Parents, though, are being urged to re-consider the ethics of the great Santa Claus lie. In an article published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry, two psychologists have raised the spectre of children’s moral compass being permanently thrown off-kilter by what is normally considered a magical part of the Christmas tradition.
The darker reality, the authors suggest, is that lying to children, even about something fun and frivolous, could undermine their trust in their parents and leave them open to “abject disappointment” when they eventually discover that magic is not real.
My first thought: does this also apply to parents who lie to their children about gods and prayers? They make it sound so dire.
Kathy McKay, a clinical psychologist at the University of New England, Australia and co-author, said: “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?”
Levelling with your children so close to the big event may put a bit of a dampener on festivities, but parents must sometimes take the long view, according to McKay. “There is potential for children to be harmed in these lies,” she said.
Exactly what atheists have been saying all along. Jesus. Heaven. Hell. Blood redemption. Resurrections. All harmful lies. Stop lying to your kids now!