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15 Old Wives Tales and Why I Still Use Them

Touch a toad and you'll get warts!

“Make a face like that and it will stick that way!”

“Read in the dark and you’ll go blind!”

“Crack your knuckles and they’ll spread out and you won’t be able to play the piano anymore!”

I asked Cody about some of the things his mom said to him that in hindsight were absolutely ridiculous, these were his answers. I find myself telling Addie somewhat ridiculous lies daily, only to soothe my lying soul I tell myself that they are old wives’ tales and that they are in place for parents just like me who aren’t afraid of ridiculous scare tactics to get my kid to comply to my demands. Lately I’ve been questioning myself as to the origins of these old wives tales as I still believe some of the myself (wet hair + cold air = sick!) so I decided to research the back story on some of the more famous old wives’ tales.

Turns out? Most of them come from generations of moms tired of trying to reason with their kids.

Proof that being a mom hasn’t changed all that much in hundreds of years.

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  • You’ll get cramps if you swim right after you eat 1 of 15
    You'll get cramps if you swim right after you eat
    There's no proof that cramps are a direct result of a swimmer eating before entering the water. (Why I use it: She'll eat more of her lunch in one sitting if I make her sit there for the extra half an hour, that way she won't be constantly snacking or getting food in the pool, which, ew.)
  • Feed a cold, starve a fever 2 of 15
    Feed a cold, starve a fever
    Fevers lead to dehydration, dehydration is really bad. Don't starve them. Feed them just like you would feed any sick child. (Why I use it: I don't. No one should.)
  • Bread crusts make your hair curly 3 of 15
    Bread crusts make your hair curly
    My grandma used to tell me this one, I wasn't sure if I was supposed to be excited or afraid. I'm pretty sure you're all familiar with Addie's curly hair — what you may not know is that Addie hates bread crusts, perhaps her curly hair is to blame on all the macaroni I ate while I was pregnant, or genetics, whatever. (Don't have to use this one, but if you have a crust hater who really wants curly hair? It's worth a try until they catch onto you.)
  • Five-second rule 4 of 15
    Five-second rule
    No matter how long your food is on the floor, one second or ten, it's going to get gross stuff on it. Eat it if you want but just know that bacteria doesn't take it's time sticking to that cookie you just dropped. (Why I use it: I don't use this one in public, but at home there are times I don't want to have to make a whole new something, so five second rule it is.)
  • An apple a day keeps the doctor away 5 of 15
    An apple a day keeps the doctor away
    While it won't keep the doctor away forever (unless you're throwing them at the doctor) it certainly won't do you any harm to eat an apple everyday. (Why I use it: Eat this apple, you won't have to get a shot. Eat that piece of cake? Shots for every part of your body!)
  • Going out with wet hair will give you a cold 6 of 15
    Going out with wet hair will give you a cold
    Viruses cause colds, not a cold head. Colds are prevalent in winter when we spend more time indoors in dry air breathing other people's germs, not because we don't finish our blowout before leaving the house. (Why I use it: I don't want to have to hear about how cold your head is while we're running errands.)
  • A watched pot never boils 7 of 15
    A watched pot never boils
    Of course the pot will boil, it will just take longer because you're staring at a pot of water, the only thing more boring than that is watching paint dry. (Why I use it: Having you in the kitchen with me is fun, sometimes there's stuff you can't help me with and you're just getting on my nerves so unless you go play with Barbies we'll never get dinner done.)
    Image Credit: Flickr
  • Cross your eyes and they’ll stay that way 8 of 15
    Cross your eyes and they'll stay that way
    No, they won't stay that way and no, they still wouldn't stay that way if I smacked you on the back. (Why I use it: You look silly with your eyes crossed and right now we need to be somewhat mature but trying to reason with you about why we need to be grown ups, I'd rather just use a scare tactic.)
  • Carrots improve eyesight 9 of 15
    Carrots improve eyesight
    My mom used to tell my sister and me that she didn't have to wear glasses because she ate so many carrots. Guess who has to wears glasses these days, mom? The carrot/eyesight rumor may have started during WWII when British Intelligence spread rumors that their pilot's excellent night vision was a result of eating lots of carrots, not from the radar they were using in their planes. (Why I use it: Eat your carrots or you'll end up with enormous glasses like mine by the time you're 10.)
    Image Credit: Flickr
  • Chocolate causes zits 10 of 15
    Chocolate causes zits
    Turns out chocolate isn't to blame for any zits that may flare up, while acne can easily result from a poor diet, chocolate alone isn't to blame. *phew* (Why I use it: I'm not afraid of scare tactics to get you to lay off the chocolate kid.)
    Image Credit: Flickr
  • Sitting too close to the TV will make you blind 11 of 15
    Sitting too close to the TV will make you blind
    TV won't make you blind no matter where you sit, but it can cause eye strain just like reading in low light. It's the actual act of too much television viewing that can be damaging, but not to your eyes. (Why I use it: Again, I'm not afraid of scare tactics.)
    Image Credit: Flickr
  • Lightening will never strike the same place twice 12 of 15
    Lightening will never strike the same place twice
    It can and will strike in the same place twice, sometimes even striking the same person more than once. (Why I use it: Addie is afraid of lightening, it's more of a peace of mind thing telling her it can't get at her twice.)
    Image Credit: Flickr
  • Swallow gum and it will stay in your stomach for 7 years 13 of 15
    Swallow gum and it will stay in your stomach for 7 years
    Gum is digested at the same rate as everything else you eat, so no, there isn't a giant wad of gum in your stomach from 2005. (Addie doesn't actually like gum, but I have friends who have gum loving children and I totally get why they use this one.)
    Image Credit: Flickr
  • Reading in low light will damage your eyes 14 of 15
    Reading in low light will damage your eyes
    While it won't cause long term damage to your eyes, reading in dim light will cause eye strain and fatigue which makes reading far less enjoyable. (Why I use it: I want a bright enough light emitting from your room so I can bust you reading when you're supposed to be sleeping.)
  • Toads give you warts 15 of 15
    Toads give you warts
    Nope, toads are just bumpy. It is a virus that causes warts, not amphibians. (I haven't had to use this one, but if I had a little kid who wanted to chase toads down all day and bring them home to live with us? WARTS! YOU'LL ALL GET WARTS!)
    Image Credit: Flickr

What’s the best old wives’ tale you tell your kids?

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Follow Casey on her blog and twitter!

Also on babble…

The fascinating history behind 10 classic toys.

Addie sneaks books at night.

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