to keep everyone accountable, including yourself," Hillary continued. "You can come up with a family guide and list out all the things you expect of one another. For example, be kind, be gracious, put your dish in the dishwasher when you’re done eating, etc. Personalize it to your family. Give your kids clear ideas about what they CAN do, instead of focusing on all they are doing wrong."
Finally, Hillary shared, "Give your kids grace. So much grace. And the most important, if you mess up, simply apologize. There is so much power in your children seeing you own your mistakes."
I was not allowed to use public restrooms. I "ruined" our Disney trip because of how many times we had to go back to the hotel when I was six. And I quite honestly had accidents when I was far too old to do so because my parents had my teachers reporting bathroom use to them, too. There was no place I could safely use the restroom other than home without getting into trouble.
Finally I got to use public restrooms without punishment when I f*cking went to college. I got pretty good at hiding restroom use in high school because the high school refused to report it to my parents. Why did none of these teachers spot the abuse? How?
I was not allowed to watch Pokémon because it "taught evolution." Hahah.
Being a parent is an extremely difficult job. There is so much pressure to do and say the right things to ensure that your children grow up to be kind, productive, intelligent, well-adjusted, contributing members of society. It’s natural to desire a little too much control over your children’s lives, as you just want the best for them, and you may fear that something will go wrong if they have too much freedom. But we have to allow kids autonomy. They are individuals, after all, and we can do everything in our power to guide them, but we cannot control them.
I grew up in a relatively strict household and attended a very strict private, religious school as a kid. I felt like there were rules everywhere I went. I never felt safe to explore, share my feelings or even ask questions, as it was so ingrained in me that I should just think inside the box and color inside the lines. Eventually, I attended arts school as a teen, and my whole world opened up. I was exposed to different kids of people, new lifestyles and ideas, and I met kids who weren’t scared of their parents or breaking the rules. Suddenly, the pendulum swung, and I felt the uncontrollable urge to rebel.
My dad didn't believe in periods. And when I cried that I needed feminine products gave me food stamps to buy them. I was humiliated
I’m not saying that having strict parents turned me into a delinquent or anything like that, but it certainly did impact who I am as a person. (Just ask my therapist, she’ll tell you!) And while I think I turned out just fine, there is no denying that growing up surrounded by strict rules and the fear of being punished or disappointing your parents has an impact on a person. In fact, according to VOA, overly strict parenting can cause long-term psychological consequences.
One 22-year-old accounting student opened up to VOA about how having extremely strict parents who place huge amounts of pressure on her has led to struggling with depression and feeling like she has limited freedom to make her own decisions. “There’s no emotional attachment between me and my parents at all,” she shared. She even noted that each morning, she is met with a tirade of harsh words from her parents as they demand perfect academic performance from her.
My parents once grounded me for two years for getting a B on my report card. They took everything out of my room besides the bed, and I wasn't allowed to do anything with friends. A year-and-a-half into it I asked if I could be un-grounded. At that point they had actually forgotten what they grounded me for, but they refused because "I must have done something bad."
They also refused to let me stay up past 8 pm. Even in high school.
Not every strict parent is concerned about grades above all else, though. Some are more worried about their children’s appearances, worried they will go down a path of substance abuse, fearful their kids will be poorly behaved or get arrested, worried their own reputation will be tarnished by their children or simply believe that because they are the adults, they should be in charge of all of their children’s decisions.
Dad was a narcissist... 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.
I attended Church three times on Sunday at 9 am, 11 am, and 7 pm, followed by Bible study Tuesday nights and youth group Friday nights. I can count on one hand the times I missed attending from birth until I moved out at 17.
I haven't been back since.
To gain more insight on this topic, we also reached out to Pamela Li, MS, MBA, bestselling author and Editor-in-Chief of the online publication Parenting for Brain, to hear her thoughts. First, she laid out some of the issues commonly associated with strict parenting. “Children who are raised by strict parents often display externalizing behaviors or internalizing behavior,” Pamela told Bored Panda.
“Externalizing behavior occurs when rebellious children act out,” she explained. “They are at risk of behavioral or anti-social problems, such as aggression and delinquency. Internalizing behavior happens when children turn their negativity inwards resulting in mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.”
No trends, or 'passing fads'.
Pokemon, banned. Barbies, banned. Beanie babies, banned. Playstation/Gameboys? Banned. Anything particularly fashionable, or popular *regardless of actual merit* was met with derision and we'd be mocked for even suggesting interest.
We were achingly frumpy kids with interests and cultural references (or lack thereof) that isolated us from our peers and they wondered why each of us were bullied.
I was interested in learning about Wicca, because I was young and in highschool. Early 2000's. When Harry Potter was still happening and all that stuff. My mom and step dad found out by reading an email I sent to my cousin. It was the summer and they freaked out. Took everything. I couldn't read, I couldn't listen to music, I couldn't watch TV or movies with the family, I couldn't hang out with friends, couldn't talk to my cousin anymore, basically anything that might bring me pleasure was taken. They made me do chores all day, would go on family outings without me. Soon I became a shell of a person. I was going to kill myself, I wanted to I just was scared of death so I decided not to go through with it. So I turned myself off.
They hated it. They weren't getting a rise out of me anymore, anything they said to me, to extending my sentence I wouldn't react to. Since thier narcissism relied on a victim, I wasnt a source anymore. So they extended my grounding even further. They could have told me to go pick up dog s**t in the backyard with my teeth and I wouldn't have flinched.
My step dad's family (just as terrible) would come over and belittle me as well. I was told to "smile". So I'd humor then and flash an empty smile for a second and return to my blank expression I had to find solace in.
All this to "save me from going to hell" the only thing that saved me that summer was my visitation with my dad. My mom and step dad tried to paint him in a bad light like hr was the abusive one. Even as a kid I knew my dad didn't make me feel as bad and empty as they did. I eventually got through it.
Years later, (about 4 years ago now) I ended up working at a job (unexpectedly) with a girl I used to play with in the neighborhood. I always wondered why she stopped showing up. When I wasnt home, or in another part of the house, she came to the door and asked to play. One of my parents opened the door and told her I didn't want to play with her anymore.
I always wondered why she never hung out with me, or talked to me. Even finding this out in a more recent term, I cried and apologized to her.
I could have had a great friendship. With a lot of people but they just wanted to alienate and control me.
Unfortunately this is just the tip of the iceberg.
I don't talk to them anymore, but I still llive in the same city as them and I have a lot of social anxiety because of that. One of my roommates, exhibits some of the behavior my parents were so kind as to bestow on me. It's making things difficult to handle.
I just want people to be happy and live in a healthy environment. It's so f****d up that the biggest monsters in the world are the people closest to you.
Edit: thank you kind stranger for the gold!
Females of the family must cook and clean on holidays while males watch tv. Must buss male's plates every night.
No visiting friend's houses no friends over at our house all the way through high school.
Hair cannot be cut at or above shoulder.
7:00 pm bedtime. Not curfew. Bed time. Through junior high. Strictly enforced.
Needless to say, I rebelled strong and hard.
“Children with strict parents also tend to have inflexible thinking, lower self-esteem, peer rejection, and relationship problems,” Pamela continued. “Strict parenting backfires when parents try to control their children’s academic performance. The more they force their children to follow rules in doing their homework or getting good grades, the less motivated they are. Those who enforce rules by taking away privileges will run out of things to take away sooner or later, and their children will still not be motivated.”
My parents were horrible parents in general, but the most bizarre rule that my siblings and I had to follow was that we weren't allowed to sneeze multiple times in a row. One sneeze? Fine. Another sneeze after some arbitrary number of minutes later? No problem. Two sneezes in a row? I would get yelled at for being unhygienic... and for having no manners. God forbid if you sneezed thrice or more in a row...
I have seasonal allergies, and one time my dad was in a particularly bad mood and caught me in a sneezing fit. He grounded me for a week.
I was not allowed to talk to boys. One Christmas Eve Day, 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. Oh I was fifteen at the time. My older sister drove by and saw me, told my parents I was " hanging out with boys " . When I walked in the house both my parents were waiting and the yelling began. Some Christmas Eve.
My mom was paranoid, and she thought everyone and everything was a kidnapper. She hated the mailman on our route. So when I was young, around three or four years old, my mom told me it was illegal to be outside when the mail came.
Around 11:15 am every day I'd see that truck coming. I'd high tail it inside the house, terrified I would be spotted.
Fast forward 30 years. I still genuinely feel a tinge of panic in the recesses of my brain when I see the mailman arrive. Only now it's overpowered by excitement over the latest Amazon package I don't really need.
We also asked her why parents feel the need to be so strict. “Many strict parents were raised by strict parents themselves,” Pamela explained. “The irony is that those who grew up without control crave control over their children. They suffer from inflexible thinking, just like their children. Their belief is that having strict rules is the only way to raise children who can meet their high standards. Any deviation from them is unacceptable. They are stuck in the either-or thinking, either the child follows the rules or they will be ruined and a failure as a result. For them, there is no middle ground.”
I had a friend who wasn't allowed to sit on the couch. No matter the circumstances. That was the first time I realized something was really wrong in his house. The kicker - it was a crappy couch, so it's not like he was going to ruin it.
Edit: responding to a gazillion people at once.
To the folks looking for logic, you'll find none. No, the parents weren't saving the couch for company. No, the kids didn't have a history of damaging the couch. No, the kids weren't little troublemakers - they were surprisingly well-behaved teens (surprising because of how they were raised). This is about control, not logic. Domestic abuse is always about exerting control. Don't let anyone try to convince you otherwise.
Even after adding a note about child abuse, I'm still getting jokes about how my friend must be a dog. Thanks, Reddit.
Was forced to drop out of school in the 5th grade because my grandmother believed that most people have no souls and were demon possessed.
She said that the world was unsafe to roam freely because Satan was trying to corrupt God's children. This lead to a very sheltered life and very silly things like having to pray over every individual item that entered the house. Food, toiletries, dish soap, you name it. I'd get woken up at 2am to be screamed at for 3+ hours over something 'God' had told her that I did wrong.
So yeah, I guess the most unreasonable rule I grew up with was not being allowed to leave the house.
Edit: ok I get it......apparently my life was binding of Isaac's storyline.
Mom hits me with kitchen utensils and yells that "i am not allowed to put my hands up to defend myself from her strikes"
We also asked for any advice she has for parents who feel the temptation to be very strict. “The first step that parents can take if they realize that they are too strict is to talk to their children and get their perspectives,” Pamela shared. “For this to work, they must be open to feedback and criticism. The parents must understand that many things can be accomplished in more than one way. Instead of imposing extremely strict rules on their children, they can find a balance. Strict rules won’t help their kids succeed, but will only damage their relationships with them.”
When I was in first grade, I had a writing homework assignment. My dad used to be weird about me erasing, because he wanted me to do it right the first time. I ended up erasing a lot on this homework, and my dad took the paper from me, ripped it in half, and told me to start over. Turned out it was the last sheet of paper in the entire house, and I don't remember why but for some reason we couldn't go and buy more paper that night.
So ironically, I ended up having to completely erase an old homework assignment to have a sheet of paper so I could start over... I'm 22 now, and still give him crap about that.
Have a friend who isn't allowed to go out if "he's already had too much fun this weekend." That's the only reason, they think he'll become corrupted if he has too much fun and that he won't know how to work. He's in college
I wasn't allowed to say "i died" on mario. I "lost one of my chances to succeed".
“It is not easy for people with rigid thinking to realize their own problems,” Pamela added. “If this is difficult for them, it is good to seek professional help. Experienced counselors can help them see more possibilities in any given situation so that they aren't trapped in black-and-white thinking.”
If you’d like to hear more wise words from Pamela, be sure to check out her website Parenting for Brain right here. And if you’d like to read an article she wrote on the topic of strict parents, you can find that right here.
For every minute I was late coming in from curfew, I got grounded a week. I once spent ten weeks grounded due to a sobriety check point.
My father was very very strict. I wasn't allowed to have alone time with my mother. He beat the s**t out of me constantly. But the oddest thing that still bugs me to this day, is that he would burn all my things as punishment. And 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.
Every year or so for school we would go to Meijer and buy me new school clothes and shoes. He would also burn those, like sometimes days after he bought them. At 8 years old I remember thinking...you now have to buy me more clothes. But that wasn't the point I suppose.
He once took me to the palace of auburn hills in Detroit to see the globe trotters one year and during the night he bought me a globe trotters basketball and 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 for like 150 dollars less than 24 hours earlier. It just never made sense to me.
My friends would joke about it all throughout middle and high school.
I had a ton. I think the most unreasonable was that we (my siblings and I) weren't allowed to know where we were going during car rides. If we'd ask we were told "Business", and figure it out we were going to the store, etc. only after we arrived to our destination.
This lasted until I moved out.
Another was asking for permission to use the bathroom every time. This didn't last as long.
So what’s the healthy alternative to strict parenting? According to Dr. Laura Markham at Aha! Parenting, the ideal style of parenting is authoritative. “I call this parenting style ‘Empathic Limits’ to get across the point that we do set limits, just like the Authoritarian (strict) parents, but we do it with empathy, just like the Permissive parents,” Dr. Laura explains. “Children thrive on Limits and Age-appropriate expectations, but only if they're set with empathy… What we're really aiming for is the expectations and limits that keep kids functioning at a high level, combined with the warmth and support of ‘Permissive’. That combination of empathy and limits is the sweet spot that raises amazing kids -- and makes for the best parenting.”
I wasn't allowed to swim in public swimming pools because I would catch AIDS. My P.E. class would go to the pool one week per year, I had to walk laps around the pool because I couldn't participate.
I was not allowed to wear makeup or shave until 16.
My mom was controlling about food. Everything was kept track of.
I had to be in marching band in order to get my permit.
I had a job, but even if I worked second shift (which I did) and came home at 11, I would have to clear the plates from the table for the dinner that they ate.
If I asked to hang out with a friend in the presence of said friend, the answer was automatically no.
I was only allowed to do things if the friend or their parent was paying for it.
The straw that broke the camels back (and ultimately made me move out at 16) was that I had to live like a boarder. Showers cost five dollars, a load of laundry was $1.00 for washer, $1.00 for dryer. Telephone time cost $.25 per minute.
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 work or anything, just didn't like cooking every day. Breakfast was cold cereal and you'd only be allowed a small bowl with just enough milk to moisten it. Occasionally she'd bake something she 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 as an alternative.
Once when I was fourteen I bought a pack of hot dogs at the store, snuck them home, and lit the grill. 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, what an ungrateful little bastard I was.
So then she orders a pizza for the rest of my family, wraps individual servings of spaghetti in freezer paper, and puts them away. She tells me that I will be eating nothing else until it's all gone. Took about two months to choke it all down. Went without eating a lot of days. I was also grounded for over a year.
But I sure learned a lot about "consequences."
Are these responses reminding you of your own childhood, or are they teaching you what not to do with your own kids? Every parent goes about setting rules and expectations their own way, but I’m sure we can all agree that overly strict and arbitrary rules will not yield the best results… Keep upvoting the replies you find most ridiculous, and then let us know in the comments what the craziest rules your parents set for you were. And if you’re interested in checking out another Bored Panda article highlighting things parents should stop teaching their kids, check out this story next.
I had to write essays on tv shows that I wanted to watch, in order to have them unblocked by the parental controls. I remember writing a riveting piece on the educational and cultural benefit of Disney's That's So Raven. Also, I wasn't allowed to watch PG-13 movies, even after turning 13.
My dad wrote a whole manual on his rules. Most unreasonable was "you must tear the bread, you cannot use a knife to cut your bread."
No shoes on in the house under any circumstances. Was super uncomfortable when my brother's friend, who had prosethetic legs and always had shoes on, came over and didn't take his shoes off. Mom got really mad and confronted him.
Not allowed a key until I was 18 (or was it 16? Can't remember), yet nobody would be home once I got back from school so I would spend a lot of time 'hanging around' outside. I would usually be expected to be waiting outside, though sometimes it was forgotten this was a rule so I would go to the local library.
Even once I was given a key, I wasn't allowed to stay home alone and had to vacate if they were.
Once, I lost my key (turns out my cousin had it in his pocket but he forgot). My Stepdad said we would have to change the locks as 'someone might find them and rob the house' and when my Mum got home, she demanded I go and look for the keys again. I refused as I'd spent hours looking and knew I wouldn't be able to find them. She then demanded my phone, so I refused and sat on it.
So then she gave me a long, hard look, picked up a box of trinkets on my bookcase and turned it over while staring at me. After I didn't react, she trashed more stuff in my room until I started to scream and shout at her, swearing (I didn't usually swear at her but the years of abuse meant I would burst into anger when she started on me), asking her what was wrong with her.
While I screamed at her, she stopped and laughed at me incredulously, asking me in a calm voice when was wrong with ME. Then she said in a low threatening voice "find your f*****g keys" and left.
So yeah, not the only ridiculous rule they had, but one that sticks out the most.
Also, my bag was searched every morning before school and I wasn't allowed to wear short puffa jackets or jackets without arms.
Edit: omg, I think this is my highest rated comment. Thanks guys!
My parent were pretty slack on everything except one thing
No video games console ever, and no online games on the computer because that how you get virus and make the computer run slow ....
So I was playing my mmorpg when they were sleeping, in a hidden file, in a file, in another file, in another file and I was changing the appereance of every file icon
I have too many to name growing up in an Asian household but the one that was the most embarrassing was I was not allowed to shave my legs or armpits and 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 and was the butt of many jokes in middle school. My mom has apologized thousands of times since, but it still brings back crappy memories.
We could not listen to music with guitars in it. I will never forget the day my brother was listening to Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and my father took the radio and threw it through the window. Spent my childhood listening to Richard Marx and Michael Bolton. Thanks dad.