Should We Be Lying To Kids?
Is Santa really a lie?
‘Tis the season! Every year children around the world get excited about all the wonders that come with the holiday season. Festive lights, hot cocoa with tiny marshmallows, hanging ornaments, and a make-believe man who breaks into your house through the chimney, bringing you presents if you’ve been good, and coal (for some odd reason) if you’ve been bad. While many children are happy and smiling at the idea of Santa coming to visit, many children are sad, or angry, or maybe they really just don’t care, as they suddenly realize it was all a lie, and their parents were Santa all along.
For years I have said I never plan on telling my kids about Santa, the Easter bunny, or the Tooth Fairy. I still remember the moment I found out Santa wasn’t real; honestly, it was kind of traumatic. Is that every person’s experience? No, absolutely not. But for me I remember waking up at midnight because I heard a noise and was so excited to catch Santa, only to catch my parents. I laid in bed crying for 30 minutes (I was 8 by the way) and repeating to myself “they lied to me.” I wasn’t upset Santa wasn’t real, I was upset my parents had lied to me, and then I had to realize all the other mythical lies they had told me. I am lucky enough that my husband had an unlucky childhood: his father was a Jehova and they weren’t allowed to celebrate anything until his parents got divorced. So he never got Santa or the bunny, so he is perfectly okay with not telling our kids about these figures.
Now, my problem isn’t just with holiday characters. It’s with any lie that is done for the sake of amusement. Statistically speaking, researchers show when adults tell white lies, it leads to children trusting them less. Another study showed that children who had discovered their guardians’ lies, however big or small they were, were more likely to think lying was okay. These children would then go on to cheat in an academic or athletic event, and then lie about it when they were caught.
Whenever I bring up my issue with Santa, I am told that I am destroying a childhood, I am taking away the fun of being a kid. But why? If I tell them - hey Santa is a fun imaginary character that some kids believe in, and we can pretend if we want, how is that hurting them? Wouldn’t it hurt them more if I lied? What about non-Christian-based religious kids? I had plenty of Jewish friends with great childhoods and they never believed in these characters. Since my cousin had two younger siblings, her parents never told her Santa wasn’t real, and she never figured it out until her siblings did. This girl was going into high school when she first realized Santa wasn’t real. I want you to imagine being 13 and one of your classmates still believes in Santa…how would you, as the middle school asshole we all were, react to that?
Is this not for our own amusement? Would the child not have the same amount of fun without these characters? Are we lying just for ourselves? And again, it isn’t just these holidays I take issue with. What about when your parents would tell you something fake was real, as a way to scare you? While watching a friend’s child she began ranting about how awful a particular Netflix show was, and she couldn't believe people in other countries do this, “how could they murder people like that…” all because her stepmom thought it would be funny to say this was real.
This girl just entered middle school and the catty fights are already starting. She has also been bullied for a disorder she has - because yes, children are still awful. If this child, who has already been a target, tried to adamantly tell her classmates “no, this show is real!” She would have been mocked. The look on her face when I told her “no, those are all actors” and she said “oh…well I guess my step-mom was just pulling a prank on me…” dear god! This small “prank” honestly hurt her, and it was done by an adult she loves and trusts.
Parents do this all the time, but I don’t think parents ever really see or acknowledge the aftereffects of these small lies. So what is the point of lying to children for our own amusement?
About the Creator
Writing articles about mental health, education, astrology, and overall life. Writing fiction stories about whatever comes to mind! When I'm not writing you can find me crying about all the animals I can't adopt.
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