‘Tis the season to enjoy wrapping and unwrapping gifts, eating a year’s worth of Christmas ham, and according to researchers, it’s also the time of year when parents lie to their children.
Psychologist Christopher Boyle and mental health researcher, Dr. Kathy McKay are arguing that telling children Santa Claus is real may be ultimately “damaging” to them. These experts also say that it is this lie-telling that can lend a child’s trust of their parents to stray.
“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?” Boyle and Dr. McKay write in the Lancet Psychiatry journal. “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,” they continue.
However, this doesn’t mean Boyle and McKay think that all lie-telling has a negative impact on a child. Although they stress that lying to a child about Santa can be detrimental to them down the road, telling a child that their deceased pet is going to a better place is “arguably nicer than telling graphic truths about its imminent re-entry into the carbon cycle.”
Not only that, but these experts also believe that some parents might be telling their kids this lie to return to the joy of their own childhoods. McKay says many people might be looking to relive a time when imagination was accepted and encouraged, which might not be the case in adulthood.
“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,” she says.
This post was written by Ellie McDonald. For more, check out our sister site Now to Love.