Hi everyone!

I have 2 great kids who are 9 and 6. They both still believe in Santa, the Easter bunny, and tooth fairy...well at least they say they do. I have doubts about my son (the 9 y.o.).


For a while now I have been feeling bad about keeping up the ruse. Every now and again they will ask questions and I just feel so guilty about brushing them off or outright lying to them. When they ask questions about other topics I never lie. I always answer their questions to the best of my abilities in a way they understand, but when it comes to these stupid traditions, I just can't seem to bring myself to tell the truth.


My husband has mentioned having similar feelings though we've never talked about if we should break the news to the kids or not.


What's your take? What did you do with your children, or what was your experience as a child? I know I believed as a kid, but I honestly can't remember when I found out the truth.


Should I answer their questions truthfully or keep it going until it runs it's course?

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If your kid believes in Santa at 9 I'm worried about him. I remember at Day Camp in 2nd grade we all talked about how we knew Santa wasn't real. Some kids may have been lying that they didn't to not appear childish, but honestly it was no biggy. I would never tell my kid something untrue was true, and if asked I would say it wasn't. Even to someone else's child. No lying to children.
Wait, are you saying Santa isn't real? Then who, may I ask, drinks the beer and eats the cookies we leave out every year?

My teen just fell into the pattern: really believing, then kinda-sorta, then going along with the fun. Personally, I think it's good training in critical thinking to have them start questioning and finding their own answers.

Myths are not untrue, they aren't lies. They are metaphors for life and lessons learned that need to be passed on. Truth is a spectrum. Santa is real, for a given definition of real. He is a metaphor for goodness and kindness and giving to others, and that isn't a bad lesson for a kid to learn. First Santa gives to them, and slowly they become Santa and learn to give to others...my kid loved the transition, and he held on to Santa as long as he could.

If you ask me, I'd tell you he was real. For the same reasons that, when I buy a stuffed animal, I have to package it so it can breath. Because I enjoy the imagination, the fantasy. And because if I can be Santa, then Santa exists. In some form.

Plus, imagination is important. Fairy tales are important. Shared culture and family traditions are important.

We let it run it's course, and no children were harmed in the destruction of this belief :)

I taught the bible as literature for many years, and I often said the bible was "true"--only insofar as, in places, it reflects the true thinking and feeling of many humans over the centuries.  But I also taught mythology and fiction (novels) the same way. Good literature reflects the human condition and is in that way "true."


Is there any better and briefer description of the dichotomies and struggles of human life than this from "Job"?


1Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.2 He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down : he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.  

I wasn't angry or anyting when I found out, although I did not do a good job keeping the truth from my little brother.  I actually started questioning religion as a result of Santa and the rest being lies, which isn't likely to happen here :).


I think if your nine-year-old asks directly, you should ask him what he thinks and why.  My parents almost never answered a direct question about Santa and the rest; they always asked us what we thought and why.  If the answers reveal that the game's up, though, you should come clean, especially if still believing could cause him to be teased or get angry with you.  


I also think you need an explanation for why you've been lying so long.  It could put you in a bad spot to admit to lying, because lying about one thing begs the question: what else have you lied about?  My mom told me about little white lies, like not telling someone that they look bad or helping kids have "a magical childhood" versus big, bad lies that hurt people like letting someone else get in trouble for something you did.  You could try that approach. 


PS, my parents still would make the presents, eggs, and money "magically" appear while we were sleeping, so it was awesome even without the made-up stuff.

My take on such things might make folk mad. I don't mean to. It's just that, to me, "innocence" almost always seems to mean "ignorant", especially referring to kids. I never had kids but I would have always told them exactly the truth with no exceptions. I never believed in a Santa Clause. When I was about 4 or 5 I saw "Santa" arrive on a fire truck and he was handing out cheap gifts to the kids of really poor folk. We were there to get "commodities". I could see plain as a day he was some old guy wearing a beard with a strap on string attached to it. I was always amazed...how could any human with a brain not know this?

Consider the benefits and costs of the Santa Claus lie.

One benefit: it gets/extorts a few days of good behavior without whatever punishments parents use.

One cost: it wrecks the trust that kids have in their parents.

I'm eighty and still remember where I was and the sadness I felt when I realized that my parents had bought the presents.


I'm with you about the extortion. My husband does encourage the push for that. If our 6 year old is acting bad he will mention how Santa Claus will not keep him on the nice list. Drives me crazy. I do gently help my son figure out that we get the toys and this is a game that hubby likes to play. My husband loved the magical Santa vibe growing up and I don't remember it either way actually but I do HATE lying to him (and his little brother and sister) so I don't directly lie but in the interest of marriage balance I let him create the mythology. At least he knows he has one parent to give him the straight up answers to his questions!


That's interesting.  Parents can use Santa as a way of ducking direct responsiblity for disciplining the child.  

Instead of saying, "if you don't behave, we might not give you presents",  you blame it on a magical person!  Furthermore, since Santa's omniscient, the parent doesn't even have to take blame for tattling.  The parent completely avoids being the "bad guy" in the relationship.

I can see how the myth is useful, but there must be more honest ways of doing it!  

We always had Santa, but he was never used as a bully stick. One can have the magic of make-believe without the darker side.

However, depending on the kid, sometimes parents need ever tool they can get. And very often a parent does need to avoid being the "bad guy".

For example: we used a timer for video games. The idea being the kid can get mad at the timer telling him to stop, but the parent can avoid being the "bad guy". Natural consequences work for a reason: don't wear a scarf, get cold. Don't clean your room, lose stuff. And the parent neatly sidesteps the battles...
But you are the bad guy. You think its better to lie than be the bad guy? Just makes you more of a bad guy. Parents are allowed to raise their child in the beliefs they see fit, and for that privilege, they are the only one telling the child what not to do. They ARE ARE ARE ARE ARE ARE ARE the bad guy in the sense that it is they who deny their child what that child desires. Fobbing it off on Santa Claus is disingenuous and morally wrong. What i hear you saying is that your child should never ever ever trust you because you are a liar and you don't deserve their trust.
If that is what you hear then there is little point talking to you.

What I said, actually, is that it depends on the parent and the kid. That specific situation. Some kids need more convincing than others. Some kids need to have alternate bad guys because they need so much that the parent has to be able to be a good guy, too. A high needs child can drain a parent quickly, and every interaction becomes a battle. When that happens the parent has to make something else the bad guy--like the timer in the example I used--or else the parent can never be the good guy.

And, actually, the point of parenting is not to be the bad guy. When done effectively there are natural consequences that eliminate the parent as police and focuses on the natural consequences of the child's behavior.

Yes, sometimes it is okay to lie rather than be the bad guy. Or at least to not tell the whole truth.

And when your child lies to you for your own good you will be totally okay with that? If you allow that it is okay for you to lie for someones own good, how can you argue that its not okay for your child, or your friends, or your husband, or say, the federal government to lie for your own good? What if people in a relationship disagree about what is good for themselves or each other? It isn't really the parents job to be the good guy, its their job to brainwash their child to accept societal norms, or counter culture norms in some cases, since a parent may pick their community and it may be separate from the mainstream culture.


I consider you somewhat naive if you think you can escape being the bad guy. It sounds very religious, to say that there are natural consequences to behavior. We are all atheists here no? There are consequences imposed by society to get people to conform to societies opinions of right and wrong. Whether its parents who are the police, or peers, or school or political authorities, someone is always the police. If you can fool a child into thinking that the timer has any power over them that you do not give it, as the parental authority, I consider them to be religiously manipulated. Because of the way their brain works, you have been able to create an association making the timer into an anthropomorphic object, which is identical to threatening a child with the wrath of god.



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