Lies Singaporean Parents Tell To Get Us To Behave As Kids
Top image: Zachary Tang / RICE File Photo

“I know this is not specific to my parents because I found out some of my friends also heard this growing up. My mum would tell me that if I didn’t finish the food on my plate (mainly the rice), my future partner’s face would have pimples identical to the rice grains.

But, I have a really small appetite and I couldn’t finish my food, was that my fault? But looking at my boyfriend now, that was definitely a lie. And even when he finishes his meal with a clean plate, I still have pimples.”

– Sherry

“My mum would tell me that she would chop off my arms when I folded them. When I was a child, whenever I threw a tantrum, I would always end up folding my arms. Looking back, I think it was just a way to display my frustration.

But because I stopped folding my arms, I started crying instead, so I guess it worked! One time, I didn’t listen, and my mum picked up a chopper. It definitely traumatised me and I stopped folding my arms since.”

– Nicholas

“Not sure if this counts as a bad habit, but I think it could be. After I entered polytechnic, my dad would tell me to stop dyeing my hair. If not, I would go bald.

Even as a 17-year-old, I thought he was serious. But to be honest, I might have had a problem. I changed my hair colour three times over a few months, and the bleach severely damaged my hair. I really thought that I would go bald.”

– Jia Ning

Singapore parents lies mum
Image: Stephanie Lee / RICE File Photo

“I was a very mischievous child. When I got caught doing anything bad—be it lying, making a mess, screaming—my parents would tell me that they would sell me to the karung guni (rag-and-bone man).

The funny thing is, in a handful of timely coincidences, we would hear the bicycle horn of the karung guni outside. You can’t imagine how scared I was.”

– Calvin

“This is definitely racist, but my parents told me that if I wasn’t in bed by bedtime, someone from a… certain race would kidnap me.

As I got older, it definitely affected how I saw people from different backgrounds. And it was the thing that made me realise that even though Singapore is known as a ‘multi-cultural country’, racism is very real.”

– Eugenia

“I used to bite my nails very often, and my parents would tell me that they would chop my fingers off if I continued. I only called their bluff a few years later.

When I was older, I actually wanted to stop that habit. They suggested that I paint my nails with a bitter clear coat to stop my nail-biting habit. After a few days, I forgot about it. When I bit it, all I tasted was regret.”

– Brendon

“My mum would tell me that the more I cry, the uglier I’ll become—a negative core memory that I can never forget.

A lot of my friends see me as someone who doesn’t cry at all, but this really affected me when I was growing up. I already had some body dysmorphia and this made it worse. From crying over small things as a child, I learnt how to hide my emotions and learnt how to quickly ‘get over it’.”

– Claudia

Singapore parents lies mum
Image: Shiva Bharathi Gupta / RICE File Photo

“I get very fidgety easily and I often shake my leg sitting down. My parents would say things like, ‘If you shake too much, it would fall off.’

I didn’t stop shaking my leg, but I ‘rationed’ how long I would be shaking my leg in a day. If I realised that I was shaking it too much in the morning, I would control myself to stop shaking it in the afternoon.”

– Timothy

“Do you remember talking in front of the fan for a robotic voice? As an only child, that was one way I entertained myself. I don’t remember it vividly, but I think I did that often enough for my parents to have found it annoying.

I remember my dad telling me that I would get a cough when I did that, and I believed him. I was convinced as I did feel my throat being sore. But in reality, the fan probably made my mouth really dry and uncomfortable.”

– Javier

“I was quite a picky eater. I don’t know how true this is, but my parents told me that certain foods will give me some abilities.

They told me that eating carrots would help my eyesight and that I wouldn’t need to wear glasses. And that eating fish would help me swim better. At that time, I had swimming classes two times a week and I wanted to get better. But now, I barely swim and I wear glasses.”

– Wei Jin

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