1. No cell phones at the dinner table
Granted, when I was in high school this was a much easier rule to follow because I had a brick-like cell phone and texting wasn’t really a thing yet so if anyone was going to contact me it would be through a phone call. Still, even calls weren’t allowed until after dinner was over. It was annoying when a friend called and I couldn’t even see what they wanted until the table was cleared, but in retrospect that was really the only daily time we all had together. Those are the times I remember, where I learned stories about our family, where I picked up on adult things as we talked about the news, the de facto bread and butter of our family bonding time.
What you do every day matters more than what you do once in awhile. A small dose of daily family time was more formative for me than occasional family vacations together.
2. Mom and dad must meet a boy before you’re allowed to date him
There was no rule I so frequently plotted against — how embarrassing! I would go to great lengths to try to talk them out of having to meet a boy I was barely sure liked me, and I did see some in secret a few times but inevitably, they had to pass the parent test. Now, they never rejected anyone. They asked a few difficult questions but generally they were welcoming and it wasn’t that embarrassing.
What actually happened was that knowing someone was looking out for me, knowing someone cared about who I was dating prevented me (at least subconsciously) from making a lot of awful teen girl dating decisions like dating someone out of high school or someone who’d show up smelling like weed.
3. Kids older than 13 do their own laundry and pack their own lunches
I was very put out by this rule. I felt like a parent’s job was to take care of their kids and I was becoming a pseudo-orphan left to fend for myself (I was 13, the dramatic response was expected). However, neither of these tasks were very hard once I learned the basics and when I went to college and realized how many people didn’t know how to wash their clothes or not start a microwave fire with Easy Mac, I was thankful.
Parenting isn’t about making your kids happy, it’s about raising kids who can be self-sufficient when they are adults.
4. You must have a religious education
Religion was very important to my parents, and it was never important to me. However, I will enthusiastically admit that I got a much higher quality education than my public school counterparts. Judeo-Christian history influences just about everything in the world around me as a westerner, and I feel like I have a leg-up learning about most things because I’m so familiar with it.
I’m no longer religious but education is never a bad thing. Learning about one culture’s history, philosophy, and values helped me learn about other culture’s history, philosophy, and values.
5. Parents will give their opinions on what you say on social media
I didn’t have a Facebook or a Twitter until I was out of college, so I wasn’t really answering to my parents anymore. However, they would still comment on what I was sharing — and I was sharing dumb, 22-year-old party pictures and the like. At first I told them it was none of their business but they said no, “you’re our kid, it’s our business.” Their argument was that if I couldn’t discuss it with them like an adult, I shouldn’t be doing it. And they were right, they weren’t shaming me or guilting me for doing things they didn’t like, they were just looking out for me and offering advice about the consequences of what I was doing, or at least the consequences of publicizing it all.
Having an open conversation is more important than conceding to feelings of embarrassment.
6. Treat all adults with respect
This was an unpopular rule with me because I felt it was arbitrary, why are adults better than kids just because they’re older? But I got in trouble when I didn’t follow the rule so I learned to address adults as “sir” and “mam” and how to exchange pleasantries and to always act with extreme respectfulness when interacting with an authority figure like a police officer. Years and years later I know far too many people who do not know how to interact in professional situations, they simply don’t know how to make small talk or speak to brashly or casually and end up making a bad impression. I don’t care anymore about whether people “deserve” my respect, it’s far easier to just act respectfully towards each person I meet and be a pleasant and interesting person to be around. It doesn’t hurt with meeting people or job-hunting either.
Even if a kid feel silly learning how to behave formally, these are invaluable life skills that will help them in their future life.