In Defense Of Lying To Your Child About Santa Claus

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secret santaI’m a liar. I’m a big, fat tall-tale-teller. When my daughter asks if fairies like Tinkerbell are real, I reply, “They are if you believe they are.” When Easter rolls around, I have a friend hide eggs in my house while we’re gone so that she arrives home with a huge look of shock and wonder on her face. And when it comes to Santa Claus, we’ll be baking cookies and leaving “Reindeer feed” on the lawn.

I know that there’s a new movement to stop lying to our kids about all of these magical beings and mythical creatures, but I just can’t seem to jump on board.

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of parents stress out about all the lying involved in creating that Christmas magic. There’s the Elf on the Shelf to hide every night. There’s the mall Santas to explain. Heck, I buy separate boxes, wrapping paper, and gift tags for all of my special, “From Santa” gifts. I realize that it gets a bit over the top. But I never expected a mother at gymnastics to tell me, “Well I just don’t understand how you can lie to your daughter. I mean, once they find out the truth, she’ll never trust you again.”

Whoa there Rudolph! We’re not talking about a thoughtful choice to focus your holiday energies away from the magic of Santa and onto the kindness and generosity of the season. The situation my colleague Carinn described yesterday sounds wonderful, and I think she’s making the perfect choice for her family. But there are other truthers out there who get a bit more worked up trying to convince parents to do away with old Saint Nick. They get downright hostile at the idea of telling their children a lie, or asking their children to perpetuate that lie for the other kids in their class.

I’m sorry to break it to these super honest folks, but parents lie to their kids all the time. At the very least, we exaggerate like crazy.

“Why can’t I drink pop?” “Because your teeth will fall out.” It’s not going to happen for years, but I don’t want my daughter to know that.

“Why do I have to go to school?” “Because you need to learn. Gaining knowledge and building that brain is how you guarantee that you can have whatever job you want when you’re older.” First of all, there are plenty of professional athletes that can disprove that theory. And studying really hard does not guarantee you can have absolutely any job you want. I would love to be a judge on Top Chef, but it’s not happening guys.

We lie to our kids. We do it for their own good. There’s a higher purpose involved, but let’s not pretend like we’re honest all the time, about everything. I happen to think that the wonder and excitement of Santa Claus, his reindeer, and his elves are worth the moral cost of lying. I think these stories teach children to imagine the impossible, to stretch their creativity. And honestly, I think they’re fun!

I can remember when I found out that the tooth fairy, Easter Bunny and even Santa Claus were all fakes. I was mad at my dad for a week afterwards, indignant that his would lie to me for so long. Then again, I was a kid, and getting mad at my parents was second-nature. I don’t think it had a lasting impact on our relationship, but I’ll ask my dad today when I meet him for our weekly lunch date.

Sure, Santa is a lie. He’s also magical. And I like giving my daughter a little magic over the holidays. I don’t have any problem with a parent deciding not to sell their kids on Kris Kringle, as long as they don’t lecture me about honesty when I’m trying to get my yuletide cheer on. I’ll remember that honesty bit when their kid finds their vibrator and asks what it is. Let’s see if lying is too much for their delicate sensibilities then.

(Photo: Laura Wootan/Shutterstock)