To Lie or not to Lie, that is the Question

A 2008 study by the UK based The Baby Website revealed the average parent will tell their child nearly 3,000 white lies as they are growing up. 

The top two tales told?

1. Father Christmas only comes to good kids.

2. Father Christmas only visits children who go to sleep.

While the parents in those studies may be across the pond, the tales they tell certainly hit close to home.

Each year as the holidays approach I find myself hyper focused on the idea that soon enough, my children are going to be old enough to ask “Is Santa Claus real?”

As I consider my potential responses, I realize that regardless of how I will answer, I need to accept that a twinge of guilt (or more) will come with it. If I answer “yes” I am joining the rest of the majority of “average parents” in telling this white lie. If I answer “no,” I’m ruining the fun of fantasy, forcing my child to miss out on a major cultural experience.

But something about lying to my children just doesn’t settle right with me, regardless of how white and innocent the lie may be.  Perhaps it is because I already know that this white lie is eventually going to bite me hard in the butt.

At some point, my children are going to know that I made a choice to lie to them. I wonder how they are going to feel about that. I ask myself if I could damage our mother/child bond with a simple tall tale. I consider if they learn the truth during a time in their lives when they’re learning other hard truths of life (like not everyone likes me), if they’ll feel I can no longer be trusted to be truthful.

I also know that our kids do as we do. By lying to my children, I’m consciously setting an example that lying, sometimes, is acceptable. I’m also communicating that people may not be able to handle the truth, so telling a white lie makes them feel better.

So what’s a mother to do?

For now, my husband and I have decided to allow our children to experience Santa, but we’ve been clear that Santa isn’t real. We’ve shared the story of Saint Nicholas and we’ve let our children know that no stranger comes into our house in the middle of the night to leave gifts. We’ve focused on the real meaning of Christmas, which for our family is the birth of Christ and helping children who are less fortunate by purchasing toys and clothing.

For our family, for now, this just feels right. What about for you? How do you handle white lies in your family? Do you tell your children the truth about Santa? Share your experiences below.

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