Moms always want what is best for their kids, and mine was especially protective. So, it’s not a surprise that my mom always had a load of advice she’d shell out every day to help keep me healthy and safe. A lot of the things my mom taught me were really good pieces of advice, but some of it was just plain wrong. Here are some things my mom taught me were red flags that didn’t end up being true.
“Don’t date a guy with tattoos; he’ll be a bad boy.” While a guy with tattoos in the 1950s probably would have been the bad boy, it doesn’t hold true today. Tattoos are so prevalent in our society that nearly 1 in 5 people have one, so it would obviously follow that there are good people with tattoos—and it shouldn’t be seen a red flag against them.
“If she dresses promiscuous, she’ll steal all your boyfriends.” If I’ve heard this one from my mom once, I’ve heard it a million times. It was a big friendship red flag for my mom to see a woman who dressed provocatively. But, as dress codes and women’s wear start to reflect changing attitudes on the inherent sexuality of women’s bodies, so do our perceptions of women who choose to wear them. In my opinion, women who aren’t afraid to show a little skin make some of the best friends. They’re fun and outgoing, a good influence on someone who can be a little anti-social.
“If he drives a motorcycle, he’s a risk taker.” Motorcycles are more dangerous than driving a regular car and accidents are more likely to be fatal, but men and women who drive motorcycles aren’t necessarily thrill seekers. They just might want to save money on gas or think motorcycles are better for the environment. Even if they are thrill seekers, it’s not always a bad thing. Learning to take a risk can be a good thing.
“Don’t be friends with girls that wear too much makeup—they’re fake.” My mother was always infamous for judging women on what they wore. It was like a job for her; if she wasn’t telling me everything I was doing wrong with my appearance, she was mocking everyone around her. One of the number one things my mother believes is a red flag is too much makeup. Girls who like makeup too much are fake, easy, and immoral. WTF?
“If he likes something feminine, he’s definitely gay.” My mother always told me not to go falling for guys that wear their hair long or like nail polish. “You’ll just end up with your heart broken; all those men are gay.” She always spat out the word too, like there’s something wrong with being gay. Obviously, this is completely not true. I have plenty of guy friends that love knitting, long hair, or being stay-at-home dads that are definitely not gay—and I would still love them even if they were.
“Girls who sleep around are bad friends.” My mother had little to say about guys who sleep around, but she had a lot of thoughts about women who did. They were irresponsible, unChristian, immoral, and unfriendly. “Men date those girls but no one marries them,” she’d say, looking smug. It was ironic; my mother only married my father because they got pregnant. They were both teenagers too, but despite her history, she has all sorts of negative words for women who have children out of wedlock or sleep around. A lot of my best girl friends have been promiscuous women, and I wouldn’t change anything about them for the world. They aren’t immoral or irresponsible.
“If they drink, they’ll be irresponsible.” My mother and father are both teetotalers. They haven’t had alcohol in their lives, and they have a few things to say about people who drink, even casually. People who drink don’t always do so irresponsibly, and even people who drink a lot aren’t necessarily bad people.
“If they smoke pot, they’ll be bad people.” Although some states have legalized or partly legalized pot in the last few years, there are still a great many people who see it as illegal and immoral. It doesn’t matter how many times you explain the possible health benefits to people with PTSD and other debilitating diseases, or that it’s safer to use than cigarettes or even sometimes caffeine, my mother believes everyone who uses is a no-good criminal type. Considering about 50 percent of Americans have used marijuana before, I know for a fact that isn’t true.
“Don’t be friends with those people; they won’t make good friends.” My mother had a laundry list of people that weren’t acceptable to date or hang out with. That list unfortunately included most people of color, gays, trans, and the majority of the other marginalized minorities that already suffer under our current system. And while yes, there are some people who fall into those categories that are jerks or bad influences, the large majority of “those people” are kind, loving, friendly people who just want to be good friends, lovers, or neighbors.
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