Lying About Santa
What's a Mother to Do?
As Christmas rapidly approaches, once again I face the guilt of lying to my children.
Is it me or does it seem morally wrong to continue to tell our kids that a man in a fuzzy red suit with a big white beard and flying deer will arrive at our homes on Christmas Eve and slide down our chimneys? Oh, I know the story and why the tradition was begun. At one time the story of "Jolly Old St. Nicholas" was true ... to some degree. But still, it bothers me. And yet, I continue to tell the lie year after year.
The guilt first struck me around this time last year when my oldest son was seven, the youngest, two. As we were brushing our teeth in preparation for bedtime, the oldest looked up at me out of the blue and straight up asked, "Mom, is Santa real?" The parenting books don't really cover THAT topic, do they? My heart raced, my palms began to sweat and I just knew he was onto me.
And that's when it hit me … the terrible feeling that I had been blatantly lying to my beloved children all this time. Why hadn't I considered this before? What had I been thinking? I wasn't getting away with this after all! Eventually, the truth would be revealed along with whatever consequences follow. Will my children ever trust me again? Will they be devastated when they find out there is no Santa? The thought of putting them through that emotional turmoil is horrifying.
We can debate the difference between little white lies and hard true lies, but in the end I can't help but feel like I'm doing something very wrong. When I was four, my parents sat me down and told me Santa wasn't real. They had to. We lived in a school bus and had no money for gifts. I will NEVER forget that day. Since then, I've always wanted my children to believe in Santa, forever. I never thought of the consequences.
We ask questions like: "Did you brush your teeth?" "Did you change your socks?" "Did you push your brother?" And what do we expect? The truth. We teach the truth. If they lie to us, they receive a punishment. But we are allowed to get away with it? Is that hypocritical or what?
To top things off, we often use these imaginary beings as threats. We tell them: "Santa is watching!" Or "He knows if you've been naughty or nice." How many songs have been written on the topic?
It's to the point that my 3-year-old is virtually terrified of Santa this year because he KNOWS he's been naughty!
So what makes it okay for us to continue this tradition of lying? Of course, this applies to the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and every other wonderfully magical creature that we've ever grown up with.
For now I guess I'll go with the flow and continue what we've termed as "tradition" with hopes that my children will be gracious and forgiving when that moment of definitive realization is upon us.