Some Old Wives Tales are making you parent poorly

Monday, September 30th, 2013

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I take my role as a dad blogger very seriously. It’s very weighty business writing about poop, lack of sleep, vomit and fart slime and I expect anyone who reads my words takes them to heart and implements my suggestions in their home without further research. With that, I think it’s very important that I help debunk myths from time to time. I’m talking of course, about Old Wives Tales. OWT’s have been followed and adhered to by gullible  parents for thousands of years. To me, these tales have been given a free ride. The term itself is far more endearing than it should be—Crap Lazy People Think and Scare You With (CLPTASYW) would be far more apropos.

Be gullible no longer fellow parents, I’m breaking down five very common pieces of Crap Lazy People Think and Scare You With so that you don’t have to fear being a bad parent any more. So if any of these have been striking fear into you for the last many, many years, drop those fears. It’s time that we, as good or great parents, get back to doing what we do best—letting our kids do things that all kids want to do anyway.

Sitting too close to the television ruins your eyes

When I think of Crap Lazy People yada yada, this is the first thing that comes to mind. I was terrified as a youngster of sitting too close to the television because there is another Old Wives Tale that is more accurate—you only get one set of eyes. I’d be afraid to the point that I’d sit so far away from the television that I had a hard time seeing the characters without binoculars. I missed out on so many good hours of television that when I had kids myself, I decided to investigate the truth behind this tale—bullshit.

As a parent, I encourage my kids at every moment to get close to the television just in case there are hidden clues in the program that I would have missed when I was their age. And when they’re so close that they complain they can’t see the whole screen any more and want to move back a bit, I just pick them up and bring them even closer.

I cannot believe television manufacturers didn’t fight this harder (unless they were in bed with the binocular manufacturers).

Disproven by: scientists.

Don’t swim for (insert your family legend’s length of time) after you’ve eaten

This is another I believed almost completely and without question. As a child I never considered myself to be a particularly strong swimmer, so the thought of adding another level of complexity never crossed my mind. I couldn’t, no matter how hard I tried, get rid of the image in my head of undigested chicken dragging me down to the bottom of the lake and that I wouldn’t be able to hold my breath long enough for the chicken to digest so I could float back to the surface.

Now that I’ve found out this too is a lie, I want my kids to have an entire picnic in the water. I want them to eat their weight in watermelon and then do the backstroke for a mile. Have you ever had a kid in the water with a regular diaper on? That’s what you need to be afraid of.

Disproven by: scientists.

Shaving makes hair grow back thicker

This was a tale I wanted so badly to be true that I had a hard time researching it even now. I didn’t want this to be untrue but it is. Up until the age I was yesterday, I have kept the same monthly routine: shave three times a day for the first two weeks and then grow facial hair for the next two weeks to see if my beard was getting thicker. It never did so I kept going month after month. The old wives said it’s true, I told myself. What would an old wife lie about this for? I wondered. I still don’t know why they developed this lie—maybe they have a strong hatred for over-eager pre-pubescent boys or for 34-year-old men who just want to take part in a real beard growing contest.

There’s not much I’m going to do about this with my kids although The Eldest does talk from time to time about wanting to grow a beard. If she does decide to pursue that, we’re looking into alternative methods of encouraging beard growth. Like a beard transplant.

Disproven by: scientists.

Gum stays in your intestines for seven years

That I’m alive at all means this isn’t true. For some reason this one really intrigued me as a kid. I like to think it was because I was environmentally conscious and didn’t want to litter the ground with my overchewed gum and so I swallowed it. In reality, I imagine the reasoning behind my chronic gum swallowing was because I thought it would add substantial flavour to the apple trees I was trying to grow by eating all the apple seeds of an apple.

My kids aren’t even old enough that I want them chewing gum, but when they do, I want to see if as a family, we can all grow a gum staircase in our esophagus and see if we can have a family of gum loving insects live with us. It sounds like a terrible idea but someone needs to teach old wives a lesson that we won’t live in fear of their tales.

Disproven by: scientists.

Don’t make silly faces or your face will stay that way permanently

I do remember almost throttling a kindergarten “friend” of mine slapping me on the back one time while I was making a funny face. For eight days I was too scared to look in a mirror just in case my face had stayed that way. I was convinced girls weren’t talking to me because the incident had made me hideous but really it was the smell emanating from a young kid who hadn’t been inside a bathroom for eight days.

This one is the most depressing of all the Old Wives Tale and the true definition of my rebranded CLPTASYW. I can’t believe parents ever felt the need to tell their kids a lie about making funny/silly/scary faces.Has your kid ever (intentionally) made a funny face and you’ve looked at them like “come on, grow up,”? If you have, you shouldn’t do that because funny faces are one of the best things kids have to offer and can turn sour moods into happy moves with one turn up of the nose of bend of the ear.

Disproven by: scientists.

Of course there are some Old Wives Tales that are absolutely true and which I strongly discourage you from researching for yourself. One should never crack their knuckles—you’ll 100 per cent develop arthritis if you do. And if you ever touch a toad, you will, and every doctor will agree with me, get warts all over your body. As for the rest of them, throw them to the curb and let your kids know you’ve done so. My first suggestion? Spend some family time making the funniest faces you can, perhaps with transplanted beards on your faces.

2 responses to “Some Old Wives Tales are making you parent poorly”

  1. haha, hilariously brilliant as always, mike 🙂

  2. “Why would an old wife lie about that?” Fantastic.

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