From the window, the sky is dark blue and the distant starts shine bright the spirit of Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Holiday decors vividly illuminate everyone’s heart. Curiosity increases rapidly for the presents under the Christmas tree, while pointer in the wall’s o’clock is approaching 00:00. Santa Claus should be on his road.  I will wait for him…!

Surely, most of us have experienced at least once these feelings. We might still remember the nights when we hardly and innocently waited for Santa to come. Usually, we found “his” present near our bed, the day after. Santa “has been there” while we were sleeping. Than one day, completely naturally, we just found out that Santa does not exist. You might still remember how you felt…! The reality has been simply RUINED.  “If Santa is a lie, what else was a lie?” is the question that naturally flourishes after finding out that Santa never existed. 

Recent psychological studies, have been focused on how the “little white” lie of Santa could impact children.  In a study done by Goldstein and Woolley (2016), it found that 84 percent of parents, who were part of the research, said they had taken their child to visit more than two Santas that year. Findings indicate that parental promotion of Santa makes children to truly believe that Santa is real. While the same research found that 85 % of 5 years old children believe that Santa exists.

Psychologists suggest that “the myth of Santa Claus affects children in ways that may not have been considered — and that it can undermine the trust of children in their parents” (Boyle, 2016). Some experts suggest that when children find out that Santa is not real they might develop feelings of distrust towards their parents. Moreover, they might put in question also other information they believed as facts. "If adults have been lying about Santa, even though it has usually been well intentioned, what else is a lie? If Santa isn't real, are fairies real? Is magic? Is God?" (Robinson, 2016). In appearance, it might seem harmless to lie to children that Santa Claus exists; although, according to Silby (2008), the fact remains that the child’s trust is being betrayed by the adult when making them believe so.

Therefore, experts suggest that parents should “say goodbye” to the Santa Claus lie in order not to damage the relationship with their children (Johnson, 2012). There are thousands of other ways to encourage children to behave correctly throughout the year.  The myth of Santa Claus, might have worked in this regard, but it turns not to be the most appropriate form. Because in the end of the day, as Johnson (2013) suggests “Santa Claus it’s a lie, degrades your parental trustworthiness, encourages credulity, does not encourage imagination, and is equivalent to bribing your kids for good behavior”.

COPYRIGHT: This article is property of We Speak Science, a non profit institution co-fonded by Dr. Detina Zalli (Harvard University) and Dr. Argita Zalli (Imperial College London). The article is written by Detina Zalli and Ilirjana Geci (University of Prishtina"Hasan Prishtina").

References:

  • Boyle, Ch., (2016).  University of Exeter
  • Robinson, I., (2016). Do you tell your kids Santa is real? How this little white lie could be permanently damaging your family. Mirror
  • Goldstein, Th., & Woolley, J., (2016). Ho! Ho! Who? Parent promotion of belief in and live encounters with Santa Claus. Pace University and University of Texas
  • Silby, B., (2008). A Christmas Question Should Children Believe in Santa Claus? Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Johnson, D., (2012). Say Goodbye to the Santa Claus Lie. Psychology Today.
  • Johnson, D., (2013). The Santa Claus Lie Debate: Answering Objections. Psychology Today.