People Are Sharing Their Weird Family Things That They Only Realized Were Not Normal Later In Life (35 Answers)
Every family is unique. And before we judge anyone for the way they live, we have to remember that other people might be in a totally different situation than us.
With that being said, many of us grow up with, let's call them eccentricities, without even realizing it! A popular Reddit thread by u/i-had-no-good-ideas has users sharing the weirdest thing their family does that they always thought was perfectly fine. From banning birthday parties to raising 36 cats, the entries prove the term "normal" is a rather relative one.
Continue scrolling and check out the most-upvoted ones!
That my family gets together once a week for dinner. Not just my mom, dad, and brother. I mean 4-5 generations of my family get together every Wednesday night for the last 40 years. We also do every holiday too. It’s almost never called off and we just rotate who cooks each week. It’s about 35 people.
Interestingly, u/i-had-no-good-ideas came up with this question during a clash between two family worlds. "I was camping with my [folks] and another family that we're friends with and we were arguing about the rules of UNO and what was the right way to play and what was the wrong way," the Redditor told Bored Panda.
"It turned out that my family had been playing it wrong the whole time and that just blew my mind ... I had been oblivious to it this whole time."
We had absolutely no censorship growing up. Everything was available to us to watch or listen to or play. My dad taught my sister and me how to sneak into R rates movies by buying a movie for one but going to another.
My parents made themselves available to explain most things, and had an open door policy. My sister and I were shy, though, and rarely asked stuff...except the time my sister asked my mom what 69 was and she answered. My sister learned not to ask.
When people said they couldn't watch or play something it was foreign to me.
My sister and I turned out low key. Didn't have our first relationships until I was 18 and she was 19. Pretty introverted about sexual matters for even longer. Never in trouble and were dedicated to school. In school we never drank or smoked. Both of my parents asked me and my sister of we needed birth control pills when we were 16. We said no followed by eww, Haha.
I think our curiosities were extinguished through my parents open policy, and we never felt the need to rebel.
At one point in my childhood, we had 36 cats who only came inside to eat and sleep at night. Any time a friend slept over, they were amazed and delighted when a half-dozen or more cats came in to sleep in my room. My dad even thought he was having a heart attack one time, because he woke up feeling intense pressure on his chest — it was actually two dozen cats. I found out later that my neighborhood considered us the weird house because of all the cats I thought were so awesome.
Researchers believe there is no single 'normal' in the modern American family anymore. According to a report prepared for the Council on Contemporary Families, most commonly (34 percent), children live with married, dual-career parents, however, no single family 'style' is in the majority.
"We have not replaced one ideal family type with another," Philip Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, said. "We have replaced one ideal family type with what we call a 'peacock's tail' in the report because it fans out."
Cohen took data from the U.S. Census and from national surveys on family life and reconstructed the family arrangements of Americans in 1960 and 2012.
He found that in 1960, the American family showed a 'peak conformity'. That year, the age at first marriage was the youngest, the marriage rate was at its highest, and the number of extended families living together in multigenerational households was the lowest.
Back then, 65 percent of children under age 15 lived in a family with married parents in which the father was the breadwinner. 18 percent had married parents who were both employed. And only one child in 350 lived with a mother who had never been married.
In 2012, however, no family type held a majority: the number of children with married parents and only a father working dropped to 22 percent, while children raised by dual-income married parents rose to 34 percent. 11 percent of kids lived with a never-married mother and 7 percent with a parent cohabiting with a romantic partner. About 3 percent of children lived with a single father.
My grandmother always thought the hand signal for 'I love you' was to stick your middle finger straight up like you're flipping someone the bird. Well, when she would send my dad and his sisters out of the house for the day, she'd innocently flip them the bird while yelling that she loved them. Now, out of tradition, my family always flips each other the bird to say goodbye. We always get strange looks at the airport.
About this time every year when local strawberries come into season, my Grandfather would make homemade strawberry shortcake for dinner. Not those stupid sponge cakes but with real homemade shortcakes. He would serve it with cream and it was a big deal because we ate pretty healthy. It was our way of welcoming Summer. His mother in the early 1900s would make one huge shortcake that would feed her, grandpa, and his 6 brothers and sisters.
In the fall when the local apples come in we would make apple dumplings for dinner because that was my Grandma's family tradition to celebrate the harvest.
I thought it was normal to have dessert twice a year for dinner to celebrate the changing of the seasons.
We all open our Christmas gifts one at a time, taking turns, while everyone else watches. I've never met another family that does this.
"The first and most harrowing thing I took away from the comments was that more families have poop knives than I thought," u/i-had-no-good-ideas said. "The second thing I took away was what a poop knife was. But the third takeaway was that I'm really glad that my family are who they are. I got a lot of comments that were largely concerning when you think about them too long and it just made me glad that the strangest thing my family do is play UNO wrong."
After going through the comments, u/i-had-no-good-ideas agrees with the before-mentioned study. "Everyone has a different view of what normal is," the Redditor said. "To some, normal could be wearing a tuxedo and top hat to bed or running around your backyard wearing nothing but a sombrero. So there is such thing as a normal family but the concept of normal is entirely subjective and there is no such thing as a wrong subjective view."
Philip Cohen believes people really sort of on their own figuring out how to make their family life work. In fact, the sociologist thinks it's the reason why we have a big parenting advice industry. Plus, the search for role models may also help to explain the intense interest in celebrity families and marriages.
We have always had cats. We have several “cat songs”. Some are just songs that we have changed the words to include our cats names, but others completely made up on the fly. We can still remember and sing the cat songs of our pets that have long since passed.
We also have a certain way we speak to each others pets that is almost like another language. Made up words, strange accents, weird pronunciation of syllables... the whole shebang. Incomprehensible to others, but makes perfect sense to us.
My dad’s side of the family always had this particular smell that I loved! But I never knew what that smell was... I only smelled it around them... It was such a nostalgic smell and I would be excited for family reunions so I could smell it.
Well, years later I discovered that smell was alcohol.
Alcoholism apparently runs in my family.
Growing up my parents would always give each other two cards for birthdays and anniversaries. One would be a comedy card and one is a love card. Thought that was how it just was.
Apparently my family is the only one that does that, but my girlfriend does enjoy the two cards very much.
In my family, correcting each other's mistakes in everyday conversation is normal, a thing to be grateful to the corrector for. The idea is that it's more important for everyone to be enriched or learning than it is for anyone's pride to be preserved while they're also wrong.
It created in me a love of debate and a willingness to revise my opinions / stances, but it's very frustrating to me now to calculate someone's pride into the equation, lest I be labeled rude or arrogant.
Our family had solstice parties. I didn't think it was weird until someone called me a witch.
In my family, we finished the chicken to the bone — no meat, no gristle, nothing left. And if you didn't finish it, someone would finish it for you. Well, flash-forward to college when I'm eating chicken in the cafeteria with my housemates. One of them didn't clean their chicken wing, so I casually reached over and took it to finish it off, without interrupting the conversation. After a minute, I realized everyone was staring at me. 'What?' I asked, someone else's chicken bone hanging out of my mouth.
Saying 'I love you'. I'm very greatful to have grown up in a very loving and caring household. My parents and I say 'I love you' or 'love you' to almost everyone. But once I got to middle school (my first REAL group of friends) I realized that many kids did not grow up in a household to told each other that. Many times I saw my friends be uncomfortable when I told them that I loved them. Now I'm much more cautious when I say that. (Only say it to close friends now)
We always had a single hardboiled egg on our plate whenever we had spaghetti.
We'd go for a walk after every dinner. Rain or shine. Found out years later our neighbors thought we were weird.
Yelling to communicate.
Everyone in my household just yelled and screamed at each other for little or no reason. Not even when they were mad at each other, but even when we were just working around the house or something, people would start yelling at each other like they hated them then after we were all done we just went back to business as usual as if nothing ever happened.
I didn't find out this wasn't exactly normal when I had my first girlfriend. I started yelling and bellowing at her about something, I have no idea what it was even about, and she started crying and said she was afraid I was going to hurt her. I thought this was the craziest thing i'd ever heard. I wasn't going to hit her, I was just yelling. We eventually sort of sat down and talked about it and she made me realize that the primary means of communication i'd been taught and had to use my entire life up to that point wasn't how people were supposed to talk to each other. I also learned that most women tend to cry if you yell at them.
I had done it throughout all my formative years so it's a bit hard to suppress. Sometimes I still find myself raising my voice to people, even my wife, and she'll just put her hand on my shoulder and its sort of our signal to remind me i'm getting carried away.
Weird thing is, i'm not even really angry or anything like that, it just happens automatically. But she knows I don't mean anything by it and helps me to keep it in check. It's not that bad these days, it has gotten better and better over the years being around more sane people that aren't from my family.
Working at renaissance faires. My parents have been doing it for decades, so I grew up doing it and thought nothing of it. I always thought it was normal that my family would dress up to interact with other people, also dressed up, wielding swords and the like. You can imagine my surprise when, in elementary school, no one had a goddamn clue what I was taking about when I spoke of my normal weekend activities Blew my eight-year-old mind
We had a diarrhea spoon, so we could test its consistency and find out how dehydrated we were — 'Need about 5 ounces there, Hon.'
People are often horrified by my parent's methods of discipline. When I was little we'd have to kneel on rice if we were too loud on the stairs, or get knuckle punched on the top of our heads if we did something wrong. Also, I now realize how strange it is for your parents to walk around naked. We also couldn't go to their bedroom after they went to bed. My sister broke her arm one morning falling out of the top bunk and my mom made her wait for hours until she would take her to the doctor. I won't go into the paint-stick rule. I didn't realize how messed up this was until I met my girlfriend and told her about it.
We're not super demonstrative or affectionate, so relationships were interesting early on. Wake up call for me was when my girlfriend got really upset with me because I didn't call her to find out how her doctor's appointment went. I was confused because I figured she'd let me know if anything was wrong and if I hadn't heard anything I'd assume everything was fine. It never registered that perhaps actual human people like to feel cared about sometimes and that - as her boyfriend - it would be appropriate for me to show a little more concern for her. My family is still like this, although I like to think I've grown in that respect - it's something I had to learn how to do though.
My dad used to whip out his bare ass at everyone. He once put it on the dinner table while I was eating, and my mom spanked it. That's when I realized something was off.
When I was little, my family and I LOVED the first Spongebob Movie. In the movie, they make these silly calls that sound like “LULULULU!” by pursing their lips and wiggling their tongues back and forth. One night, as my dad was tucking me in, he said “Goodnight, I love you! LULULULU!” And I repeated it back.
We still do this, and I’m 23. I think it’s his way of hanging on to his idea of me as a kid.
I draw the line at phone calls, though. I’ve gotten some weird looks from my boyfriend.
Whenever we got fast food, we would put all of our fries together in a big mound to share — sort of like communal fries. Once I was at a friend's house and they bought us fast food, so I put my fries on a plate and pushed it to the middle of the table. Lots of strange looks.
My friends suck the snot and boogers out of their kids' noses with their mouth instead of having them blow into tissues. Then they go spit it out in the trash afterwards. I gagged the first time I witnessed it.
We always ate pineapple slices on our hamburgers- every time- all of us
It was like putting ketchup on for most people, when I ate burgers at other people’s houses I would be like, where’s the pineapple in the same way people would ask for lettuce or mayo
Let me tell ya bout the Wallbangies.
Thought everyone knew about them like the Easter bunny or tooth fairy. They are a tiny race of native American people. In the mornings you went around collecting belly button lint, and you would put what you find under your pillow when you made your bed. That night while you slept they would come and collect the lint, and eventually one day they would bring you a sweater they knitted from the lint.
I was 20 years old when I learned these itty bitty Indians aren't universally known..
When we had dinner, if you took a bite that was too hot (temperature wise), the rest of the family would blow in your mouth until it cooled off. To this day my brothers and I wonder why our parents let us do this.
We always have our house in the 50- to 60-degree range, even during the Wisconsin winter. Everyone would always comment on how cold it was in our house, but it felt fine to me! Meanwhile, other people's houses — which are normally in the 70-degree range — are way too hot for me.
Our family had a communal underwear drawer until I was in high school. Apparently not common?
Growing up, my teachers and friends would tell me I had a 'sing-song' voice and sometimes would make fun of it, but that's how my entire family talks to one another. We have our own little familial variation on the local accent, words adopted from where most of us used to live, words made up as jokes over time, phrases that ended up sticking in our communal lexicon because of longstanding jokes or situations. It was enough that when I was in kindergarten the school insisted that I be put into speech therapy.
I didn't really realize it was weird until I was about 13 and my friends and I were watching Star Trek TNG and one of them pointed at the TV and said 'Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra. That's what you sound like!'
My parents put certain foods (hot dogs, toast, etc) on paper towels instead of plates. Obviously things like pasta or rice would go on plates, but anything that didn't ~require~ a plate went on a paper towel. I grew up thinking this was normal. Until I served a sausage in a bun to a boyfriend on a paper towel and he looked at me like I had three heads.
Turns out my parents just really hate to wash dishes, so they destroy the planet by wasting paper and buying plastic cups instead. Real dishware only comes out on special occasions.
Did I mention they have a dishwasher but hate to use it?
My good friend's family used to put on a full Christmas pageant every year — I'm talking costumes, scripts, roles assigned at Thanksgiving, and always a live baby Jesus played by an infant in the family. They've even rented locations to fit everyone! She only found out that it was unusual in college, when we were discussing our plans for Winter Break and she casually mentioned 'the pageant.' Everyone paused and asked what that meant, and she said, 'You know, the family Christmas pageant.' We had to explain that no one else does that, and it was hilarious! She was an angel that year.
Hoarding. But right after I left my family's home I became incredibly irate of any clutter. My home is now always organized and I constantly rid of stuff I don't use. But my housemate has a crap ton of ancient shit he doesn't use and it drives me nuts.
We never had birthday parties. Birthdays were observed, but there were never parties. I got toys, some good food, but no one was invited ever.
My father told me it was a family tradition. Many years later, when I realized that absolutely everyone I knew did in fact have birthday parties, I looked into the matter more closely and found that an ancestor had apparently died after his birthday party, and since then all parties were forbidden in the family.