Even Jeopardy! didn’t prepare me for being a dad. Nobody, not even Alex Trebek, can ask more perplexing questions in a half hour than a curious five-year-old can. For many years, I found myself authoritatively repeating all the same things my parents told me: no, you shouldn’t sniff your magic markers. Yes, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you have a nosebleed, lean your head back. Or, wait, forward? One of those.
I talked a good game, but I honestly had no idea if I was ever right or not. Parenting, famously, doesn’t come with an instruction manual, so if and when we kids, all we have are these half-remembered bromides from our own childhoods. Last year, I’d finally had enough, and decided to write my own instruction manual. The result was Because I Said So!, which uses actual science to verify or debunk over 120 of the most persistent bits of helicopter-parent paranoia I could come up with.
Do you know fact-checked parental love when you hear it? Try the Official Ken Jennings Because I Said So! Quiz™. Which of these deathless Mom clichés are actually good advice, and which are parenting poppycock?
- “Don’t sit so close to the TV.”
- “Eat chicken soup when you have a cold.”
- “Don’t flip the light switch on and off—it wastes money.”
- “You need eight glasses of water a day.”
- “Swallowed gum sits in your stomach for seven years.”
- “Put on a hat! Most of your body heat escapes through your head.”
- “Don’t chew your ice, it’s bad for your teeth.”
- “Don’t pop your knuckles, you’ll get arthritis.”
- “If you pee in the pool, there’s a chemical that makes it turn blue.”
- “Don’t feed the dog chocolate.”