Opinion: Of course we should lie to our kids about Santa – and here is why
It's the most magical time of year.
Over these next few weeks, children think and talk and ask about Santa, counting down the days until Christmas morning. It's a relentless process, from when they get up in the morning to when they go to sleep at night.
However, some critics claim that when we lie to our kids about Santa it could be doing more harm than good.
And say we all need to be upfront with our kids as to who is really filling their stockings and munching on those mince pies.
“It’s a lie, it degrades your parental trustworthiness, it encourages credulity, it does not encourage imagination, and it’s equivalent to bribing your kids for good behaviour,” writes David Kyle Johnson, a philosophy professor at King’s College in Psychology Today.
It can make anyone wonder; if it is a bad thing to flat out lie to your children for years and years? And then have them discover the truth and potentially be devastated that mum and dad and the world at large made them believe a man with a white beard visited their house every Christmas Eve to grant them their Smyth's catalogue generated wishes?
Well, I suppose it is every parent's prerogative to perpetuate the Santa myth or not. Most of us do. And – in my humble opinion – I really can't see why in the world you would not! Seriously. It is fun and amazing for the kids. It is almost as fun as a parent (maybe even more; seeing the look on their faces Christmas morning is possibly one of the absolute best moments of parenthood).
Which means, in our house, we go to town at Christmas.
We talk about Santa. We help the kids write him letters. We help them post the letters. We make sure they leave out mince pies, milk and carrots for the reindeer before we tuck them into bed on Christmas Eve.
And then we scoff all the pies (purposely making a mess) and drink the milk and take large bites out of Rudolph's carrots. We rub a little dirt in front of the fireplace and make sure some baubles "fall" off the tree ('coz Santa is a little clumsy, no?) We pretty much get as excited as two adults can get about Santa coming. You know, while still realising that he is, in fact, not.
And if you are still not convinced, here are three more reasons why Santa is (almost) as important in my eyes as it is for my two children, almost:
1. Magic is, well, magic
As a parent, I feel like it is important for my children to believe in magic and all that's wonderful about the world for as long as humanly possible. Which probably explains why we also have two fairies (Pixie Rainbow and Bluebell Sparkle) living with us (inside their fairy doors, of course), and why, in December, we have an Elf on the Shelf who gets up to all sorts while we are all in bed at night.
I think that magic, more so than anything else, is a great fertiliser for imagination. Letting them believe that fairies can leave them letters (and sometimes chocolate stars) or that reindeer can fly can allow their minds to take them to places reality never could.
Are we mollycoddling them and not giving them the tools they need to cope with reality, which will soon enough catch up with them? Or teaching them that sometimes believing in the impossible is pretty amazing. I am going to go for the second option.
2. Turns out, I'm totally cool about lying to little kids
"You are lying to your kids – for years." This can be an argument for not doing the Santa thing, of course. But the thing is, we lie to our kids anyway.
"If you don't brush, your teeth will fall out." They probably won't.
"No, I didn't eat your Kinder Egg." Totally ate the Kinder Egg.
We also promise them more serious stuff, like that we will never leave them, or that they will never see a real monster. Some of these things are flat out lies (like the sneakily eating their sweets after they go to bed and lying about it). Some are things you have no way of knowing for sure (monster can be a tricky thing to define), but you make the decision that lying is better than the truth – to calm your anxious child.
And as for Santa, I firmly believe the joy they have from believing in him will outweigh the disappointment when they learn the truth.
Which leads me neatly to the next bit...
3. Finding out the truth is a great exercise in... finding out the truth
There will be many's a time in my children's lives that they will learn the cold hard truth about things. Santa possibly being one of them. But my hope is that that, when they find out – whether it will be a shocking discovery or more of a slow realisation – they will completely understand and, indeed, be thankful that we went to such great lengths to keep the magic going, and to nourish their belief in magic.
And that the memories they have from their childhood Christmases will make it all worth it.
Are YOU happy to keep the Santa lie going for the sake of a little Christmas magic?