Traditions and habits are ingrained into family units and they can be hard to break. And if you grow up with those things and they seem completely normal, you really wouldn’t they were strange until someone points it out…and then you question your entire life up to that point.
What the hell were my parents thinking?!?!
Did your family do weird things that you didn’t find out were “different” until way later on?
Let’s enjoy these interesting stories from folks on AskReddit.
1. Come on in!
“My parents always had an ‘open house’ policy, we lived in a tiny house but friends were always welcome to drop by. My friends were always welcome to stay, the house was always full of people.
Holidays, big meals with lots of family and friends.
Went to my in-laws (strict appointment only) meals are had in silence even at holidays and in 20 years I have never been allowed upstairs and neither has my daughter.
She’s 17 now and just doesn’t visit them anymore because they are so weird. Husband avoids them as much as possible.
I’m not sure if they are the odd ones or my parents are?”
2. Not normal.
“Oh definitely casually telling my friends sexual conversations that my mom and I had.
Turns out my mom was over sharing my whole life and I never knew it was weird.”
3. That’s kind of gross.
“A family towel.
We had a towel rack, and we’d just hang our towels. It wasn’t designated to anyone in particular and every few days we’d just replace the dirty towel with a clean one.
In college, a friend came to visit our home when she very politely asked why we all use the same towel. It just never occurred to me that that was weird.”
4. Time to light up.
I didn’t do it, but my gf at the time had a veritable panic attack when we had my mother over for dinner. It was the first and only time my mother came to visit.”
5. Oh…I see…
“I asked my friends parents why there was only one mum.
Thought everyone had two. Not the smartest of moves in the 1980s.”
6. Eating habits.
“Cook almost exclusively boxed/canned foods and nothing fresh or from scratch ever… I genuinely had no idea that other people didn’t eat this way until I went to college.
Friends and roommates commented on the strange assortment of boxed foods I had— like instant mashed potatoes or bags of instant soup— and how disgusting they looked. I was mortified to learn that my whole life I had been eating really gross and processed foods, all the whole thinking they were normal and real.
Ever since then I make a conscious effort to always get a lot of produce at the grocery store (something we never had when I was growing up) and also to learn to make new things from scratch whenever time allows.”
7. Sleeping arrangements.
“My dad always slept on the couch. Always.
Mom slept by herself in her room.
My sister and I never thought anything of it until we were old enough for sleepovers and our friends were totally confused by it.”
8. Strange times.
“I grew up in a bit of a weird household: Mom definitely has some sort of paranoid/histrionic issues and mental illness runs in her side of the family. so there were a lot of anachronisms in my childhood. here are a few:
You can never open windows. or the blinds on the windows in bedrooms. keep them shut or people can see into the house and will steal you.
Didn’t know salt could go on food until college. mind = blown
Being verbally/minorly physically abused by your parents to “toughen you up” because you didn’t have siblings who would have done so.
Thinking it was normal for moms to get so mad at you for using up the last of the flour or turning on the oven?! that they would throw things at you, call you selfish and ungrateful, hit the walls, say they wished they never adopted you…etc… only to tearfully apologize hours later and say that they were a horrible mom and you had to console them into being ok at like age 15
Not being allowed to leave the house almost ever except for sports and one activity with a friend on weekends. if i did leave the house i had to text or call to check in at 30 min increments or risk being yelled at mercilessly. took me a while to break from that one as an adult. still feel like i have to text my mom sometimes when i’m going to the grocery store.
I managed to get physically independent at around 20, i’m 23 now, about to start a masters and i’m almost fully financially independent/in therapy lmao.”
9. Chicago people freak out about this.
“Putting ketchup on hotdogs in Chicago.
All my life I only ate ketchup on hot dogs but if you live in Chicago that’s apparently a big NO NO.”
10. That’s odd.
“The children were treated as basically kings and the older you got the less important you become. i’m 15, when i turned 12 and could potentially get pregnant, my mom began looking for boys who i could potentially get with and have 4+ kids with. thank fuck for planned parenthood and coming out as a lesbian.
my nephews and nieces are the top priority in every situation, no matter what. i remember when the family dog died and we weren’t allowed to cry or even appear sad because “it might make [niblings names] sad.” my 90 year old grandmama is visited by anyone in the family maybe one a year.
when i was 14 i got with this girl and i visited her and her parents and they respected me? and my feelings? and they said “goodnight i love you!” to both of us when they went to bed? and asked me if i was okay? and helped their older family members? her and I aren’t together but i miss feeling like a mother loves me.”.
11. I like this idea.
When I was a kid, after dinner and homework, we’d all go to the living room with our books and just sit together, silently reading. Socially inept me brought a book to my first sleepover and waited patiently for Reading Time; never happened.
I was so confused when their parents just went to bed when it got late. I couldn’t even find the family bookcase.
It goes without saying I was not invited to many sleepovers.”
12. Sealed with a kiss.
“I kiss my father on the mouth just as he had done with his father and his father before him. It wasn’t in any way abnormal until I moved to North Carolina when I had my first teaching position.
My co-workers were so absolutely dumbfounded that I would kiss my dad and were appalled… For me, and I still do it, it was always normal.
My dad didn’t ever think it was abnormal. When I mentioned it to him he thought for a moment and said to me, “You know what… It’s how my dad raised me too. I never thought of it as weird.”
He also kissed his granddad. I never met mine so that was never a thing for me.”
13. Tight-knit family.
“I’m the eldest of 7, and we’re a super close-knit family, and always have been. Even when I was 1 and my first sister was born, as far as I was concerned she was my lil baby doll and I loved taking care of her.
We went through a lot as a family around the time the youngest two (twins) were born because of medical difficulties. So I used to sometimes write little letters of encouragement to my siblings, telling them I loved them and to hang in there. They could reread them any time they needed it (this slightly predates laptops/phones being ubiquitous).
My sister and I went to a sailing camp late high school, and we ended up on different boats. We were expecting a working sail school, but a lot of the other kids were apparently expecting more a cruise. They were mostly really snobby, rich kids from NY and they were kind of assholes. They didn’t want to lift a finger to clean, cook, or actually keep the boat moving in the right direction (had a few scary experiences as a result).
But my sister is pretty sensitive, and apparently she was being outright bullied on her boat. One of the older boys was literally calling her ‘Thunderthighs,’ and she was by no means overweight (though it would be just as bad if she were). Apparently she cried every night when she was alone.
We didn’t see each other very often, and only had a few minutes to hang out when we landed on islands. She didn’t tell me specifics the first time we stopped, but I could tell something was off and she wasn’t having fun, so when we were back on the ships, I wrote her a note of encouragement.
Someone asked what I was doing, and I casually said “writing my sister a love-note,” and he was like “OH. are… you in love with your sister?” and it was the tone of voice where you’ve just realized you’re talking to an insane person and you’re trying to stay cool to assess how insane they are. It was shocking and kind of humiliating, and it was so out of left field I didn’t even know how to respond for a second.
Especially because I’m also female, and girls/sisters can be more affectionate with each other and it’s not usually weird.
I don’t know why, but it still really bothers me his mind immediately went to that place, and everyone kind of avoided me slightly more after that. I was pretty over the trip at that point so I didn’t mind everyone leaving me alone.”
14. Sounds fun!
“Dancing around our christmas tree. Not in like a satanic ritual sort of way, only during the holidays and your usual christmas songs are sung.
Did this every christmas throughout my childhood on my moms side, apparently it’s a Danish tradition I believe. I brought it up to my friends one time and they thought I was insane.
Seemed normal to little o’ me.”
15. That’s my Mom!
“That my mother would scream and yell every single night in her sleep.
I legit thought it was a normal thing “My Mom has nightmares!”
16. Go get the bag…
“We had a bag in our deep freezer where we kept kitchen scraps until garbage night.
It was pretty genius, but creeped some of my friends out when we would raid the hot pocket stash.”
You never really know until you know, right?
Now we want to hear from the readers out there.
If you have some weird stories about things your family did that you thought were normal, tell us all about them in the comments!