Growing Up With Strict Parents


Samantha Olivares-Ramirez, Special Features Editor

To be honest, I don’t really know when I realized it for the first time. Maybe it was when I wasn’t allowed to have an email account until I was 13. Or maybe it was when I asked for what seemed to be the twentieth time why I couldn’t go to any of my friends’ sleepovers (and still can’t now). Having strict parents is a constant struggle, but in more ways than you may think.

Growing up, I thought that my parents’ behavior was normal, that the rules they had for me were the norm for all parents. As I got older, I slowly realized that this was not true at all. Their rules grew increasingly unfair to me as my friends and classmates got more and more freedom. Over time, these rules negatively affected my friendships and my relationship with my parents.

It turns out I’m not alone. I  interviewed several students about this issue, and all of them agreed that it wasn’t until later on in their childhood that they realized just how different their parents’ rules were. This often comes as a shock, especially as middle-school aged children who thought being different than everyone else was absolutely the end of the world.

Freedoms that most people take for granted are often out of reach for the children of strict parents. “I can’t make decisions on who I can see, when I go out and what I do,” says a senior who asked to remain anonymous. “Even at 18 years old I have to ask permission to go out and spend my own work money on boba.”

Senior Moira Campi has a similar situation. “I also can’t have male friends, unless my parents meet them at least three times before, and I can’t hang out with them without another girl or trusted friends there too.”

Of course, not everyone with strict parents has the same experience, but there a lot of similarities between each case. Rules about who and when and for how long you can go out are a common staple among strict parents, making it one of the things that people associate with them the most.

Now as a high school senior, I basically get the same freedoms as most people did in middle school. Despite this, I am not as baffled with the rules as I was before. I try to put myself in my parents’ shoes and see the situation through their eyes. This helps me a lot with coming to terms with the annoyingly common phrase, “They only do it because they love you.”

I now understand that restrictions and structure are important when raising a child. I am more understanding of their motives, and their actions are not as arbitrary as they once seemed, but this does not mean that I am on board with all of the rules that I have to follow.

A freshman, who also chose to remain anonymous, shares my perspective.“I feel like I’m a better person because of their rules, and I want to teach them to others, but they have to be equal for both siblings,” she says. “It isn’t as much the rules, it is more that they can sometimes be one sided and so different than my peers.”

Most of the things I have to do today have practical uses and valuable lessons, such as doing chores and having better time management. Although I am not a huge fan of doing things like the dishes and making all of the beds, I can understand why I have to do them.

Others have learned very different lessons from growing up with strict parents.“I think I’m a lot more sneaky and a much better negotiator because I am always trying to push the rules,” says Campi.

There are many things that can be taken away from having more restrictions to follow than your peers. Some are along the lines of what Campi has learned, while others can be helpful in the long run. Rules and expectations that train you to be a more responsible person can be very annoying in the moment, but in the end you might be able to see that they were actually kind of reasonable.

Others, on the other hand, not so much. There are even those few rules or punishments that are based on a valid concept, but are blown way out of proportion. An example of this in my life would be a certain simple mistake committed in mid-October which has resulted in me not having my phone to this day.

These rules often take the form of tedious tasks which, if they are not done, could have disastrous consequences.

“I have to text my mom every time I leave and arrive at a place when driving, send her the address of where I am, and give her the phone numbers of who I’m with,” says anonymous senior.

Personally, I have tried to make sense of all of the guidelines I have to follow, trying to understand them from every way I can think of. Maybe my parents feel the need to be strict because I am an only child, or because I am a girl (which is a whole other issue entirely). Or maybe it’s because of their cultural background and how they were raised. For all I know, it could be a combination of all of these, but no amount of reasons will make me fully understand the need of a punishment that is three months long and counting.

In the future, those with strict parents usually agree that they would be less strict with their own children in order to have a more easy-going relationship them.

Living amidst all these rules, it’s difficult not to wish that your parents would be more laid back, especially when there are people all around you with very lenient parents. Luckily, there are still those few people that also have strict parents and understand your struggle.