“There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds.”— Gilbert K. Chesterton.
Every house is different. Growing up means being a good houseguest, and being a good houseguest means abiding by the law of the landowner. It should be simple: wipe shoes on the mat, remember to say “please” and “thanks,” and definitely wash those hands. Unfortunately, there’s no master list of household rules, and some hosts take improvisation too far.
People on Reddit shared their experience stepping into new lands where milk was recycled, towels went unwashed, and bathrooms were buckets. Don’t sit in dad’s chair, or else, but do enjoy these 42 wild stories about the weirdest rules followed (and broken) in other people’s houses.
My mother-in-law has some major issues.
1. There is a room just as you walk in the house that is completely off limits. It's vacuumed constantly and is a picturesque pink frilly sitting room, pink carpets, etc. Think Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter. My parents brought their dog over once (who is a fantastic chill dog) and she put a paw on the carpet and my MIL almost had an aneurysm.
2. When my husband was growing up, he and his 2 brothers had 1 hour of screen time a day. TV, video games, whatever, 1 hour. Ok so this is normal, but it was never normal in my house or any of my friends' houses, so I think it's kinda bad. I much prefer task-based limits. This was also before phones etc. were ubiquitous and also had significantly less to do with the act that they were watching screens and more of, "They like this, and we want to take it away from them."
3. 1 bath a week. If you had more than that, you got screamed at. The brothers would end up showering at a friend's house. I had to basically train my husband out of that one.
4. If you had too much fun doing something, they wouldn't let you do it anymore. It made my husband very good at lying and also very obsessive about things he enjoyed. Or, if you had too much fun in a weekend, you weren't allowed to do something fun later in the same weekend. I.e., visiting a friend's house on Saturday, weren't allowed to do anything on Sunday except clean or do yard work.
5. Not allowed to argue with parents. Mom has a personality disorder and constantly lies. Dad always backs her up. She will lie about what the boys were doing and say they were breaking a rule when they weren’t, and they couldn't argue. (This rule is literally pinned to their wall).
6. They have to get the parents cards for birthdays, etc., but the cards are not allowed to be handmade because it's "cheap." This rule persists.
7. Have to take pictures every Sunday before going to church, in the church outfits. There are hundreds of pictures of this, in the same spot in the house.
There are other rules I literally can't remember/pick out of the piles of abuse.
My husband and his brothers have grown up very well-adjusted and sane despite this mess.
My friend David was a tough guy...which was why it was all the more cool that he chose to hang out with a scrawny nerd like me.
We went back to his house once (and only once), which was literally 4 houses down the street from me.
It was a small, normal house, with a small, comfortable living room.
When I plopped into the big easy chair, David went white as a ghost.
"That's my dad's chair." (pause)
"No one's allowed to sit there." (pause)
"If he sees you in his chair, he'll bring the belt."
Well, I was a small kid, but even I knew that some other person's parent wasn't going to be allowed to beat ME with his belt. So I said, nonchalantly, "So what? He can't hit me."
My tough guy friend (and, truth be told, a bit of a bully to other kids) just got paler and paler.
Then he said (very quietly).
"He might not wallop you, but he'll wallop me instead."
I hopped off that chair like a shot.
And learned a lot that day.
No speaking above a whispered volume, essentially. Girlfriend's father considered loud talking (what the rest of us considered normal-volume talking) to be "trashy."
Neighbor's house for breakfast. They put powdered sugar and syrup on the table for waffles. I thought, OH YEAH, I only get syrup at my house and douse the waffles with powdered sugar.
I pick up the syrup.
"We only use one or the other at this house," the mom says.
I ate dry and tasteless powdered sugar-covered waffles that day.
Whenever I went over to a friend’s house, I wasn’t ever actually allowed inside. Instead, we always hung out in a trailer that was parked right outside of his place, and if we needed to use a bathroom the mother forced us to go in a bucket.
My friend's mother had some borderline obsessive rules. No walking on the carpets. You must remain on the strips of clear plastic carpet protectors instead, which were arranged to create walkways around the house. Guests must wear slippers, there were spares if you didn’t bring your own. The leather sofas must remain completely covered in sheets to protect them. Even the dog was expected to follow these carpet protector paths and was constantly being told off for stepping off them.
I understand wanting to keep your carpets and furniture nice, but this was crazy. You couldn’t even see them under all this ugly protective stuff. Plus, I nearly fell down the stairs wearing oversized slippers and tripping on this protective plastic mat that was draped down the staircase. I was also constantly getting in trouble for not following the correct route around the room instead of walking straight to where I wanted to be. She would literally check for footprints on the carpet.
Also, I don’t think it was a cleanliness thing as their house wasn’t spotlessly clean. I think it was more about preserving the value of everything, their house had a lot of cabinets filled with old ornaments and junk his mother was certain would be valuable one day. It was purely his mother’s rules as well; his dad was pretty cool about it and even got us all in trouble when he drew a dick on the carpet once. His parents ended up getting divorced a few years later.
I live with my grandmother and our house has 2 bathrooms. 1 bathroom is her bathroom exclusively and the other bathroom is everyone else’s bathroom. If you use her bathroom, you're shunned from seeing her or being in her home for life.
My cousin and her 3 kids (her great-grandchildren) have been banned from seeing my grandmother ever again because we completely forgot to tell my cousin's ex-husband about the bathroom rule. It's not a loss, cousin and kids are better off without her.
I had a friend whose parents would lock her in her room at night. As in, the lock was on the outside of the door, and once she was in for the night the door was locked and there was no leaving, even for the bathroom.
She obviously saw nothing weird about it.
She and her family were weird, and I didn’t hang out with her for very long. I think they only stayed in my neighborhood a few years before moving.
My cousins always had weird rules about which cups were acceptable to use for which beverages at their house.
I can't tell you how many times I would go to get a cup of water just to have one of them appear out of thin air beside me and scream, "THAT'S A SMOOTHIE CUP WHAT ARE YOU DOING!” or go to pour myself a cup of milk only to be berated for using a juice cup.
I've brought it up to my siblings, and apparently it always made them really uncomfortable too, and it's given us all some degree of anxiety about using the kitchen at other people's houses.
Had a babysitter when I was about 8 and my sister was 5. The rule was all day we had to sit on the stairs. No couch, no kitchen table, nothing. Literally had to stay on the stairs the whole day (which was pretty uncomfortable even to my 8-year-old body) and me and my sister were pretty well-behaved, so we did it without much question.
When my mom would come pick us up, of course, we would get to sit on the couch. Only years later did I realize how weird that was.
I babysat for a family that locked us in the house. I called my dad and he said if I felt trapped I could throw a chair through a window, and he’d cover it no questions asked. Never babysat for them again.
I had a landlord rent me a room. I paid first and last month’s rent. When moving in, he told me the room he showed me wasn't available. Instead, he showed me a converted CLOSET. Literally a 12' x 4' space. He knew I was stuck. His rules?
No kitchen usage.
No BATHROOM usage.
No strong smells (he complained about my roll-on deodorant being way too strong. No one else even notices).
I had to be out by 6 AM, couldn't return until 10 PM.
For $600 a month.
None of this was disclosed or remotely reasonable. We had a very heated argument when he told me all this, but at the time I had no choice. I stayed there two months. He constantly made threatening comments to me, refused me access to the house at random intervals, and I caught his friends stealing from me twice. He said, "Lawyer up."
I did. I won.
He threw me out after court. Literally drove back, took stuff from my parked car by smashing a window, and sold it to his friend. Then he threw everything else in the yard and pissed on it.
We went right back to court a week later. He ended up losing the place because he was subletting without permission. He still has bedbugs from a friend he let stay. I see him occasionally, covered in bites. He always sits and threatens me with more "legal action because you took my house," but I figure he isn't worth the trouble.
My friend’s mom was a huge germaphobe. So she kept bottles of hand sanitizer and a stack of napkins by the door, and you had to use them before entering the house. If you didn’t, she’d close the door in your face.
Also, she required anyone who wanted to pet her dog or cat to brush them before and after to help “diminish any harmful human toxins.”
My friend’s mom wouldn't let you have a drink at the dinner table because she didn't want you to fill up on water and not finish your food. It didn't matter what it was or if you choked, no liquid until after dinner.
She would also make you eat everything, or she would save it for you to finish later or just wouldn't let you leave the table until you were done.
They all shared a towel after showering. Like one towel for everyone, for one or two days. When I visited, I asked where the towels were so I could shower after the pool, and they looked at me like I had two heads. Explained the towel-sharing situation, because, “You’re clean when you dry off, so it’s still clean!”
Yeah, Mr. Friend's Dad I don’t want to dry my face after you’ve dried your parts on it...
I'm a medic, so we go into people's homes every day. We had a cardiac arrest, so we were working a man, and the wife was having a fit about the mess we were making.
Yes, there was some garbage from the pads, needles, meds, but we put all of it into our jump bag.
She was screaming at us about it. I told her that her husband was very sick, and we were doing everything we could to help. She said she didn't care if he died as long as we didn't make a mess.
My friend’s mother absolutely refuses to let guests pour their own drinks. Not just insisting, “let me pour that for you,” but will actually get mad if you do it yourself.
This doesn’t apply to food.
This dude who managed local bands had a rule that only vegetarians could poop in his toilet. Find somewhere else to poop if you eat meat.
My grandparents had a very specific order that food should be eaten.
We’re a big English family, and tea would be served at 5 pm or so after lunch, which was at 1 pm. Plates and dishes would be placed on the dining room table all at once, but food could only be consumed in the correct order. Sandwiches first, then sausage rolls/assorted savories, then sweet foods.
It’s only so strange, because after my generation (16 of us), my grandmother now couldn’t give less of a crap, and all the rules are out of the window, especially for great-grandchildren and our spouses.
We’re just pretty bitter that we would get such a telling off for eating a sausage roll before a sandwich, since now apparently you can have chocolate biscuits before 2 pm. Anarchy.
I had a boyfriend who would only eat one thing at a time. For example, he'd eat his steak, then the potato, then the vegetables. Never mixing it up, and never combining anything into one mouthful.
I never noticed because I don't care how people eat, but boy did he notice that I don't eat my food in any order whatsoever. I'll even <gasp> eat steak and potato in the same mouthful!
We were together for 3 years, and it always baffled him how I ate. He'd look at me all astonished, "You're done with your steak!?" No. No, sweetie. I'm just eating some vegetables at the moment. I'll get back to the steak.
Had a friend who had to go to bed at 7 pm every night because that was the bedtime for his younger siblings. He was 14. His mom would flip out if he tried to stay awake any longer.
So a few years back I was at a party and the homeowner had a list of house rules on a chalkboard. The one that sort of made me doubletake was, "Overnight guests are asked not to masturbate."
I was a little confused, I mean nobody wants to think of someone else jerking it in their home, in their sheets, but that seems a little weird. Was there an incident that incited this?
I was in a foster home from ages 5 to 7. They were religious, and the rules were as follows: women couldn't cut their hair, wear short sleeves after 5 years of age, could only wear dresses and nightgowns (even when swimming on vacation), and nobody could enter the home if they were wearing shorts.
Pants were fine. The upside was the whole family ate dinner together every night and there was always dessert. As a kid coming from a home where food was not aplenty, I thought it was wonderful. I've stayed in touch over the years and went to the mom’s 80th birthday party last summer. Lots of people were there in shorts, so the rules have obviously been relaxed over the years. One daughter even had hair a little below her shoulders, so that rule isn't enforced, either.
My friend's mom was convinced that vomit corroded the pipes and could cause them to burst, so we had to go puke outside if we were sick.
Stayed with a neighbor during a family emergency, estranged grandparent was deathly ill far away, and my parents had to make some "oh dear" arrangements for child care.
The neighbor had 5 kids. The Dad had a "one tub of water for the family" rule. This was in a bathtub with a shower and when a normal water bill for a large family would be under $40 a month, so I still don't get why.
Dad would bathe, then Mom, then oldest to youngest. Guests last. The water was cold, dark with muck, and had a greasy film of skin cells on it by my turn. I was 6 or 7 and tried to refuse, but they shouted at me and I gave in. I gagged the whole time.
She wouldn't actually let us into the house.
She threw a housewarming party, and we were all excited about attending, but instead she herded us all into her garage and locked us in there. There was a door in the garage that led into the kitchen that she would only unlock if someone wanted the bathroom. She would then escort the person to the toilet and stand outside the door until they were done, take them back to the garage, and lock the door again. The garage was empty as well. Not even so much as a deck chair or box to sit on.
The guests did not stay long. I left in under an hour and the rest not long after. She was offended after she put so much "effort" into having us over.
When I was probably 7 or so, there was a kid down the block. I think he lived with his grandparents, who were weirdly strict with water.
No using the hose to play in (during a time of sprinklers and water balloons to beat summer heat) and I think I remember him saying he'd have to pay $1 for a cup of water.
My dad had a strict rule: no music with words.
I'm still wondering how Beethoven's Ninth ended.
I was yelled at for quickly blurting out the question to a $200 Jeopardy! answer. Apparently, they played the game quietly, individually tallying scores. No problem, I was handed a pen and paper and I played their game.
I think I am doing pretty well after Jeopardy and Double Jeopardy, eyeing everyone else...I wanted to impress them with my vast knowledge and high score. I wager all of my money in Final Jeopardy because it’s a category I am familiar in.
Back from commercial, soon as Trebek finished answer, they all yell out what they thought was the question. Apparently, it’s only the first person to yell out the correct question in Final Jeopardy who gets his/her wager to count. Psychos. I would have disowned them if they weren’t family.
I once had a friend’s mom tell me, "We sit down to pee in this house." I guess I get it and it would have made sense, other than I'm a girl. How the heck did she think I took a leak?
My cousin’s house when I was a kid—there was a "no reading during the day" rule. I was a bookish kid terrified of my mad uncle, so I just went along with it.
Not sure if it counts as a house rule, but…
I had a good friend whose family didn't drink anything while eating meals. They were convinced drinking something right after chewing food would crack their teeth.
So I'd always be the only one with a beverage at dinner.
My step-grandmother does not let anyone under 16 (what she considers children) sit on her furniture. They have to sit on the floor. It should be noted that this rule didn't apply to her biological grandchildren.
Any time I was over at their house and we would go outside and play, I would have to knock on the door each time to come back in, even if I had been there for a while or if I had just walked in with their kid.
Their mother kept tabs on exactly how much I ate or drank while I was there and expected me to work for whatever they had given me.
I had accidentally left something by the door and I realized after I got a few steps away from their porch, so I just opened the door and reached in to grab it. Her mother grabbed my arm and jerked me back into the house and screamed how I was a guest at their house and that I was to always knock before entering, how I was a rude child, she didn’t care that I was just there and what I grabbed was mine, etc. I had known this woman my entire life. We lived in the same neighborhood, she knew all of my extended family and treated me like I was some stranger.
That was my last day playing over there.
I once had a sleepover party at a Christian girl’s house in elementary school. They had random pieces of duct tape on the floor in the hallway, and if I remember correctly we had to jump/step over them because that’s where knives were dropped, kinda like a superstition. Except I didn’t get it and it still makes no sense to me to this day.
I forgot to mention when watching a movie such as Veggie Tales, we weren’t allowed to laugh at a character's misfortune even though it was clearly a comical joke in the movie. That poor girl tried to laugh at it, but her mom shushed her.
I was probably 10 or 11, stayed all night with a new friend for the first time. Her family seemed normal, we had fun. Got up the next morning, they’re all 4 in the kitchen at the table eating cereal together. So wholesome. Her mom gets up, prepares a bowl for me, super nice of her. I eat it, then try to be nice in return and pour my leftover milk down the sink. Mom stops me and hands me a partially full gallon jug, "No need to waste! pour it in the cereal milk jug." I vividly recall how nauseated I was when I realized the milk I had just consumed was recycled. Never went back. They were not poor.
I grew up in Mexico. My school had a lot of exchange programs abroad, so in 9th grade, I went to Boston. I stayed with a guy from the high school and his dad. Pretty weird family. But the strangest thing was that his father told me that I could not flush pancakes in the toilet. He literally meant pancakes. It was not a euphemism, because I asked his son about it and he said, "Yeah, there was an incident once."
My parents, for what it's worth, made me go to bed at 7 pm every night from the age of 4 until the age of 16 because I had to share a room with my kid brother. To this day, I also have to go to bed at 10 pm when I visit them because I have to walk through their bedroom to get to mine (it's an old house).
Another weird rule they have is about bins. Most people have at least a separate bin in their kitchen and their bathroom, right? Maybe a few more all over the house just in case, right? Wrong. My parents keep just the one, single, bin, in the center of the kitchen/dining room, and the bin bag is changed once a week at the most. I think they maybe just can't be arsed to go around collecting bins, and so this is their godawful solution.
Having a period in that house was a barrel of laughs, let me tell you. From the ripe old age of 11, announcing to the entire house, "Excuse me, coming through, used sanitary pad ready to go in the bin here, outta the way dudes."
These days as an adult when I visit, I make a huge deal out of it until they realize how awkward it is and give me a bin for the bathroom, but as a 12-year-old? This was the most embarrassing, awkward thing ever.
Not to mention when we had guests round, they would be sat in the dining room, and I would be forced to shamefully walk past them into the kitchen, used pad in hand, to use the bin. That was some trauma right there. My current house has two bins in every room.
I landed a summer babysitting job when I was 15 or 16, and got yelled at because I took Cheetos, Doritos, and Pretzels and put them all in the same bowl. They were snack-sized bags, and I’d eaten the whole bowlful, but there must’ve been “crumb evidence” for Sherlock Mom.
She said, “We don’t mix our food in this house.” And then she fired me soon after because she said she wasn’t comfortable with me doing stuff like that around her kids.
I don't like visiting my aunt's house very much.
I don't ever sleep at her house. I have just seen her rip into her kids for falling asleep on the couch during a movie at a small gathering, for example.
Growing up, I (often with other friends) would do sleepovers at a buddy's house. He was a bedwetter and wore diapers to bed, but we were cool with it...Never any teasing or anything.
His mother would demand that we ALL wear diapers to bed when sleeping over, which was odd, but it made our buddy even more uncomfortable about his situation. Poor dude would apologize constantly about the fact that we had to use them too.
Went to a friend’s house. Well-to-do kind of family, straight laced, all that. The Dad came home and started practicing saxophone in the front room. When I asked a question, my friend told me to shut up, and that nobody is allowed to make any noise while his dad practiced saxophone.
Just as this short conversation was exchanged, his dad burst through the door and told us all to shut up because whispering really put him off his saxophone playing. His son/my friend started to cry. His dad played for 3 more hours.
We just sat in silence because this was before mobile phones and I couldn’t get collected until later that afternoon. I was asked not to tell anyone else at school, but enough people had been and experienced what I had experienced, so everyone knew not to disturb this kids’ dad when he’s playing his saxophone.
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