It's completely understandable for parents to have rules in order for their family. But these rules are just outrageous! The fine line separating good parenting from bad parenting was completely crossed over to the dark side....
Her Mother Thought Interrogating Her Daily Was A Good Idea…
“The rule when we were kids: ‘No lying.’ Seems reasonable, maybe, but it’s not.
It wasn’t about the rules. It was about the CONSTANT INTERROGATIONS. There weren’t so much as rules, as there was her personality and the things that bugged her, and the fact she was going to interrogate the absolute life out of us every single day. It’s the complete lack of privacy and the total suspicion that makes living with this kind of parent the worst. Not even the whitest of lies or the tiniest of omissions were acceptable.
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? It’s hard to explain, maybe, but there was this Socratic lawyer-type method being applied constantly to invent lies to catch you in. Like she was looking for an excuse to backhand you, digging in until our memories failed to provide total consistency, and then she could ground us, or whatever. If she was in a bad mood, she’d scowl around the house until she found something out of place so she could scream at us. Screaming. Lots of screaming.
For ‘strict’ parents, it’s often not really about the rules. It’s about ‘respect,’ which is a dog-whistle for total domination of the subordinates in the household. If there were rules, there would be times when I was allowed to do what I was doing without suspicion. This did not exist.
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.
Maybe try imagining if every day you had to cross the border twice and board a flight, but the border agents are all your mom.”
The Food Controller Of The Family
“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 jerk 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.'”
Halloween Masks That Showed Off Their Faces?
“In the 1970s, my extremely conservative Mormon mother would take the masks from out grocery-store plastic Halloween costumes (those wretched ones with the thin elastic string to hold them on) and widen they eye holes with scissors as much as she could without destroying the mask.
When we asked why this was necessary, she informed us that ‘in our church, we don’t like masks because it was a group of masked men who murdered Brother Joseph (Smith). So we want to be able to see your face clearly enough even with your Halloween masks on.’
Dropping Out Of Middle School?
“I was literally 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 2 am 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.”
Oh No, Not The Coffee Pot!
“This one was the most ridiculous- I wasn’t allowed to leave the coffee pot out…
My mother had a really nice espresso machine that I could never master the art of using, so we had an ancient ‘Mr. Coffee machine’ that I would use. My mother would get super irritated if I left the machine on the counter after I was done using it. My best friends can remember plenty of times my mother would do that whisper yell trick ‘Ummm what is that coffee pot doing out?’
Once she was actually so angry about the coffee pot being left out she grounded me for a week. The kicker to the whole thing was once I moved out, I came home to visit and there was my mom’s nice espresso machine and also, a brand new Mr. Coffee on the kitchen counter. I turned to my mother, ‘What is that doing on the counter?’ My mom, ‘Oh your dad bought a new Mr. Coffee and it’s not nearly as ugly the old one.’ Her whole reason for getting ticked off for years was because the old one was UGLY…”
Not Allowed To Dance At Prom?
“My parents were slack, my best friends parents were so strict. She would escape to my house for freedom.
12th grade. Prom. Her parents allowed her to go to prom but said she wasn’t allowed to dance. We all went to prom, had fun dancing. Until she saw her parents standing at the back watching.
She then moved out for University. After her first year, she came home to work for the summer. She had been on her own for a year and supporting herself and her parents gave her a 9 pm curfew. She spent a lot of time at my house that summer. She was married by the next summer and didn’t have to deal with it.”
The Family “Truth Session” Happened Quite Frequently
“I was from a large family and discipline was very strict. If myself or one of my siblings broke one of the major rules, my parents would hold a ‘Truth Session’.
All the children would be brought to my Dad’s study where the guilty party would be given an opportunity to confess. If nobody came forward, we would be hit in turn in order of ascending age. The eldest four were hit with a sewer rod while, in deference to their age, the youngest ones would get a whack of a bamboo stick.
A sewer rod is basically a four foot long flexible rubber rod, around an inch thick and with a metal cap. It would leave the most remarkable welts. Horrendous things really.
Anyway, this would continue until someone admitted their ‘guilt’. At that point, they would receive the blows that everyone else had received to that point.
So that was awful. I fully acknowledge that. I’m under no illusions. However, that wasn’t the actual unreasonableness. No, the unreasonable part was that the person who ’caused’ the Truth Session didn’t always receive the accrued punishment owed for having their siblings beaten. Sometimes they could just be let go making their siblings HATE them for causing pain to them. There’d be no explanation. The study door would be opened and we’d all be told to leave. That meant you could be rewarded for holding out and avoiding the punishment you’d definitely get if you admitted it at the beginning.
My parents now tell fun stories about how when I was a child and I’d done something wrong, I’d always begin with, ‘let me tell you my story.’ ‘Haha,’ they chortle at my childish phrasing while I recall the terror that such an approach was meant to stave off.”
What Even Is A Snow Day?
“We couldn’t go sledding during the winter – or any other season, obviously – because my mom was a neat freak and didn’t want snow slogged into the garage. So, no snow playing of any kind, really. Never built a snowman. Did go sledding when I was an adult. 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 Tarheel blue at the other. There was a system in place for colors, too, so if the yellows were by the purple’s, for example, there’d be consequences to pay.
No shoes on in the house under any circumstances. Was super uncomfortable when my brother’s friend, who had prosthetic legs and always had shoes on, came over and didn’t take his shoes off. Mom got really mad and confronted him.
No Legos or puzzles allowed, as they make messes and look like disorder.
I freaking love puzzles as an adult. One of my favorite hobbies.”
Her Step Mother Banned Birthday Parties?
“My step-mom would never let me have a birthday party. When I turned 12, she finally let me have a sleepover with friends. I was going to a Catholic elementary school at the time that had a rule that if all of the class wasn’t invited to a birthday party, then invitations could not be handed out at school to avoid hurting feelings.
Step-mom wouldn’t let me hang out with friends outside of school but also wouldn’t let me invite the whole class. So I had to sneakily hand out invites at school to the few people I was allowed to invite since that was the only time I ever saw them.
The day of the party, my step-mom got a call from the school about what I had done, and just as everyone’s arriving and going inside, she grabs my arm and yanks me aside to question me about what I’d done. I burst into tears trying to explain that I didn’t know what else to do. She said I was grounded for 3 months and I needed to suck it up and not let on to my guests that I was grounded.”
That One Time He Forgot His Key…
“I was not allowed a house 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 freaking 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.”
Burning All Of His Child’s Things?
“My father was very very strict. I wasn’t allowed to have alone time with my mother. He beat the heck 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 Globetrotters 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.”
How To Learn To Love Reading!
“My school kept the accelerated reader program (taking tests on books you read online for points) all the way through from grade school through high school. Each quarter, you had to get 60 points (usually 4-6 books) so like 8-12 books per semester. It was a way to try to force kids to read.
Anyway, I hated reading and would always get 20% of my grade taken off because I always had 0 points. When I started high school, that trend ended.
Mom enforced a rule that I would be grounded at the beginning of each quarter, and could only gain my freedom to leave the house after I had reached the 60 point goal for the quarter. Most kids hit this goal around the last two weeks of the semester. For me, it rarely happened ever because it was in high school that I discovered my hate for reading developed a terribly slow reading ability. The result: I never partied, I never went to friends’ birthday parties, I never developed much of a social life outside of the school halls and track practice. I was ‘free’ a sum total of 19 weeks during my high school career.
The ultimate irony: I am now in the throes of law school, where all I do is read. Lo and behold, I love it. Thanks, mom!”
Forced To Deny Dessert At Restaurants
“One of the ridiculous rules was that we were NOT allowed to order dessert in restaurants. (I know, I know, violins… But hear me out, please.) It was an unspoken rule enforced by our reluctance to see the smoldering reproach on our father’s face if we ordered dessert. (Decades later, asking to see a dessert menu still feels contemptible to me.)
Yet, our father ALWAYS asked us in front of the waiter or waitress: ‘You boys want dessert?’ And then he always asked again: ‘Are you sure?’ It was a ritual, never different, until my older brother, a fresh adolescent, asked for apple pie. No one spoke during the time we waited for my brother’s apple pie to arrive. Our father, holding his credit card between thumb and forefinger on the table, tried to get my brother’s eye but my brother would not look back at him. It was a 4th-of-July moment, full of peril.
During the next few minutes while my brother ate, again no one spoke. Except for my meek question to my brother: ‘Can I have some?’ And my brother’s answer: ‘No.'”
Don’t Make Dad Late For School, Kids!
“I had to be 15 minutes (minimum) early to high school every day of the week, up until I got my own car in my Junior Year.
One morning, in particular, I was about 7 minutes late to get out the door, and my father rushed me out, and angrily drove 70 MPH down the road in our neighborhood, until he hit a trashcan and cracked his windshield.
Being the idiot I was, and not assessing the situation I said ‘Dad, the speed limit in neighborhoods is 25.’ To which he replied ‘Leaving time is 7:00 AM!’ Then he takes his hands off the wheel, while still moving to turn around and hold 7 fingers and yell ‘SEVEN’ in my face.
5 minutes into the drive later he slams the breaks to pull over on the highway unexpectedly, then tells me if I ever talk like that to him again he’s going to pull me out of the car and ‘pitch your butt like a tent.’
Maybe this isn’t really a story of being strict, probably just abusive.
I don’t talk to my Dad anymore. He has come to me crying for the last 2 years saying how sorry he is and how he’s a jerk and how he started taking anger management courses, but you can’t treat a kid like that every day from the moment they are born and expect forgiveness with a couple of tears and a petty apology.”
Having A Police Officer As A Parent…
“My mom was a cop when I was a kid, so she has some of her officer stuff in the house. Whenever my little brother and I would fight excessively, which was often, she would handcuff us together. Looking back it is kinda screwed up because we were stuck together for hours when we were at our worst.
I would try to make the best of a bad situation and go on as normal because my brother was a little tattle tell and if I did anything malicious to him my parents would find out. He just took the opportunity to further annoy to the point of insanity and having me scream at him, thus getting me in more trouble. His favorite method of torturing me was going to the bathroom every five minutes and I had to just stand there awkwardly. Finally got my revenge when I had to clean up the dog poop from the backyard. I asked him to hold the bag for me while I scooped. I would consistently ‘miss’ the bag and he hated it. We were never handcuffed together after that.”
Super Religious Father Was A Closeted Psychopath?
“It was when I was around 16 years old. My father took me to my church youth group and dropped me off, fully aware that we were going to a Christian concert that was roughly an hour away. His only rule was to keep him well informed how I was doing the whole time I was out. Mind you I was among two chaperones and didn’t socialize very well with anyone (considering my father never let me leave the house. Ever.) so I stuck with our youth pastor for the majority of the time. Had a good time out, recorded some songs with my phone. My battery got really low and so I text my father letting him know that my battery was about to die, but we’d be home in two hours. Battery dies before I get a response. We return to the church where he dropped me off, it was 3:00 in the morning.
Drunk, he speeds off and takes me to the middle of a field, asks me for my phone, steps out of the car sets it on the ground and shoots it multiple times with his revolver. Turns out I was grounded, sent to bed early that night. A couple of hours after ‘going to bed’ bursts into my bedroom, AR-15 in hand and points it at me. Muttering nonsense I can barely remember.
Moved out the next morning, been living with my mother ever since…”