Children Should Not Be Told That Santa is Real: Jake Wallis Simons



My daughter asked some pointed questions about the tooth fairy last week and my wife and I decided to come clean and tell her the truth. She took it well, but we felt like we had clearly breached her trust by misleading her all this time.

I’m not surprised that there are parents who are opposed to making their children believe in Santa Claus:

OK. I have never, and will never, encourage my children to believe in Father Christmas. That might sound heretical – but, to me, the whole phenomenon seems bizarre. I cannot understand why people try to make their children believe what is not true, in an effort to create a synthetic innocence and wonder. Parents go to great lengths to peddle this lie, from dressing up in a Father Christmas costume late at night to interpreting meteorological phenomena as evidence of Santa’s journey to Britain. People encourage their kids to leave a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie out for Saint Nick, and a carrot for his reindeer. Then, before going to bed, they drink half the mulled wine and take a bite out of the mince pie and the carrot. This is normal?

Arguing that a belief in Santa Claus injects magic into childhood is, in my view, rather cynical. It tacitly implies that the world by itself is insufficient to inspire a child with awe and delight. That is simply untrue. A child can be astounded by the smallest brush-flick of nature – the spinning sycamore seed, the sea, snow – they don’t need to be lied to. In general, I am with John Stuart Mill: “It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied”. But this sentiment does not apply here. Children are perfectly capable of being happy without their parents recoursing to Santa stories. I think this speaks more about the jadedness of modern adulthood than anything else.

That’s not to say that I’d actively debunk the myth. My son occasionally says that he reckons Santa is real, and I wouldn’t dream of contradicting him. The point is that he hasn’t reached that conclusion because of my own behind-the-scenes machinations. But if he ever asks me point blank whether Father Christmas is real, I’d say no. It’s just a fun story. It’s a game that we play, even though some other children believe it.

Because to do otherwise seems unfair to the child. Mum and Dad are the people children trust most in the world, the people who teach right from wrong, truth from deception. And now they are pretending that a fat, jolly man wearing Coca-Cola colours delivers their presents on a flying sleigh? Isn’t that an abuse of trust?

Click on the link to read When Do I Admit That the Tooth Fairy Doesn’t Exist?

Click on the link to read The Most Popular Lies that Parents Tell their Children

Click on the link to read The Innocence of Youth

Click on the link to read Kid’s Cute Note to the Tooth Fairy

Click on the link to read A Joke at the Expense of Your Own Child



Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

6 Responses to “Children Should Not Be Told That Santa is Real: Jake Wallis Simons”

  1. aworkingmum Says:

    I never told my son that Santa was real. Instead, I chose to tell him the truth from the beginning. My biggest worry was that he would let something slip to other children and ruin the magic of Christmas that their parents chose for them. He has been amazing at keeping his secret. He understands how damaging it can be to squash someone’s belief when it is not his job to do so. And I truly think he enjoys knowing the truth. And it’s so much easier on me as well. Lol
    Great post!

  2. John Tapscott Says:

    I remember the excitement as a child, when my sister and I hung our Christmas stockings on the mantelpiece. We left out a glass of milk for Father Christmas, as we called him. “Santa Claus”, I assume was an import from the USA. Every department store had a Father Christmas and it was only as I got older that it occurred to me that they were play actors. The “real” Father Christmas would come down the chimney and fill our stockings with things including an orange, some nuts, one or two little toys, maybe a book, and that was it. This was England following World War 2. There were still many buildings in ruins. And just as surely there was not much money around. But it was an exciting time for we children. On Christmas morning the extended family went to Church (as we did each Sunday) to acknowledge what Christmas was really about.

    Now it seems to me that Santa, reindeer, tinsel, trees, gorging on food and drink, elves, snow, chestnuts and blatant commercialism have increased to the extent that the Royal Birth scarcely gets a mention, if at all. Christmas has become, for many, nothing to do with Christ, and everything to do with self-indulgence.

    This year we are spending it at home with our daughter and son-in-law, 3 grandchildren, my sister and brother-in-law and anyone else who happens to turn up. We will celebrate and feast and have a few drinks but at the centre will be Christ and everything His coming means, and for a few days at least, there will be Peace on Earth.

    Merry Christmas to anyone who reads this. If the real meaning of Christmas offends you……too bad.

    • Michael G. Says:

      Well said John. Do you think teaching kids about Santa can still bring out the enjoyment of Christmas that you had when you were you, or do you think it actually distracts them from the message of the day?

      • John Tapscott Says:

        You don’t have to teach kids about Santa. He’s all over the place and infesting the media at this time of year. In a few weeks time it will be all about bunny rabbits, bilbies, chocolate and eggs.

        Alternatively children could be taught about the real St Nicholas. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, MERCHANTS, archers, THIEVES, children, PAWNBROKERS and students. When you see what goes on around Christmas time, I guess that’s about right.

  3. John Tapscott Says:

    In addition to the above St Nicholas was also a signatory to the Nicene Creed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: