I’m pretty new to this mom thing; I haven’t even reached the 5-year mark yet. Still, social media interactions have led me to believe there are a few non-negotiables in parenting culture. Hilariously, one of those must-do’s seems to be lying to your kids.
Parents lie for a multitude of reasons. Some are good, some are a little suspect. But we’re still lying.
While I get ready to pass my parenting initiation test, let’s review some common lies parents tell their kids.
1. We have eyes in the back of our heads.
I’m not sure if all parents do this or if it’s mostly a woman of color thing. But my grandmothers (yep, plural) told me they had eyes in the back of their heads on multiple occasions. It made sense to me and it seemed like the only explanation for the reliable inkling they had when I did something wrong.
2. This food is too hot for you, Baby!
Kids beg for everything. They’ll take your clothes, they’ll take your joy, and if you let them, they’ll steal your soul. All right, that last one was a little dramatic (but only a little).
But they’re definitely going to try to take your food. Who among us hasn’t told a little white lie that our meal was too spicy or too hot (temperature wise) for our child to have some?
* Raises both hands *
Whether we admit it or not, the whole Santa-Claus-delivering-gifts thing is probably the most popular parenting lie in the history of lies. Santa never brought me any gifts growing up. Therefore, he must not be real. Hmmm… or maybe I didn’t get any gifts because I was always in trouble with my grandmother.
4. If you sneeze with your eyes open, they’ll fall out.
My dad is very much a jokester. Of course, that made me uncertain about whether or not I can believe a story he told me about a college professor who sneezed with his eyes open and had a pop out in front of the class.
I don’t have any intentions of ever sneezing with my eyes open. But even if you could, why would anyone want to do that?
5. If you go outside with wet hair, you’ll catch a cold.
Old ladies love to give folklore-based health information. The connection between wet hair and colds is definitely an example of this. I don’t care if this is a lie, I don’t like being in the cold with wet hair anyway. Plus, I have low porosity hair so it stays wet forever! Lie or not, I still don’t go outside with wet hair.
6. Strangers hold all the danger.
I completely understand why parents tell children not to go off with strangers. The world is a wild and scary place. But adulthood and social media have shown us that strangers aren’t really that bad. And a lot more often than I would have expected, they turned out to be a lot nicer than the people you already know.
7. If you turn on a light in the car at night, BAD things happen.
To this day, I get anxious when turning on the center light in the car. And you will never catch me driving with the light on.
I’m curious about the origins of this lie though. When you’re driving a car, that light can be distracting. Maybe it’s out of concern for the driver’s vision?
But, again, you don’t have to worry about me finding out the hard way.
8. Watching too much TV will damage your eyesight.
I remember being told watching too much TV can hurt your eyes and a few similar things like sitting too close to the TV can make you go blind. Lie or not, if you get too close to the TV it will give you a headache. I’ll pass.
9. Swallowing gum = Seven years of digestion
Remember when chewing gum was banned in school and the only way to get rid of it quickly was to swallow it? I’ve never swallowed gum but a lot of my friends did, and I wholeheartedly believed they would be digesting that gum until college.
Even now, I am still afraid of the “it’ll take you seven years to digest gum” concept. I know this has been debunked since then — but I ain’t swallowing no gum.
10. You can do whatever you want when you’re older.
Did anyone else’s parents imply unrealistic degrees of freedom accompanies adulthood?
I was told, “You can do whatever you want once you’re out of my house and paying your own bills” so often that I expected adulthood to be hella fun.
Spoiler alert: it isn’t. Adulthood in two words is responsibility and bills. If we had to add two more words for happiness and balance, it would be breakfast ice cream.
11. If you keep rolling your eyes, they’ll stay that way.
Do kids still roll their eyes?
As a ’90s kid, some of my favorite memories included rolling my eyes. It was a very expressive gesture and it could have a wide range of meanings.
Back when I was living the good life and rolling my eyes all the time, some random adult told me to stop rolling them or risk them getting stuck in the back of my head. I didn’t believe it, and I kept rolling my eyes anyway because I’m sassy.
Now that I’m older I’ve noticed that rolling my eyes gives me a headache, but that’s probably from overuse.
12. Swimming after eating causes cramps.
Growing up, I heard plenty of authority figures say you had to wait 30 minutes after eating before getting in the pool or risk cramps. I spent very little time around pools so I never investigated this any further. At the time, it made sense to me. Plus, it sounded like a great excuse to stay away from the water.
As an adult, I am shocked to know that there are no consequences from eating right before getting in the pool. At the same time, why would you want to do any form of exercise right after eating?
I haven’t decided what lies I’m going to save for my children. But I know that parenting is hard, and those lies give us the opportunity to either get a break from nonsense or temporarily stop them from doing something that will hurt them in the long run.
Here’s to several decades of parenting and lies!