With just over 4 weeks to go until Christmas many parents will be practising deceit on a grand scale whilst telling their children it’s incredibly bad to tell lies. But do Christmas lies cause kids any real harm?
According to killjoys you shouldn’t lie to your children about Santa or his elves. Conversely many psychologists believe there’s no evidence to suggest any damage is done whether you lie or not.
Lies told around the festive season are the most wondrous. Writing letters to Santa, singing songs about Rudolph with his red nose and tall tales about Santa’s little helpers all stimulate the imagination.
Perhaps without appreciating it, by telling white lies at Christmas, parents give their children two extra gifts. These are the ability to think critically and magic. Most of us can remember the excitement of believing in Santa when we were kids. An active, creative imagination is one of the most pleasant attributes of our species. As children and adults we love to hear about dragons, King Arthur and his magical sword Excalibur, wizards and all manner of mythical characters. In adults imagination has brought success for authors, movie makers and marketing executives to name but a few.
Game of Thrones, Dr Who, Star Trek, Harry Potter, Star Wars and anything Disney are all products of magical, vivid imaginations. And so, of course, is Santa Claus.
The truth may be more magical than fiction
When you consider explaining dinosaurs to small children, how dolphins communicate with each other and birds travel thousands of miles to migrate how much more believable is that than Santa and his reindeers? Describing a world with no internet, iPhones or cars would now be beyond their imagination with Santa living in the North Pole more believable.
Research suggests that children develop the ability to separate fact from fiction any time between the ages of 3 and 5. All the time we tell them Christmas lies they are learning to think critically and logically.
As our children grow they begin to question things. Santa will be coming down the chimney right? But Santa is a large, friendly guy with a white beard. How is he going to get down the chimney with all the gifts? What happens if he gets stuck? Won’t he get really dirty coming down the chimney?
And what about the biscuits and glass of milk we left for him. How come they were still there in the morning?
Each child eventually comes to their own conclusion that logically Santa can’t really exist. Invariably they don’t need to be told.
However, as they grow up, they will hear and see many people imparting the ‘truth’. Politicians, journalists and religious leaders will regale them with their particular interpretation of truth. The Christmas lies we tell our children give them the first opportunity to question what they are being told and practise independent thought.
There are those who will say that children may resent parents who lie to them. However, if this occurs, which is rare, you can explain about the magic of Christmas lies and the reason you told them.
Do you remember when you realised that it was your parents who placed the gifts around the tree because you’d seen them in your Mum’s wardrobe? Or when you crept down the stairs to see what your parents were doing so late, and saw them wrapping gifts? How long did you leave it before you told them you didn’t believe in Santa anymore?
Lie Detector Test Ireland would love to hear from anyone who feels they were damaged by lies told to them by their parents over Christmas.