Is It Wrong to Lie to Your Children About Santa?

Logan and Father Christmas

Before I start this article, you need to understand that I love Santa. That jolly man in red with a big white beard is awesome and I won’t hear otherwise. I believed until I was eleven and only then because my Mum sat me down and told me because I was at secondary school, and do you know what? I cried. Because I so, so wanted him to be real and didn’t want the magic of a man flying around the world and delivering presents to be over.

Which means I am completely baffled by a new trend I have seen emerging – particularly on social media. Of people believing you shouldn’t tell your children about Santa, because to do so is lying to them.

Erm.. what?

I fully believe that parents should raise their children the way that’s best for them. As parents, my husband and believe in being honest with our children where possible, and realistically we always try to do so. But Santa….?

A lot of my absolute favourite memories from childhood are of Christmas. Not being able to sleep on Christmas Eve, the wonder of discovering my stocking filled in the morning, the gasps as we went into the front room to see all the fabulous goodies that had been delivered. From writing our letters and receiving one back, visiting Santa at a grotto and finding that mince pie had been eaten in the morning. There was not one part of it I didn’t love. Why wouldn’t I want that for my children? I didn’t resent my parents for the lie, I was sad it was over and even now I treasure the memories.

Yes, if you wish to be pedantic about it I am lying to my children. But I am also letting their imaginations grow and prosper with exciting possibilities. I am lying to them for the sake of fun and magic. I am lying to them because I want them to experience the joy I felt at Christmas and I am completely unapologetic about it.

As a parent you have to make value judgements every day on what is best for your child. I imagine most children do not know where (specifically and exactly) babies come from for instance.  For me the Santa debate comes to this – if I were to weigh up on a scales what my children get from believing in Santa versus the fact I am lying to them – I would see the magic and wonder it gives them far out balances any wrong doing.

Let’s take another example. This summer we went to see some dinosaurs in our local town centre, they were large two person puppets. When my son saw the stegosaurus he gasped and looked at me and said – Look Mummy you were wrong dinosaurs aren’t extinct! – I immediately went to correct him, caught the look on his face and stopped myself. Why would I burst that bubble? Why would I take that away from him, he was filled with wonder. He’ll learn the reality of life soon enough, but right there in that moment his imagination was bursting. Instead I said – Do you know Logan I think you might be right.

We must not underestimate the importance of fostering imagination and creativity in children. It is fundamental for their growth and development. If and when my children are old enough to work out Santa isn’t real and they come and outright ask me, of course I will be honest with them. But for now I will let them believe in an amazing man, his toy making elves and wonderful flying reindeer, because why wouldn’t you want to believe in that? Isn’t it nice for us all to have the thought, the notion that it might just be true, he might just be flying past our windows on Christmas Eve somewhere over the moon?

15 thoughts on “Is It Wrong to Lie to Your Children About Santa?”

  1. Hmmm, I don’t know… I remember knowing the truth from a very early age and I don’t know if I was told or if I just figured it out. I remember everyone talking about it in top infants, sorry “year 2” and everyone saying that their mum and dad did it and how they’ve been hunting for their presents – I even knew families who used to take their kids Christmas shopping with them so they could choose what they wanted (which I thought was odd as they didn’t get a surprise then). But it didn’t change anything, it didn’t change the excitement or the magic cos I just sort of played along with it and enjoyed pretending it was real. I still waited in the queue in the department store to “see Santa” (though I was well aware of the fact that his hair and beard were so obviously fake but still came out and played along by saying “he’s one of his helpers”). And if I asked my mum any questions she just kind of threw it back as “well what do you think?” So I could think and figure things out (and my answer often came out in favour of it being real even though I knew full well it wasn’t).
    What doesn’t sit easy with me is when children do ask questions and parents go to elaborate lengths to try and convince them otherwise and end up in a mad panic in case they’ve “ruined Christmas!” Let them ask, let them think, let them question, let them figure it out. Christmas is and always will be magical because it just is, whether you believe or just pretend to believe.

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    • I like your Mum’s answer of what do you think. That’s a nice response and yes people taking their children out to choose their presents especially when they’re young is a bit weird.

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  2. This is very interesting. Sofia is the kind of age where she is going to figure it out in the next year or so. It’s getting harder to make the story make complete sense to her questioning mind so we now say that Santa brings one special present not all of them. She’s already told me she knows the Santa’s that you go and see are not the real Santa. It will be really trick when she does because I definitely don’t want her to tell the twins. I definitely want to be the one to tell her rather than another kid at school. I remember figuring it out when I was a kid and leaving Santa a questionnaire with his mince pie of questions to answer (I really was that geeky). I could tell in the morning that it was my mum who had filled it in!

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    • Ha ha ha I love the fact you left him a questionnaire! I think when the time comes if you explain to her you want to keep Santa alive for the twins I am sure she will enjoy helping you. I never told my younger sister for this reason.

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  3. This has got me thinking- I’m not sure if I ever believed in Father Christmas!! I certainly don’t remember being told or working out that he wasn’t real. But I am 100% with you, I love the excitement and wonder on my girls’ faces, and don’t want that to ever end (although I realise it will sooner or later!) I think this falls under the category of ‘white lie’. I hope you have a very happy Christmas xx

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    • Wow you never believed? I feel kind of sad for you (in a nice way). Yes I just love seeing their faces and I agree it’s a white lie for good reasons.

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  4. Telling children about Santa is no more lying than reading a fictional story or watching a film. Truth is of paramount importance, and I agree that “what do you think ” is a great answer, because most children who are allowed to arrive at the reality in their own time. A child whose imagination is not developed grows up missing a whole dimension of existence. As for the sibling question, I remember my eldest son enjoying sharing the secret with us so that his younger brother could enjoy the magic for a little longer.. Children are not daft, they see all the preparation including lots of shopping, let them learn to stretch their minds while they can, to dream and entertain ideas that are not ‘real’. Then they grow into people who can dream big and work out how to make their dreams into reality. Sorry just realised I have got rather heavy! I just love to see the excitement and magic in their faces, because even when you ‘know’ an echo of that magic stays with you for life.

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  5. Imagination is the best thing about childhood and Santa is such a huge part of that. It’s about truly believing in something you can’t see, the magic and the mystery. I remember laying awake on Christmas Eve and faced the wall pretending to be asleep as my presents were delivered in a sack in my room. I daren’t move and I swear to this day that I heard sleigh bells although my Dad still maintains they didn’t ring bells.
    For me, Christmas is magical and if playing along with Santa is lying then so be it. I would rather fill my children’s childhood with magical Christmases they will remember forever than throw them into a world of truth and harsh realities sooner than they should be x

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    • Oh I love that you thought you heard sleigh bells that’s just wonderful! And I completely agree there is plenty of time for harsh realities, let’s delay it for as long as possible.

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  6. Interesting post. I have no children but I do remember feeling lied to and being so angry at my Mum for lying to me about Santa, I felt hurt and let down and questioned so many things she had told me because of it.
    I’m undecided as to whether I’ll lie to my own children about Santa, I think I’d prefer them to know the truth.
    I don’t think children not believing in Santa will stunt their imagination or anything though.

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    • That’s really interesting as you’re the first person that has said they felt that way about being told about Father Christmas. I really hope that might children do not end up feeling this way and just enjoy the magic and I am sorry that it wasn’t the same for you x

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  7. SO interesting. We disagree on this one with my partner. He doesn’t want to lie to our son but I don’t want him to miss out the fun… I don’t remember feeling that hurt when I discovered the truth. I am not sure yet what we will do…

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