It became apparent to me very early on in my school career that my family was unlike others. We didn't have a set time for dinner every single day, and it seemed weird to me that some of my other friends would have supper at 6pm SHARP and be in bed by 8:30. And that they were allowed to wear shoes in the house.
But then again, we had some unspoken rules in our home that just weren't broken. We couldn't play pop music loudly, video games were strictly played on the weekends, and you could never, ever, watch anything on TV that could be remotely smutty — like even if people were kissing on screen. And musicals and sitcoms couldn't be watched when my dad was in the room, this included Disney movies. He wasn't about that (though he softened up with age, I still hate musicals by virtue of conditioning).
And while I feel like I've come across some weird rules whenever I visited a friend's house (corn on the cob had to be shorn off onto a plate with a butter knife, not eaten directly), some of these crazy house rules that popped up in the comments section of this wonderful AskReddit post has got me thankful that I grew up around comparatively normal people.
1. The tough guy.
My friend David was a tough guy... which 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 four 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 the s--t out of 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 s--tload that day.
2. Diaper time.
Growing up, myself (and 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.
3. Use Grandma's bathroom, get banned.
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.
4. Guess mom didn't want them messing up the house.
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.
5. The psycho furniture preserver.
One of 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 round 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 and instead walking straight to where I wanted to be. She would literally check for footprints on the carpet.
6. Smoothie cups are for smoothies only.
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.
7. The door's locked at night.
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.
I think I was like 8, so I don’t know [what] was involved.
This was the '80s so it wasn’t as frowned upon. Plus, as many of you say, sometimes there’s a reason for it. I didn’t know these kids very well at all and didn’t get to know them beyond this weird thing with the doors.
All I remember was that the door was locked at night once they were in for bed. I remember asking about the bathroom and I feel like she was just like, we go before bed. I always woke up in the middle of the night to go so it stuck with me.
She obviously saw nothing weird about it.
8. Babysitter made kids sit on the stairs.
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 f--king 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 and started talking for what seemed like forever, of course, we would get to sit on the couch. Only years later did I realize how weird that was.
9. You can't have two doses of sugar.
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 powder sugar covered waffles that day.
10. Plugs are off-limits.
I had a friend growing up who wasn't allowed to plug anything in, so basically anyone under 16 wasn't allowed to touch plugs at her house. I think we were 10 and I was definitely allowed to plug and unplug things at my own home, so this was really baffling to me.
11. No drinking anything with dinner.
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.
12. The family that locks babysitters in their home.
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.
13. Grandparents who charge for water.
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 remembering him saying he'd have to pay $1 for a cup of water.
14. The germaphobe.
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.”
15. There's a strict food order.
My grandparents had a very specific order that food should be eaten. We’re a big English family and tea would be served at 5pm or so, after lunch at 1pm. Plates and dishes would be placed on the dining room table all at once, but 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 s--t, 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 2pm. Anarchy.
16. Guests do not pour their own drinks under any circumstances.
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
17. Would rather her husband die than make a mess.
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.
18. One tub of water for the family.
Stayed with a neighbor during a family emergency — estranged grandparent was deathly ill far away and parents had to make some "oh crap" arrangements for child care. Neighbor had five 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.
19. Must puke outdoors.
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.
20. Another no-drinking-during-meals family.
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.
edit - wow, I didn't expect this many responses! They are wonderful people - not odd or anything like that. They never made me feel like I couldn't have a beverage while eating. I even had my own special glass to use. :-) It was just something that their family had always done.
21. DON'T TOUCH THE DINING TABLE.
You are never to touch the dining table with your hands or arms, however slightly or briefly.
You are to sit straight up on furniture. You will never put your feet up, sit sideways, or lay down.
You will absolutely never nap on the couch. You may sleep in your bedroom at night, and that is it.
I don't like visiting my aunt's house very much.
EDIT: 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.
22. 7 p.m. bedtime...at 14 years old.
Had a friend that had to go to bed at 7 p.m. 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.
23. No meat poopers.
This dude that managed local bands had a rule that only vegetarians could poop in his toilet. Find somewhere else to poop if you eat meat.
24. Music? With words? Are you mad?
My dad had a strict rule: no music with words.
I'm still wondering how Beethoven's Ninth ended.
25. Bedtimes and only one trash bin.
My parents, for what it's worth, made me go to bed at 7 p.m. 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 p.m. 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 centre 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 round 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 12yo?? This was the most embarrassing, awkward s--t ever. Not to mention when we had guests around, 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.
26. The single, communal towel.
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 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!"
27. The garage house party.
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.
Holy moly some people are insane.