For some parents, telling their kids that Santa Claus is real might seem harmless, but it can have a lot of negative effects on your child.
Remember that time back when you were little when you still believed that Santa Claus was real? Now, think back to when you found out that it was all a myth. Were you devastated? Did you feel like you couldn't trust your parents?
Can parents be relied upon to continue as the guardians of wisdom and truth?
According to Psychologist Christopher Boyle and mental health researcher Kathy McKay, from the University of Exeter in the U.K., parents tell their children that Santa is real out of a desire to return to their childhood; a time when "magic" wasn't something that you can only see in films or read in books.
They add, "Adults taking their children to a Star Wars convention as cover to dress up as Han Solo or Princess Leia is a fairly common occurrence."
Though, they are quick to condemn the idea of lying to your kids about Santa Claus. They add, "If they (parents) are capable of lying about something so special and magical, can they be relied upon to continue as the guardians of wisdom and truth?"
Children will eventually find out they've been lied to for years, which might make them wonder what other lies they've been told
The pair also say that there's something to be said about the morality of parents who tell their children that Santa Claus is real.
"All children will eventually find out they've been consistently lied to for years, and this might make them wonder what other lies they've been told."
"If adults have been lying about Santa, even though it has usually been well intentioned, what else is a lie? If Santa isn't real, are fairies real? Is magic? Is God?"
"Whether it's right to make children believe in Santa is an interesting question, and it's also interesting to ask whether lying in this way will affect children in ways that have not been considered," they add.
So, how should parents approach the issue of Santa Claus?
Admittedly, it's not easy to tackle the issue of whether or not you should lie about Santa Claus to your child, especially since children would love the excitement of getting gifts from jolly old St. Nick during Christmas.
According to David Kyle Johnson, Ph.D., "pretending with your children that Santa exists—as long as you never encourage them to literally believe it, don’t lie to them when they ask, and encourage them to figure it out for themselves."
This approach of playing the "Santa Game" as Johnson calls it, would be better for children instead of telling them that Santa exists and then worry about what to do when they find out that Santa isn't real. It's important to keep things positive and make sure that your child understands that it's just a pretend game.
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