21 November 2010

Do You Lie to Your Children?

I'm not talking about those harmless white lies we all tell our children. You know, when you've had a hard day and you put them to bed early but you don't tell them it's only 6pm. Or when they want a seventh yoghurt and you tell them there aren't any left and you'll put them on the shopping list.

What I'm talking about is Father Christmas. Do you tell a tissue of festive lies or do you come clean about the big fella with the white beard and red outfit?

The big argument for telling the truth is that your child may be devastated when they discover that you have been deceiving them for years. Has this happened to anyone? Were you the child who didn't like having the cotton wool beard pulled over their eyes?

For me, as a child, the excitement I experienced every Christmas was priceless. I remember it as a magical time. My brother and I would decorate a box that we left by our beds. Father Christmas had to leave one present in these boxes so we would know that he'd been. Our large stockings were waiting downstairs. We didn't notice that Father Christmas had used the same wrapping paper as Mum. We weren't concerned that he had the same handwriting as Mum.

I thought I saw him once. When I was five we had friends staying. I was sleeping on a camp bed in Mum and Dad's bedroom. I say 'sleeping', I was trying to sleep, but far too excited. When I heard footsteps on the stairs I turned to face the wall. I saw a red reflection in the radiator. Then, relieved, I slept.

I think it dawned on me when I was nine that maybe Father Christmas didn't exist. I felt neither disappointed or cheated. I pretended I still believed so that my younger brother wouldn't find out. Christmas was still magical. Until I left home the same sacks would appear downstairs every Christmas morning.

I'm almost certain I want my children to experience the excitement, joy and magic of believing in Father Christmas, but it's only possible if we all take part in the big Christmas lie, isn't it? Can Christmas be just as magical without the jolly bearded chap and his flying reindeer?

If you have decided not to take part in the great Christmas deception, what will you tell your children about Father Christmas? Do you think your child will be the odd one out at school? Are you worried your child will spoil it for the rest? I'd love to know what you think.

Ho ho ho!



  1. I felt ridiculously, painfully conflicted about this last year - the first year that my little girl, who was 3 at the time, started asking questions about "Farmer Christmas" (what can I say - we live in the Fens!) and left a mince pie for him, and a carrot for Rudolph. Just about everyone I know thought I was massively overthinking the whole issue, but I was so not expecting to react in that way. I'd never had a problem with telling kids about Santa before and couldn't even recall the point in my childhood at which I realised he wasn't real: I can remember the before and the after, but not the revelation itself, which makes me think maybe it was a gradual awareness and not a revelation at all. But, last year, I ended up taking my daughter to meet "Santa" at a local soft-play venue. He was a young bloke, thin and a bit sweaty-looking in his tatty Santa outfit, and he was quite mumbly when it came to M's turn and he asked her very seriously if she had been a good girl. And when I saw how apprehensive M was of speaking to this strange man, but how bravely and earnestly she did it anyway, wanting to impress him and show that she was a good girl so that she would be allowed to have her present ... well, I think that was possibly the worst guilt I've ever felt as a mother. And you know what? She SKIPPED out of that place clutching her box of chocolates and her balloon, the most excited and happy she could have been, singing "Father Christmas gave me some chocolates!" And I felt like crying all over again.

    This year I'll be laying the whole Santa story on with a trowel. If we're going to pretend, may as well do it with feeling. Xx

  2. I don't think of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, etc. as "lies" - I think it is part of the magic of childhood. I wasn't crushed when I discovered the truth and neither was Man-Child. And he actually enjoyed being in on the secret where small children were concerned.

  3. I hate lying to my children (even little white lies) but then I don't want to deprive them of the magic of Sinterklaas (our Santa). However, my six year old said to me that he thought it might be us, like the tooth fairy (he was told at school). I didn't want to lie, but felt he wasn't ready to give it up. So I asked him: What do you WANT to believe? He said he'd wait and see. If on the morning itself there were a couple of things but nothing much, then obviously it was us. If there was a lot of loot, obviously it was Sinterklaas. Sorted.

  4. If you dont believe you dont get, have you never seen the Polar Express (wink). I dont remember not believing in Father Christmas, it is part of the magic of childhood to me and I would not deprive them or me of the joy

  5. For us Father Christmas is tempered with the Christian Christmas thing (not sure which is the harder story for children to believe in...) - also Father Christmas only brings stockings so presents are from real people (and so need real thank you cards) so I guess I'm lucky that for us it isn't such a big thing to worry about

  6. Are you saying Santa doesn't exist?
    But seriously, I've always hated the idea of lying to my daughter. My dad told me when I was nine that he didn't exist and I was furious them because I trusted them and felt they had betrayed me. I think I wasn't old enough emotionally to be told. Christmas was never the same since and I really do think it changed the way I viewed my 'my Christian we-never-lie parents'. My daughter loves the whole idea of Santa and I couldn't take that away from hwer just yet. I would wait until she was definitely ready to hear the truth and then word it carefully. I'd want her to know why I through believing in Santa for a while, was a good thing.

  7. I did lie about it but now that Chick is 8 I'm trying to stick to non-committal grunts or side steps when she directly questions me about it! A lot of kids at school have been talking about how he doesn't exist so I think that this will be her last year of truly believing. I'm trying to be really careful about it as my best friend who's 34 is still traumatised from being told that he didn't exist!!! It's a tough one! xx

  8. It's a good question, I'm going to have to go with the festive lies option without a doubt!

    I loved Christmas as a child and think I carried on pretending to believe in Santa even when I'd figured it out, just because I loved it! I wasn't upset when I found out, just a bit sad as I realised that I was growing up and it would be different after that (I was he youngest in the whole family)

  9. I think my parents had it right - they never once lied to me and they got around the xmas thing by telling me about santa as 'some people believe that there is this guy...'. I still puit out mince pies and a sherry for him (funnily enough my mum loves a sherry) and chopped up carrots for rudolph (my dad is a health freak!). I never felt deceived or lied to and actually loved it when I got old enough to feel like I was part of a conspiracy or joke that we were all performing together.

  10. E-J, for me, too, it was a gradual revelation. One of the clues was sitting on Santa's knee and realising it was Mike from next door after a few whiskeys! My boys are so looking forward to xmas this year. I hope I can make it live up to their expectations x

    Gigi, that's just how I feel now x

    Mwa, what a dilemma for you. I expect Jack will believe just in case Sinterklaas doesn't come! x

    The Mad House, no I haven't seen it! *opens Amazon*. Yes, of course there is joy for us too as parents. I'm convinced! x

    Muddling Along, we were thinking that any presents from us would be from FC and they would still other get presents (and write thank you cards). x

  11. Rosie, I'm sorry you felt the way you did when you were told. You're right, we need to think carefully how we answer the difficult questions x

    Emma, it is a tough one. I hope Chick has one more year of believing x

    Emma, I guess we just want to keep on believing in the magic of Xmas, no matter how old we are! x

    Mummy Squared, I hope when the time comes we can get through it like you did :-) x


Blog Widget by LinkWithin