Posts Tagged ‘Santa is real’

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

December 23, 2012



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


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