Questionable Parental Advice: Misguided Warnings That Proved to Be More About Control

By Krystal Brown

Parents want to keep their kids safe but to do so, they tell little white lies along the way. Here are the most common parent control tactics.

Swallowing Gum Is Dangerous

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This is one of the classic myths that parents tell kids. They say this to prevent them from swallowing chewing gum, thinking that it’s dangerous or it can stay in your stomach for years. It’s just not true.

Yes, swallowing gum isn’t recommended but it will not stay forever in your stomach like parents claim. In fact, the body can digest most gum components with the exception of its gums base, which just comes out with the rest of our poo.

You Shouldn’t Crack Your Knuckles

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We do this a lot, but parents often say we shouldn’t because cracking knuckles causes arthritis. Based on scientific studies, this claim is entirely false.

Some people find the sound of knuckle cracking quite unsettling, but rest assured that it will not endanger your joint health. So, just go on and crack those knuckles without the fear of acquiring arthritis!

You’ll Catch a Cold with Wet Hair

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This is an age-old myth that parents tell children: Never leave your hair wet when going out or you might catch a cold. Other variations are that you can’t play out in the rain.

Colds are usually caused by viruses in the air, not by the wetness of your hair. So children can happily play outside even with wet hair without the fear of getting ill. 

Don’t Sit Too Close to the TV

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In the past, parents would often tell their kids off for sitting too close to the screen. This was when televisions emitted more radiation. However, even though old TVs could release X-rays, it was in incredibly small amounts.

Not only do modern TVs not do this, but it was never a problem in the first place. Sitting too close can strain your eyes but it won’t cause any damage. 

Don’t Swallow Seeds or They’ll Grow

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This is a funny age-old myth that often scares children because they are told that swallowing seeds will lead to trees growing in their tummies. This was commonly associated with watermelon seeds.

Parents usually tell kids this tale to prevent them from swallowing seeds. In reality, the stomach has strong acidity that is enough to destroy any ingested seed. And, of course, it wouldn’t be in there long enough anyway.

Eating Carrots Helps You See in The Dark

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This is a myth that parents often tell kids, so they’ll obediently eat their vegetables, especially carrots. Yes, carrots are indeed a great source of Vitamin A which is excellent for eye health. However, eating carrots will not enhance your eyesight.

In fact, there is a study on clinical nutrition stating that there is no evidence to support the idea that carrots can improve your vision.

Eating Before Bed Causes Nightmares

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We were made to believe that eating a lot before bedtime would give us nightmares. Generally, the connection between eating and nightmares isn’t solid, and there’s still a lot to study about this.

One thing is that some food induce specific moods/alert levels that can affect the dreams you have when you sleep. Also, food can interrupt your sleep in several ways, so if you really need to eat something before bed, go for something light instead.

Swallowing Toothpaste Makes You Sick

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Parents always warn kids not to swallow toothpaste because it will make you sick. Although it’s not recommended to swallow toothpaste, it won’t really make you sick if swallowed in small amounts. Toothpaste has minimal fluoride content, so it’s not harmful when consumed.

Although there’s nothing to worry about when swallowing toothpaste, it’s best to avoid doing so. Toothpaste is for the teeth and not made for ingestion.

Turning On the Lights in the Car While Driving Is Illegal

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At some point in your childhood or teenage years, your parents likely told you that driving with interior lights on is illegal.

Have you ever wondered if it was really illegal? Some claim it limits other drivers’ vision on the road, while others say it’s simply illegal. The former is true, it’s inconsiderate but not illegal.

Don’t Make Faces or They’ll Stick

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Parents often warn their kids not to make silly or funny facial expressions, or else these will be permanently stuck on their faces.

Obviously, it’s not a fact and our facial muscles never get stuck in a specific position. While doing the same expressions repeatedly can cause wrinkles, that’s not something that kids need to worry about!

Don’t Talk to Strangers

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This is more of a serious one. Saying don’t talk to strangers makes sense as you never know the intentions of someone talking to your child.

The danger with this saying is that it implies they should completely trust family and friends. Sadly, many crimes against children are from people they know. They should instead be taught the importance of speaking up and that their private parts should always be private.

You’re Too Young to Understand

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If a child asks an uncomfortable question, the response that often comes back is “you’re too young to understand”. This is often an easy way to avoid the questions and deflect.

The reality is the child is probably old enough to understand, but the parent just doesn’t want to tell them. While this may seem harmless, you’re basically telling your child they are too stupid to know what you’re talking about.

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