Shall we lie to kids about santa?

In Oxford, a santa was sacked from his job in a grotto recently because he told 3 happy children about the horrible US school massacre. Not only that, the santa also told the kids that he was not real.

Bad santa

This ‘bad’ santa didn’t do what he was told.

The siblings (aged 10, 7, 6) bursted into tears. They now know the horrible truth that santa is not real, and perhaps it means that their innocence is lost forever, due to the big mouth of this santa who hasn’t read his job description well. Their parents were furious. The santa was sacked. Luckily the parents got their refund from the garden centre. (£5.99 for each child to see a Santa in a grotto. Inflation, you see? It used to be £2.)

It often amazes me that in the West, there is such a tradition of lying to small children about the existence of santa. I also lied to my son too about the santa until he asked me to stop it about 2 years ago. He still wants presents, of course, but now he thinks the story of santa is a bit embarrassing.

It’s interesting to see how a child blossoms as he starts unraveling your lies. He laughs at your seriousness about the tooth fairy, fairy at the bottom of the garden, the Easter bunny and your lame joke about the santa.

Some people think it’s stupid or even immoral to lie to kids. I feel however that these silly lies (or stories that we make up) are harmless. I don’t think children will be scarred for life once they’ve found out the truth. The most wonderful thing is that these silly lies/stories/myths bring a sense of longing to the kids and bring them hope, dream and imaginations.

10 thoughts on “Shall we lie to kids about santa?

  1. maxim sense

    The other question is: can lies be classified into harmful, silly, harmless? If yes, then why don’t we just take them from our own innocent experience? In our time, we never knew that Santa was so unreal. Now that we are grown enough, we knew all the while that we were deceived by our parents; we were lied upon on the true nature of Santa. So what now? We just laugh it out! Who cares about that we were once deceived or lied upon? And we even seem to enjoy that now as parents, we can dupe the same tricks to the kids for as long as they come of age to realize it by themselves and keep that sacred secret for the next generation. But men, oh there are a lot of us who cannot be trusted with secrets. And now we are on a quandary to ask the same question as you have.

  2. Bill Hayes

    Even at the age of five I was not quite convinced about this Santa lark. Then we had a Santa at our school on the last day of term. Everybody was going to get a present. When it came to me, he said “’ve been a bit naughty recently haven’t you?..” I was completely phased. How did he know? He still gave me a present. I found out later of course it was the school caretaker. But he had me for a short time.
    Believing in Santa is a right of passage; and is not exactly a lie, more a little makey up.

    Happy christmas.

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      It’s true — a right of passage. I’m quite curious to see how long we keep a child’s innocence. As kids seem smarter today, do they get to expose the myth at a much younger age than kids would a few decades ago?

      I also remember a lovely caretaker in my son’s school.

  3. ShimonZ

    In our culture, we don’t have someone like Santa… That is, we do have wonderful old men with beards, who are usually grandparents or uncles, who in fact give presents, and have something to say to the kids… so I really don’t know about Santa… but I suppose there is a way to tell the children with a twinkle in the eye so they’ll know, by themselves, when they’re ready to know, that it is all a myth. And a myth is neither a lie or deceit… it seems to me.

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      It’s great fun to engage in a conversation with a small child about Santa — I love the imagination that goes with this myth and it must be a very cherished memory for the children. However, I don’t seem to like the idea of meeting a santa in a grotto in an artificial setting. Parents have to pay a few pounds for a child to queue to see a santa, and they normally get some rubbish plastic toy in return from the santa. In the school’s winter fayre, sometimes there’s also a santa grotto and it’s the same boring stuff.

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      Yes — when they’re ready — and the kids will tell you when they are ready. My son learnt a lot of things from the playground and he came home to tell me what he and his friends had already found out.

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