My parents lied to my sister, brother, and me. Their very own children, they lied to us about so many things. Do you lie to your children? It is such fun. I am guilty, too.
Of course, it is so heartwarming to make Christmas a magical time for your kids. I did it. My husband read The Night Before Christmas to the children before we hung the stockings. We left cookies and milk for Santa when we hung the stockings. And we made sure to drink some of that milk and eat a cookie or two. Sometimes we left a cookie with a big bite taken out of it. We bought sleigh bells and jingled them after the children went to bed. We loved the subterfuge. We wanted it to be a great Christmas for our children. I wrote “Merry Christmas from Santa” on package after package to my children.
On one particular Christmas morning that I can never forget, my oldest son asked, “Mom, what did YOU and Dad give us for Christmas?” I had forgotten in my zeal to keep up the lie that this child was a critical thinker. He noticed who the gifts were from. And they were all from Santa or other relatives and friends. NOT US. He felt that we had not bothered to buy him a present. I was shocked. But I was also conflicted because I wanted to keep up the charade. It seemed too soon to disillusion my little boy. Yet, I did not want him to think we had neglected him.
Suddenly, I understood better than ever before, why my mother was against pretending to children about Santa Claus as part of Christmas. She told me that her grandmother (who raised her) told her the truth about Santa when she was very young. As soon as my mother began to ask questions, her grandmother had a conversation to determine how much she had figured out. Her grandmother explained that the myth of Santa Claus was meant to be fun. She gently explained over time that the narrative about Santa, his reindeer, the elves, and even Mrs Santa was just a myth. Later, as mother grew into her teens, she talked with her grandmother about this. Her Gramma asked, “If you love your children, why would you want to lie to them?” She was right, of course. As a result, my mother was always very frank with us about real life. But she went along with my father’s desire to perpetuate the Santa story with us, their kids.
I, also, fell for the lie. It was fun to fool my children and become Santa Claus myself. My husband was “all in,” and he was the one who walked through the house jingling the sleigh bells we bought for this purpose. It is all wrapped up in parenting.
The problem is it becomes the means of keeping children good by saying, “ He is watching what you do all the time.” Santa became an all-seeing disciplinarian on the side of the parents. It was possible to threaten children into behaving well, or being quiet, or going to bed on time based on their fear of making Santa angry. Is this any less barbaric than tales of The Boogie Man meant to terrorize children into obedience in times past?
There are so many of these “stories.” The Easter Bunny is the springtime version of an all-seeing creature who will not visit if the children in a household are not well-behaved. Even though Easter is a religious holiday of the most serious nature, the Easter Bunny is what you see commonly all over the media in stores or on the news. The Tooth Fairy and the Elf on a Shelf, plus all sorts of vague threats of ghosts and ghouls during the Halloween Season, all lies.
My point is that all this telling tales to children may have some repercussions later that parents did not expect. If lying is OK for parents in order to keep children believing something that is fun for everyone, then is it OK later when they are older? Can teenagers justify not telling their parents what they are really doing ? Is it OK to protect the parents from the stark reality of their teen age lives?
They are taught by example that lies are acceptable, even to be desired, if the outcome is favorable. They grow up assuming that it is OK to tell their teachers that the dog ate their homework or their great aunt died, and they have to go out of town to the funeral. Later, they lie to the boss, and later still, they lie to their employees. Lying to husbands and wives is just normal. It is easier for the husband to lie about the night out with the boys rather than take the heat the truth will bring. Wives lie about how much they spend on clothes or about their flirtations. Staying honest in a marriage is difficult but necessary. Be brave. Try to avoid the idea that lying makes someone happier. It doesn’t.
Worst of all is the fact that these people who have been lied to are pre-programmed to believe lies from authority. They believed in the myth of Santa Claus. Now, they are susceptible to lies from the medical community and especially the government, backed up by the medical industrial complex. They do not question. They swallow the new myth just as they swallowed the old one. Critical thinking has been discouraged all during their lives.
Teach your children about the facts as soon as they begin to ask. Do not lie to them. Some of my most interesting and “bonding” conversations happened while talking with my children about what is real. They appreciate being taken into our confidence. They resent being lied to. When they find out what you told them is not true, they lose trust in you.
Keep telling the truth and keep your family close. These are the only thing that matter.
Copyright©. 2023 Bonnie B. Matheson