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Lies We Tell

The Lies We Tell

By Chris Jordan

Lying is a necessary part of parenting.

Not lying about big things.  It’s the small things, the so-called white lies.  Any parent that tells me they never lie to their kids, well, I think they are lying.

Last year during the holidays I bought this huge decorative jar filled with candy.  I set it out on the kitchen bar as a decoration.  When the kids asked me about it I told them that the candy inside was fake.  They believed me.  Some may condemn me for lying, but I was saved from finding cellophane wrappers stuffed between the couch cushions for the next two months.  Not to mention saving their teeth from bathing in sugar on a daily basis.

If you crack your knuckles you are going to get arthritis!
Swallow that gum and it will be in your stomach for SEVEN years!
Go outside with wet hair in the winter and you will get sick!
Your face is going to freeze like that!
You know what will make you feel better when you are sick?  Not talking.

Just this morning I pulled out a perennial favorite, The vitamins are all in the crust.

This time of year, the great Santa debate rages on.  To lie or not to lie.

I have already pulled out the Santa card.

Don’t make me call Santa, I tell my five year old.

_____ says that there is no Santa, he responds.

I say nothing. In my head I am wondering why this one family has to ruin everything? The Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and now Santa. It is one thing if you don’t want to do Santa with your kids, but can’t you tell them to keep it to themselves?

Before I could respond about Santa and whether or not he is real, my 11 yr old piped up, “They’re Mormon that’s why. Santa doesn’t like Mormons.”

Okay, maybe not how I was going to handle it, but it made me laugh. In fact, it continues to make me laugh every time I think about it. Admittedly, it also warms my heart a little bit that my 11 yr old, who obviously has long given up the Santa phase, still wants his baby brother to believe. So much so that he accuses Santa of hating an entire segment of the population.

I did correct him.  I told  him that Santa also hates the Jewish kids.

Oh, I kid.  I didn’t say that.

I corrected my son.  I definitely don’t want my kindergartner running off to school proclaiming that Santa hates people, nor do I want him believing that.  But I didn’t go as far as to tell my son that Santa isn’t real.  I want him to believe.  I want him to experience the magic that is waking up Christmas morning.  There is nothing else in life that compares to that.

Christmas, while always fun, does lose some of the magic once you know it is your parents supplying the presents.  That magic doesn’t come back until you have children of your own and are able to live vicariously through them.

To me the Santa question isn’t whether or not we are lying to our kids, but whether we are allowing them to bask in the magical thinking of childhood and encouraging them to imagine the impossible.

And on that note I must run and finish cooking dinner.  We’re have having carrots.  My children are very excited to see how many they need to eat before they can see in the dark.

Read More on Santa and Parenting:

 

Chris Jordan
About the Author

Chris Jordan

Chris Jordan began blogging at Notes From the Trenches in 2004 where she wrote about her life raising her children in Austin, Texas.

Oh, she has seven of them. Yes, children. Yes, they...

Chris Jordan began blogging at Notes From the Trenches in 2004 where she wrote about her life raising her children in Austin, Texas.

Oh, she has seven of them. Yes, children.
Yes, they are all hers.
No she’s not Catholic or Mormon. Though she wouldn’t mind having a sister-wife because holy hell the laundry never stops.
Yes, she finally figured out what causes it. That’s why her youngest is a teen now.
Yes, she has a television.

She enjoys referring to herself in the third person.

 

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Bonnie
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Bonnie

Lol! I love the carrot lie. I also love what the 11-year-old came up with. My mom always just used the “he only comes to kids who believe in him” line.

Jaymee
Guest
Jaymee

Is it wrong that I laughed really hard at the Mormon comment and then I laughed even harder at the Jewish comment? This was a great article!!!

Fabs
Guest
Fabs

Yes, my kids didn’t ask about whether Santa was real or not until they went to school and came home saying someone told them it is really your parents. Even now (my kids are 11 and eight) I still tell them if they don’t believe, he won’t come and they accept that, I think, because they DO want to believe.

Liz
Guest
Liz

I’m 30 and my mom still labels some of my Christmas presents as “From Santa.” After leaving the surly teenage “MOOOOOOM” phase behind years ago, I now think it’s adorable.

(And Jaymee, I’m right there with you with the laughing.)

Aks
Guest
Aks

As far as I know, St. Nicholas/Sinterklaas/Santa Claus was a real person. So what if at Christmas time we (adults) honor his very real actions (ok…not the fat guy going down the chimney thing) and bestow gifts because the guy did something selfless. My kids from an early age knew he various stories about the icon. When they found out that “He” wasn’t ‘real’, they lost nothing because they knew that he had been a real person. All of a sudden, all the people that dressed as the ‘Night Before Christmas’ Santa made all sorts of sense to them. Lest… Read more »

ally
Guest
ally

Ha!  This mormon mom knows santa still loves mormon kids! But, I kid you not, they just did a study and found out that indeed, something about the baking process means there are actually, yes, more vitamins in the crust.

Brigitte
Guest
Brigitte

Aks, I was raised that way as well. My DD still believes in Santa, but knows about Saint Nicholas as well, and knows all the store santas are just helpers, so I’m not sure what’s going on in that little head.
I did tell her she couldn’t have Kinectimals because we needed a different kind of TV for it (which is actually probably true, but the real reason was the cost)!

Nicki
Guest

We also choose the “if you don’t believe, he won’t come”.  Seems to work so far…

Kristi
Guest
Kristi

This year, the mom of a child that I USED to let my 10 year old twin daughters spend the night with informed my girls for me that there wasn’t a Santa. While I was livid that she took it upon herself to tell MY children, my husband was deeply, deeply hurt. See, he’s in the Army, and has missed 6 magical Christmas mornings already. He deploys again three days after Christmas, and will miss next years also. We had already figured that this would be the last Christmas where they both “believed” (they were already in the stage of… Read more »

Issa
Guest

I’m laughing…I wrote about this myslef, just a few days ago: http://issascrazyworld.com/2010/12/i-lie-to-my-kids/

Caitlyn
Guest

Good article.  And while I don’t have a problem with white lies, I don’t really see why the lies you cited are necessary….admittedly I’m not a knickknack person, but I don’t see much point in keeping large amounts of candy on display…nothing bad will happen if they swallow their gum, it’ll just pass straight through (and they won’t get another piece)….wet hair will make them cold faster, but again not the end of the world…most of the others are just things that irritate others, and I’m not sure I’m okay with lying to my child (even a white lie) just… Read more »

AmandaG
Guest

Just with Santa alone we have a few lies. Santa only brings one gift for each kid – because that way I can choose the one I want Santa to get credit for, and we get credit for the rest. Our Santa is lactose intolerant like you and Mommy. That’s why we leave Santa beer and cookies. Then when that didn’t work anymore, it’s because we’re Irish. … My favorite is when I want the kids to do something. Ex. “My brother’s annoying me.” “Doing your homework would make that stop.” “I can’t find my (insert toy here)” “Doing your… Read more »

Julie
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Julie

Speaking as the parent of children who weren’t raised to believe in Santa, we DO tell them not to spoil it for other children. How many young children do you know that can keep a big secret like that all the time? I have to remind mine constantly.

carrien (she laughs at the days)
Guest

I was one of those who was not raised to believe in Santa. I didn’t really think I was missing anything or that my children were. Last year I started to keep St. Nicholas day. I wanted my kids to understand where the idea of Santa came from and we use that day to wrap up our gifts for the poor, etc. “Just for fun,” I said, “Let’s put your shoes outside and see if someone puts something in them just like St. NIcholas used to do.” Of course their shoes were full. But I never really thought about keeping… Read more »

Jennifer
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Jennifer

You’re saying it’s not true about the gum staying in your stomach/intestines for seven years? And the vitamins being in the skin?

VG
Guest
VG

Kids need a little magic in their life. I was raised with the Santa concept and once I figured out he wasn’t real, I was fine. My world didn’t crash down, I didn’t go into a deep depression, I accepted it and moved on. You’ll be surprised how resilient kids are. I also read the “To Santa or Not to Santa” post and Amy you’re right on when the “magic” comes back once you have children. I’m a 1st time Mommy who will be helping her 8 month old celebrate her 1st Christmas. It makes me feel like I’m 6… Read more »

Kristina
Guest

Lucky your children are not that inquisitive and persistent otherwise they’d find the candies real! 

Yes, it is this time of year where parents debate on revealing the truth about Santa or let them believe in magic. I wouldn’t want the magic to end unless they’re around 10.

Cloud
Guest

My sister told me that there was no Santa before I went to school. She had figured it out because my mom was having us pick out toys to give to kids whose families didn’t have much money. She realized that if there was really a Santa Claus, the poor kids would get toys without our help. She told me because she thought I’d want to know. Santa kept coming to our house, anyway, until we moved out of the house, but I can’t remember the time during which I believed in him. So in my house, Santa brings each… Read more »

Marcie
Guest
Marcie

This article made me laugh. Thanks.

Today I made up the term “rectangle bagel” to get my 2.5 year old son to eat a scone, so I guess I’m okay with the white lies.

Also, you’ll have to break it to your 11 y.o. that Santa will most certainly be visiting this Mormon home. 🙂

Deann Reese
Guest

Good article.  And while I don’t have a problem with white lies, I don’t really see why the lies you cited are necessary….admittedly I’m not a knickknack person, but I don’t see much point in keeping large amounts of candy on display…nothing bad will happen if they swallow their gum, it’ll just pass straight through (and they won’t get another piece)….wet hair will make them cold faster, but again not the end of the world…most of the others are just things that irritate others, and I’m not sure I’m okay with lying to my child (even a white lie) just… Read more »

Kari Shaffer
Guest

Kids need a little magic in their life. I was raised with the Santa concept and once I figured out he wasn’t real, I was fine. My world didn’t crash down, I didn’t go into a deep depression, I accepted it and moved on. You’ll be surprised how resilient kids are. I also read the “To Santa or Not to Santa” post and Amy you’re right on when the “magic” comes back once you have children. I’m a 1st time Mommy who will be helping her 8 month old celebrate her 1st Christmas. It makes me feel like I’m 6… Read more »