"My parents were horrible parents in general, but the most bizarre rule that my siblings and I put up with was that we weren't allowed to sneeze multiple times in a row. One sneeze? Fine. Another sneeze after some arbitrary number of minutes later? No problem. Two sneezes in a row? Get yelled at for being unhygienic (even if you covered your nose and mouth properly) and for having no manners. Heaven forbid if you sneezed thrice or more in a row.
I have seasonal allergies and one time, my dad was in a particularly bad mood and caught me in a sneezing fit and grounded me for a week."
"My mom wouldn't let me open a new milk without her permission or open anything, really, without it. Like we would have an extra milk in the garage fridge and I would use the rest of the milk inside. Instead of a normal household where you could just get more, I had to call her and ask. So that meant if she didn't pick up, then I would have to wait for her to call back. The first time I realized this wasn't normal is when I friend went to open a new gallon of milk and I got super anxious and was like, 'Dude, you have to call your mom right now or she'll freak out.'
She was like, 'Umm, my mom will be okay if I need a glass of milk.'
It suddenly clicked that my mom was a control freak."
"Nobody in my house was allowed to get the mail except my dad. It doesn't matter what time he got home, leave the mail in the mailbox. He would also personally open all the mail, no matter the recipient. When he went on business trips, my mom would be allowed to go get the mail, but it had to immediately be put on his desk in his office. He would always know if anyone touched it."
"My mom was absolutely obsessed with clean feet. Every day before school, she would make sure we got in the bath and cleaned our feet. I know most of you people are like, 'Yeah well when I take a shower, I'm already standing in soapy water, so good enough,' but that attitude would get your face slapped off around my mom.
She'd have the bath full of scolding hot water every morning and the first thing would we do, before eating, before showering, before changing into our clothes, is dip our feet in that hot water. Then my mom would load our feet up with this really strong smelling soap from some specialty store or something, because I've never seen it anywhere else, and she would scrub every square microinch of our feet with this stiff bristled big toothbrush thing. Maybe it was for cleaning horse teeth, I don't know.
It hurt so bad. The water was too hot, the soap stung, and the brushing was too intense. I never got used to it, but I couldn't talk back or avoid it either. If I tried to get out of it or complain about it, BOOM! I was grounded from TV, the computer, friends, and books.
It wasn't until I left for college did I experience what it was like to not thoroughly clean my feet every single morning. It felt liberating. I even walked around without socks sometimes. I still had my feet scrubbed hard when I came home to visit, though. Only those times it felt good as if they needed a good cleaning.
Even now when I see my mom, she wants to clean my feet. It's pretty great actually. Imagine going to the dentist to get your teeth cleaned, but it's for your feet instead."
"My mom was paranoid everyone and everything was a kidnapper. She hated the mailman on our route. So, when I was young, 3 years old, my mom told me it was illegal to be outside when the mail came.
Around 11:15 every day, I'd see that truck coming. I'd hightail it inside the house, horrified I would be spotted.
Fast forward 30 years. I still genuinely feel a tinge of panic in the smallest recesses of the back of my brain when I see the mailman arrive. Only now it's overpowered by the excitement of my latest Amazon package I really don't need."
"My mom and I didn't get along and she did this count to three thing. I used to get in trouble for stuff I didn't do, so I got sent to my room a lot. I would then refuse to go there so she came up with this rule where she would add an extra hour every time I talked back after she got to three.
I ended up spending eight hours in my room once because my sister lied about me doing something."
"It was never explicitly stated or anything, but I was never allowed to have a bad day, or feel upset about anything.
I was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety during high school. I got home from the doctor, and my mother told me that she couldn't love me anymore and that I didn't have a right to feel like that.
I would get screamed at almost every day about how ungrateful I was and to 'snap out of this phase'.
She forced me to give her my passwords for Facebook, Skype and pretty much everything else, and would religiously log on every night to read through my private messages to see what I was talking about.
I had to have all electronic devices confiscated after 9 pm, this caused a number of late assignment submissions at school.
I ended up burying my mental illness for a few years and didn't let my parents anywhere near what my feelings were doing.
While I'm still fairly unwell, I'm doing a little better."
"My dad wouldn't let me go out, at all. The only time he would let me leave the house was to walk to school and even then, he had to walk me to the entrance. I was teased for it all the time. Due to my isolated upbringing, I'm very socially awkward and he wonders why I won't go out and find myself a partner. He never raised my sisters that way, just me.
He also wouldn't let me chew gum. He would flip out. He has physically pried my mouth open to take the gum out.
He is such a bizarre, controlling man."
"I was grounded from the time I was 8 until I moved out. My stepmom would always find another reason to extend it, no matter how small, even just my bookcase being messy. At some point, it just became normal that I wasn't allowed to do anything and my dad didn't bother to fight it. And grounding for me didn't just mean I couldn't play video games, it was everything. I had no access to any kind of tech (she took away my alarm clock when she found out I was using the radio on it), I couldn't go outside, I couldn't watch TV, I couldn't be up past 8 pm, I couldn't leave my room without a good reason, I wasn't even allowed to be in my sister's room or talk to her at all.
I lost my real mom at 5, and my stepmom came into the picture within the year. I was still nowhere near recovering, and felt like she was trying to replace my mom, so of course, I wouldn't call her 'Mom' or anything like that. She and my father married when I was 7, without asking me or my sister (3 at the time). My little sister was only 1 when my mom died, and didn't feel bad letting our stepmom be 'Mom.' She didn't even know anything else. My stepmom loved my sister and hated me, and I started doing worse and worse in school, giving my stepmom reason enough in my dad's eyes to keep me grounded that whole school year. It just never stopped after that.
When I was 9, she found a cover to an adult DVD I'd found in the trash and beat me with the buckle end of a belt. My grandparents (mom's side) got pictures of the bruises but were too afraid my dad would move me across the country to do anything. It was enough that she was never physical again, but she just started making me write sentences after that. It started out as 'I will not lie' 100 times, but that didn't keep me busy long enough, so she kept adding to it every time I did something she didn't like. The worst was when I was 14, and I ate some stevia packets from on top of the fridge and told her I didn't know where the empty packets came from out of fear. 'I will not lie, I will not steal. God hates a thief and sin is death,' 10,000 times. Due by the end of the month, in December. While I was writing them out, she came to my door, didn't say a word, and just set her belt on the doorknob.
That was about as bad as it got, and honestly, I consider myself lucky it never got worse. I went to my grandparents' house almost every weekend, and they tried to spoil me as best they could. They weren't rich, but they loved me and gave me everything they could. I wouldn't be anywhere near the kind of person I am today without them, and I'm so thankful they were a part of my life. They taught me how a family is supposed to show love, since my mom couldn't, my stepmom wouldn't, and my dad didn't know how."
"We had to ask permission to go into the refrigerator.
There was an incident once where someone poured themselves a glass of Kool-aid without asking. It resulted in my dad sitting us kids around the dinner table for an hour-long interrogation. We all knew that whoever admitted to it would get their butt whooped, so no one spoke up.
Eventually, my dad got sick of grilling us, so he threatened us saying that he'd just whip all of us if no one admitted it, because that way he'd know he got the right one.
My dumb selfless butt, who did not do it, ended up lying and taking the fall, my 8-year-old brain rationalized that my step siblings would hurt more from a whipping because they'd never been hit by him before. I told myself it wouldn't hurt me as badly.
My dad took me in the other room, bent me over the bed, and laid into me so hard the headboard made a dent in the wall. I couldn't sit for hours. Right after that, he told me he'd known the whole time who did it, and he'd only whipped me because I lied to him.
It sure showed me not to try to be noble again."
"My mom went a little wild when I left for college. I'm the youngest by five years and my mom's always had a lot of anxiety about my safety and my life choices, and just way too involved in everything to do with me. However, I was a really good kid in high school, mostly because I was an introvert who didn't like my classmates and spent all my free time reading or rehearsing for a play. So the crazy my mom possesses did not come out fully until I had moved away and she could not keep tabs on me.
She - without my knowledge - installed a tracking device into my car and preceded to flip her lid when I went to visit a friend in Santa Cruz. After that fiasco, rules were established. I was not allowed to drive out of the county my college was located in unless it was to come home. I was not allowed to drive after 10 PM, I was not to have anyone in the car with me, and I was not to drive over the speed limit (somehow she would get alerts on her phone that told her my MPH).
We discussed me giving the car back to them and purchasing one myself, but she told me that she would consider that incredibly disrespectful and if I did that, she would stop assisting me with tuition. I was very lucky my parents were willing to pay my way through school and support me, but my mom definitely used that to her advantage to control my behavior as much as she could throughout school.
We had a pretty strained relationship because of it for a few years. She got relatively normal as I got older. I'm 28 now, and the crazy only comes out occasionally."
"The rule was that my mom had to pick out my friends because she didn't want me hanging out with anyone who wasn't Catholic or was into Satanic content.
The problem is, to my mom, EVERYTHING was Satanic. So basically just about everyone I brought home was influenced by the Devil because their parents let them listen to modern pop music and watch Pokemon and DBZ. Visiting their homes was strictly forbidden on account of the fact that the only opinions she wanted me to have were hers and hers only. It also didn't help when I wanted to play at the park with my friends and my mom would literally follow us and watch us the entire time. Eventually, no one wanted to be my friend anymore and that was when the bullying began. This torture went on for seven years. Then my mom wondered why I didn't have any friends and was bullied for such a long time. It was a miracle that I even had friends when high school came along.
Needless to say, I'm not a Catholic anymore and my mom and I are not on good terms. There was a ton of crazy rules living with my parents (mainly from my mom; my dad only followed to avoid arguments), but this rule was the one that affected me the most."
"We weren't allowed to touch or use anything that wasn't specifically ours. It was kind of frustrating by the time I was a teenager, I couldn't do any of my own laundry or anything because I wasn't allowed to touch the washer and dryer, so I always had to wait for my mom to do that stuff even though she was working full time. Which meant I often didn't have clean clothes.
Now that I'm a parent, I understand better, but I still think my mom was a bit too strict about that stuff, but kids can be really destructive. She would also throw out our stuff if we didn't pick it up, any kind of mess would just really stress her out. I can't imagine throwing away my kids toys as a punishment."
"My parents were super laid back but my mother's stepdad, Larry, could be a huge jerk. She told me that one morning, as a kid, she was given a chocolate covered donut and, as a kid will do, decided to start nibbling off the chocolate. Larry decided this made him angry and asked her promptly to stop eating the donut like that. 'Oh just let her eat the donut how she wants,' said my grandma, who was washing dishes. My mom continued to eat chocolate around the edges. Larry then shot up, shouting, 'KNOCK THAT OFF,' and pitched his morning cup of coffee across the kitchen where it exploded on the wall next to my grandma.
I'm thankful that Larry was not in my mother's life for long."
"I went over to my friend's house in Long Island. I don't have my own car yet, so my brother-in-law and sister dropped me off. I moved to a different part of Long Island about a year ago, so I don't have a ride back home like I usually did back when I lived in Queens. I asked my friend if he could drop me home. Initially, he said yes, but as we were all ready to leave to go home, my friend informs me that his parents have a tracker on him and he can't drop me home.
I had no problem taking the train back home, but I was so perplexed when he said it as if it was normal. I knew his parents were strict and really wouldn't let him go anywhere when we were kids, but the fact that he's still subjected to this, to the point where they placed a tracker on him, made me incredibly sad on my way home."
"A strict parent maintains standards of behavior which they also apply consistently to themselves. A strict parent would value and reward honesty, humility, leadership, politeness, respect.
I myself am a strict parent. It is an enormous pain in the butt because I'm nowhere near that disciplined or moral. But, when I pretend that there is a system, that there is fairness, that there is sanity, I find myself living up to it, and then it is me giving my child a good foundation in life, preparing a person for a world that is genuinely unkind and unfair. You've got to be the change you want to see.
The problem with it is that I am pretending there is any sense to how you're treated by others. I see senseless violence and cruelty everywhere, rampant contempt between people, sexism, racism, madness. Despite this, I tell my kid every day about respect, about courtesy, about consideration, and I hold this person to high standards of comportment. If you insult someone, you apologize. If you hurt someone, you had no right to do that, you try to make it right; you acknowledge other people; you respect that they have needs; you don't needlessly inconvenience adults who are trying to function; you don't make work for people; you don't treat people like they don't matter.
Meanwhile. other kids are screaming bloody murder in the supermarket, clawing at cereal boxes, flinging themselves violently to the floor causing injury and tripping adults, pulling all the carefully folded clothing off the display in the mall, throwing sand in each other's eyes at the playground, stealing each other's toys, and I see their hapless parents drifting after them murmuring about 'being nice'.
Toothless. Unwilling to be the bad guy. Allowing their kids to abuse themselves, each other, and strangers, in the name of love and mercy. It doesn't feel loving to me, nor merciful. I make sure, every day, that my child knows the feeling of being loved. Of attention, of care, of mattering. Not the words 'I love you,' not the grabby hugs and the desperate kisses that I see mothers, in particular, insisting on. There's no love in endlessly required declarations of love, demanding touches. I find it humiliating and rude. A child isn't your teddy bear. That's a person. They should initiate these acts if they want them. My child feels the love in a hundred ways, the being tucked in, the shirt buttoned, the hair smoothed, the body washed, the warm home, and the clothes, which are comfortable and clean. Their work is praised, their effort rewarded. That is me setting very high standards for myself. I work hard and I put the comfort of my child high up on my priority scale.
To be a strict parent involves immense personal sacrifice and demands a relationship of mutual respect. There's nothing evil in having rules. The rules need to make sense. These rules abusive parents have don't make sense. There's no evil in the parent being in charge. You can't leave toddlers to cross the street alone. Someone has to be responsible. I'm responsible. These parents are not responsible. They're abusive, authoritarian parents. If you ask me, they aren't parents."
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