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Strict Parents Make Sneaky Kids

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"[Your daughter] already doesn't trust you because you stole her memories. And that, I recall, was because you were trying to protect her. Maybe if you hadn't protected her so much, she would know more about what is dangerous, and what isn't, and be a little less secretive—and less reckless!"

Most parents will do anything to protect their kids. Naturally, this means setting some restrictions. Sometimes however, they can become too over-protective, albeit well-intentioned, to the point of giving them almost no freedom. In these scenarios, the child might obey their parent's every rule. Other times, they just become better at hiding things from their parents. This can go to even higher extremes in fiction, where a child may very well have a secret other life as a Demon Slayer or magical warrior, though their secrets could also be much more mundane. In any case, the child is keeping secrets from their over-protective parent.


Is often Truth in Television. Compare to Preacher's Kid. May result from My Beloved Smother, Fantasy-Forbidding Father, Knight Templar Parent, or Safety Worst. If the parent eventually discovers their child's secrets, it may result in Anti-Smother Love Talk or Calling the Old Man Out. For a tamer variant, you've got Dating What Daddy Hates.


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    Fan Works 
  • Much of why the plot of The Outside happens, though, it's not Ryuuko's parents but, her agoraphobic Ill Girl overprotective older sister, Satsuki, who forbids the former from going outside, so, to experience what she calls the "Outside", she has to sneak because Satsuki would have told her "No." if she asked (and she did when Ryuuko tried).

    Films — Animated 
  • Coco: Miguel's family is very intimate and loving, but music is strictly banned. This causes him to hide his secret passion for music from all of them.
  • In The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning, King Triton bans music from the kingdom after it indirectly causes his wife's death. As a result, Ariel goes behind his back and starts attending a secret music club. He doesn't handle it well, which leads to Ariel Calling the Old Man Out.
  • Implied in Tangled. Rapunzel actively hides Pascal from Mother Gothel, likely for fear that if discovered he would be taken away from her.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Dead Poets Society, Neil Perry's father talks to Dean Nolan and Neil is no longer the assistant editor for the school annual. Later on, Neil forges a letter that makes it look like his dad and Dean Nolan gave permission to participate in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at nearby Henley Hall. After Neil's father finds out, he orders him to quit the play, but Neil finds a way to perform in the play, believing his dad is taking a business trip to Chicago, only for his dad to arrive at Henley Hall and drag him home to enlist him in military school. Feeling as though he has no other escape, Neil is Driven to Suicide.

  • The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency: In the first book, a rich Indian man tries to strictly control his daughter's life, and when the daughter starts sneaking away, he suspects she's seeing a secret boyfriend. He hires the detective Precious Ramotswe to find out who this boyfriend is. Mma Ramotswe finds there isn't any boyfriend: the daughter is just sneaking away to make her dad think she's seeing someone, as an act of rebellion. So Mma Ramotswe reports what she found to the dad, and urges him to just give his daughter some more autonomy, and he agrees. And at the very end, Mma Ramotswe discovers the daughter played her like a fiddle, and actually does have a secret boyfriend.

     Live-Action TV 
  • Lane Kim on Gilmore Girls has a whole secret life her extremely religious Education Mama knows nothing about. Over the years, Lane evolved an impressively complex system of hiding places, alibis, alliances and various schemes to allow her to talk to boys, listen to secular music, and wear modern clothes without her mother's knowledge.
  • In the first season of Stranger Things, Mike and Nancy's mother bans them from going out after daylight hours when Will disappears. Mike gets around this by sneaking out in the middle of the night to look for Will with Dustin and Lucas. Nancy lies and tells her mother she's going to a school rally for Will, actually going to a party with Barb.

  • Romeo and Juliet: Lord and Lady Capulet are both completely uncompromising with their daughter, trying to force Juliet to marry Paris whether she likes it or not. This provides further motivation for her abrupt elopement with Romeo, and ultimately leads to her death, after which they finally see the error in their ways.

    Web Comics 
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Reynir's parents don't like the idea of him leaving home, to the point that they lied to him about the extent to which he was allowed to travel internationally by the law until one of his brothers set him straight. The first time Reynir went to another country, he left his home during the night. The second time, he claimed that he was simply going to visit another town. That happens to have a port.

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Toph's parents were over-protective and strict with their "helpless little blind girl"...which resulted in her becoming the reigning champion of an underground earthbending arena behind their backs, and ultimately running away to teach Aang earthbending. It takes her saving her father and his employees from a cave-in and an iron mine for him to recognize her worth (note that this is after she invents metalbending and helps take down the Fire Nation).
  • Legend of Korra: Inverted by Toph, who wanted her kids to have the freedom she never had. As a result, one of her daughters falls in with a criminal gang and the other a By-the-Book Cop.
  • Gabriel Agreste from Miraculous Ladybug is an incredibly strict and controlling parent who completely micromanages his son's life while having little part in it. He's completely oblivious to Adrien's secret life as a superhero fighting supervillains of Gabriel's own making, and also his frequent excursions as a civilian that involve him sneaking out of the house.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Connie has strict parents who punish her harshly for rule-breaking, and as a result she kept her activities with the Crystal Gems a secret, including her sword-fighting lessons with Pearl. In the episode "Nightmare Hospital", Connie's mother finds her sword and is horrified. Connie confesses that she's been fighting monsters with Steven for the past year, finally telling her how much she hates her parents' over-protective and restrictive nature, shocking her mother. In the end, Connie agrees to stop keeping secrets from her parents and her mother agrees to loosen up on the rules, and they hug it out.
      Connie: Really, Mom, I know to do this!
      Dr. Maheswaran: No you don't!
      Steven: Yes she does! She's been training! She wasn't playing around with that sword, she was taking classes learning how to use it right! Even though she's always studying or practicing tennis or doing her homework, she still works really hard to be a good sword fighter.
      Dr. Maheswaren: No. No, no, no, no, no, no. I know my daughter. I know what she's doing every second of the day, all her activities, all her internets. I know she's definitely not some sword-fighting hooligan!
      Connie: You don't know me at all!
    • In season 5, we discover Pink Diamond had a similar relationship with her fellow Diamonds. Despite being much more assertive than Connie, Pink was still undermined by Yellow and Blue, considered to be her main parental figures. As a result, she is forced to keep her alter-ego as Rose Quartz and her visits to Earth, which is strictly forbidden by the Diamonds, a secret. When they refuse to let her give up her colony and end up taking control of the planet away from her because she won't complete it, Pink ends up secretly betraying them and faked her death with Pearl's help. Ultimately, the Diamonds are still unaware of Pink's true fate for thousands of years until the end of "Reunited".


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