You know how you used to hate following certain rules as a kid, only to realize once you grew up that those limits actually made a lot of sense? Welp, not these poor souls; the restrictions they grew up with were truly absurd. Read on as these Redditors recount the eyebrow-raising rules they encountered as youngsters and, in some cases, even into adulthood.
I had a good friend whose mom had locks installed on all the kitchen cabinets to prevent her only child from eating when he wasn’t supposed to. When he got old enough to earn money, she took 50% of whatever he made—but then it got even more deranged. Then in his senior year in high school, as soon as he turned 18, he came home from school and found all his belongings out on the driveway. Happy birthday!
My mom and dad let him live with us until he could get on his feet financially.
My grandmother prohibited my father, uncle, and aunt from accepting food and drinks while visiting. So they always had to refuse, and if they ever accepted anything, they would get beaten up once they got home. It didn’t matter if they were visiting family; they were just not allowed. To this day, I still don’t understand why.
Growing up, my dad and stepmother gave my sister and me chores to do before we were allowed to go out with our friends. I thought it was normal until I moved out. When I vacuumed, the marks couldn’t overlap, and they all had to go in the same direction. I had to clean the bathroom and wipe everything down, including the shower, as no water spots were allowed.
No personal items (shoes, jackets, or bags) could be left in any part of the house besides our rooms. We had a sitting room that no one was allowed in that I also had to clean weekly. Even though we had a dishwasher, I had to do the dishes every day by hand. I also had an 11 pm curfew, even on prom night.
I joined the army, moved away, married, and had children—but it didn’t end there.
I still had the 11 pm curfew if I came back to visit. I was in my 30s by that point. Oh, and I forgot to mention: I didn’t get an allowance for any of this, so if I wanted money, I had to give up eating lunch at school and save my lunch money.
I also bought all my school clothes from the age of 12 up, working cropping plants in the summer.
I once stayed with a friend in Berlin. My friend and I are Canadian; his roommate is German and very political. He’s essentially an anarchist and is against any state rule or regulations, but he had an important rule in the apartment—you had to pee sitting down. We are all men, I might add. My friend had warned me, "Careful with Hans. He is big on this rule and wanted me to tell you this".
I agreed out of respect, even though I thought it was very weird. Except for one time when we came back from a long night out on the town, and in my inebriated state, I forgot to sit down when I had to go. Mid-pee, I heard banging on the wall from his room, with Hans screaming, "I heer you yurhinating vile staanding! Das iz not allowed"!
We had an argument, and I left the next day—as I had planned, anyway. He was so scared of splatter getting on the bathroom surfaces and causing sickness.
One of my parents (not my mother) STRICTLY enforced a no doors closed policy growing up. Until he left when I was 17, if you took a shower, or went #2 in the bathroom, when he and my mother were intimate, or ANYTHING, the door had to be cracked at least 1". No questions. I caught several whoopings for daring to close the door fully when I took a shower, changed clothes, or got ready for school. And that’s not even the most twisted part.
The rule also applied whenever company came over as well; that is, if whoever was visiting decided it was worth the effort to try to tolerate this insane rule, as well as his "You think you’re so smart, and I’m so dumb" mentality. He passed three weeks ago, and I left his "viewing" after two hours of talking to my aunt and uncles and never looked in the casket. I took my niece and her friend to go see Scream 6.
I did not go to the funeral either. Instead, I went to a baseball card store and bought myself something nice.
My kid had a friend over recently (high school), and we offered him a snack. He said, "Maybe. Is that allowed"? Then he mentioned getting an A on a test, so we said, "Then you deserve an extra special after-school snack". We offered several options like cereal, goldfish crackers, etc. He cried because no one had ever offered him an after-school snack, much less said "good job" on getting an A. So sad.
My friend’s parents ran an ongoing "tab" for him and his brother. They added up how much they spent on food, clothes, sports, etc, and told the two boys they would have to pay them back. I remember we once got yelled at for eating his dad’s "snacks", and he added them to the tab. I always wondered what would happen when his tab was due—then I got my answer.
When my friend and his brother graduated, the parents "cleared the tab" for their graduation gift. So basically, they got nothing other than a reminder of how much they cost.
I had a friend when I was eight or so, and the entire family (mom, dad, eight-year-old, five-year-old, and two-year-old) all showered together. I truly don’t think anything nefarious was going on, but this wasn’t due to saving water for financial purposes or anything because they were loaded. It was weird. I would be there hanging out, and they’d all just leave me to watch some TV in the living room for a bit while they all piled into the master shower.
They also didn’t let the kids cut their hair until they were, like, in their teens.
My wife once had a friend over for a sleepover when she was little. Suddenly, their mum showed up to take them home. When my wife found out why, she was stunned.
Apparently, the friend had seen booze in the fridge and called her mum crying because of it. They were not allowed to look at, talk about, think about, or especially drink booze. Seeing it scared her so much that she called her mum to come to get her.
When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time at my best friend’s house. Her mom wouldn’t let us drink more than one glass of water in the afternoon because she thought it would dilute the nutrients in our bodies. Instead, she gave us 7Up if we were thirsty. I ended up secretly drinking water out of the bathroom faucet every time I used the bathroom whenever I was thirsty at her house.
My stepmom had a totally bonkers rule about feet. She was irrationally afraid of plantar warts, and according to her, anyone she didn’t know intimately had plantar warts. As a family, we had a second home/beach house that was basically a small bungalow, and it only had one restroom with one stall shower. Nobody, not even friends or relatives, could use that shower after returning from the beach because they’ll get their plantar warts all over the floor, and then she’ll take a shower, and she’ll get plantar warts.
We also had a swimming pool, and she would make any new people, including children, WEAR SOCKS IN THE SWIMMING POOL. And as far as I know, nobody living in our house, including her, ever had plantar warts so...was it unreasonable? Sure. Effective? Sure.
I had a friend who was very much into computer gaming in the late 90s/early 2000s. Voodoo video cards were very much in vogue, but his parents forbade him from using the term "voodoo", even in reference to the card. But the alternative they chose backfired on them.
They suggested that he instead call it the "V-card". The hilarity of the situation was lost on them.
My friend had a 9 pm bedtime that her mom’s creepy boyfriend thoroughly enforced. I stayed over once, not knowing about this. We had to be in bed with the lights out by that time "or else"! He sat outside the bedroom to make sure we didn’t even talk to each other. I wasn’t used to going to bed so early at 16 years old, so after about 45 minutes, I got up to pee.
He interrogated me on what I was doing and told me I had three minutes to be back in bed, "or else"! So I never slept over again, but once she came to my house. This dude drove by at 9:05 pm and saw my bedroom light was on. Yes, he made her point out my bedroom window so he could check. Then he called my house and demanded my mom tell him why we weren’t in bed.
She lied and told him we were sleeping in the basement, and she was cleaning my room. Then she told him he better take off pronto, or she’d call law enforcement on him for scoping out her kid’s bedroom window.
Growing up, my wife’s family was incredibly close with another family of five siblings, and they did everything together, including holidays. After their father passed, my wife’s family helped raise the kids. Over time, the siblings each moved away, then the mother, until eventually, only one was left (M). M is family and still came over for all holidays.
M is a vegetarian/vegan, and he always brought a tofurkey and a side dish, so he was just the easiest guest to accommodate. In time, my brother-in-law and his wife had two kids and bought their own big house, so they invited us over for their first time hosting Thanksgiving. The rule? M was not invited because he was "not family". My wife wasn’t about to let him get away with that.
It caused a huge fight, and we ended up not going over there, so M wasn’t left alone. It became a fight every year until they finally stopped inviting us altogether. When M went to his wife’s family for Thanksgiving one year, we still didn’t go to my brother-in-law’s house.
So I used to live at my friend’s house back in 2019, and it was basically a free-for-all in there. Ashtrays were in EVERY room; I’m talking hallways, bathrooms, and kitchen. You could smoke anywhere, people could drop acid at any given time, and no one would blink. But the one time I killed a spider was the first and only time I genuinely offended my friend.
His parents were hippies, and he grew up respecting every single form of life. Having a fear of spiders, I didn’t have time to think; I only reacted with a hasty stomp, to which my friend walked in and exclaimed, "I CAN’T BELIEVE I ALLOWED THIS TO HAPPEN IN MY HOUSE"! He said that as we were literally ashing our cigs on the carpet, but I quickly learned my lesson.
It’s the ONE THING I’m not allowed to do in that household. I honestly had some of the best years of my life at that place, but I always end up having a chuckle looking back at that specific moment.
I dated a girl who was a bit younger than me (she was 19, I was 22). Her mom didn’t trust her to do anything, including being at home by herself, because she claimed her daughter "couldn’t be trusted". But she took it to insane lengths.
The first time I walked into their townhome, I saw three cameras between the kitchen, living room, and dining room. We went into her bedroom and started making out for not even two minutes before her mom started calling her.
She asked what part of the house we were in and insisted we go back to the living room because we needed to be on camera. Even though we obliged, her mom still sped the heck back home, so we couldn’t be alone anymore. But do you know what all that control in hopes of keeping her daughter "innocent" actually did? It turned her into a FREAK. It worked out great for me!
At least, until the time her mom came home inebriated and started screaming at my girlfriend for not doing a chore they discussed before I even came over. She then had the nerve to yell at me for not ensuring her daughter did it. As a 22-year-old, I was not having it; I basically told her she didn’t have a right to yell at me like that and that she needed to stop acting like a psycho witch because nobody wanted to be around it.
We then had to date in secret, which didn’t last long, and I haven’t seen or talked to her in years.
I was standing in a friend’s kitchen (we were eight) when I sneezed. I then turned and took a kitchen paper tissue from the roll, cleared my nose, and walked toward the kitchen sink door to throw it into the trash bin. My friend burst out, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING"?! I was like, "What? Throwing away the trash". He continued, "ARE YOU CRAZY?! SNOT PAPER DOESN’T GO IN THE KITCHEN TRASH! JESUS, WHAT IF MOM FOUND OUT"?!
I’d already thrown it away, but he quickly fished it out of the bin and flushed it down the toilet in under ten seconds. I knew his mom was a nasty ol’ battleaxe, but I had no idea how deep her will manifested itself in that sick house.
When we were 13, a friend of mine got kicked out of his house for a week, all because he’d stacked things wrong in the freezer, and some bread got squished. He spent the week staying at different friends’ houses each night until his parents let him come back home. The mom was super religious and tended to be pretty strict, but tried, unsuccessfully, to hide it when any of our group were at their house.
The stepdad wasn’t allowed to have much input when it came to any punishments because he wasn’t the bio dad. My friend and his sister were always punished pretty much immediately by the mom, and the stepdad would just kinda disappear. Regardless of the error, the punishments would build up until the mom would snap and say something like, "Get out of my house. I don’t want to see your face"!
She was definitely verbally and emotionally harmful, but I never saw signs of anything physical. There were multiple occurrences of other friends or me going to spend the night at their house and getting sent back home shortly after because she was in a bad mood and my friend didn’t have his room clean enough for her liking, ie, a plate and fork on the dresser from breakfast or a couple of clothing items on the floor.
My father-in-law forbade my wife—and tried to forbid my two children—from driving once they passed their driving test. The reason why was deranged. His wisdom was, "Put that piece of paper [driving license] in a drawer for five years" to reduce the amount of insurance they would pay. He spoke like he was passing down the knowledge of the ancients. Freaking idiot.
The weirdest rule I encountered was one where guests had to pay for their stay. The family invited me for dinner, then calculated how many minutes I was over and charged for my portion of food, drink, electricity, and water usage. Yes, they counted toilet flushing and timed me on hand washing. I could never do this to anyone.
My stepfather was very weird about food. I was a pretty light eater as a child and would eat a little of everything and still have a full plate at the end of the meal, but I’d be full, and my mum never had a problem with it as long as I ate something. After she married my stepdad when I was about seven, I had to eat everything on my plate.
Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way. I had eaten my fill of a meal one day, and he told me to finish my plate. I explained I was done, but he told me I’d eat that food until I finished it. He then took my plate, and I assumed I could be done, so I left. But at the next mealtime, I sat down to that same plate of food while everybody else ate a different meal.
This continued for two days as the food grew more and more disgusting each day with all the repeated microwaving. Then he decided that being around everybody else was distracting me, so every mealtime, I got sent with my disgusting plate of food to go eat with the dogs in the pet room at the back of the house on the little toddler table and chairs.
I think my mum ended up throwing away the plate after around five days because she told my stepdad that I’d learned my lesson, and she wasn’t about to let me get sick over it. He passed when I was 11, so maybe that’s karma, but I wouldn’t be the one to say it.
When I was a kid, my friend’s mom was a little nuts. She had a sitting room with a couch and a loveseat that nobody was ever allowed to sit on. You had to walk through it to get to the rest of the house, and it led to the kitchen and then the living room. She’d throw a fit if you sat on the furniture in the sitting room. I always felt like having such a nice room and never using it was such a waste. It would have been a perfect study room or reading room.
She also had other crazy rules, like punishing my friend when his little sister did anything wrong as if he was responsible for her actions and looking out for her.
I went to visit a college roommate’s family, and everyone had to go to bed at 8 pm because that was the youngest daughter’s bedtime. The kid was eight or nine years old. I laughed because I thought they were joking—and the reaction was chilling. The kid threw a tantrum that I wasn’t going to bed. They weren’t kidding. I did, obviously, but what the heck?
The next day the parents told me it would be best if I just headed back to college a day early. Yeah, no kidding, bye! My roommate thought I was the jerk. I laughed at her too.
One of my best friends growing up had super Christian parents. My group of friends loved playing Diablo 2. We would spend weekends at each other’s houses for LAN parties. But if we ever went to the super Christian house, we were not allowed to play Diablo 2 because it included the devil in the game. No matter how many times we explained that the goal of the game was to DEFEAT the devil, they would just dig their heels in even more.
I had a friend in fifth grade, and her mother was legitimately insane. She wouldn’t let her daughter come to my house because we had carpeting. She was convinced her child was allergic to everything, including dust mites/any innocuous dirt in carpeting. I think there was a sinister reason behind it.
I’m convinced she had Munchausen by proxy. The girl also developed an eating disorder. She was a dancer when we were kids, and her mother apparently monitored what she ate extremely closely. I felt so badly for her.
Extreme politeness. One of my friend’s moms had very strict rules about politeness. I once went to this friend’s house as a kid, and she offered me something to drink. I said, "Yes, please", and "Thank you" once she gave me the drink. The next day at school, my friend told me her mom was upset and wasn’t sure if I was allowed to come back.
She told me that according to the mom, I should have said, "Yes, thank you (for offering me this drink)", and then "Thank you" again after getting the drink. Both "Yes, please" and "Yes, thank you", are correct in my language. In the end, I was allowed to return to their house, but that’s a weird reason to be mad at a kid.
We also weren’t allowed to call something ugly or say that something tasted or smelled bad. Instead, we had to say, "I don’t like how it looks/smells/tastes". We weren’t allowed to use these phrases at all when she was watching us, ever. You accidentally eat some food that went bad? It’s not gross; you just don’t like it.
In college, I worked on a project with a girl who had to call her mother every time she relocated on campus. Like, whenever she left a location and then again when she arrived at the next location. So when she moved from the cafeteria to the library, or when we took a break to go get a coffee, and again when we left to go back to our dorms. When class started, when she left class, she had to call her mom.
I avoided her for the rest of college.
A friend’s mom had gone to Woodstock and never quite recovered. Her magazines said that processed food was bad, so she wouldn’t let my friend use the food processor they got for Christmas (I swear I’m not making that up). Having once heard "using the microwave" described as "nuking the food", no one was allowed into the kitchen while the microwave was running.
You had to set the timer, hit start, then run to the living room until it beeped. It gets even more insane. She also read that more people lost their lives from lightning strikes than bee stings (I don’t know if that’s actually true; she read all sorts of stuff, so who knows). She knew lots of beekeepers, and a couple of them passed from bee stings, so she inferred that perishing from lightning was somewhat common.
When a thunderstorm was blowing in—and in Southwest Missouri, that was all the dang time—she made everyone sit in the middle of the living room. It wasn’t enough to be indoors. You had to be many feet away from any closed window. My buddy practically lived at my house.
I passed out as an altar boy when I was 10 because of the Nebraska heat. It was easily 105° or more outside, but inside a church, wearing the altar boy robe over my clothes was way too much. When I got home after service, I was beaten for making my adoptive parents look bad and told that I was weak and pathetic. Then I was made to recite the rosary for four hours on my knees in that same summer heat...
Guess what? I passed out again. So I was sent to my room for the rest of the day and denied any food or water. There’s so much more I could tell you, but I would rather not. I try not to speak of the horrors I endured as a child growing up in foster and group homes in the Midwest.
I had a couple of childhood friends whose family had a weird rule: No drinking water during a meal. Their family also served incredibly big plates of food, which we weren’t used to, and the cup we could drink with after we were done eating was stupidly small. Another house rule was that no food could be left uneaten from the meal.
It was a good rule in theory, but us 7 to 9-year-old children were being served two to three adult-sized plates filled to the brim, plus dessert. The way that family ate was incredible. My brother and I loved going over because their house was amazing (we later found out their money came from their dad dealing illicit substances), but we hated their mealtime.
Our friends were also made to wait for us to finish eating by standing behind their chairs. Sometimes it would take us a couple of hours to somewhat finish, but most times, we couldn’t do it. It got awkward sometimes.
I dated a woman for a couple of months. Nothing seemed off or anything with her, but we took a vacation together where we visited both of our immediate families. At her parents’ house, we weren’t allowed to sit next to each other or stand near one another. Also, we couldn’t sleep in the same bed. I had to sleep on the couch, and she got the spare room. Their reason was that they didn’t want any "funny business" happening in front of them.
We were both 32 at the time…
The only class I was allowed to fail was English, for no good reason. I was not allowed to ask for anything at the store; doing so would result in me being yelled at for even asking at all "BECAUSE GODDANG IT, DO YOU THINK I’M MADE OF MONEY? WE’RE POOR! POOOOOOR"! The children were "only guests" in our parents’ house, but we did all the housework. I was not allowed to paint my nails until I was 18, but I could wear makeup at 16. Somehow painting my nails was "a step too far".
No guests were ever allowed in the house, so I never had friends over, ever. When I am at my mother’s house, I am not allowed outside AT ALL after dark. It is a safe white-as-snow wealthy suburban neighborhood. I am 18. It gets dark at 5 pm. You figure it out. I am allowed to eat pork and shellfish but not buy it (some weird attempt at keeping kosher)?
My mother puts a towel over one of the couch seats because the faux leather covering is peeling off. When my brother or I want to sit down, it obviously messes up the way the towel is laid down. My mom insists that we get up and fix the way the towel lies and that it must be perfectly laid all the time. So, the only real way to do that is to just never sit on the couch.
I’m beginning to wonder what’s the point of having the couch if we’re not allowed to sit on it.
My parents will swear up and down that none of these actually happened, but they didn’t let us watch Rugrats because the way they talk about adults is "vile". They picked me up from a sleepover at 1 am and whacked me on the behind in front of my friends because they found a picture of Britney Spears hidden under my bunk bed, which led to the "only Christian radio stations" rule.
They grounded me for a month for one episode of Ren & Stimpy, which led to the "no Nickelodeon, ever" house rule. Power Rangers was obviously straight from Satan, so that was out. I brought home some homework about evolution in seventh grade, and my dad burned it and took the ashes to my science teacher. This was when the "only God-approved science" house rules started.
The "don’t make a single noise after 8 pm, including the microwave beeping, ever" and "tiptoe so you don’t get interrogated" rules were unspoken but very well understood. They forced me to wear Jesus shirts to middle school with all my skater friends, which got me bullied for years, which led to the very obvious follow-up rule: If you are told it isn’t happening, then it can’t possibly be happening.
The list goes on...Religious folks are freaking weird.
My great-uncle only allowed one bowl, one plate, one spoon, one fork, one knife, one cup, and one light bulb in his house. He was married with three kids. He ate first, then the wife, then the kids by age. When he went to another room, the light bulb followed.
My ex had a boss whose wife would begrudgingly have little get-togethers a few times a year for the employees. She was a very unpleasant woman who gave unsolicited advice about marriage and kids. Most importantly, advice on how to be a success—like her! I sat there and went along with it because that’s what you do for your SO, but it was a chore.
The most ridiculous thing about her? No one was to show the family dog any affection because the dog was black, and she didn’t want fur on the hardwood floors. The poor thing was held captive in a cage and taken out to stare at, I guess. A young lab who was just starving for affection, and that witch was just keeping it captive.
God, I hope the boss ended up with the dog in the divorce, but I don’t think he got to keep anything.
When I was a kid, my best friend’s mom wouldn’t let us walk anywhere in the house except on designated paths. Supposedly, she didn’t want us messing up the vacuum trails left on the carpet after she vacuumed. Basically, she wanted her house to always look like it had just been vacuumed. But the carpet looked even worse than it would have looked had she just let us walk everywhere since there were very visible trails leading to each room and the couch and kitchen.
I was a kid, and my mom forced me to play with the weird neighbor kid because he didn’t have any friends. The kid’s mom was a super fat lady, and the dad was skinny as a rail and wanted to be a cop and did ride-alongs with them all the time, but he couldn’t even get a job as a security guard. My mom dropped me off at their acreage.
Several tedious hours later of this kid telling me about all the girls at school he’d had intimate relations with (we were like five or six), that kid’s dad gave the kid and ME a butt-whacking for riding my pedal bike on the "wrong side" of his gravel driveway. They then called my parents to pick me up because something was wrong with me, and I didn’t cry when he hit me.
At least I never had to hang out with that kid again.
From the age of four, my stepmother would make us leave the house right after my dad left for work. We would get a piece of bologna on bread and a cup of water in the garage for lunch and be allowed back inside right before my dad came home. It didn’t matter if it was summer or winter. It only changed when we were old enough to do chores. We had to have the whole house cleaned in less than two hours, and then outside we went.
Only my older brother and me, though. My younger half-sister was allowed to stay inside if she wanted. We didn’t know any different. Years after my dad divorced her when I was 15, I said something about it. That’s when the truth came out. He never knew. He was absolutely shocked and appalled. He asked why we never said anything. We just thought that’s how it was supposed to be.
She was evil, evil.
This is a rule that my former mom implemented that I felt was so cruel; it was like running a marathon without the lower half of your body. When I was living in her house, age 16, she had this dumb rule where if I wasn’t awake AND upstairs, either taking my medication or ready to take my medication, I would lose half an hour of phone privileges for every other minute I was late.
For example: If I woke up at 7:05, five minutes later than I was supposed to, I would lose an hour and a half of phone privileges AND two hours (the equivalent of two days because I had a limit of one hour a day) of computer privileges. Now imagine sleeping in until 8 am…Yeah, that’d be weeks and hours of technology, GONE.
I once accidentally slept in until 9 am because I forgot to set my alarm, and I started to cry when I realized how much I had lost the instant I woke up. Thankfully, due to how much I’d slept in, there was a lot of math involved and too much to calculate, so my "not" mom gave me mercy.
I babysat a family where the mom insisted that all food be chopped up as if it were being given to toddlers. Her kids were six, eight, and 11. They were all fully capable of biting, chewing, and cutting up their own food for the most part, but she was so terrified that they would choke, so it all had to be chopped up.
Her husband and the kids hated this rule and didn’t follow it whenever she wasn’t around, but once she found that out, she put cameras in the kitchen to watch whenever someone was eating. The results were disastrous. Soon after the cameras went up, she and her husband got a divorce over her crazy behavior, and they all moved away.
I wonder how the kids are these days.
I had a friend in elementary school whose mom was insanely protective of him. One year I invited him to a Funplex for my birthday, and she followed my parents in her car and camped outside the place to make sure he was there with us. Then she followed us to Dairy Queen and did the same thing. We eventually went back to my house, she followed again, and we were going to play with my new toys, but she ordered him into her car, and he did so without a peep.
We weren’t allowed to interact with anyone outside the family. Mom and Dad were afraid of liberals, communists, atheists, Satanists, demons, gay people, and most other religions, so they didn’t want to risk us being exposed to the notion of tolerance. In theory, there was an approval process to get around that rule. Basically, my parents had to talk to that person and ensure that they believed all the same things my parents did.
In practice, almost no one got through the process, and the few that did disqualified themselves almost immediately once the actual interaction began.
I have Asian parents. Here are just a few of the best ones: If I didn’t have a perfectly straight posture throughout the day, I would get punished. I had to learn how to peel, cut, and halve seeded grapes, among other crazy fruit tricks, so that I could "properly serve dessert". If you’ve ever needed to do this to hundreds of grapes, you’ll understand how incredibly difficult this is.
No internet time unless I practiced violin for at least an hour. No friends of the opposite gender could come over, no exceptions. So when I was partnered with a guy for my senior year science project, we had to stay late after school. I wasn’t allowed to go over to his house either, despite the fact that it was for school.
I could go on, but these are just some of the awesome ones I can remember right now.
I grew up with Jehovah’s Witness parents. I was not allowed to do anything. I wasn’t allowed to have "worldly" friends (anyone outside of JW), and outside of school, I was forbidden to have contact with schoolmates. If someone phoned the house, my father answered and told them not to call again. No organized sports, either—an extension of the "no worldly friends" rule.
I also couldn’t watch most TV shows, especially shows with "magic". The Smurfs were especially forbidden. In my congregation, the elders gave a public "talk" about how The Smurfs were demonized, as a crazed woman in the congregation had reported to them that she had seen The Smurfs on her child’s bedsheets "come alive and start dancing".
Being the child of Jehovah’s Witness parents SUCKS.
I wasn’t allowed to leave the house on my own before the age of 14. I wasn’t allowed to stay out past 7 pm until I moved out of the house. I wasn’t allowed to go out with girls because "I might do something irresponsible". I wasn’t allowed to leave the house with anyone my parents didn’t know because I might do something irresponsible or get killed.
I wasn’t allowed to use matches because my mother feared I would set the house ablaze. I had to speak formally when addressing my parents; not doing so was disrespectful. I couldn’t leave my room until I finished all of my homework (10-page paper? Better work fast). I could keep going; my parents were predator drone parents.
My parents were hoarders—and it was a living nightmare. We were not allowed to throw...anything... away. Expired food? Nope! Egg yolks when the recipe calls for only whites? SAVE THEM OR ELSE. Newspapers from 10 years back containing the obituary of a high school friend’s mother? Do not touch that with a 10-foot pole! There were constant reminders of when we were wasteful: "Where did the toilet paper go?! You don’t need more than two-ply"! "Shut the fridge door. You are letting the cold out"!
Or, "We do not touch this thermostat. Your father will stock the wood stove for the 1,200+ square foot house in zero-below weather every two hours through the night, and you can put on a pair of mittens if your fingers are cold as you try to write your scholarship essays for college in your bedroom lit by candle stubs from 1942".
My parents had a neighbor two doors down from them who made their kids leave the inside of their house by 8:00 am in the summer, and they were not allowed back inside until it was bedtime. But it gets even more bizarre. Around lunch and dinner time, the mom would put food out on a table in the front yard for them to eat. In the winter months, after they got home from school, they stayed outside until it got dark.
They were just a very odd family all the way around. It didn’t surprise anyone when the oldest daughter got pregnant at 15 and moved away.
All throughout elementary school, I remember my dad being hard-headed—but it was about the oddest things. I was only allowed to attend one birthday party each calendar year. For my own birthday, if I wanted cake, I couldn’t have a party; if I were to have a party, I couldn’t serve cake. Since a birthday party without cake is no party at all, I never chose this option.
However, the cakes and party dilemma were only an issue on the "10s" birthdays, so 10, 20, etc, as other birthdays didn’t warrant cake or parties. Thus, I only dealt with this issue once growing up. I also wasn’t allowed to buy toys or (later on) video games. I could play them, however. No explanation was ever given; these were rules because my dad said so.
Then one day in high school, the penny dropped. As confirmed by my mum, we had gone through a few very rough years (financially), and my dad decided he would rather have me think of him as "a giant meanie head" than grow up feeling like a "poor kid". He grew up poor. In hindsight, I’m dumbfounded that I didn’t connect the dots sooner.
During the first and only visit to his house, I was hanging out with a friend who was about twelve years old. His younger brother (who I’m going to guess was about six years old) asked their mother the following question: "Mommy, can I have some milk, please"? The mother said, "Come here, baby boy", and she picked him up. What happened next scarred me for life. He then pulled her shirt down. She corrected him by pulling her shirt up, and he started drinking.
It is vividly imprinted in my mind because, as a twelve-year-old child, this was one of the hottest and grossest things I could have ever conceived of, happening directly in front of me. Luckily, I was able to keep a straight face, and it only lasted for about twenty seconds. My friend acted like nothing was amiss, and he just kept on with the conversation, which horrified me but also helped me pretend it wasn’t happening.
So, I guess a lack of rules was the weird rule? It just seemed like an odd thing to do in front of a first-time visitor. I will also say that I was blown away that a six-year-old was still breastfeeding, and it has stuck with me for many years until this very post at this very moment. Apparently, according to a two-minute Google search, nursing until that age isn’t all that strange around the world.
At the age of 16, I wasn’t allowed to have my mobile phone (cell) in my bedroom, which wasn’t so bad; I got used to it. But there was something that I didn’t know. It was that my stepdad read through all of my texts at night—even the ones from my own dad and my ones to him. My stepdad used to be my dad’s best mate until it became clear that he and my mum were having an affair, so I think a rare text to my dad referring to my stepdad as a "twit" was fair enough.
When confronted the next morning about the text and asked if I had anything to say for myself, my reply was, "Yeah, what the heck are you doing looking through my phone"? I was then kicked out of that house, and I very happily moved into my dad’s. So, in the end, it worked out really well.
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