• Sun, Nov 17 - 1:21 pm ET

Parenting Myths That Drive Me Bananas

I consider myself a woman of logic and science, which for some odd reason doesn’t always mesh well with parenting. Or rather, dealing with other parents. Now, I shouldn’t even have to add this qualifier, but I will because I’m sure I will get a bevy of commenters claiming “I don’t do these things, therefore your theory is WRONG,” but obviously I’m not talking about all parents. But trust me when I say that I hear and see these “myths” (also known as old wive’s tales) on a daily basis, so at least some of you are guilty.

“Don’t go outside with a wet head. You’ll get sick!” 

No. Just…no. This isn’t how sickness works. You know those things called germs and bacteria and viruses. The things we all learned about in detail in high school (and college for many of us). Well, THOSE are what cause sickness. Not a bad hair day or being too lazy to use a blow dryer. So no, if my kid’s hair is slightly damp and they go outside to take the trash out, she won’t get ebola and die. I promise!

“Letting your son play with dolls will make him gay.”

I’ve gotten this as an out and out statement, and I’ve gotten this from well-meaning (though bigoted) family members claiming my son suddenly “didn’t want his lovie,” but it’s still the same bullshit. This isn’t how being gay works. It just isn’t. If you still think being gay is a choice or something that a parenting choice can cause in this day and age, then you are a terrible human being or just not very smart. Period. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but if yours isn’t based in fact then I’m entitled to the right to call you a jerk.

“You have to bathe your kids every single night or you’re a terrible parent!”

As the mother of three kids with very sensitive skin, this one drives me nuts. Of course I make sure that my kids are clean, and if they have a particularly messy day they will get a bath regardless of when their last one was, but generally they get a bath every other day. Any more often then it’s irritated skin city, and that city SUCKS. Same goes for hair washing, and all three have incredibly healthy, shiny hair. Even the experts agree that there is no reason to wash your hair daily, and it can cause more damage than good. So there!

“You’re carrying high, so you must be having a girl.” (or vice versa)

parenting myths

Charley And The Cake Factory

I heard various versions of this throughout all of my pregnancies, and while everyone had a fifty-fifty chance of being right, it was still annoying. Because science. The truth of the matter is the way you “carry” is caused by things like the depth of your pelvis, your weight and the size of your love-bun. Also, I carried all of my children the exact same way and still ended up with at least one of each. Myth…BUSTED.

“Don’t go swimming after eating, you’ll get cramps!”

This suggestion comes from my wonderful husband Don, but I was skeptical. He assured me that people do, indeed, believe this crappola, but just to be sure I asked around. Apparently they do. According to Snopes.com, there have been exactly zero deaths due to stomach cramps after eating. ZERO.

“Feed a cold, starve a fever!”

parenting myths

…for more cowbell (Tumblr)

This one comes from my best friend Patrice, who also assures me that people still believe this crap. Apparently this one goes all the way back to the 1500′s, and was based on the then-medical wisdom that a drop in your body’s temperature caused a cold (I see what you did there, historical doctors!) while an increase in temperature caused a fever (which actually makes sense, though at the time they didn’t realize why). Doctors today consider this folklore, however, and honestly, if you’re getting your medical info from the Elizabethan period, then you probably shouldn’t trust it.

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  • Ennis Demeter

    “Formula is bad.”

    • Courtney Lynn

      That one! And on the flipside, “Breastmilk isn’t enough”. I had a “friend” go OFF on me on FB about it. Then ranted on her own page about how I shouldn’t complain about my child and should have kept my legs closed. Yup.

    • EmmaFromÉire

      ”well man, her legs were wide open and I just fell right in and BOOM, we had a kid”

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Your “friend” sounds like a real peach. I bet it was a wonderful feeling to hit the unfriend button!

    • Courtney Lynn

      Oh, yeah, she’s a real gem. Most of her rant was drunk-booking, but it was her 2nd offense on going off on me while doing it. There’s no strike 3. I’m not a punching bag.

    • EmmaFromÉire

      I also hate that mentality where you can’t complain about your kid ever. If my future kids act like little assholess then damn right i’m gonna complain about it, it’s not like they shit rainbows or something.

    • Courtney Lynn

      Me too. I’m a SAHM and I’m alone with kids that are 15 months apart. One is 18 months one is 3 months. Fuck not complaining.

    • cantstandtheshaming

      Holy crap I just tore into a now ex friend of mine for a rant EXACTLY like that. I was so pissed I kinda lost my mind a bit. And then she ranted on fb about being “misunderstood”.

    • Courtney Lynn

      Yeah, she went off on her own post about “poor, innocent babies”. Ugh. Spare me, woman.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I was going to do a section about this, but I did just do a whole article about it a few months ago, I was worried it would be overkill. I am definitely going to do a part three, because the list of mommy-shame topics is truly endless, lol!

    • EmmaFromÉire

      I’m enjoying them, because they’re usually just so ridiculous!

  • Emmali Lucia

    I eat like a cow everytime I feel sick.

    It’s because I get this awful post-nasal drip and if you have something other than snot running down your throat at all times (But not water, cold water just makes it worse, it needs to be at least semi-solid) then you won’t have the throat ache that lasts for a week after your cold goes away.

    So if your child has a tendancy to get post-nasal drip, give them ALL THE FOOD

    • Rachel Sea

      I guzzle OJ when I have that. It burns at first, but it kills the lingering soreness better than anything.

  • Alicia Kiner

    I don’t want my kids to go outside with wet hair when it’s cold because I don’t want them to get… colder. Strange, I know. LOL. But yeah, the only one of these I actually adhere to is the not swimming right after eating. I realize it’s probably a myth, but both of my kids seem tired right after eating, so I figure, let them rest for a half hour or so, then let them go back to swimming. Besides, that gives the grown ups time to clean up.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Yeah, I’m pretty sure the pool rule got invented for the convenience of parents. Like an excuse to not have to go putting small people in swimsuits and dragging them into the pool when you just cleaned up a meal. I know I have used it once or twice on my own kids because I wanted a damn break.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Totally. My nana would straight out say this when I was a kid. She didn’t try to say I would drown from craps, she would just say “sit down until I get this stuff cleaned up.” ha ha

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      See, I am all for doing something because it’s what you’re comfortable with. It’s not like I would try to pressure someone into going out with a wet head, of course! I just hate the judgey comments I get if one of my kids leaves the house with even slightly damp hair. It happens even in the summertime too!

    • Alicia Kiner

      Oh I hear you. Judge people suck

  • AP

    Kids won’t die of cramps if they swim after eating, but they might throw up in the pool. I lifeguarded for years, and I saw it more times than I can count- kids hop around too much, get too much water up their nose, and throw up a barely-digested lunch. Then the pool is closed for 30 minutes to 24 hours, depending on the local law. It’s embarrassing to the kid and frustrating to the other swimmers, so a post-meal wait period is helpful.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Wow, I didn’t think of that. But don’t you think that an hour (or sometimes two hours, if you listen to my grandma) is a little much? And a lot of people would do this whether you had a huge meal, or just a bite, thinking that no matter what, eating +swimming = death.

    • AP

      Oh yeah, definitely people take it too far. Though the fact that people believe in it often worked in the pool staff’s favor, since parents and kids’ program directors would schedule swim time before meals, which meant less mess on our end.

    • Emil

      Our before pool rules are 1. Don’t feed your kid 2.ALWAYS take them to the bathroom

    • Kelly

      Yeah, any time you follow a meal with vigorous exercise, puke has a good chance of happening.
      It’s like eating and then going for a long run. Ew. Some people can do that just fine but many of us can’t.

  • pixie

    I learned the swimming one was a myth when I took swimming lessons as a kid.
    They told us that unless we ate a whole thanksgiving dinner to ourselves (not just one plate, but the whole spread) then we’d be fine.
    As for going outside with wet hair, I often didn’t have time to dry my insanely long hair after swimming lessons as a kid and also found it hilarious when my hair froze. The only time I got sick was when something was being passed around at school or when my dad caught something at his work (my mom has some freaky voodoo immune system where she gets sick maybe once every five years. I wish I was like that).

  • freemane

    The only thing with the wet hair myth is that if I’m out there long enough, my sins will start to swell as my head chills… but then, I have wonky sinuses anyway.

    • freemane

      Sinuses… a wet head rarely affects my sins…

    • EmmaFromÉire

      a wet diet certainly affects mine!

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      A wet head doesn’t affect my sins, but a few wet drinks certainly will!

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      I swear when I was a kid my allergist told me not to go out with wet hair (or to bed) because it was bad for my allergies somehow, but I couldn’t remember the reason. He knew the whole get sick myth, and he said that wasn’t it, but damn if I could remember the reason. Maybe it’s the sinuses. Thanks!

    • Nat

      When your hair is wet pollen is more likely to get stuck in it, so that’s probably why.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      You know, I thought it was something like that but I thought it seemed silly. But…I bet that was it after all. Thanks!

  • I’m used to my foot’s taste

    I’ve never really been around kids and I’ve spent less time around babies, so when my friend told me she was pregnant, I wasn’t sure what to say other than “awesome!” So, me being the sarcastic bitch I am, started texting her some of the myths I knew about pregnancy like “If you sleep with a pink bow under your pillow and scissors under your bed, you’ll have a girl,” “If your face gets round and fat you’re having a girl,” “If you raise your arms about your head while pregnant you’ll strangle the baby,” and “If you have pregnancy heartburn, your baby will have a lot of hair.” I sent her about 12 in total, and ended the list with something like, “and if you believe any of this crap, your kid is going to come out smarter than you are.” Turns out, my equally sarcastic and well educated friend comes from a VERY superstitious family, and had thought I was giving her advice until we got to that last one.

    • Meghan

      Actually, the heartburn one has some factual links.

    • EmmaFromÉire

      That is evil and hilarious and i’m stealing the idea for future use!

    • Jallun-Keatres

      Haha some ladies at church (though pretty sure not serious) told me my baby would have lots of hair because I had some seriously painful heartburn. My no-frills smartmouthed response was “Nah, it’s probably my GERD that’s causing the heartburn…”

    • SusannahJoy

      “What to Expect” said that there is a link there. Something to do with the fact that the same hormone that causes bad heartburn also causes more hair growth. I have no idea if that’s true or not, but that’s probably why they said it.

    • Jallun-Keatres

      We’ll see in about 8 days :P

    • Rachel Sea

      What-to-expect is not a good source for factual information.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      Oh god my kid had soooo much hair when she came out, and everyone was all, “wow you must’ve had so much heartburn when you were pregnant!”. I’ve never had heartburn in my life.

    • Jallun-Keatres

      I’m jelly. It hurts. Right under the boob. And when it doesn’t hurt it’s all tingly right there. And laying down on my left side (the side everyone says to prevent it) made it worse. I could feel the contents of my stomach rising slowly to my throat. It went down considerably when she dropped though so I only get it when I slouch over now… lol

    • CP414

      I had the most painful heartburn/acid reflux when I was pregnant, My baby barely had a coating of hair. Talk about an old wives tale

  • Amy Kyle

    m­y fa­ther in-la­w just got B­M­W X­5 Di­esel only from wor­king off a home compu­ter. di­g this b­i­ℊ­4­1­.­ℂ­o­m

  • smoinpour

    my parents definitely told me a lot of these aahah

  • Erin Murphy

    Related to dolls making boys gay. A facebook friend’s son would like a toy kitchen for Christmas and her husband said no! There was abig debate and I was horrified by how many people agreed nit to get him “a girl’s toy”

  • FaintlyXMacabre

    Next you’ll be telling me that a goodly amount of leeches aren’t necessary to bleed a child of their ill humours. I’m onto you, Locke.

  • Simone

    Are there humans alive in the world today who believe that permitting a young male child to play with toys usually gifted to females will become homosexual?

    Are there …. are there people who believe that? Can we find them all and remove them for everyone’s safety?

    • Kelly

      Many of my family members believe that. I would be fine with them being removed from society.

    • JAN

      I wonder what they’d think of my son. I’m currently 34 weeks pregnant and he likes to be “pregnant” too by stuffing toy dolls, stuffed animals, etc., under his shirt and having a “baby”. I haven’t had the heart yet to explain that boys don’t generally get to be pregnant.

    • Jessie

      Oh, see what you have there, JAN, is one of them Queer-o-sexual-trannies who will grow up to wear ladies underclothes and prance around in high heels. *insert RIDICULOUS amounts of sarcasm*

      Gods, if there’s one myth I hate the most, it’s that one. Because by that logic, playing with my brother’s trucks and action figures instead of Barbie dolls and dress-up clothes meant that I should have been a super butch lesbian. Which I am not. I’m not lesbian at all. Toys =/= Sexual orientation.

    • Rachel Sea

      I was chatting with a friend about her 4 year old son, whose favorite color is pink, and loves dresses, and another friend overheard. She later pulled me aside and made a comment about how terrible it is that my other friend would dress her son that way, and how he’s going to be gay (not that there is anything wrong with that). I asked her if her sons had ever shown preferences for clothes when they were little, and she said no. Then I asked her if her sons would have been happy to wear pink dresses, and she said absolutely not, they would have flipped out. So I pointed out that her sons obviously did have preferences, it’s just that theirs were heteronormative. Her mind was blown.

    • Larkin

      Had an interesting discussion with my niece recently, where she was shocked that there was a boy in her class who liked to wear all pink. I was like, “Well, he probably just really loves pink, like how you love purple! Sounds like his clothes are pretty fabulous, to me.”

      She looked doubtful at first, then thought about it a little more and decided yeah, actually it *was* pretty cool to wear all pink.

  • CrazyLogic

    “Tampons make you no longer a virgin and using them too young will make your daughter a whore.”

    Never got this one myself, but I have heard stories…

    • Andrea

      Here’s your story: my mother forbade me from wearing tampons. Because of that reason. And she wasn’t the only one in her circle of the “ladies who lunch” who felt that way.

    • Jallun-Keatres

      LOL I’ve heard that. The only reason I learned how to wear one was because I ended up on the rag the week we made an epic journey to an amusement park. And trust me… my V card was kept.

  • SusannahJoy

    Can I add my number one pet peeve? Sugar makes kids hyper. Ugh. *sigh* No, it doesn’t. At least, not according to most of the studies done on it. And I’m sure I”m going to get down voted and have people insist “It makes MY kid hyper!” but whatever.

    • Spiderpigmom

      We have the same pet peeve. I find this unsubstantiated belief so annoying.

    • kay

      know what does make kids hyper? Telling them something makes them hyper. Tell kids “no no, sugar will make you get all silly” means sugar WILL make them silly. People need to STUF and not give kids something to blame their bad behaviors on.
      (My cousins were always told their behavior was because of what they’d eaten… One of my cousins misbehaved in my parents pool, which my mom always had a zero tolerance on. She made him get out. “But Auntie it’s not my fault, I ate all that candy” “did anyone force-feed you?” “no.” “then you’re responsible for your actions. Out of the pool” )

    • Jallun-Keatres

      I read a blog post of an adopted child with a lot of baggage and once they realized that they accidentally told her sugar = tantrums they stopped and so did her meltdowns. Cool stuff.

    • Larkin

      Reminds me of the episode of Freaks and Geeks where the younger brother swaps all the beer for non-alcoholic stuff, but all the teens still act like they’re wasted.

    • THRILLHO

      I HATE this. There’s a woman that I babysit for who genuinely believes this. To the point that her daughter is allowed no sugar under any circumstances. To the point where she informed me that the reason the child of a mutual friend acts out is because he’s hyper from his mother allowing him to have too much sugar. This kid has an actual diagnosis of oppositional defiant disorder. This kid pulled a knife on his mother at the age of seven because he didn’t get his way. He has done similar things at school. They have considered sending him away to boarding schools and group homes so that he can get the appropriate help. But I’m SURE that’s just a dietary issue.

    • SA

      That is always the correlation because most sugary products marketed to kids have DYES in them and it is actually the dyes that cause hyperactivity. I’ve known several children that eliminated the dyes and lost their ADD diagnosis and continued on fine with sugar.

    • LiteBrite

      Yeah, sugar doesn’t make my son hyper. EVERYTHING makes my son hyper.

  • Jallun-Keatres

    Wow I had wet hair all the time once I started middle school and beyond, therefore showering every morning. There were times my hair was actually frozen waiting for the bus. It sucked. Too bad it took me until college to…. shower at night.

  • Sonny

    “If you still think being gay is a choice or something that a parenting choice can cause in this day and age, then you are a terrible human being or just not very smart.

    Read more: http://www.mommyish.com/2013/11/17/parenting-myths-drive-bananas/#ixzz2kybMj1Mq

    oh stfu. just because one doesn’t believe that people are born gay, by no means does that make them a terrible person. of course, if one outright bashes gays or demeans them, yes – they are a terrible person. but the simple belief that being gay is a choice doesn’t dictate intelligence nor moral standard, (if anything does, it’s a choice such as to deem another “not very smart” for their harmless beliefs) so I repeat, please stfu or at least think before posting.

    • Rachel Sea

      People who don’t believe people are born gay are denying science and logic. People don’t flat-out ignore science and logic without some questionable decision making ability.

    • Sonny

      Rachel, I ask this respectfully. What science is there that is 100% for sure? Like I said, I ask that sincerely, because my prior post will probably make it sound sarcastic – lol. I used to believe it was a choice however over the last few months after I have come to agree that sexuality isn’t a choice. I’ve never had any issue at all with homosexuality, by no means is it “wrong” or “disgusting” to me, and hope I didn’t come off thinking that way.

      I’m not at all bothered by people thinking that people are born gay – as I stated, I actually have come to believe that more and more as time goes by. (As you said, logic points to that.) What I was bothered by was that the author would call someone a bad person for the simple belief gay is a choice. That’s where my issue stands.

    • Rachel Sea

      Firstly, science is never “100% for sure,” science proves to conclusions that are not otherwise explicable until such a point that one basically becomes a flat-earther if one disagrees. The existence of the spectrum of human sexual preference is consistently demonstrated in survey and study. Every other known and observed mammal also displays sexuality on a spectrum. There are assorted studies of human biology which show inborn trends. There are surveys of people and their earliest recollections of the discovery of their orientation. There is the abject failure of “reparative therapy.” Lastly, there is that no person would ever choose the complications that come with being gay, from appallingly high suicide rates, to the vitriol of pundits, to the difficulty of travel. Everything science-based points to sexuality being inborn.

      And on the other hand, there is no evidence anywhere that it is a choice.

  • LJ

    My son’s mother actually called us and told me I gave our son phenomena because I had him take a bath 4 HOURS before sending him back to her on a weekend in December. She called social services on me. -_- Thankfully, they were like, “………………uhm. no.” But still.
    When my husband and her were together, she made him get rid of his cat that he has had forever. ( thankfully his friend was able to take him in and honestly, I have no idea how the cat is still alive as we have him now and Im always like…..are you sure he isnt going to just keel over?! ) because she said the cat would kill her baby in the womb OR it would suffocate it in it’s crib.) I know I have said it before but, I just. cant. with her. Also, Our cat has better things to do; like eat and be fat, than pretty much anything else in the world.

    • Andrea

      There is something about cleaning the litter box while pregnant though isn’t there? I thought I heard that one actually scientifically explained, but now I can’t remember.

    • Jessie

      The litter box thing is true, actually. Cat feces may carry a parasite which causes toxoplasmosis. The parasite is called Toxoplasma Gondii, a single-celled organism that invades the intestinal tracts of cats. Toxoplasma also can infect dogs, pigs, chickens and variety of other warm-blooded animals, but it is only within cats that it can form infectious offspring that are released in the feces. People contract toxoplasma from the feces of infected cats or by eating uncooked meat from infected animals (pigs and sheep are a common source). About 50% of adults in the United States have been infected with toxoplasma at some time, though most show no symptoms, and if they DO the symptoms are often flu-like in nature. Our immune systems typically protect us from harm caused by toxoplasma, but this is not the case for a developing fetus. If a woman contracts toxoplasma while pregnant, the parasite can reach her developing baby. The baby’s immune system is not able to defend against the parasite, so damage to the eyes, brain or even a miscarriage may occur.
      HOWEVER: If a woman has had the cat prior to the pregnancy, its incredibly likely that she’s already built up a resistance to the organism, and that’s assuming the cat is even a carrier of the disease. Not ALL cats have it. If a woman scoops the litter box but doesn’t know she’s pregnant, as long as it is her own cats or cats that she’s routinely been around, its incredibly likely that there will be no harm at all to the unborn child. That’s not saying that she should scoop the litter box every single day with her bare hands (not that she would), its just that its not something to be incredibly worried about. As long as she’s thoroughly washing her hands afterward, she’s fine. That being said, it’s still a GREAT excuse to not have to do this icky and sometimes labor-intensive job while pregnant, LOL!

    • LJ

      My husband already knew this about the cat and spoke with her Dr about it at an appointment. The Dr told them as long as she didn’t clean the litter box (which my husband would have never made her do) she would be fine. But that wasn’t the reason she wanted the cat gone….she is just a super, sparkly, awesome person that spreads sunshine where-ever she goes. We have the same cat now and did all through my pregnancy. Our daughter is fine and my husband still does all the cat box scooping. :)

  • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

    I had randos on the street yelling at me that I was “DEFINITELY HAVING A BOY!” when I was pregnant. Everyone except my sister and mother swore I was having a boy because I carried right out front like a big basketball. I was pretty much convinced myself too, and my response was, “really???” when my daughter was born. That said, my mother and sister were convinced I was ‘definitely having a girl’ because my nose had gotten bigger and my face was “not as pretty” (i.e. ‘we think you look like shit but we’re being polite’) when I was pregnant. Hurrah.

    My kid has eczema so we bathe her every other night. Hell, I only wash my own hair every 5 or so days.

  • Rachel Sea

    The wet head thing has a tiny grain of truth. When your immune system is fighting something, and you’re on that cusp of getting sick or staying well, taxing your body can tip you towards sick. If your head is wet, and you go outside when it’s freezing, your body has to work a little extra hard to keep you warm enough.

    So if your hair is wet, and it’s 40 below, put a hat on.

  • LiteBrite

    “You’re carrying high, so you must be having a girl.” (or vice versa).”

    When I was pregnant, I did a few of those Chinese gender calendars. Each one said I was having a girl. Then I went to my local grocery store, and three cashiers took one look at me and said, “Oh honey, you’re having a boy. I can tell by the way you’re carrying.” And…they were right.

    So what does that prove? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Except I still think it’s a funny story.