The 10 Most Damaging Pieces Of Advice Your Parents Gave You

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Parents love to tell their children to “follow their dreams,” but what if their dreams are suffused with trench warfare, turbulent plane rides, and a pervasive air of joylessness? Like, I don’t know, call me crazy, but when I had that 3-year-long snapping tick wherein I involuntarily snapped my fingers everywhere I went, that may have been a good time to suggest that maybe—just maybe!—I shouldn’t follow all of my dreams. But instead they stayed mum, and so I continued to ride horses like a blind elderly man and pursue my favorite pastime: tap dancing. What developed was an awkwardly tall and gaunt, twitching little girl, shuffling her feet and snapping her fingers any chance she got, all the while missing her two front teeth.

1. Try out for the 8th grade basketball team

In a way, this god-awful piece of advice has followed me around ever since, like a pesky, ugly and awkward shadow. I made the first round of cuts. But then the second round of cuts came around, I was given the ol’ boot and pretty much haven’t recovered since. Instead, this failure just seemed to dictate the subsequent years of my life.

2. Encourage your terrible taste in clothes

Sometimes a simple “no” is not only important, but imperative. Like that time I was obsessed with “hot green” and refused to leave the house if a single item of clothing I was wearing didn’t match that hue.

3. Encouraging your musical vocation

It would be one thing if they told me I was musically talented. But no. It was: Rachel, the musical genius. Let’s just say I disappointed many.

4. The open door policy

Perhaps this wasn’t so much advice as it was a directive, but whenever I had boys over I had to keep my bedroom door open. And it’s a reasonable request…until you’re 22 and home from college. Then it’s just weird. It’s also not something I’d encourage getting used to. Because apparently other people, like the neighbors in your college freshman dorm, don’t appreciate this policy quite as much.

5. Close drawers and cabinets

I’ve never seen any one thing get someone’s panties in a bigger twist than my mom’s reaction to me not closing drawers. It’s a weird habit, but as I’ve tried to explain to you all copious times, it’s not that odd for someone as self-centered as me. And yet, at the same time, I can’t help but think how much more beneficial it would have been if my mother focused less on me closing drawers and more on me closing my mouth or, I don’t know, my legs.

6. Issuing a moratorium on wearing new clothes

When I was younger my mom would take me shopping at the dawn of most seasons. However—curveball!—I was never allowed to wear the clothes after taking them home. It was always, “I’m keeping these dresses in my closet until April,” or, “I’ll only buy you those pants if you wait 6 months to wear them.” Such orders would disappoint and confound me, naturally, but I figured that when I got older I would understand the reasoning behind this. Well, it’s 10+ years later and this is all still a very big mystery to me. My only conclusion is that it was a sick joke she used to play on me, for which I can only say, brava, mama!

7. Always speak your mind

Except what they failed to mention was: unless it’s to some authority figure who has the power to fire and/or fail you.

8. Wash the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher

This one always flummoxed me, perhaps because there is actually no logical reason for it. It reminds me of those sporadic times when my family hired a housekeeper and my mom would tell me to clean up for her, or else my room wouldn’t be cleaned.

9. If too f*cked up to drive home, call us and we’ll come pick you up

My parents have always stayed true to this promise and the times I have followed through with it, they’ve been very cool about it. What I failed to anticipate is that, while I perhaps may have been escaping immediate punishment, I was also willingly providing them with lifelong leverage over me.

10. Always make homemade meals, and always make sure there are leftovers

I grew up with incredible homemade meals to the point where now, the idea of cooking intimidates me to no end. Sure, I can whip up some mean ground beef with El Paso seasoning mix, but that is where my cooking ventures end. Which explains why, only a few days ago, my parents got a call from Con Edison asking if I was dead. Apparently I hadn’t turned on the stove for 9 months. TC mark

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