Blog of the Week: Is it ok to tell your son that Santa is a lie?

Blog_of_the_week_badgeThis week’s Blog of the Week may be slightly controversial. Here Raising Edgar explains why he doesn’t want to lie to his son, about Santa or anything else.

Do you agree with him? Is it ever OK to lie to your kids if you want them to trust you? We’d love to hear your views.

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I know they’ll be some of you that think I might actually be the Grinch and I have come to santasteal Christmas from Edgar and I fully respect your opinion.

But I’m going to tell him that Santa is a lie from the off.

I find this lying in mass malarkey a very strange thing.

Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean it’s right.

If I took another lie, completely at random, and chose to replace the Christmas lie with that one, let’s say – that moles are all knowing creatures that come up through the earth and bite your toes off if you’re naughty – and dedicated as much time to the cause as the average family does to the Santa lie, then you’d be calling the NSPCC.

I could take piles of earth and leave them around the house, saying:

“Ooh look, the moles have heard about you not eating your vegetables and they’re looking for you.”

Perhaps I could leave some droppings in his bed…

“Lucky you weren’t in bed at the time or you’d have no toes! They’ve obviously found out about when you had a crying fit because you couldn’t go outside in just your socks.”

winter walkI want Edgar to be able to trust everything I say. I don’t want to immediately set up the foundation for the belief that everything I say is to be investigated to find out if it’s true; that it might be a little trick so he gets humiliated at school in front of his friends, or even worse, his enemies.

Plus, kids love to pretend, as much as they love reality, possibly even more. Reality is ever such a boring thing when you’re a kid.

“We landed on the moon.”

“Whatevs… Do you want some of this cake I baked?”

Child offers you a hand with nothing in it.

“Nom nom nom” you say whilst stuffing your face with the magical calorie free cake.

Child is over the moon (puntendo*) and wants to find another gullible adult to play the same trick on.

*An amalgamation of pun and intended so that it rhymes with Nintendo. This will definitely catch on.

So we’re still going to have Christmas and celebrate in a big way (see resurrect the Tesco Christmas tree in the loft and have a large amount of booze in the house). It’s just going to be about pretending. And I’m going to bet that Edgar enjoys it just as much, if not more.

Obviously initially I will have shot myself in the foot (or Edgar in the foot, but I don’t like to santathink about that, even metaphorically) because he will be the odd one out for not believing. But kids get much more cruel as they get older, so by the time everyone has found out about the lie, Edgar will be revered as some sort of Nostradamus style messiah.

“What else isn’t really true oh wise one?” they will ask him.

“Well,” he’ll say, “I’m glad you asked. People who don’t give me their chocolate from their lunches will go to hell.”

Edgar! Don’t bring shame to the family. The family shame cupboard is full.

“Hell doesn’t even exist,” says one kid.

“Then where’s your mum at?” says Edgar.

Oh please please Edgar – don’t turn out to be a bully!

I already worry about that because he has strong hands, but that’s another post entirely.

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What do you think about the pretence of Santa? Does it feel wrong to lie or is it all about creating magic?

If you want to keep the magic but your children start asking awkward questions be armed with these great response Is Santa Real?

If you’re running with the whole Santa thing get ready with our Netmums Santa Kit

And for all thing Christmas check out our Netmums Christmas guide packed with more tips and helpful info than a Christmas stocking

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20 Responses to Blog of the Week: Is it ok to tell your son that Santa is a lie?

  1. Corrina Martin says:

    I completely understand the initial not wanting to lie to your child and I don’t really know myself if I disagree or agree with this post, I will be pretending Santa is real but that is personal choice as is yours.

    I only worry that the child will be odd one out from their friends for not believing in Christmas and therefore telling other children Santa’s not real could impact on what their parents would like them to believe in if it is the ‘magic of Christmas’

    parenting is a constant guessing game, trials and errors which work or don’t and you will only really know if it was for the best once you try it.

    I believed in Santa when I was a child and it didn’t do me any damage to find out he wasn’t real when I got to that age of asking questions and figuring out certain things were unrealistic and impossible, (coming down a chimney with all those presents, reindeer on the roof etc.) but I’m sure there are children who have now grown into adults who were told form onset he wasn’t real and have turned out exactly the same.

    Your child your rules, society does not always have to dictate your parenting.

  2. My daughter does not and never did believe in Father Christmas, We were happy to go along with the game but never to lie about whether he is real or not. She figure it out aged 3 and was happily gone on though life playing the game (she still puts out a mince pie and a carrot etc…)

    However I will not go so far as to say I have never lied to her, there are occasions when a lie is preferable to the truth but I do try to be as honest as I can and as much as I would want her to be honest with me.

  3. Natalia Redfern says:

    I love this post, I think it is very well-thought out and well-intended. What a refreshing perspective!

  4. Lucy Webb says:

    I too didn’t want to bring my children up believing in Santa but at present iv been out ruled by my family! One of my reasons being that children expect more and more these days and most of my nieces and nephews have laptops , iPods etc and their ages range from 6 to 11 ! By believing in Santa I feel that my children will expect expensive gifts that I just don’t agree they should have at such a young age! The true meaning of christmas has gone and it’s all to commercial which I think is quite sad!

    • Sue says:

      We’ve always explained that mummy and daddy have to send the money to Father Christmas which explains why he gives different types of gifts to different children. Our now 7 year old has always known that his Father Christmas gifts are about £25-£30 as that’s what we can afford. If he’s wished for anyhting more then it may be a joint present from large exteneded family – up to £100 in total as we don’t believe in expensive gifts, so limit family to £10-£20 limit!!

  5. Manon says:

    I think it depends how you define a lie. If you say Santa isn’t real than all kind of pretend play, a theatre play, a film, a book story – all these are lies too. Or not? I would call it imagination.

    Somehow I think most children won’t say “You lied to me”. Yes, the first year it is a bit of disappointment but I think Santa, the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny are part of growing up, equal to pretending to be a superhero and rescuing the world on a regular basis. At one point in time, this time will end and our children will accept reality and I hope still believe that Christmas is a magical time.

    Also, remember Santa Claus is based on the very real St. Nicolas, a bishop who lived in what’s now Turkey giving gifts to poor people, through the chimney. We just re-enact what he did and celebrate it.

  6. Manon has it spot on. it’s not about lying it’s about imagination. My 5 year old races around the house declaring himself to be spider man, should I tell him he’s a liar??!! You say you will still have Christmas and it will be about pretending, err… well actually we are all pretending about Santa!

  7. beth says:

    I agree! i’m finding the lengths that some people are going to over the top- for example inviting santa to your own house! it’s a step too far! (and all there to make money) we still do Santa- all the magic , but I don’t dwell on any of the stories or talk about it much at all!

    Also, it must be very confusing when adults ask what you got from santa- mine have said things like ” a rubber and pencil” which is what they get in their stocking, but other kids at school get ALL their presents from Santa, so they can surely see that the stories don’t add up!

  8. CatM says:

    IMO it’s just a white lie to put some magic into their world before boring old reality sets in for the long haul. As they grow up they come to understand the difference between a malicious lie and a protective or even jovial lie.
    Adults lie all the time, most often at job interviews, and ommit to tell their bosses what they really think of them or else they’d get a disciplinary. Lieing is a part of life and a nesessary skill. So telling a child never to lie at all is both a waste of time and unwise, what you need to teach kids is not to tell nasty lies.
    The difference between the Santa lie and the Mole lie, is that the mole lie is a cruel lie and involves the promise of violence (biting off toes), the santa lie, is a fun white lie because it is the promise of gifts.
    So personally I don’t see anything wrong with the Santa lie, as they get older they put the peices together on their own and are rarely disappointed to the point of emotional turmoil by that stage anyway.
    If you don’t want to go along with the lie that’s fine, just make sure you and your kid don’t ruin anybody elses fun.

  9. Paula says:

    I have 3 children 21 17 and 3. From the off I told them Father Christmas isn’t real. They never questioned it. I never mentioned Tooth Fairy or Easter Bunny and they never asked. So you’re not alone.

  10. Claire says:

    I’m stunned. Why take away another piece of magic from your child’s life? I seriously doubt that doing the Father Christmas thing will mean that he won’t be able to trust anything you say. All that will happen is that he will end up (unintentionally) telling other children who truly believe in Father Christmas that the man isn’t real and potentially spoiling their fun. I’m yet to meet somebody who is bitter because their parents ‘lied’ to them about Father Christmas. I’m a teacher and seeing the children’s little faces light up when they talk about Father Christmas is one of the highlights of the season.

  11. Ben says:

    CatM – spot on.

    OP – not sure you can compare adding little bit of magic and imagination to child’s life to a terrorising control mechanism (the toe eating mole monster) 🙂

    It is counter-intuitive to tell lies to our kids and probably makes us all feel a bit uncomfortable, but if you get into the spirit of it and enjoy it with them then where’s the harm?

  12. Jo says:

    I didn’t want to lie to my son either, so I didn’t. I find the whole Santa story weird and creepy – this old guy with a beard is going to come down the chimney and leave presents for you if you’ve been good? Weird.

  13. Jo says:

    Hello. I have two boys, 5 and 3. I have always found it hard to talk about Santa. I tell them that Santa is someone who loves them very much, so that when it turns out that it’s me and their dad putting presents under the tree they will (hopefully) enjoy the pretending part and just see that we wanted to give them gifts in a magical way. My 5 year old is so excited this year; I do feel that school and other people have hyped him up about Santa more than I wanted. I have also tried very hard not to link Santa’s gifts with good behaviour – if you do this, you may as well have the Mole story running alongside it. I distinctly remember feeling slightly betrayed by my parents when I found out that Santa was not real: any suggestions on what narrative to use to prevent this, or similar distrust?

  14. Louise123 says:

    Santa is christmas magic.
    I was quite devastated about the lie when I found out but also overwhelmed that my parents had helped create magic and missed it when it was over.
    I continued the lie with my children, who each found out the truth in turn bit each retained the magic for younger siblings and cousins.
    The window for believing in magic is so short and I don’t know of anybody that regrets being part of it

  15. theopenhome says:

    I believe Christmas can still be magical even without Santa. It’s actually a little sad that people think they have to create a fantasy to make an occasion special. Children will enjoy and remember the family togetherness, the games, the food and the memories you create, whether Santa is included in that or not.

    I grew up believing in Santa, but after much consideration, have chosen to not ‘do’ Santa with my kids. Not because I was devastated to find out the truth or that I think it is a terrible lie, just because the character of Santa is getting more and more elaborate as the years go on and he just doesn’t fit in with the simple family Christmas we want.

    I can understand that for those who do not celebrate the Christian side of Christmas, Santa is the main thing so you want to hold on to this magic. But Christmas is also a Christian celebration of Jesus’ birth and for many, including my family this is the main thing.

    Santa is then just more of a symbol of the man he once was. We instead choose to remember the real man of St Nick and his generosity on St. Nicholas Day, the 6th December.

  16. Actually we celebrate a Christian Christmas and have Father Christmas, as i don’t see the two are mutually exclusive. Christmas is only as commercialised as you want it to be,.

  17. mbeanphoto says:

    Our boys have always been told that there is no “real” father christmas. The guys in the shopping centres etc are just in dress up. We still put out mince pies and carrots for the fun and tradition of it. Our eldest boy was just too clever anyway….aged 2 he asked me ” well is father christmas is real mummy, then why do I have to write my thank you cards to everyone?”” Point well made son. I would rather they said thank you to the people who paid and thought about the gifts….

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