There are strict parents, and then there are these people. These particular parents use the most shocking and strange methods to try and raise their kids, and the rules they dictate make no sense. After reading these stories, be thankful for the calm, rational, and supportive parents out there. They are the real heroes. This content has been lightly edited for clarity.
"Here were my rules:
No 'unclean meats' (pork, shellfish, etc)
No milk, wheat, chicken, sugar, macaroni & cheese, casein, gluten, sugary cereal or 'insert whatever current dietary restriction they forced on me' (I had zero food allergies).
Can't have friends over unless the house is perfectly clean (I could never get the house perfectly clean).
Must make my parents breakfast every weekend and do laundry for the entire household.
Not allowed to dance, play cards, watch tv, listen to music with a 'beat,' swim, shop, or eat out on Saturdays (my parents were Seventh-Day Adventists.)
No swearing. This includes words like 'butt' 'fart' and 'sucks.'
Not allowed to make my own choices regarding clothes or hairstyles until late into high-school.
No piercings (that goes with the no jewelry).
If I wasn't at work or at school, I should be home cleaning their house.
I couldn't see my boyfriend until after 3pm on Saturday (This was after they stopped forcing me to go to church, but they instead made me watch 3 hours of TV sermons).
If my parents were asleep when I got home, I had to wake them up so they could check the clock.
As a result, I lied a lot as an adolescent. As an adult, I'm a bacon-loving atheist with over a dozen piercings."
"There was a line. A physical line that we could not cross in our house. We lived in a rather spacious two story home, but the entire family stayed within three rooms unless you were going to bed. It was my mother's rule due to her need for the entire house to be clean. You could not cross that line if you had not showered. If you did shower, you were allowed to cross it once, and only once. If you stepped back over the line, you would need to shower again. Nothing would be brought over that line if hadn't been washed. That meant nothing that couldn't get wet could cross that line.
And God help you if she found out you ever crossed that line. The most memorable time is she found an Ice Cream Sandwich wrapper in the trash can that was across the line. Lots of glass dishes got hurled at me that day. Even after my mother left for a year, it took us months to start actively using the rest of the house because that line was so ingrained into our psyche. We were scared to cross it. Took even longer for us to bring things into the rest of the house. I haven't been back to the house in 3 to 4 years and I can still point to you the exact spot you are not allowed to cross."
"I will never forget a friend of mine who told me about his childhood as the American-born child of (super-strict) Italian immigrants. Growing up in the 80s, all he wanted was a bike like all his friends in the neighborhood. His dad got him the bike and he was so incredibly excited, until his dad said he wasn't allowed to ride it outside. He literally spent weekends riding his bike in circles on the concrete floor of his basement."
"My father didn't like the way I wrote certain numbers and letters.
Wrote a seven or zero with a line through the middle? Write it 1,000 times without the line.
Wrote a 'z' without a strike through it? Write it 1000 times with the strike.
Wrote an 'o' starting at the bottom? Write it 1000 times starting from the top.
Wrote an 'r' starting with the line? Write it 1000 times starting with the curve.
Wrote a 'y' with straight lines? Write it 1000 times with a curved bottom.
Wrote a 't' with a curve at the bottom? Write it 1000 times using only straight lines.
And I will check all your written assignments from preschool to the beginning of high school or you're grounded for a month; and every time you write a letter the wrong way, I'll sell one of your possessions."
"There was only one correct way to put on socks. I had to take the same size bites of food every time, nothing too small or too large. I had to put on my right foot shoe on first, and never the other way around. Every morning I had to greet my parents with a 'good morning' and every night I was to say 'good night' before going to bed. If I was going to eat a cookie, I had to tilt my head back and bite at the cookie so that the crumbs would fall into my mouth. If I wanted to talk to my parents it had to be about current events, even if I was just 11 years old. I couldn't have 'too much fun' outside. Like no excessive laughing or joking (because jokes are a waste of time or whatever), that kind of thing.
I was not allowed to use 'excessive' deodorant even though I was a teenager and I bought my own deodorant. My step father would go into the bathroom to measure the stick of deodorant before and after every shower to make sure I wasn't applying more than two swipes. I would also get beat if I stepped out of the shower before completely drying off my whole body, including my feet, so that no amount of moisture would stay on the bathroom rug.
I worked very hard to get into a decent college and never went back. Right before I left home, they tried to convince me that I shouldn't be an engineer because computers were just a fad (back in 1999) and instead I should become a cardiologist (they have heart issues) and marry my cousin so she could get citizenship."
"My mom developed a really intense fear that, if I learned anything about reproduction, I would start doing it and become pregnant. I remember one time, I just offhandedly said I wanted something for dinner because I had a craving for it. She looked right at me and said, 'Are you pregnant?!' I laughed at first because I honestly thought she was joking but quickly realized she wasn't and said, 'No, what makes you think that?'
'It's usually pregnant women who have cravings and you've never said you've craved anything before in your life.'
I was 10."
"There was no hot running water. Our hot water heater stopped working when I was 14 or 15. Dad decided not to replace it. It's not that we couldn't afford it; my folks had plenty in savings. We could have replaced it easily, or paid someone to come repair it. But no, for some reason Dad decided that was not an expense he wished to pay, and that Mom and I could heat a cauldron of water on the wood stove in the kitchen, carry it to the bathtub with oven mitts, and scoop it out with an old plastic Costco-sized gummy worms tub to mix with cold water before dumping it over our heads.
I did this throughout high school. After I left for college, he built a fire pit under the old water heater so that he and Mom had 'hot running water' again, even if they did have to build a fire every time they wanted it. Fortunately he came around and got it repaired a year or two prior to succumbing to pancreatic cancer.
The best reason he ever gave me for the decision was that it would 'build character' for me. Listen, for the record, he wasn't wrong. BUT! I still think my character would have been decent if I'd had hot running water in high school. I'm obviously still slightly bitter about it."
"My step mother tried to boot myself (14 year old female) and my brother (12 year old male) out because she didn’t want us living with her. Dad realized if that happened, he would end up dealing with child services. So he 'compromised.' As the female, I was allowed to still be living in the house but had to remain in my bedroom unless asked to come out for dinner. I had to ask to use the bathroom. My door had to be open at all times and no phone allowed. I was never allowed to be given cash so all of my stuff (school bus tickets, sanitary products etc) were bought for me. I often went without lunch as she wouldn’t make it for us (only for her biological son), and we weren’t allowed in the kitchen. A teacher at school worked this out pretty quick and started bringing me food each day. My brother was not allowed in the house. He lived in a van (I mean a literal work van) around the side and had allocated shower and bathroom times. He had to eat outside. He thought it was cool.
One day when I was 15, the police came to my school and said I couldn’t go home as my bro had done something to set her off and she had chased him up the street with a broom, then come back in and trashed my room and the van with an axe. No consequences for her but we weren’t allowed back in the house and she obtained restraining orders on us coming to the house. I’m still not quite sure how as I did nothing! Dad paid for an apartment and we both lived there. He would visit once a week to take us food shopping. That lasted about a year until my boyfriend's dad realized what was going on and I went to live with his family for the remainder of high school and university.
I am now a teacher who works with disadvantaged youth and use my experiences to inform my support for them. My brother has not coped as well (partly due to personality and also being younger than I was) and is an addict who I have very little contact with after he stole from me repeatedly as an adult. My dad and step mother stayed married for 20 years. He left her last year, they are divorced now and he’s about to marry a lady I’ve never met."
"My sister and I were not permitted to ever be angry. It wasn't that we weren't allowed to shout or raise our voices. That was a given. It wasn't that we weren't allowed to talk back or argue. That was also a given. It was that we were never supposed to display any signs of being angry. Being angry isn't 'nice' and we were supposed to be nice little girls who only said, did, and thought nice things.
So it didn't matter how horribly I was being bullied or how staggeringly unfair something was or how cheated I felt about another unreasonable change of mind on my parents' part. I was never allowed to get angry, and if I was angry, I was not allowed to let that show in any way. It wasn't that we were taught to manage our anger and deal with issues in a more reasonable way. We were just expected to repress it all and never mention it.
If anything, our behavior outside the home was more strictly scrutinized because I think my parents were terrified of looking like 'bad parents.' The stress of being the perfect child drove me into (what I later read about and understood to be) pretty severe childhood depression by the age of eight and drove my younger sister into these terrifying feral tantrums when we'd get home at the end of the day.
For anyone out there who might be wondering what the longer-term life consequences of that might be, rest assured that it involves a lot of very messy relationship problems and a lot of fairly harrowing therapy. Trying to learn how to experience and express anger for the first time in your late 20s is stupidly uncomfortable."
"It wasn't me, but my friend's father was really big on protecting my friend's hands because, at the time, he played the clarinet, and his dad was terrified that he'd hurt himself and would never play again. So if there was a game, any game that involved hands, he wasn't allowed to play it. No arcade games, no N64, no sports of any kind. His dad literally tattled to my parents once because we were playing Thumb War (you know, 1, 2, 3, 4, I declare a thumb war) and he was afraid that a bunch of six year olds would kick it into overdrive and accidentally break his son's hand. So yeah, when we were invited over, the only thing we could do was watch TV and watch him practice his clarinet."
"Someone I knew as a kid wasn't allowed in the house during the day. She and her older brother were booted out every day at 9 am (during summer only, during the school year they just went to school) and not allowed back in until sundown. If they were hungry, needed to use the bathroom, whatever, they'd better find somewhere else to do it. They didn't even have their own bedroom; the only spare was rented out to a friend of their parents. She and her brother slept in the living room.
I was over at their house exactly once for dinner and saw on the fridge a hand-written contract the parents had whipped up and made the children sign with a proviso of 'I acknowledge if I break any of the following rules, I will be sent to bed without supper and it is up to me to earn the privilege of it back by suppertime the following day' followed by a long list of things including, but not limited to: leaving personal items out of their allotted boxes, not being home on time, coming home before time, bad grades, fighting, failure to do chores, vandalism, etc. It was insane. They barely even had any toys, to boot. The 'boxes' I mentioned consisted of one covered milk crate each, stored beside the couch and covered with a blanket during the day. I felt so bad for them."
"When we were forced to run errands with my dad, we were implicitly expected to be silent, never leave his side, and not touch anything. YOU try doing that while your dad looks at house stuff for 2 hours at Home Depot when you're 8. And he wondered why we never wanted to go run errands with him.
Basically he expected us to just understand how to behave like an adult without being told, or he would make up rules but never tell us so he could get mad at us for something we didn't know."
"My parents were ultra controlling when I was younger concerning a lot of things I found fun. You like playing the computer? 15 minutes Wednesday evening for the whole week. Oh, and we’re going to move the computer to the family room to make sure we can see everything on your screen. Like reading? Don’t read more than 2 books a week. Like drawing? Only draw something once a day. No doodles on anything else. It was infuriating. Their logic? If I have too much fun, my grades will suffer and I'll become a failure in life.
I was in elementary school and they already told me to start thinking about college in the fourth grade. Grades were the ultimate ruler in our household, our worth was tied to them. My mom is also incredibly paranoid, so she’d need to know everything short of a SSN on anyone and everyone I wanted to spend any sort of time with. This made for not having a ton of friends, especially since we moved around so much, too.
Additionally, anything considered 'weird' was grounds for relentless teasing and bullying by the family, and saying anything against it is disgraceful and incorrect, since they were such great parents and could never be incorrect. This is basically anything that deviates from mainstream American culture, so my interest in cosplay and video games was put on trial any time I opened my mouth. My father is one of those people that says he 'tells it how it is,' but basically is just a huge bully and doesn’t like being told he’s wrong. He literally has called himself a 'grade Hitler,' ensuring we’d feel like we’re miserable unless everything’s above a 90-95%.
You’d now see why I have crippling depression and anxiety, but since my parents did everything right and had such a tight grip to not let anything slip through the cracks, they very rarely, if at all, acknowledge these issues today. It’s very challenging, since I feel it’s hard to continue on and carry out life in a 'normal' way, since if I do something from what they believe is correct I am winded over. No self esteem or confidence either, thanks!"
"Most of my punishments were due to me being the oldest and needing to set an example for my siblings. Here's all I can remember:
I was grounded for a month for eating a bag of Doritos, because my dad assumed I'd eat the Fritos when he told me where the chips were.
I was grounded for the entire summer vacation upon discovering my history teacher gave me and my friend cult classic movies to watch and critique for extra credit.
I was grounded for 3 months for sneaking out one night (sounds acceptable; however, my younger brother stole my mom's car, wrecked it, got arrested and got bailed out and grounded for a week three days prior to me sneaking out. I was chewed out for my brother stealing the car because it was my attitude that led him to do it).
Dad physically twisted and crushed my N64 system, controllers, and games in his bare hands because my brother caught the toilet on fire and wouldn't admit to it. When my brother finally confessed, I received no apology. I had to work at my dad's shop to afford a replacement and was told that my stuff was broken in order to teach my brother a lesson.
I came home one day to my entire room destroyed. Dad took everything out of it because my friend wasn't Christian so my stuff was of the devil. I was grounded after being yelled at about it.
I was grounded for a month because I didn't cry when we watched Passion of the Christ.
I left my cellphone at home one day (which I paid for and maintained the bill). Dad took it and saw a text from a friend's named Jesus. He grounded me for two months because he insisted that I was making fun of Jesus.
I wasn't allowed to watch the TV show Catdog because the main characters couldn't defecate.
I wasn't allowed to watch Harry Potter because magic.
I was allowed to play Pokemon, but I would randomly get grounded for playing Pokemon.
The stuff that I earned through allowance and housework for my grandma would go into holding for a month before I was allowed to play with it.
Half of all my gifts I got for birthday and Christmas would be given to my siblings because they deserved it, according to my dad.
I got grounded for two months when Dad found out my sister was sleeping around. He insisted it was because I wasn't watching over her.
I was grounded for 2 months and forced to be tested for narcotics after trying to tell my dad that I thought I had depression.
After turning 18, I stayed at a friend's for a month straight while making a movie. Someone ate all the desert at home on the same day that I decided to go home and get more of my clothes. I walked in to yelling and a broken coffee table. Dad saw me and immediately tried blaming me and grounded me for 4 months. I moved out that day. It wasn't so much strict rules as it was more my overbearing dad afraid that I'd mess up like he did. I did mess up in life, and I'm paying for it now. Leaving my family was the only way to get out of my depression."
"I was not allowed to make my own recipe that I would find online, because my stepmom thinks she is a master chef (her cooking is not that great, FYI) and she would literally mess it up by taking a bottle of merlot and dump it into the pan, claiming she was 'deglazing' it. Or she would take an ungodly amount of some herb, like rosemary or thyme, and add it to the dish. She would claim that she was 'fixing' it.
If you cooked something, and it started to make any 'cooking' sounds like sizzling or boiling, she would start fanning down the kitchen and opening the windows pretending like it was burnt, and she would demand that the flame be on simmer. In reality, nothing was 'burning', she was just making a scene. She was controlling over the kitchen, so much so that if I wanted to make something just for myself, she saw it a a personal insult to her cooking and looked for something to fuss over."