Modern MythologyUncategorized

Modern Mythology: Parents Lie…

Modern Mythology is a Teen Skepchick feature in which we try to cut through the woo so you can make informed decisions. If you have any questions, contact us here.

According to a study of 3000 British parents in 2008, parents on average tell their kids around 3000 white lies as they grow up. 80% of these parents were the caring kind who told the fibs to protect them from the truth, but a shocking 46% would make up lies if they didn’t know the answer to a question. I’m here to investigate exactly what sort of lies your parents have probably told you through the years… are there any you still believed?

 1. Let’s start with the most obvious myth that children hear over and over (if you’re under about ten, please, feel free to skip to no.2).

Santa Claus; Father Christmas, Saint Nick. Whatever you want to call him, it’s one of the main things that kids have drilled into them every year- if they’re good, then Santa will bring them presents; if they’re bad, they’ll get a lump of coal. Who knows how many children have been frightened into good behaviour by this each year- but that’s it, mothers and fathers! We know your secret. It was all just a ploy to make us less horrid- although some might see it as a way to make Christmas magical and special for little’uns. I liked the idea of Santa; I think I was seven or eight though, when I figured out that he was just another lie (regardless of noble intentions) that our parents told us “for our own good”. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think I suffered when I stopped believing in Santa. But it was bound to happen at some point.

2. “If you keep making that face, it’ll stay that way!” Really, I can’t tell you how many times I heard that as a child. I must have been a severe face-maker, because I was constantly told that the wind would “change” and stick my face in whatever horrible grimace I was making at the time. But is it actually true? Well, frankly, no. You should be free to make whatever ridiculous expressions you like, without the fear of being stuck like that. Why did our parents even tell us this, anyway…? It seems like one of the more pointless of the list.

3. I’m pretty sure that all kids brought up in a household where there was a TV would have been told this next one: “Don’t watch so much television! You’ll go blind! Your eyes will turn square!” It’s easy to see why it would be in the best interest of the parent to tell this white lie- and probably of the child, too. Nobody wants to have a kid whose eyes are constantly turned screenward; it’s somewhat off-putting when all a kid can think about is when Spongebob Squarepants is going to be on next. But is there any truth in the warning? Once more, no there isn’t. The worst that can happen from watching too much television or sitting too close to the screen is that you might strain your eyes, and at worst, become extremely boring. If you’re okay with that however, carry on.

4. Another favourite of parents is a personal habit that I have only developed fairly recently; knuckle-cracking. Mum and dad (and teachers, which I have also noticed a lot) love to tell you that you’re gonna get arthritis from the constant crunching. There have been plenty of studies done into knuckle-cracking however, and it’s been shown to be just bubbles of gas popping in your joints. Although the habit can lead to ligament damage and a reduced grip, arthritis really isn’t a valid argument to make against it. If you insist on this one, at least make sure that you know what damage it’s going to do to you-  but it isn’t “arthritis” like adults often rhyme off.

5. Lastly for today- although certainly not last of all the myths and white lies spread by parents and guardians- is the myth that if you swallow chewing gum, it’ll stay in your stomach for a whole seven years. Chewing gum is a popular confection, the love for which is shared by adults and young people alike. However, what is also shared is the story that if one swallows a piece of chewing-gum, it’ll lurk in their digestive system for years to come. Don’t worry, this one isn’t true either. Although I wouldn’t recommend deliberately swallowing your chewing gum, as it has essentially no nutritional value and you can’t digest it properly, doing so won’t harm you. Chewing gum is made mainly from a type of waxy plastic and sugar or sweeteners- the latter of which will be digested and the former will be passed straight out in the faeces. Although it’s an unpleasant thought, certainly, it won’t harm you.

And that, for today, is a quick summary of some of the favourite lies and myths our devoting guardians tell us on an almost daily basis. If you can think of other good’uns, please feel free to comment below.

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