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Breaking the truth

Emily Manns | Fulcrum Staff

Photo by Mico Mazza

When it comes to Christmas, today’s Pinterest-obsessed parents are pulling out all the stops—including adding a never-before-seen level of morality to the Santa Claus saga. The latest trend is for parents to sit their infants down while they’re too young to understand anything and film themselves explaining, “No, Santa’s not real, but we’re all going to pretend he is for the next nine years. We just don’t want to lie to you.” When kids’ Christmas bubbles are burst a few years down the line, the parents whip out the recording to prove they never betrayed their offspring’s trust. Legit, or a little cray? This recent trend begs the question, is there a right and wrong time and method to break the news to your children?

I was a firm believer in Santa Claus as a child, and I can still remember the day when I thought it would be fun to sneak downstairs to see if I could catch a glimpse of him. I was shocked to see my parents putting presents under the Christmas tree—but once I put two and two together, a lot of other things started to make sense. It was devastating to learn that I would no longer be able to live in my bubble of ignorance, but we all have to grow up sometime. I’m thankful my parents didn’t shatter my belief when I was really young, because it was the magical aspect of the holidays that made it enjoyable for me. I wasn’t scarred for life because my parents let me believe in Santa—and they didn’t need to prove to me that they had my best interests in mind all along.

There are some parents out there, however, who flat out refuse to encourage any kind of unquestioning belief, opting instead to try to stomp it out as soon as possible. Certain parents believe that allowing their children to indulge in such fantasies is no different than openly lying to their kids’ young faces. Moms and dads fear they will eventually get caught in the lie and break any trust they had with their child. Obviously it’s not right to lie to your children, but there is a certain age where revealing the truth to them is just as reprehensible as lying. If a kid is five years old and you come right out and tell him that the only Santa Claus that exists is the old man who dresses up at the mall and gets paid to let strangers sit on his lap, then you might as well tell him not to trust anyone or anything.

Regardless of which tactic they do decide to use, the important thing for parents to remember is that every child is only a child once, and for a very short amount of time. At the end of the day, the most important thing should be seeing the wonder on kids’ faces as they run into the living room on Christmas morning. Moral of the story: there is no rush to tell kids that Santa won’t be able to fit their ponies into his sleigh.