A Cup of Coffee – Is It Right To Lie To Children About Santa?

Welcome back! Last week we talked about Movement Therapy and Anxiety. If you missed that blog and would like to catch up, click HERE.

Have you ever found yourself worrying about telling children that Santa is real? I know some of our readers have, and they’ve reached out regarding this topic, so we are going to do two things here today. 1. Look at the evidence and 2. Talk about the word “real”.

In my small home town, I have an annual program called, “Letters to Santa”. I put festive mailboxes in several small businesses, and children from all over the state and even out of state, write to Santa. I dress up as Canby’s Elf #314, deliver the mailboxes the day after Thanksgiving, and then spend the next three weeks or so collecting letters and writing back as Santa himself. This year I was even involved in the Christmas parade that snaked through town, ending up at our city park, where the switch was thrown, the park lit up, and Santa and Mrs. Claus met with every single child to listen to them, hug them, and give them some treats.

As I rode on the fire engine throwing candy to the children in the streets and watched Santa wish them all a Merry Christmas, I battled in my head. “Is this right?” and “What happens if they find out my elf ears aren’t real?”. Then, my attention was drawn to a child who was staring at my hat as it danced, seemingly on its own, singing the song, “We Are Santa’s Elves”. Her mouth was open, her eyes were bright, and her amazement captivated me. She really believed.

In a world where children often grow up way too soon, where their lives are filled with stress and uncertainty, for that one moment in time, her imagination was triggered, and she believed in the unbelievable. She was allowed to be a child. Innocent and pure, no strings attached.

I can remember being a child and playing with my dolls. I fed them, burped them, and put them down for naps. There was never a day when I said to myself, “these dolls aren’t real”. I simply put them away one day and never brought them out again.

Similarly, I don’t remember ever realizing that Santa wasn’t real. There is no certain date in my head where I remember pointing to my parents and announcing, “Liars, all of you!”. One day, Santa just wasn’t “real” anymore.

Every year, I receive a few letters from children who are starting to realize that maybe, just maybe, this is all just a fantasy. Maybe Santa isn’t “real”. My letters to them are always quite lengthy, but my response is the same.

“My Dearest Tommy, Thank you for your letter. It made my heart smile. Yes, Dear Heart, I do realize that your friends will be telling you I’m not real, and I’m sorry about that. You see, Tommy, Santa is as old as Love. I’m sure your friends love their family, they love their friends, they love their pets and even spaghetti! Yet, how many of them have ever seen Love? Even though you can’t see Love, you still know it’s real, don’t you? Tommy, Santa is like Love. As long as you believe in me, I will always be there, tucked into your heart.”

Interestingly enough, I also get letters from teenagers and adults. They question why the world is so evil, and why we can’t have world peace. I even get parents lamenting the abuse their children have experienced at the hand of a now absent parent, or parents with abuse issues of their own. It would appear that in this sometimes jaded world, even adults need to be allowed to believe in Santa.

So there you have it. That’s the “real” part I spoke about at the beginning of this blog. Now for the evidence-based information.

If you are still interested in the clinical opinion of someone with a Ph.D., you may click this link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-baby-scientist/201612/why-its-ok-kids-believe-in-santa-claus Spoiler alert: She thinks it’s fine.

As for me and my house, well, let’s just say Santa has over 30 more letters to answer before he and his reindeer fly!

For those of you who like to read math books, books on quantum physics, and play with graph paper, this video is for you. Enjoy…and for those who celebrate this holiday, Merry Christmas!

3 Comments


  1. Avatar

    Whatever it takes to develop and maintain imagination in children is critical. When people lose imagination, their minds tend to be less creative and innovative. It has nothing to do with lying!!! Perhaps some take it to extremes, but nurturing imagination is healthy.
    Here’s to spreading good will!

  2. Avatar

    When I was growing up, my parents never lied about Santa Claus (as well as the Easter Bunny). I was told that Santa Claus was a historical person whom we honor still for his good works to children and the poor. In fact, that is why we give gifts to each other (as well as even to strangers who need them) in order to replicate his good works in today’s world.

    My pediatrician had told me to do something or else Santa Claus wouldn’t bring me gifts, and I told him what I was taught about Santa Claus. He then gave my mother a very disapproving look. “Then how do you get your children to do what you want them to do?” he asked. “I don’t threaten my children,” she answered back.

    A few years later, I was getting sick and tired of monthly otitis media and tympanic lancing, so I fired my pediatrician. (I was seven years old.) He then yelled at my mother how my behavior was spawned by her not telling me that Santa Claus really existed! I thought he was an idiot to ask my mother to lie about something like that. You can see why I didn’t care much for him, amongst other things like weekly gamma globulin shots for an assumed poor immune system. (Why else would I be getting these repeated otitis media?)

    Never lie to your children. Ever. Nor have I even lied to my pediatric patients. If they get a shot that day, I tell them. I also tell them how to survive them. (After all, I had to figure something out when I was a kid in order to endure such a terrible injection!!) They found it quite amusing as it did involve a ton of shouting and screaming. (I told them to do that so that everyone in the waiting room can hear. It works.)

    I mean, what kind of example are we setting for our children? That it’s okay to lie? Is that why I see this new generation of kids seeing no problem in lying in my face? It only perpetuates another generation of liars that sees nothing wrong in doing so.

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