I occasionally get myself into some heated debates about whether we should lie to kids when it comes to traditions, especially things like Santa Claus, the tooth fairy etc.
On my podcast, I’ve already covered the details as to why lying to kids is bad in general - the damaging effect it has when you show children that you're willing to be dishonest with them and deceive them, and how even if they don't perceive a big harm in the moment it sets up a frame where they don't trust you anymore, etc.
I want to approach this from a different angle today: the assumption we make that kids need us to do this or otherwise they wouldn’t enjoy life as much.
It’s important to understand that the reason we try to force something like Santa Claus onto children is because we've lost the magic, not because they have.
Kids don't need lies to enjoy this holiday season. They don't need you to make stuff up and then act like it’s actually real in order for them to have fun. Kids can love Santa without thinking he exists.
There’s a difference between fiction and lying. With fiction, everyone is in on the game. Everyone is aware that it’s not actually real.
Kids can thoroughly enjoy fiction, just as you yourself can enjoy a magic show or a movie without needing to believe it’s real. Kids love to play and pretend. They don’t need to be tricked into thinking fiction is fact.
We adults are the ones who think they need our support to have fun. In reality, we could learn more about having fun from them.
If a kid ever comes to you asking “Is Santa real?”, you can just honestly say, “I don’t think so, but I can’t know for certain because I’ve never been to the North Pole. What do you think?”
And let’s be blunt for a minute here: maybe you just want to be the special one who gives the fun to them, and this is about your ego. Maybe you feel left out if they use their imagination without your input.
You show me a kid who can’t create their own fun using their imagination, and I’ll show you a kid who’s probably been trained to rely on others to know what having fun means.
You don’t need lies to have fun with fiction!
To learn how to master complicated and nuanced honest conversations, check out my Powerful Honesty course