Mummy, Why Do Grown Up’s Lie To Children? Santa From a Four Year Old’s Perspective

I took Little Cat for his bi-annual hair cut today. He hates to have his hair brushed, so whenever it reaches the stage where it starts to matt and tangle, we give him the choice of daily hairbrushes or a haircut. He always goes for the cut. We have been going to the same hairdressers since he first started getting hair cuts. He always has the same lady do it and she gives him a lolly pop afterwards.

He likes this lady and finds her funny, but each time we go he has a lot of questions afterwards about the things she says to him. This time was no different…

Hairdresser: You are being such a good boy. Well done!

LC: Stares at her looking confused.

Hairdresser: I expect you’ve been very good this year. Is Santa going to bring you lots of presents for Christmas?

LC: Shakes his head.

Hairdresser: Why not? Have you been a naughty boy?

LC: Looks up at me in bewilderment as if asking what he should do.

I step in: He doesn’t believe in Santa actually.

Hairdresser: Oh! Well I feel silly. You must think I’m a bit crazy!

LC: Nods his head and laughs.

We pay and leave.

LC: Mummy, why did that lady say all that stuff about Father Christmas?

Me: Well, you know I told you that lots of grown up’s like to tell children that he is real and the children believe he is? I expect she just thought that you did too.

LC: But he isn’t though. Why would they say he is when he isn’t?

Me: Lot’s of reasons I think. Maybe they feel like it makes Christmas more special and magical.

LC: But it doesn’t. Did the lady believe he was real?

Me: No, she was just pretending.

LC: That’s silly Mummy. You shouldn’t tell children that something is real when it isn’t!

Christmas is a very special time in our home. LC gets so excited by the tree, the sparkly lights, the decorations. He is so happy with his advent calendar, counting down the days until Christmas as he eagerly anticipates all the celebrations. He can’t wait for the family parties, the food, the giving and receiving of presents. He is already role playing giving me and his Daddy gifts which he creates from boxes and objects he finds around his home.

Christmas IS special here.

And the beauty is that the magic of Christmas will never be destroyed for him. We are creating traditions that will never be ruined by finding out the truth. I don’t have to sneak around behind his back and tell him things which unsettle him, shaking his knowledge of the world around him. If I told him reindeer could fly, or that a large man with a sack could get down our chimney, he would have a million questions about how.

“Why doesn’t the room get filled up with soot like it does when the chimney sweep comes?”

“How does he get back up to the roof?”

“How do reindeer fly without wings?”

I would feel as if I was insulting his intelligence by fabricating lies to explain it away.

Instead, Christmas here is about family, connection, love and that fundamental quality that we keep at the forefront of our relationships – Trust.

I can’t imagine doing it any other way.


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6 thoughts on “Mummy, Why Do Grown Up’s Lie To Children? Santa From a Four Year Old’s Perspective”

  1. Great post,it s funny i ve always been a bit uncomfortable with the whole santa thing,i don t talk about santa much to my 4year old girl because I feel i m being a little disrespectful to her in a way saying all these silly things about reindeers and the chimney!other people talk to her about it,i m not sure she believes in it,she s always been quiet clever and clued in and she knows when a grown-up is being patronizing and she doesn t like it!i don t feel so guilty now that i read your article,i m not the only one who doesn t do the santa thing!we also celebrate xmas and really enjoy it!

    1. I think adults do frequently underestimate the intelligence of children. Since we are around people who do talk about Santa a lot, I just always make sure to talk to him about anything he’s heard, so I can answer any questions he has honestly and make sure he doesn’t feel confused or uneasy about it.

  2. I have always disliked the idea of children being told that if they are not good then Santa will give them their presents. What if they want something that is not possible. When the boys were small we explain that they got a little gift from the Santa at the Library to thank them for the gifts they have given others. We always gave things to the local women refuge. We all gave something that we did not want any more and was of good quality. We did this through out the year.

    1. Yes, that’s a hard lesson to learn too, but an important one nonetheless. We go through old toys and choose things to give to people who don’t have any. It’s hard to let go, but I don’t believe that hoarding toys you don’t even play with us healthy. Of course I model this by giving away things of my own too.

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