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Six Things Your Mom Told You That Aren’t True

Traci’s mom and all her kids

When I was a kid, my mom used to tell me things like if I chewed gum it’d hang out in my body for seven years. I’d ask why and her answer was always the same, “because I’m the mom and I say so, that’s why!”  Guess what?  It turns out some of the things my mom told me (and your mom probably told you) aren’t all that true.

1. “Did you just swallow that gum? It’s gonna sit in your stomach for the next seven years.”

I know for a fact that this isn’t true. I was 9-years-old and visiting my grandma in Arkansas when I thought it’d be a good idea to chew and swallow a full pack of Big Red gum. It wasn’t. It didn’t stay in my system. It came out the next day and it was not fun.

A gastroenterologist with the Mayo Clinic put this myth to bed once and for all. He said that while the digestive tract doesn’t exactly break down  gum after it’s been swallowed, it does complete the journey the way any other normal piece of food would.

2. “It takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile.”

Ok, so my mom didn’t really say it that way. It was more along the lines of “If you want to frown, I’ll give you something to frown about.” And when after hearing that the tears began to fall, mom followed with “If you want to cry, I’ll give you something to cry about.”

Other than the fact that nobody in a bad mood wants to hear that phrase uttered,  it also happens to be completely false. Syndicated columnist Cecil Adams sat down with a high-ranking plastic surgeon and counted the muscles that are used in each facial expression and found that smiling uses 12 muscles and frowning only uses 11. So there!

3. “You’re not leaving the table until you eat all your carrots- they’re good for your eyes.”

Luckily for me, I love carrots so this wasn’t something that was said too often to me, but to my siblings it was.

Since the beginning of time, parents have been telling their kids to eat foods they don’t like so that they’ll get superpowers. The myth that carrots will give you super sight is actually a fairly new tactic though. The British Royal Air Force started the myth by publishing a series of stories during World War II about ace pilot John “Cats’ Eyes” Cunningham and how his steady diet of carrots gave him mutant strength night vision and allowed him to shoot down 20 enemy planes. And that was just during his walk to the plane.

4. “Don’t you even think of going outside with wet hair. You’ll get sick.”

Going outside in the winter was quite the adventure in my family. When it was all said and done and we were finally mom approved to go out, we looked like little Michelin men. My mom was a stickler for making sure that we were bundled up and that we never went outside with wet hair, and with 7 kids, I guess I can understand where she was coming from because when one of us got sick, we all got sick and 7 sick kids isn’t something any mom wants to deal with.

While mom was being extra cautious about warding off colds and flu, the American Academy of Family Physicians says that there is no causal link between being cold and getting a cold.

5. “No sugar before bed, it’ll make you hyperactive.”

I have to admit that my mom isn’t the only one who’s used this line. I’ve found myself using it as well when talking to my five year old niece. I’ve told her she can’t eat sugar before bed because she’ll be so wound up she won’t be able to sleep, which means nothing to her because she wants her sugar and she wants it now.

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine took a look at the behavior of kids who’d been given high amounts of sugar and compared it with those who didn’t. The study found no noticeable difference in either group of children. In fact, the thinking that sugar leads to  hyperactivity is just that: a figment of parents’ imagination.

6. “Don’t sit so close to the TV. It’s bad for your eyes.”

Mom would always say this to us, but our TV was really tiny, black and white and shaped like a space helmet with rabbit ears popping out of the top. The only way to see anything was to get nose to nose with the TV.

Turns out sitting super close to the TV won’t damage anybody’s eyes. The American Academy of Ophthalmology found that children have a better ability to focus their eyes up close compared to adults, which explains why kids sit so close to the TV but it doesn’t have any long term affect on their sight down the road.

What are some of the things your mom told you that you’ve learned as an adult aren’t true? Do you find yourself saying those things to your kids even though you know they’re not factual?

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