Fostering Belief in Santa is Lying to Children and Bad, Say Psychologists

By Gary Cutlack on at

If you're in the habit of letting a fictional man take credit for all the stuff you paid for for your children each December, here's some great news -- encouraging children to believe in Father Christmas might be the wrong thing to do, as you're teaching them that telling lies, even nice ones about presents, is acceptable behaviour.

As in, daddy saying that a fat man's going to somehow squeeze in through the condensing boiler outlet pipe with a sack of presents, eat all the mince pies, take a shit in the toilet and leave without anyone noticing, is basically teaching your child that it'll be perfectly acceptable to lie about everything throughout the rest of its life, like who really took the car without asking and where those cigarettes and poppers came from.

This isn't us making stuff up for Christmas keyword action, either -- it comes from proper psychologists. Proper psychologists like co-author of the paper Kathy McKay, who says: "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?"

Well, us parents lie about the tooth fairy, the easter bunny, we tell them if they work hard they can do anything, that they'll be the first generation to live forever and never die, and we tell them utterly massive porkies involving home ownership. Their entire lives are built on lies, actually, and saying Santa's real is nothing like as big a lie as telling a six-year-old that he might one day own a flat all by himself with its own front door. [Lancet via Guardian]

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