What Do You Think Wednesday – Lying To Your Kids or Promoting Good Imagination?


This time of year it’s always a hot topic:  do you tell your kids Santa is real?

On one side are the die-hard Santa-followers.  They will go to great lengths to maintain the illusion… often including mischievous elves or wandering wise-men in the Christmas festivities.

On the other side are those who believe that telling kids Santa is real (and I’m talking about the down-the-chimney/flying reindeer Santa here, not the actual guy who was sainted) is lying to them and it will destroy their trust when they are older and find out the truth.

It’s got me wondering where you all draw the line.  It’s not just Santa. This is an underlying parenting philosophy.

In our house we are all about believing in the impossible.  If my child asks me, “do you believe in Santa? The tooth fairy? Garden gnomes? Wandering nativity guys that come to life every night?”  My answer never waivers.

I believe.

People have asked, “How long will you keep up ‘the illusion?’ When will you tell about Santa, etc.?”Belive-in-Magic2

I will keep it up forever. I will always and forever maintain that I believe.  When my children are the age that I am now and they come to visit on Christmas all of the gifts will not be under the tree until  Santa comes and puts them there while everyone sleeps on Christmas Eve.

I want my children to grow up in a world where anything is possible.  There was a time when curing bubonic plague with a pill, sailing to the East by going West, taking someone’s heart out and replacing it with another, flying to the moon or traveling faster than the speed of sound would have been considered magic.   The people who made those things possible and understandable (at least in a rudimentary sort of way) to us all were people who believed, with great passion, in the absurd.

Then again…

Our family has some dear friends who strive to be unwaveringly realistic with their children.  They tell them, “No. There is no Santa. People work very hard to earn money and buy you gifts because we love you and want to give you something special.”

earn itThey will be quite firm. “You are not a princess. You are pretending to be a princess.”

Their philosophy is that kids need to grow up with a rock-solid foundation of understanding about how the world works in order to become successful adults. If a girl grows up believing she’s a princess what’s going to happen when she needs to get her first minimum wage job and take care of herself?

And you know… I think their logic makes good sense.

So my question to you is this:

Where do you draw the line between promoting imagination and outright lying with kids?

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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21 responses »

  1. I agree with you 100%. I love the wonder in my children’s eyes when they talk about Santa or our Elf on the Shelf. My oldest is in 3rd grade, so I’m worried that this may be the last year he truly believes as a kid believes, but I plan on having him be part of the magic once he learns the truth. My parents were very much on the “it’s lying to children” side of things, and I never believed in Santa growing up. I get sad about it now. I will forever be a believer.

  2. {Sigh} I don’t know. After 10 yrs of being a parent I still don’t know. Actually we are wimps. We started out hard core, there is no Santa. But the children refused to take our word for it and believed anyway. We have let up a bit because it’s so fun see their excitement, But when the topic arises we always point them to Jesus. When they come right out and ask we simply say “what do you think? ” I guess if they are ever adamant for an answer we will be honest.

    • “What do you think?” Is the most awesome parent response of all time! I use it almost daily and I do it with no shame at all. It is a great way for kids to work things out and come to their own conclusions and it is a great way for parents to glimpse their child’s thought process. I have learned SO MUCH about my kids by answering their questions with that question!

  3. I plan to keep the magic of Santa alive as long as my child lets me. I will tell him when he straight out asks me, that no reindeer do not fly, but that there once was a man and what we are doing is carrying on his spirit of giving. I don’t see that as a lie… but magic mixing with truth. I wish he would never ask me LOL I love the spirit of Santa.

    • Maybe he never will. I never asked my parents. I believed until I doubted and then I quit believing and realized that was no fun at all so I chose to believe again. I don’t remember my parents ever saying a word about any of it!

  4. I am a believer as well. I tell my kids there is magic and it’s in them and their hearts. I am a firm believer in Karma and attitude and all that. So I want them to believe, I want them to be kind and believe and spread their love and joy. Let their imaginations run wild! They don’t have long before they have to grow up and can’t enjoy it!

  5. Well, honestly speaking, we share with our kids what Christmas is really about…Jesus. Jesus said that he is the way, the truth, and the life. I do believe, wholeheartedly believe, and share with my children, that there is so much more to life than what we can see with our own two eyes. However, all that wonder and glory comes from Christ, and nowhere else. In our home we celebrate Christ, who he is, what he’s done, what he’s doing right now, and what he’s going to do. In our home the Christmas discussion is not about lying, or imagination, it’s all about knowing that Jesus’ birth is all about God with us–Immanuel! And that his birth points to something more important–Jesus’ death and resurrection. Because without those things we don’t have eternal forgiveness of sins, we can’t know God right now, and so much more to what we can’t experience or have without what he’s offered to us. That’s the discussion in our home…Santa only pales in comparison to God in the form of man, who is Jesus.

    • Such a beautiful statement: “Because without those things we don’t have eternal forgiveness of sins, we can’t know God right now, and so much more to what we can’t experience or have without what he’s offered to us.” The gifts of God truly are the most wondrous thing of all!

  6. I basically don’t say anything about it. Our 8-y-o asked, though, and I told her he is based off a real person and then told her about him. The end. She figured out on her own that the tooth fairy wasn’t real, and she knows we’re the ones who buy them Christmas presents. We just don’t push it. I’m not sure why we’re not into it. Maybe so they don’t get ticked when they find out the truth? My biggest concern, actually, is that they’ll spoil it for other kids. But then again, that’s another benefit of homeschooling. 😉

  7. There are some things that you will never actually have to explain to a child…the fact that Santa isn’t real, in my opinion, is one of them. They’ll figure it out when they’re supposed to. And like the self-thinking, reasoning people that you had always hoped they’d become, they’ll decide whether they want to maintain the charade or not.
    I’m personally with you. I don’t have children, but I still put out cookies for Santa knowing full well I’ll be eating them the next morning–but there is still that little part of me that hopes to come down and find more than a kitty nibble out of the cookies! And there is still a part of me that believes it could happen.
    After all, the Savior of the world was born to a virgin and a man who was going to privately divorce her until an angel appeared to him and told him that God was bigger and had a plan. After that does Santa really seem like a stretch?

    • I adore this: “I don’t have children, but I still put out cookies for Santa knowing full well I’ll be eating them the next morning–but there is still that little part of me that hopes to come down and find more than a kitty nibble out of the cookies!” I thought maybe I was the only adult that still listens (just a little! 🙂 ) for sleigh bells on Christmas eve.

  8. We believe in the sacredness of stories. Mythos is incredibly important to the human experience, whether it be the mythology of hundreds of thousands of religious traditions or the mythology of folk tales. Myth is the collective search of humanity for truth, meaning and significance in the experience of life, so that it resonates beyond the merely physical (and short) time that we are alive into something more. We’ve been teaching our children for as long as they’ve been alive that it is the spirit of the story that is important, not how literal it is or is not–whether it be Tolkien, the Nativity, or the Oak and the Holly King.

    Santa doesn’t need to be literal to be REAL. Santa isn’t a jolly fat man in a red suit, he’s the human conception of the spirit of generosity, built upon generations of myth–from stories and images historical carachters as varied as Nikolaos of Myrna from to the Norse and Germanic god, Odin. Honestly, he’s probably the best part about the holiday, because he’s accessible to everyone, regardless of religion.

    Bottom line: Santa is one helluva awesome myth to believe in. Even though he doesn’t deliver our presents–too busy getting ready for Christmas. He has his little winged friends, the Yule Faeries do it!

  9. Haha, what do you think if I chose to believe that Santa is real. While I believed that Santa is not real, but I chose to and wanted my kids to believe until the day they discovered the truth themselves.

  10. We made the decision early in our marriage that we would not do Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc. We never have, but we’ve always told our children not to ruin it for someone else. My oldest is 13 now, and he’s thanked me many times over the past couple of years for having not done Santa. He’s told me that one of his best friends is now upset with his parents for having lied to him about Santa.

  11. Interesting way of putting this – I think that I don’t really fall in either side of this equation. My kiddos are still little, so I can somewhat get away with just *not* talking or promoting Santa. We’ve never gone to sit on Santa’s lap and I have never really given them presents under the tree yet.

    (I’m kind of a Grinch, too, so that doesn’t help.) But next year I plan on doing St. Nicholas’ feast day on December 6th and go with the idea that Santa and St. Nicholas are the same person/idea. Santa gives presents just like St. Nicholas gave presents to children in their shoes. Just like Jesus gets three presents on his birthday, my girls will get three presents.

    Ultimately, I will not deter the idea of Santa because he is drawn from a real historical figure.

    I’m glad I found you from the Sharefest! I’m excited to look around some more 🙂 ~Jenna

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