Parents tell many little lies to their children while they’re growing up. From the Tooth Fairy to the Easter Bunny, parents band together to keep kids believing in the fantastic until they get too old.
Even though these lies seem mostly fun and harmless, is it really constructive for parents to deceive their children like this?
The most exciting mythical story for children is almost universally that of Santa Claus.
We understand not everyone who attends IU celebrates Christmas, but for many of us, Santa was a larger-than-life character who brought us loot every Dec. 25.
Psychologists Christopher Boyle and Kathy McKay recently published a paper suggesting that children’s moral compasses could be permanently damaged by the Santa lie. They say relationships between parents and their children that are already shaky can be absolutely destroyed when kids find out that Old Saint Nick doesn’t actually sneak down our chimneys.
Give us a break.
We can see why it may be difficult to tell the truth about Santa if a parent doesn’t already have a strong relationship with their child.
This can possibly lead to deeper issues of mistrust and resentment.
By and large, however, finding out that Santa was secretly our parents all along is a pivotal part of growing up. Many of us on Editorial Board can remember the exact moment when we found out Santa was a tall tale, but we don’t look back on the memory with bitterness.
Boyle stated that some parents merely use Santa as a “form of control” before the holiday season. Sure, using a lie to keep your kids in line may not be the best course of action, but it’s important to instill a sense of consequences in children.
There is no replacement for strong parenting, but it’s better to tell your brats they’re getting coal in their stocking than giving them a spanking for acting out.
It’s clearly unethical to lie to children in damaging ways.
We shouldn’t tell them to discount what they learn in school or that violence is the way to solve most of our problems. We shouldn’t tell them under any circumstances that it’s ever okay to wear cargo shorts. These are all traumatizing lies.
People like Boyle and McKay, however, are just trying to strip away a fun and often integral part of growing up. Children who are psychologically scarred from finding out Santa Claus’ true identity likely had a terrible relationship with their parents to begin with. Ruining the wide-eyed wonder of Christmas for the rest of the world is an absurd answer.
Finding out our parents were the ones putting presents under the tree was a growing experience for many of us on the Editorial Board.
Of course it was tough to swallow, but it ultimately gave us a deeper appreciation for the holiday season and for our loving families.
Don’t try to abolish it for being a fun fantasy.