They say that "Mother and Father know best." Is that right? Surely, any parent would like to think that they are right and most may assume that a child's aversion to authority is a natural part of growing up. But what if Mom and Dad's parenting skills really are the stuff of nightmares?
People of Reddit looked back on their childhood and shared how their parents terrorized them with rules that did nothing to help them with their developmental growth. These rules were just downright unreasonable. Content has been edited for clarity.
Surprised She Didn’t Try The “Kids Are Starving In Africa” Bit
“My grandma had a ‘no leaving the table until you eat your food’ rule. Pretty reasonable, except she would prepare your plate, often with more food than you wanted.
One time, she made me a chicken salad sandwich, but the chicken salad had turned. She wouldn’t let me leave; she just sat across from me to make sure I didn’t get up until I ate it. This went on for hours until my mom got off work and picked me up.
It wasn’t even that strict a household, I think she liked the control and this was one of the few areas where she could exercise it.”
Her Home Was Terrifyingly Clean
“A friend of mine got grounded if she had to miss school for any reason. This includes doctor’s appointments, illness, and field trips. She wasn’t ever allowed to go on field trips, she had to stay at school to learn. Keep in mind, her parents were well off, so it wasn’t money related. She had to make straight a’s, she got ground one time for making a low A (95% I think.)
Her house was the Twilight Zone. Her mother grew up next door to my mother, so we were friends because, well, our parents made us play together and we made the best of it. Their house was always spotless, I spent many nights there and never saw so much as a bowl in the sink. I still have no clue were they kept the dishes or pantry food.
Nothing was ever left out. Her mother had two sets of sheets for their beds, one was the decorative set, left on during the day, then right before bed, the sleeping set was put on, and in the morning, the sleeping set was washed. Their pjs were washed with those sheets, so nothing was ever left out. She replaced pillows every week. She also carpet cleaned and scrubbed (with a brush on her hands and knees) the floors every day, in every room of the house. The mother did all of the house work, the two girls didn’t even have chores.
As an adult I often wondered if this was because she had a germ issue. Anyway, I spent a lot of time there and, the parents were the nicest people you could ever met, even when one of the girls got in trouble, the mother never raised her voice, my friend said she just didn’t yell. For the most part, both of the children were well behaved and good kids, except when they came to my house because, well, we weren’t being watched, so we did teenage things. Nothing really bad, staying up all night, watching rated R movies, things they wouldn’t dare do at home.”
Joining The Rat Race
“As soon as I turned 14, I had to have a job. I literally got grounded the day after my birthday because I still didn’t have a job.
I was grounded for 2.5 weeks before McDonalds agreed to hire me. Of note, there isn’t a lot of employment opportunities for 14 year olds in high school with no experience and no drivers license. Weird.”
“They Didn’t Even Have Their Own Bedroom”
“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 box I mentioned was one covered milk crate each, stored beside the couch and covered with a blanket during the day. I felt so bad for them.”
“We Were Supposed To Be Nice Girls Who Only Thought Nice Things”
“This was something I only really came to understand after I’d left home and gotten some perspective on my childhood but, basically, 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 wasn’t even about not getting violent or something. There was no question of that. 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.
There would be enforced smiling, being made to say, ‘Thank you, daddy, for making sure I don’t waste money on the thing you promised I’d be allowed to buy,’ or whatever was necessary to make sure that all the emotional autonomy and ‘willfulness’ was absolutely stamped out of me. 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.
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.”
“She Obtained Restraining Orders On Us Coming To The House”
“My stepmother tried to boot my brother (12) and me (14) out of the house because she didn’t want us living with her. My dad realized if that happened, he would end up dealing with child services, so he ‘compromised.’
As the female, I was allowed to live 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 have 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 HER 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 brother had done something to set her off and she had chased him up the street with a broom, then came back in and trashed my room and the van with an axe.
There were 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! My dad paid for an apartment and we both lived there. He would visit once a week to take us food shopping. This lasted until I was 16 and someone tried to break in while I was home alone and I rang my 17-year-old boyfriend in a panic. He came over with his dad, who sussed things out pretty quickly and I went home with them. I stayed with them for the rest of high school and college as his girlfriend initially and then as a roommate.
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 stepmother stayed married for 20 years. He left her last year. They are divorced now and he’s about to marry a Chinese lady I’ve never met.”
The Homeschool Kid
“I had a friend with SUPER strict parents. He was homeschooled until his junior year of high school when they decided that he needed some socialization. He was a cool dude, but his parents were insane. They didn’t let him stay the night over anywhere but home and had a curfew of 9 pm.
We had just graduated high school and our group of friends decided to have a long weekend of camping before we all went our separate ways. His parents said no. We explained to him that he was 18 and a high school graduate on his way to college. He didn’t actually have to ask for permission. He was still afraid to ask. I had him call his mom and had him hand over the phone to me.
I was very polite and said something along the lines of, ‘Hello, we’re all going camping up in Easton for four or five days. We’re just going to leave from here and we already have everything we need.’
She said he wasn’t allowed to go and I said something along the lines of, ‘Ma’am, you’re misunderstanding me, he wasn’t asking your permission. We’re just informing you as a courtesy.’
She threatened to call the police so I gave her my cell and said feel free to give them my number. We went on the camping trip, he went to college. He’s married now and has a couple of kids, so I think he more or less survived his crazy parents.”
“Why Did None Of These Teachers Spot The Abuse?”
“I was not allowed to use public restrooms. I ‘ruined’ our Disney trip because of how many times we had to go back to the hotel (not on site) when I was 6 years old. And I quite honestly had accidents when I was far too old to do so because my parents had my teachers reporting bathroom use to them, too. There was no place I could safely use the restroom other than home without getting into trouble.
Finally, I got to use public restrooms without punishment when I went to college. I got pretty good at hiding restroom use in high school because the school refused to report it to my parents. Why did none of these teachers spot the abuse?”
“I Would Never Hear The End Of How Terrible I Was”
“I was an unwanted child that my parents decided to keep out of pity, as I was always told growing up.
I wasn’t allowed out of the house for anything other than school or family events. I couldn’t see friends. I wasn’t allowed a phone until 16, which was only for emergencies and checking in when I got to school and when I left. Everything had to be spotless and my bed had to be made by 7 am. If I did something they didn’t like, I would never hear the end of how terrible I was.
Finally, when I was 17, I snapped when my mother hit me in the face with a rolling pin. I pushed her against the bench and punched her in the face a few times. My father came in hearing all the noise and charged at me. We wrestled and tried hitting each other a bit until I got on top of him and grabbed a plate off the bench and smashed it on his head. I got up and ran out of the house and went to a friend’s house.
That was the last I ever saw of them. I just got on a bus and never went back. They got my new cell phone number seven months after I left. The moment she said it was her, I told her I hoped she and my father would both die and to never contact me again and hung up.
It’s been two years since that call and I’ve had people tell me they asked for my number, address, and stuff, but the only people they know who know that stuff are people that know to some degree why I hate them.”
“She Believed All Magic Was Demonic”
“My mother became religious after I was born. I was the youngest of three kids. When I was born, my brother was 6 and my sister was 3. My mom started going to church and I was not allowed to watch or play anything involving magic because she believed all magic was demonic. I wasn’t allowed to watch any Disney movies. My favorite show as a kid was Dragon Tales and I would secretly watch it when my mom was at work.
Growing up, my siblings watched Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, etc., and I was forced to sit in another room and not watch it. I was always angry when I got banished to the other room while they got to watch them.
My mother even allowed my brother to play World of Warcraft and knew there were magical elements to the game. I wasn’t even allowed to play Pokémon because she assumed they were magical creatures. This was allowed because they were already a little older when I was born so my mom didn’t want to go through the hassle of making them stop what they’re used to.
My first Disney movie I saw was when I was 15 after my father passed and she tried cheering me up with Aladdin. I finally saw Harry Potter when I was 21.”
“They Tried To Ban Me From Reading Books”
“NO BOOKS. Seriously.
Both of my parents have really bad eyesight, so naturally, I have bad eyesight as well. Unfortunately, my parents firmly believe it was my fault for having bad eyesight, so they started off by banning anything electronic: computer, TV, video games, etc. They even banned a toy dog that required batteries to operate. I’m still baffled by that logic.
I was forced to write everything by hand until middle school. When my eyesight continued to deteriorate, they started locking me on the balcony for an hour every night so I could ‘look far away’ and ‘better my eyesight.’ We lived in Illinois, which gets horrific weather. Did my parents care? Nah. I still had to spend a miserable hour outside every night which, by the way, never improved my eyesight.
They reached their extreme when they tried to ban me from reading books. It seemed like they wanted me to do math problems instead, but if we’re talking about my eyesight, what’s the difference between a math book and any other book? It didn’t last as long as they probably would have liked, mostly because I had some great teachers who started lending me books from their personal collection once they found out about my situation.
The only upside is that I’m amazing at speed reading from all those times I wanted to read but had to hide it from the parents.”
“There Was No Escape”
“I wasn’t allowed to watch TV. This was not a punishment. I just wasn’t allowed to watch TV in general. Apparently, it lets in the devil. The second I, as the last kid, moved out, they started watching TV all the time.
My parents were a part of a Christian religious offshoot named ‘The Move’ or ‘The Move of God.’ It was founded by a man named Same Fife, and is continued today by a man named Buddy Cobb.
Some things ‘The Move’ believed in that we had to endure as kids: women had to wear dresses, no TV/video games, forced participation in religious ceremonies, little to no contact with the outside world (all my friends were Move-ites), and exorcisms. The school I went to was part of ‘The Move’ group, too. There was no escape.”
His Dad Was Always Holding His Hand, Almost Literally
“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 6-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.”
“They Control Us Until We Get Married And Make Babies”
“I wasn’t allowed to go out because they had to work the next day. Even if it was a weekend I couldn’t go out if they had to wake up early the next day which was the case every single weekend. Eventually, they let it go and in high school I was able to go out, but curfew was 9 pm.
Oh, and the bigggg one: not allowed to move out until I get legitimately engaged.
I’m 30. I do still live at home, but no rules or regulations. I have my own life and I can go and come as I please, but I can’t move out until the significant other pops the question. It doesn’t bother me too much. I’m saving money and I get along fine with the parents now. I’m slowly working on convincing them to let me get a place closer to my new job since my significant other and I are pretty serious.
His parents are 100% worse. He’s 29 and literally cannot live without his mother breathing down his throat. He still can’t sleep over people’s houses. We make travel plans and his mother forces him to cancel and guilt trips him that he never spends time with them. They literally own three homes that he helps them maintain and spends time with them at. He’s got it worse for sure. Try dealing with the rules all the way into adult life.
For insight, we are both Cuban/Spanish/American. We went to the same high school and met in 2004. We both live on the same street. Our parents are classic Hispanic strict. They control us until we get married and make babies.”
“I Wanted To Explore What Had Been Made So Shameful”
“I wasn’t allowed to have tampons because ‘they’re for harlots’ and no padded bras (and I mean padded like so your high beams don’t show, not push up) because you guessed it, ‘they’re for harlots.’ Not to mention, my mother refused to buy any bra that was bigger than her size (B cup), because she simply couldn’t process or deal with the fact that her young daughter was stacked.
For the record, I was about 10 or 11 when I started needing a bra and sanitary products. Her comments were really inappropriate and weird.
Unsurprisingly, I ended up being a loose teenager because as soon as I had freedom, I wanted to explore what had been made so shameful. And guess what, I’m not ashamed! I love my womanhood and hope I one day have a daughter to teach about all things womanly instead of shaming her for them.”
“He Had To Blame Me Instead Of Himself For Being An Awful Parent”
“For me personally, nothing outrageous from my parents. They didn’t really let us go anywhere until we were late teens. They didn’t want us watching Ren and Stimpy either, but we did anyway.
I had a couple of friends though that did have it bad. They were both in super religious families, which bums me out as a religious person because it makes the religious look insane.
The first guy wasn’t allowed to watch any movies that weren’t G-rated and wasn’t allowed to listen to pretty much any music. When he met us in middle school, one friend made him a mix CD of AC/DC, Van Halen, Ozzy, the works. He’d tell us later that he would hide it in other CD cases and listen to it as quietly as possible. He had no headphones and wasn’t allowed to be home by himself. They also wouldn’t let him have any job other than a job where they also worked, which was a nearby state resort park.
Of course, when time came for college, he leapt at the first opportunity to live on campus. But, being completely unprepared for that level of social freedom overwhelmed him. He felt like he had to play catchup for everything he missed up to that point. He ended up getting into partying, substance abuse, heavy drinking, and underage girls. He failed out after three or four semesters. Go figure.
I met his parents a couple of times and, of course, they’ll blame anyone but themselves. When he was moving from the campus dorm to an apartment, I went with him back to his folks’ house to help him get some things he’d left there. I was waiting in his room while he got something out of his garage when his Dad came into the room and started belittling me and accusing me of being a terrible influence on his son, turning him into an addict and leading him away from God.
I could only laugh because this guy obviously didn’t know me at all or he would’ve known that I was probably his hugest straight edge friend. I didn’t smoke at all and had rarely drank (at the time) and spent most of my time at home. I was a far more boring person. But, of course, he had to blame me instead of himself for being an awful parent. I don’t hang out with that guy anymore so I don’t know much what the situation is anymore with his parents.
The second guy had similar restrictions as the first. Thing is, this guy is WAY into Magic: The Gathering, I guarantee you way more than anyone you know or can think of. But, he had to keep it a secret from his parents. He kept a good chunk of his collection in the trunk of his car (the rest at friends’ houses, never his own) and got into a nasty car wreck. When he came to in the hospital, the first thing he asked was if the car was OK. He was really asking about his collection, but couldn’t say outright.
How he kept his addiction secret from them for years is beyond me. All he ever wanted to do was talk about Magic. Every conversation, no matter how you opened it, or if you had even played the game at all, shifted to Magic eventually. When his wife became pregnant, he gave me a couple of lines about that, but immediately hurtled into getting into the Top 8 at a recent tournament.
I think he had to replace his collection a few times because his parents would find it and throw the cards away or burn them. So, I guess he would just pretend he was done with the game or whatever. Then, he would give money to friends to buy boosters for him and pretend to be at a friend’s house, but be at the local card shop instead.
His parents always wanted to know where he was, too. I never played competitively like he did. But a few times I would hang with him at the shops while he played and I’d check out comics or whatever. His phone would be blowing up constantly, even just half an hour after leaving the house. ‘When are you going to be home? How much longer are you going to be out?’ Stuff like that.
One time, we were at a tournament and it ended up being way later than we expected. It got to being near midnight, but he was doing pretty good despite some very longwinded games. His mom would text and call constantly. He would always answer, but that didn’t stop his folks from reporting his car stolen.
I just don’t think he would ever confront his parents about anything. I guess I don’t blame him. One time after hanging out for the day, he dropped a mutual friend off at his house and when turning his car around to get out, he overshot a little and got the car stuck in a ditch. It was actually incredibly minor – no damage to the car, it just simply got stuck in a way that a couple of guys couldn’t push out. Not a big deal at all and could’ve happened to anyone.
He absolutely refused to call his dad for help. After about an hour of trying (I suppose one of us could’ve called our own dads or another friend but, whatever) he eventually caved and called his dad. When he showed up, he just berated the crap out of his son for being an idiot and a terrible driver.
All that said, I have the upmost respect for the guy. He is insanely goofy, but he provides for himself and his wife and kids. Thankfully, he lives away from his folks now and is seriously the ultimate good sport. Absolutely nothing ruffles that guys feathers. I’ve never seen him react badly to some ribbing and never has a bad word to say about anyone, unless they suck at Magic.
There’s plenty more when it comes to all that concerning both of these guys, but this story is long enough.”