Parents, take note! Lying to your children and convincing them that Santa Claus is real could be damaging, as it may undermine your kid’s trust in you, researchers have warned.
Millions of parents accross the world convince their kids Father Christmas is real.
According to researchers, parents may not be motivated by purely creating magic for their children, but by a desire to return to the joy of childhood themselves.
Children’s trust in their parents may be undermined by the Santa lie, they said.
“If they are capable of lying about something so special and magical, can they be relied upon to continue as the guardians of wisdom and truth?” researchers said.
The idea of an all-seeing North Pole intelligence agency which judges every child as naughty or nice is – when considered as an adult – terrifying, they said.
“The morality of making children believe in such myths has to be questioned,” said psychologist Christopher Boyle of the University of Exeter in the UK.
“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,” said Boyle.
“Whether it’s right to make children believe in Father Christmas is an interesting question, and it’s also interesting to ask whether lying in this way will affect children in ways that have not been considered,” he said.
The researchers accept that lying to children may sometimes be right.
“An adult comforting a child and telling them that their recently deceased pet will go to a special place (animal heaven) is arguably nicer than telling graphic truths about its imminent re-entry into the carbon cycle,” they said.
But the Father Christmas fantasy may not be purely for the children, according to the researchers.
For adults, it is a chance to go back to a time when they believed in magic.
“The persistence of fandom in stories like Harry Potter, Star Wars and Doctor Who well into adulthood demonstrates this desire to briefly re-enter childhood,” said Kathy McKay of the University of New England in Australia.
“Many people may yearn for a time when imagination was accepted and encouraged, which may not be the case in adult life,” she said.
The research appears in the journal Lancet Psychiatry.