Ever wondered about weird house rules – especially when you’re a kid? Did you scratch your head over how your parents, or friends’ parents, ever came up with this stuff or thought it would really make a difference to who we become?
Here are nine weird house rules that somehow made sense to my (much older) parents.
I’m curious what you think, how your weird house rules match up, and if you think they impacted your life.
Parents and Kids Can’t Make This Stuff Up!
Do you think you’re a strict parent? Were your parents tough on you? Most likely, many rules your parents imposed on you during childhood were not passed on to your own children.
Or were they?
If my parents were still alive, they would be in their early eighties. They also were both raised in small, conservative Midwestern towns in the 1930s and 40s. Being raised by older parents, I always felt like my life was a bit different at home, compared to my friends with younger, more progressive parents.
There were many things my mom prohibited that my friends’ parents never seemed to mind. Can you spell RANDOM?
Random (Weird) House Rules
- Never close your bedroom door. If we were changing clothes, we were allowed to close the bedroom door, but only for a few minutes. I think Mom must have had an alarm wired to the door because if it was EVER closed for more than 15 minutes, she would barge in and “check in on me.” If the door was LOCKED – angry screaming ensued.
- No “Three’s Company.” This show was banned in our house. I’m not even going to try to explain why but I think it had to do with the “premarital co-ed co-habitation” issue. Or, maybe Mom just felt that three’s a crowd, not company. Solution? Watch the show at a friend’s house. The same applied for R-rated movies.
- No blue jeans. Mom grew up in an era when women wore hats, gloves, and dresses for a trip to the zoo, the grocery store, or anywhere. Therefore, blue jeans were NOT allowed at all during childhood! I once had a birthday party at a horseback riding ranch when I was 12, and was forced to wear purple slacks. I was mortified. In high school, jeans were permitted but still frowned upon. My sister recalls that we were allowed to wear jeans once per week.
- NEVER say “that sucks.” Once, as a kid, I made the mistake of saying “that sucks!” in front of my mom. Horrified, she gasped, “do you KNOW what that MEANS when you say something “sucks?” I wasn’t sure. Sucks eggs? Sucks what? She informed me what it meant and I never used the term again until I heard someone say that something “sucks dead birds.” I use that expression to this day.
- No skipping Mass – for ANY reason. It didn’t matter if we were sick, or on a beach vacation, or had just attended church with a friend. We were not allowed to skip Mass with the family on any weekend, for any reason. Mom always knew where the closest Catholic church was located, no matter where we vacationed.
- Being sick or in a bad mood was prohibited. Speaking of being sick, we weren’t allowed to get sick. Sometimes, of course, illness would just HAPPEN, beyond our control. It was inconvenient at best and traumatic at worst. We were either vomiting, feverish, and on our way to see a doctor, or we were 100% fine. Pain or fatigue meant we should “get up and move around.”
- No TV in the bedroom. I remember once I was sick (of course it had been proven that I was REALLY sick with a doctor’s diagnosis to prove it). Mom didn’t want me out of my room for fear I’d spread my germs. I begged her to roll the extra television into my room just for the day. That was not to be…
- Never call a Boy on the phone. We were not to phone a boy under any circumstances. The boy would call me if he wanted to talk to me. In fact, Mom would have been just as happy if I never liked boys or wanted to date at all. And she certainly didn’t want me to “go steady” or have a boyfriend. For Mom, I shouldn’t exclusively date before 30. Why “limit myself” with so many other proverbial (teenage) fish in the sea?
- No posters (or anything) on the bedroom wall. Most of my friends had shrines to the teen idols of the day – Rob Lowe, Duran Duran, and Madonna plastered on their bedroom walls. I had one bulletin board where I was finally allowed to pin up some personal items. But otherwise, to see my room, one would never have known a pre-teen or a teenager lived there.
More Words of Wisdom, Sort Of
So, where did all these random rules leave me? Am I a better person because of them? I highly doubt it.
I don’t think I have any deep-seated aversions to, or penchants for, any of the forbidden items on the list.
However, for many years I did have difficulty making decisions. So many things were decided for me, and choices made for me, that it made it more challenging to figure things out later. I was often told how I should feel – happy, healthy – and how I should think, as well as how to behave.
On a positive note, I really appreciate my freedom to make choices now, to live my life the way I choose, and to be able to take control of even the minor details in my life. Even as an adult, many of my mom’s beliefs continued to cloud my views until after she passed away. Although I share many of her perspectives, there are plenty of my own with which she wouldn’t agree. I now know that’s okay.
A few last thoughts?
An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy. -Spanish Proverb
No matter how old a mother is, she watches her middle-aged children for signs of improvement. -Florida Scott-Maxwell
Any quirky rules your parents have and how did it affect you? Have you passed down any of these rules to your children?
© Andrea Clement Santiago
Andrea Clement Santiago is a career advice columnist, writer, and communications professional. She has contributed to books, journals, websites and has made media appearances on television and radio in her capacity as a healthcare career expert. She writes about her experience as an adult orphan on her blog, No Parents No Problem. Learn more about Andrea here. Follow Andrea on Twitter at @AndreaSantiago, or connect with her on LinkedIn.