The Santa Claus myth is the first lie we tell our children. And then we spend the next 5-7 or so years trying to keep the lie alive, for fear that they might find out that we have been purposely deceiving them for their entire lives.
This obsession with forcing a fantasy on our children is misplaced. We like to think that we are doing them some sort of favor, filling their heads with visions of sugar plums and old bearded men with sacks filled with toys, coming down a mythical chimney and eating milk and cookies. The proof of the foolishness of this deception is that most of them start to question it around 5 years old, especially if they don’t have chimneys and fireplaces in their homes! When you create a story that a five-year-old is starting to doubt, just how effective is this deception?
Would it be so bad to tell our children that it is we who will buy their presents if they are good? Is it so bad to tell them that it is their loving parents who do these things for them, rather than some stranger from the north pole?
Kids can be mean sometimes, especially when they’re young and unaware of the consequences of being so. I’ve seen with my own eyes when a kid is the last one of a group who still believes in Santa Claus. They often feel foolish when their peers inform them what they’ve known for a long time. I’ve seen the look of embarrassment on the face of a child who feels like a baby for not having heard the news until well after all of his little friends have. Often times the child will be taunted for having continued believing in this fantasy.
Lets face it folks. We don’t spread this lie to children for their benefit, but for ours. We think it’s adorable to see our little darlings act so innocent (or is it ignorant?) because it makes them that much more dependent on us. It makes us feel better than it does them.
When they do find out the truth it makes them feel foolish and immature, which is the last thing a child of 5-7 years old wants to feel, especially in front of his little friends.
Let’s just stop.