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Is Santa bad for children?

Teaching your kids to believe is technically lying, but your kids may not care

By Sally Wadyka Dec 20, 2012 11:36PM

I have many happy memories of early Christmases in which my strong belief in Santa played a starring role. I remember waking up my brother (who was old enough to no doubt already be a non-believer) on Christmas Eve because I’d heard reindeer on the roof. And I’ll never forget the absolute joy and amazement of walking downstairs on Christmas morning and catching my first glimpse of the tree and the gifts Santa had left behind.


What I don’t remember is being upset when I found out that Santa wasn’t for real. And apparently I’m not alone. An informal poll of my friends revealed that few of us suffered many (if any) ill effects from uncovering the truth about Santa. But still, as a parent, I worry about how my being complicit in such a conspiracy will affect my child. My not-yet-two-year-old daughter doesn’t even know that Christmas is coming, but by next holiday season I imagine we’ll be in full Santa mode. Will I harm her mental health by helping to perpetuate the myth? Will she be mad at me when she discovers the truth?

I decided to do a little digging and see what I could find out. There hasn’t been a ton of scientific research on the topic, but one study, published in 2002, offers a few insights. The researchers found that most children they studied started uncovering the reality about the myth around age 7. But rather than feeling let down or lied to, two out of three kids said that they “felt a sense of pride in figuring out the truth about Santa.”

But I still wanted a little more information before I start indoctrinating my daughter into Santaland. So I asked David M. Pollack, MD, a pediatrician at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, for his thoughts. His take:

“Most young children may believe that Santa Claus is real, but the inevitable discovery that he is actually a myth does not seem to be nearly as traumatic as many parents are expecting. Learning that Santa is not real might take some of the ‘wonder’ out of Christmas, but in my experience it doesn’t remove the joy from the holiday or cause a child to not trust adults.”

That’s a relief. So it seems that I can safely look forward to several years of my daughter sending letters to the North Pole, leaving cookies, milk and reindeer snacks out on Christmas Eve and seeing that look of awe on her face when she sees the tree surrounded by presents on Christmas morning. And apparently I can enjoy it all without having to worry that she’ll grow up hating me for helping to foster the fantasy!

289Comments
Dec 21, 2012 3:17AM
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Did you know that if you re-arrange the letters in Santa, you get Satan? Now why would you want to worship the Devil? I know that some will be very upset at this, but it's okay. I'm sure it's not the first time it's been mentioned. But Satan is always depicted as wearing red. What color does Santa wear? Hmm........
Dec 21, 2012 3:15AM
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letting little kids believe in these types of fairy tales at an early age will lead them to believe in fairy tales like the bible when they get older. and they will never be able to think for themselves when we teach them this crap
Dec 21, 2012 3:13AM
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I hope that those people writing  these articles,are not excepting a paycheck.Absolute,bottom of the barrel journalisim.
Dec 21, 2012 3:12AM
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Santa consists on growing the first years of your life on a lie to support the

growth of the commerce based on a pagan rite.

 

One thing is the birth of Christ and another very different thing is everybody trying to make a buck through paganism and a flat out commercialism.  Even a so-called atheist country like china profits from this jolly season by sending us all-things christmasy to be hanged eveywhere

The fact that all those vendors were kicked out of the temple about 2000 years ago, escaped us totally or we chose to forget.

 

No, I am not preaching, matter of fact I am invited to  Xmas party and somebody will be getting a scarf...

 

 

Dec 21, 2012 3:12AM
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what a ridiculous article!!!  the author reveals the absolute joy of xmas morning with a secret santa in the midst......and then he challenges his decision?  what a moron.....stop overthinking things like this....you want to over think something, let it be religion or our purpose on earth and stop creating drama that shouldn't exist.
Dec 21, 2012 3:10AM
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I remember when a neighborhood kid told me Santa Claus wasnt real. It was grow up time. We were Catholics and held our faith in hearts a lot more than Santa Claus anyway. Everyone goes through the growing up pains, but thats not the real problem. The deep rooted problem is the materialism that runs rampant with all the hi dollar gifts. Christmas is about Christ and I dont care what the jews think or what the hindu's, muslims, Buddhist's think. This is about the Birth of Christ, Yeshua our savior. If you dont like it keep your traps shut. We were here before you. 17 Centuries before Christ in fact. Dec. 25th is when we celebrate His birth into a worldly body. I dont care if you created some holiday so your kids wouldnt miss out on the good times but dont ever tell me that we cant celebrate Christmas the way we want. If its to be changed we will change it. Not you. 
Dec 21, 2012 3:09AM
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Oh my God, is this article serious?
Dec 21, 2012 3:07AM
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Santa? What,s wrong with your child celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, my children do they still enjoy Christmas and knowing the truth makes us, just that much closer ! No lies just the truth.
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