This is something that’s come up between me and my friends a few times over the past weeks, so I thought I’d finally talk about it here. No, I don’t have friends that still believe in Santa – but they believe in telling their kids about him. I didn’t grow up believing in Santa Claus. My dad thought it was “stupid,” so my sister and I grew up knowing the truth about where presents come from. This, though, has nothing to do with how I feel on the matter. As I’ve mentioned to these friends of mine in conversation, I’ll never tell my kids about Santa. Why? Because it’s a lie.
It’s a concept I can’t seem to get anyone to understand, even though it’s a very basic one. Telling kids about Santa Claus is lying to them. That’s it! Unless you, yourself, believe that the fat man in red flies around the world and delivers gifts to children every year, telling kids that it’s true is a lie. I wouldn’t lie to an adult, so why would I lie to a little child, especially my own, who is looking to me for guidance?
I get excuses that it’s all about tradition or believing in magic and wonder… and you can have any rationale you want, but you can’t tell me that it’s still not lying to your kids. I’m not cold and bitter – quite the opposite. I love kids. I love having fun and pretending, but when you play pretend with a kid you’re not telling them it’s real. You don’t lead the kid to believe that you’re actually pirates floating on an invisible ship and that the playground is just imaginary. Yet, people are happy to tell kids flat-out lies about Santa being real, which the adults don’t at all believe. Not only that, but as with most lies, it compounds itself. At first the precious little toddler accepts things as truth. As the child gets older, though, and logic begins to enter their mindset, they ask questions. To conceal the truth a parent must continue to lie and make up new lies to answer the kid.
Obviously this doesn’t just relate to Santa. I am very keen on realism, especially with kids. There is no need for false hopes nor is there space for unnecessary pessimism. Give kids and adults the respect of speaking truthfully. Children, quite often, aren’t given enough respect, though, and that breaks my heart. Much of that respect is based on honesty. When I worked with kids, I’d always tell them the truth, and over time they came to respect me for it. For some reason the truth is often seen as “bad,” when it’s only what it is – true. Kids in a competition shouldn’t all be given awards to placate disappointment, because awards are for the winners. Kids can handle the truths of dead animals, because death is a fact of life. Kids are capable of much more than they are often given credit for, and much of that is what’s present here. Why lie to a kid about Santa? Tradition? Wonder? My friends, if you want to teach your child something – don’t do it with a lie. Hoping that Santa will infuse magic into their lives is a defeatist approach, because once they realize the truth… they may very well believe that there’s nothing odd and wonderful about this world at all, when there certainly is. Sure, they’ll always look back at their childhood memories of Santa as great, but it will only be the precursor to the “harsh realities of life.” It’s such a lousy outlook on life, one that I know most adults have…
that kids are so full of happiness because they haven’t been beaten down by
what life really is. A child’s perky attitude is based not in misunderstandings of life, as many assume, but in knowledge of what life IS all about. Kids know how to enjoy life and have fun, something that is often eroded as they grow up in a society such as ours. Pushing a lie like the existence of Santa onto kids is only going to hasten that erosion… when we should be doing everything we can to deter it.
But, hey… if you believe in Santa Claus, teach your kids about it. I’m not here to question your beliefs ;-). For anyone else, I really hope you’d reconsider. There is no reason to ever lie to anyone – especially children.