Parents: A Users Guide. Part 6, The Strict Parents.

Will never be heard to say, “Do what you like. It’s up to you.”

Strict parents’ expressions 1# What on earth are you doing?

2# I cannot believe you just did that!
#3 Right! No spends, no computer, no phone for a year!

Another way to describe strict parents is bossy. As far as they’re concerned, you and your brothers and sisters are raw military recruits and they’re the sergeant majors who have to knock you into shape – not literally, of course, that’s against the law, although prior to the 1950s, a little light thrashing could easily have come your way because strict parents (which was pretty much all of them,) had a whole range of punishments with jolly descriptions that we’d now call common assault. Below are some examples:

A clip around the ear = Nothing to do with hair ornaments. It means a sharp, painful smack on, or near, the ear.

Six of the best = The best sounds promising, doesn’t it, until you discover it refers to being hit across your palm with a cane six times. Hard.

A round with Tommy Tickler = Again, sounds like it could be fun, but in reality it’s being hit on the backside with a gym shoe in a way that’s anything but ticklish.

Phew! Bet you’re glad you missed those.

Of course, there are other punishments parents can employ because, let’s face it, they’ve got the power. They can stop you: going places, using electronic devices, having your spending money etc. and while some parents might just threaten, strict parents follow through. Always. And it’s pointless to beg, reason, or threaten right back, because that’s their excuse to ramp up the punishments. Seriously, some prison inmates have easier lives.

What can you do? You could do as you’re told, but that would make you middle aged before you’re twelve. So the answer is, you have to become very devious and develop a split personality.

At home you are obedient and a carbon copy of your parents’ opinions and activities – thus lulling them into a sense of false security. In no time at all they’ll genuinely believe you’ve just popped out to the library/chess club/art gallery/chamber concert.

Meanwhile, to the outside world you’re a wild child who hangs around the skate-park, bowling alley, shopping mall, disco and pool hall. At school, teachers dread having you in class and you can be as cheeky as you like, because there’s no way on God’s green earth your folks can imagine you being anything other than obedient, so will defend you to their last breath.

Just be very careful you don’t get found out. Good luck!

Do you, or did you have strict parents? How did you cope? Comments and tips welcome!