Today is Easter Sunday, the day when Christians around the world celebrate the anniversary of Jesus returning to life as a rabbit and distributing chocolate eggs to all his followers. From reader Norm, I received link to this article by a geneticist Victoria Metcalf about whether the story of the Easter Bunny is harmful to children.
All around the world many parents are preparing for Easter – possibly thinking of how Easter eggs will be hidden, how they will explain their delivery and perhaps bracing themselves for some challenging questions about the Easter Bunny.
But before parents figuratively dust off the Easter Bunny myth for its annual delivery of fiction presented as fact, is there time to pause, mid-bounce, to examine whether engaging in this deceit may be detrimental to our children?
Many are getting excited about the game they are going to play with their children, but this is a one-sided game where the children don’t know the rules; they’re participating in something that’s presented to them as a fun reality.
She then examines three major myths that pervade western culture and that parents willfully foist on their children (Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny) and wonders about the negative consequences when children are told by their parents later on that what they told them is not true. These are not trivial because children trust their parents and to learn that they were deliberately fed falsehoods can damage that trust.
Metcalf omits one major myth and that is telling children that god is real. But here parents usually believe the myth themselves and so don’t feel the need to disillusion them. But the way things are going with young people in greater numbers discovering the truth by themselves, we have the situation where it is young people who may have to gently break it to their parents that a myth they believe in is not real.