June 21, 2023 | Casey Fletcher

People Share The Genius Lies Their Parents Told Them As Kids That They Still Believed As Adults

As little kids, we believed everything our parents said: Santa won't visit if we don't go to bed before 9 p.m. Our hair won't turn curly unless we eat our crust. If we swallow our gum, it will stay in our stomach for seven years. We never questioned these statements because we were raised to believe that our parents know best. That is, until we grew up and realized all of the nonsense we had been fed over the years. From little white lies to flat-out fibs fabricated to make children behave, here are some of the most genius lies parents told their children.


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#1 Should Have Known Better

When I couldn't sleep, my mother would give me a 'sleeping potion'. A dab on the nose, sniff it, and I would fall asleep. Once, when I was about 16 or 17, I couldn't sleep, so I asked my mom if she could give me some of that stuff she would dab on my nose when I was a kid. Her response: "It was perfume, you idiot."


#2 Not the Brightest Crayon

When I was a toddler, my mom told me that certain toys had to stay in the playpen, so I would actually ask to be put in the playpen and would never fuss about it. I was not the brightest crayon in the box.


#3 Mr. Thor

My dad did this for no reason other than to wind me up: He used to throw tiny pebbles at the top of my head every now and again when we were walking to school or whatever, and when I asked what it was, he would say, "Thunderbolt." I thought for many years I was lucky to have not been hit by lightning.


#4 McDonald's is Closed

"We can't go to McDonald's, it's closed." I never questioned it as a child, I just thought McDonald's had a horrible business model being closed ALL the time.

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#5 Tree Turtles

You know the knots on trees? My parents told my younger brother and I that they were "tree turtles." Essentially, the flying red turtles from Mario games. We were young and our dad worked as an arborist so we assumed it was real. They used to freak us out when we'd go in the forest or go on a hike saying, "Oh look! One has hatched over here." This resulted in my little brother running out of the woods screaming and crying because he thought he heard one coming. The turtles were supposedly aggressive and would bite you. Our dad had a big scar on his arm from a chainsaw accident and he would tell us it was from a tree turtle attack while working.


#6 Playing Tuna

I played 'tuna' with my parents. It involved the family tucking up in bed like tunas in a can. Three-year-old me fell asleep in minutes, and my parents got their nap.


#7 Spotty Muffins

My mom always made "spotty muffins" for my siblings and I. They were actually poppy-seed muffins, but for some reason, we got grossed out whenever she called them that. Just a few months ago, I called them spotty muffins, and my friends made fun of me mercilessly. And rightfully so.


#8 Curly Hair

I was always told to eat my crusts or my hair wouldn't go curly. I don't know why I would've wanted curly hair, but now I have curly hair! Stupid crusts.


#9 No Child Locks

My mother told me that if the car door were ever open while the car was moving, I would be "sucked right out" of the door. I marveled for years about how exactly a vortex would be formed, eventually trying to gather some empirical data and scaring my mom. This was before child locks were a thing.


#10 Very Polite

When my sisters and I were kids, my mom hid the remote for the garage door where we couldn't see her pushing the button. She convinced us that the door wouldn't open or close unless we said "please" and "thank you." We grew up to be very polite.

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#11 Chocolate Milk, Brown Cows

My parents told me that chocolate milk came from brown cows. I had no reason not to believe them. When I was five, a teacher rhetorically asked the class if chocolate milk came from brown cows. Everyone screamed out at the same time:

Class: "NooOooooOOOoo!"

Me: "Yes!"

Turns out, my parents are liars.


#12 Crouch in Elevators

My dad told me and my brother that if we don't crouch in the elevators our weenies would fall off. We even warned our friends about it. Turns out, he said it so we wouldn't accidentally press any buttons.


#13 Don't Want That

My mom used to tell us to behave, or she'd sell us to the Gypsies.

#14 Sorry, The ER Is Closed

My parents told us that the emergency room was closed on the weekends. Around 5 p.m. on a Friday, my mom would say, "Don't you get hurt or you won't be here by Monday!" We believed it until I was around 11 because we never had to go to the ER. I think the fear of death made us extra careful.


#15 This Is Hilarious

When my dad wanted to keep me busy he would tell me to go see if he was outside. My dad asked me to go see if my dad was outside... And I would go check. Also, he was never there, which was disappointing.


#16 These Are Great Stories

My parents were the reigning champions of making up stories for us to believe. I genuinely thought the color orange was purple and vice versa for many, many years. I was told that if I didn't go to bed at 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve, Santa wouldn't come. My mother told me that the dirtier a house was, the more likely it was to get robbed, so unless I wanted all my stuff to get stolen by bad men, I'd clean my room.

My father convinced my sister and I that the grass on the lawn was lethal if it reached a certain length. That, if it became mature enough, it would have the strength to grab feet and ankles, drawing its prey to the ground and consuming it, and that's why the lawnmower blades were made of metal. He used this to convince us to help him mow it.


#17 Special Dark Is For Dads

My dad told me that Special Dark Hershey's were for dads only, and on Halloween, he would make me go through my candy to give him all of them.


#18 The Actors Live

My father told me that horror movies were performed by actors and instructors who had planned what the scenes should look like. For some reason, I misunderstood this. I thought that every time someone died in a horror movie, an actor would sacrifice his life. I actually thought this for a very long time, before I realized that this couldn't be true.

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#19 Moose Slobber

My grandma told me that all of the tar on the road filling the cracks was "moose slobber." We were driving through Canada at the time, so I thought it was legit.

#20 Don't Breathe

My mom told me that I had to hold my breath when we drove by cemeteries because "it was disrespectful to breathe when others couldn't." The last part I knew was a lie, but I still held my breath when I went by cemeteries. Two weeks ago, she told me that she only made me do that because it was funny. I'm 24.


#21 Shhh! There's a Cop!

My sisters and I would stop making noise when we saw a police officer. My mom said we needed to be quiet or he would take us away. In cars, at school, in a hospital, anytime I saw a cop, I became a saint. Getting my first ticket was interesting.


#22 A Necessary Lie

My mother told my brothers and I that if we didn't shower, we would grow crust. We never knew what "crust" was or where it formed... We didn't want to take the chance, so we showered. As an adult, I asked her what crust was. She looked straight at me and was said, "I lied just to get you guys to shower."


#23 Smooch

My mother told me babies come from kissing too much.

#24 Pan Flakes

When I was a kid, I loved scrambled eggs but hated pepper. Let's face it, scrambled eggs taste better with pepper in them, so my parents always put pepper in everyone's eggs. When I would ask what the black flakes in my eggs were, my parents would say, "just flakes coming off of the pan." Apparently, crusty pan flakes are okay but pepper isn't. I believed them until I was about nine.


#25 Don't Start a Fire

My mom told me that if I flipped the light switch on and off too fast and too often it would start a fire. I was terrified of accidentally causing this. She does not remember telling me this.


#26 They Don't Like Kids

When going over to someone's house for dinner, my mom and dad would tell my sister and I, "These people really don't like kids. They used to have kids and they hated them." My sister and I were angels. We were always complimented with how well behaved we were. We were just really terrified. I'm not sure of what, but we behaved. Years later, my sister asked why so many people don't like kids and it made me think of if nobody liked kids, the population would shrink. I'm telling the same lie to my kids. If I survived, so will they.

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#27 Never Got It

I wanted my own phone line (this was the 90s) but my dad kept telling me we would "talk about it later." Finally, I said, "Okay, it's later. Let's talk about it!" And he said, "If you bring it up one more time, it's never going to happen." So I never brought it up again. Darn.


#28 Your Eyes Are So Bright!

When I was little, my parents told me that carrots were good for my eyes and that the more I ate at dinner, the shinier my eyes got. I'd eat and eat, and they'd get up and put sunglasses on because of how bright my eyes were in order to get me to finish my carrots.

#29 Time to Grow Up

My brother used to listen to everything my mom said and paid attention to how she did things. When she was teaching us how to dress, she taught us to tuck in our shirts (even t-shirts) and wear our jeans mid-waist. I wore my clothes like this WAY too long but eventually figured out that none of my friends wore their clothes like this and now I dress like a normal person. My brother, however, is 30 years old and STILL dresses as mom taught him.


#30 This Is Smart

One day, when I was about four years old, my sister and I got bags and bags of new clothes donated to us (we were extremely poor) and my mother wouldn't let us try any of them on because "we were still wearing clean clothes." The lady from the church was there and they were having "adult talk" so we went outside to play. I said to my older sister, "Watch this," and promptly peed my pants.

I walked back inside, showed off my soggy bottoms (to the extreme embarrassment of my mother), and then had a fashion show in my new gear. The moral of the story is, "Don't tell poor children they can't try on their new hand-me-downs due to their current outfits being clean or they WILL soil themselves to get at that fashion gold."


#31 This Is Genius

My wife created a game to play with her younger cousins called "Fungus." The goal was for them to essentially plank and be as quiet as possible for as long as possible. The last person to break character won. She also created "Ultimate Fungus" which included holding your breath. Genius way to get some quiet.


#32 Three-Legged Haggis

My sister and I were told that haggis were creatures that ran around the hills in Scotland. We were told that they had three legs and only ran one way around the hill, so they only had two long legs and one short leg. To catch them you just chase them around the hill the other way until they fall over.

#33 Pure Genius

When I was a little kid and needed my tonsils taken out, I got scented anesthetic. It was allegedly bubblegum. I took one whiff of it and refused to keep the mask on. The anesthesiologist was extremely patient. He'd tell me I'd get ice cream after, and he put the mask on my stuffed cat and said, "Look, she likes it."

I gave him a withering look and pointed out that it was just a stuffed animal and couldn't actually smell it. The poor guy just sighed and said, "I'll make a bargain with you. If you keep the mask on for ten seconds and you still don't like it, you don't have to wear it, we'll get you something else. Sound fair? Okay. Ready? One...two..."


#34 Poor Calico

My mother told us that the cat hated the sound of the vacuum and it hurt poor Calico's ears. So when she would start the vacuum, my brother and I would race the cat to our bedroom and cover her with blankets so she wouldn't have to hear that horrible noise. The poor cat loved us enough to never scratch us. My mom got us to clear out while she got the vacuuming done.


#35 Trench Mouth

We had an old porcelain claw foot bathtub with a narrow faucet. We figured out early how to push on the water and make a water fountain. Clearly, my mom didn't want us making a mess with the water, but for some reason, she told us that we would "get trench mouth" if we drank the water from the bathtub. To this day, I will not drink any water from the bathroom. I was probably 20 when my roommate asked me why I always went downstairs for toothbrushing water and I told her I didn't want trench mouth. She stared at me until the lightbulb went off.

#36 Magic Crystals

When I was in second grade, a third-grader on the bus used to tell me stories about a jar of magic crystals that he had at home. I believed every word and begged him to let me see them, but he would always make up some story about how his mom wouldn't let him bring them to school because they were too powerful.



When my brother, sister, and I were little, we played a game where every time my mom or dad would yell, "STATUE," (usually in a moment when we were being particularly rowdy) we'd all freeze in place. The first person to crack lost the game. We loved that game. I think one time we were locked in an epic statue battle for close to an hour. It took me until I was about 14 to figure out this was an extremely clever way to make children be quiet.


#38 Don't Call the Hospital

When my sister and I were little, whenever we really misbehaved, my parents would always say, "Stop that or we'll call the hospital and trade you in for better kids!" One time, we decided to call their bluff and my dad picked up the phone and started dialing. We were good from then on.


#39 Santa's Number

My mom told me the asterisk on the phone dialing pad was a snowflake and was used to "call Santa" to tell him when I was being naughty.


#40 Growing Feet

My whole life, about every 6 months, the skin on my feet cracks and peels. In order to explain it and make sure I wasn't self-conscious about it, my mom told me that it happened because my feet were growing. It was only a couple years ago that I realized my feet haven't grown in a long time, but the skin still peels. My mom still laughs about it.


#41 Smart Mom

My mom told me the wheels of a car couldn't move until every seatbelt had been buckled. That there was literally a mechanism preventing the wheels from rotating until everyone buckled. I believed this for 24 years. You bet I'll tell my children the same thing.


#42 The Star Tells the Truth

My parents used to tell us that when we were lying, a star appeared on our forehead so they knew when we were "fibbing." So when we lied, we covered our foreheads, and THAT'S how they really knew that we were lying. Brilliant and pathetic that it actually worked on my sisters and I.


#43 Don't Talk

When my family and I would be on long car trips, typically to Cape Cod, my dad would buy a pack of Life Savers and we would all play "who could keep the lifesaver in one piece for the longest." It wasn't until about five years ago that I realized he was just doing this so my sister and I would shut up for a little bit.

#44 Kneading Cheese

When I was a kid, my mother would occasionally make mac and cheese. I thought I was an awesome little chef and wanted to help with everything when, in reality, I was just getting in the way. It made her nervous with the boiling water and all. So she would give me the cheese packet, not the powdery kind but the gross but oh-so-delicious cheese goo, and tell me it needed "mixing."  I would sit on a stool in the kitchen for like 10 minutes poking at this little bag of cheese to mix it up.

I did this last summer when I was making it for myself (I'm 20). My mother saw when she passed through the kitchen and busted out laughing. I was just sitting on the stool, diligently kneading cheese. I felt like a bit of a moron when she explained her laughter. You'd think I would have noticed that it wasn't on the directions.


#45 Ready, Set, Go!

My mom used to ask us to fetch things for her. She would "time us" and we would race to beat our times while she counted really loudly so that we could hear her. Then, she would let her voice trail off the further away we got. Then, she would announce our time. The thing is our times were never recorded, she never told us if we did better than last time and we were content with it. If you want your kids to move fast, just make it a race.




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