December 8th, 2003

breaking bad

Bad Santa?

Seasonally adjusted greetings to all. kerravonsen posts today about the myth of Santa. Why do we lie to children about Santa's existence, and should we stop it?

I told my kids the truth, once they started to ask direct questions about Santa. I couldn't lie to them. Until they asked, however, I was happy to preserve a mutual silence on the subject. If they don't ask whether it's true, perhaps they don't really want to know yet. I think Santa is a symbol of an abstract concept and so the story isn't a complete 'lie' (I mean, Peter Pan isn't a 'lie' is it?)

Once kids want to know the truth, I do think you have to tell them, because they trust you. On gruesome subjects I used to tell partial truths though, no matter how explicit the question. Because once something is known it can't be un-known.