Story of Santa could be eroding kids’ trust in parents, experts say

Santa and toddler

Experts are warning parents to stop fibbing to their kids about Christmas concepts like Santa and the naughty and nice lists, saying it could damage their relationship with their child.

To Santa, or not to Santa?

The Guardian‘s Hannah Devlin reports that as the festive season rolls into full swing, two concerned psychologists have published a piece in The Lancet Journal suggesting parents rethink perpetuating the Santa story.

Report co-author Kathy McKay, a University of New England clinical psychologist, says the sheer scope of the standard festive tale could make it a confidence-eroding deception for some kids.

“The Santa myth is such an involved lie, such a long-lasting one, between parents and children, that if a relationship is vulnerable, this may be the final straw. If parents can lie so convincingly and over such a long time, what else can they lie about?”

Psychologist and professor Christopher Boyle, lead author of The Lancet Journal article, flags the constant fibs about where those Christmas gifts come from as undermining at best and potentially damaging, at worst.

“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,” Boyle said.

If you are a parent, McKay suggests coming clean at your earliest convenience. #Controversy

Lies, lies, lies

Apart from being lied to by their nearest and dearest, the authors say kids also have to cope with the disappointment of realising the magic they thought existed in the world is, in fact, a hoax.

The authors are divided when it comes to practising what the preach. McKay, who is a godmother, says that if questioned by her own godchild about Santa, she’d feel compelled to spill the beans. For now, though, she’s content to go along with the child’s parents’ wishes.

“She’s never asked me about Santa … when she does, I’ll tell her because I want my goddaughter to grow up knowing that there will always be safety and honesty with us,” she told The Guardian.

Boyle says despite knowing the possible insecurity the Santa myth could cause, he’d probably go along with it if he were a parent himself. That said, he discourages parents from using the threat of the naughty or nice list, or a no-show Santa, to keep kids behaviour in line.

Bad Santa?

While this story will prove an outrage-sparker for lots of Santa-loving families, some mums and dads will be breathing a huge sigh of relief.

Yes, many children wholeheartedly embrace the concept of Santa, reindeer and all-seeing lists, but some find the whole thing disturbing.

Concepts of red-suited men coming down the chimney, lumps of coal, hooved creatures on the roof and sitting on the lap of a bearded stranger are the stuff nightmares for some sensitive kids.

For the parents of those reluctant types, this report should prove a comforting salve.

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