Spoiler alert: this article contains information suggesting that the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and Santa might not be real.
Recently I read an article stating that lying to your kids about things like Santa and the Easter Bunny can be psychologically and emotionally harmful. The particular psychologist who wrote the article suggested that children need to know they can trust their parents to tell them the truth, even about things like this. In other words, when your kids ask if Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter bunny are real, you should tell them the truth. He carries on to say that myths and fables are an unjustified lie which can undermine your child’s trust in you and encourage gullibility. Pretty much – if you tell your kid that the Easter Bunny or Santa is real, you are raising a little Norman Bates.
Yes, I know lying is wrong. We have a strict no-lying policy in our house. For kids, that is. Someone once said, “I believe in being honest with my kids, 101 percent.” That someone wasn’t me. Judge my parenting if you will, but I lie to my kids all the time. A fast thinking white lie can be the difference between a good night’s sleep and being sent to a padded room where nice people put a jacket with no sleeves on you.
When they pull ugly faces – I tell them their faces will freeze like that. When they want to play with a very noisy toy and I have a headache – I tell them it is broken (this is also reserved for every annoying automatic pony/car ride thingy in front of the grocery store). I tell them that they can’t watch cartoons at night because the characters are sleeping. I tell them the ice cream man only plays that song when they’re out of ice cream.
So sue me.
I do not believe children are negatively harmed by being told stories about Santa and the Easter Bunny any more than they are harmed by bedtime stories, superheroes or legends. The notion of a big man with a long white beard and red velvet outfit who flies around the world in a cart drawn by flying hoofed mammals with glowing red noses, entering people’s homes through their chimneys without getting arrested and delivering presents, all within the span of a single night – or a story about a bunny that hides chocolate eggs in your garden for no good reason at all – is quite ridiculous, to say the least. I am sure that deep down, our kids know that these things cannot possibly be real – yet they want, and need, to believe in the magic of it all.
Children use their imaginations all the time, even if they know the resulting creations are fiction. When kids play cops and robbers, they know they aren’t really cops or robbers – they are not gearing up for a lifetime of crime and determined to spend their adulthood in a jail cell. You might find that your kid is a lot smarter than you think – and knows that the Easter Bunny is not real, but enjoys taking part in a fun family tradition. And getting a crap load of chocolate.
Sometimes a little lie can keep the magic of childhood alive… These cover everything from those threats about Santa’s naughty and nice list to “the cat was too old to walk up the steps of our house anymore, so we sent him to a farm where he will be much happier.” Let them be a kid a little while longer. They have many years ahead of them to be robbed of magic and stripped of their wonder and belief.
I love the Easter Bunny. I love Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy even more. I cannot imagine my childhood without those wonderful nights of exhilarating anticipation. They brought a joy that only a trip to Disneyland could match. Discovering they were not real did no damage to my psyche. I did not hate or distrust my parents when I finally discovered the truth. It was more like discovering the secret to a great magic trick.
What do you think? Should we tell our kids the truth or let them believe in the magic of these mythical beings?