Santa: Could what we tell our kids about him undermine their future trust in us?

These experts think so...

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It’s (almost) the most wonderful time of the year!

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And you know what that means? Hours of Christmas shopping, £100s spent, sellotape everywhere – all so Santa can deliver his pressies to kids across the globe. ?

Sounds very merry indeed, right?

Maybe not – according to a new essay by numerous psychologist Christopher Boyle and mental health expert Kathy McKay, lying to your child about Santa could potentially ‘undermine’ their trust in you in future ?

What does the essay say?

The speculative essay, published by The Lancet Psychiatry, questions:

“If they [parents] are capable of lying about something so special and magical, can they be relied upon to continue as the guardians of wisdom and truth?”

While the University of Exeter’s Professor Boyle adds:

“All children will eventually find out they’ve been consistently lied to for years, and this might make them wonder what other lies they’ve been told.

“Whether it’s right to make children believe in Father Christmas is an interesting question, and it’s also interesting to ask whether lying in this way will affect children in ways that have not been considered.”

Hmmm… this is definitely something we’ve all thought about, right?

And it’s a tough one to answer. On the one hand, of course, lying is wrong and we teach our kids not to lie.

But surely there’s a difference between a lie and a white lie – or at least one which undeniably makes 25 December the most magical day of the year for little ones?

It’s also worth noting that many of us experienced this as youngsters and it certainly hasn’t given us trust issues (we think ?)

The study goes on to assess why we’re still going along with the Father Christmas ruse.

It could be partially selfish – mums and dads use it as a way to cling on childhood joy, a brief chance to relive the magic of their own youths.

Or as the study concludes:

“Might it be the case that the harshness of real life requires the creation of something better, something to believe in, something to hope for in the future or to return to a long-lost childhood a long time ago in a galaxy far far away?”

We definitely agree that the world can be a scary place and there’s nothing wrong with a bit of make believe – as long as no one is actually getting hurt.

All that said, one of the MFM team is 23 years old, and has known the truth about Santa since she was about 9, yet her mum defiantly (and hilariously) refuses to admit he doesn’t exist ?

Maybe if you believe in something enough, it can be real after all ?

Keeping the secret…

NOT if you ask Sky News presenter Kay Burley, mind.

The controversial journalist openly revealed that Father Christmas is a fraud on TV, during a broadcast on Sky News, which notably took place before the 9pm watershed – at approximately 5pm.

Kay was discussing Christmas shopping with one of the show’s guest, and reportedly remarked: “”At that age they both still believe in Father Christmas so they know that you’re not buying it for them.”

Some parents were far from amused by Kay’s revelation – claiming their kids had overheard and started asking those tough questions.

One tweeter wrote: “Thanks for ruining the illusion of Santa Clause for thousands of kids.”

While Kay snapped back: “It’s Claus and I didn’t.”

Though another added: “Thanks for admitting that Santa isn’t real on live TV. Good job, real good job.”

“My 8-year-old just walked in and asked what she said!” one poster fumed.

“Kids watching the news “still believe” – fancy explaining that?” wrote one mum.

Of course, we can’t know for sure how many families were really affected by Kay’s ill-advised announcement… though we can’t imagine why anyone would lie about it, either.

It is plausible that kids could be around while the 5pm news is on, making the error a rather awkward one, indeed.

Have your say

So… what do you make of all this?

Do you think lying about Santa could potentially affect your child’s trust in you, or is it just a harmless (and rather magical) fib?

How would you have reacted if Kay’s comment had been said in front of your little believer?

We’d love to know your thoughts. Let us know on Facebook and Twitter

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