Childhood Lies Propagated by Parents


Taylor Pegg, Senior Staff Writer

As a child almost everyone believed in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and surprisingly, those  false beliefs were propagated strongly by parents. So is it okay to lie to your children when you become a parent?  Apparently so; in fact, in most cases, these lies can help children more than hurt them.

Let’s first consider the Dental Diva.  Children are often scared to lose teeth, but they’re excited to see what the fictional creature, the Tooth Fairy, will put under their pillows. Most children stop believing the Tooth Fairy to be real when they stop losing teeth; they become curious as to where their teeth went and ask many questions until they find out. Senior Chloe Ryhal comments on her past belief in the Fairy: “My mom kept bags of my older sisters’ teeth in the medicine cabinet, and I was looking for medicine when I found the bags. I questioned my mom as to why they were there, and she explained that the Tooth Fairy gives them back. I just eventually put two-and-two together.” But was she sorry that her mom invented this tale? “Not in the least,” states Ryhal.

According to CNN, 85% of young children believe Santa Claus is real. Santa Claus is the number one belief fabricated as a reality, in fact.  And who could not believe? In the small town of Hubbard, the community has “Santa’s House” in Tylee Park every year. Malls bring Santa in for pictures and visits, and the post office provides drop boxes for Christmas wish list mail to be sent to the North Pole. Even NORAD helps to propagate this belief.  CNN explains: “Wary children can follow Santa’s journey around the world by satellite on Christmas Eve, thanks to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which started its holiday tradition in 1955. NORAD, like Coleman, also suggests that ‘the only logical conclusion is that Santa somehow functions within his own time-space continuum.’ “  The benefits to belief in Santa are many, but consider just a few: a shared hope centered on a season, a motivation for good behavior, a subject that bonds a family and lets children enjoy childhood while they can–all founded on a lie.

The Easter Bunny is a folkloric symbol for Easter.  It is another belief encouraged by parents, and was originally created to help a child maintain good behavior during the eastertide season, states sources. The Easter Bunny is also known for bringing baskets full of candy on Easter morning, but often children have to search because the bunny may have hidden these baskets.  The benefits again are many: encouraging children’s imagination and desire to go on a quest, bonding through family dinners and religious services, a reason to hold off from eating sweets until a special day. Most children stop believing the Easter Bunny to be real until just before they turn eight, nine or 10 years old.

In fact, nine or 10 seem to be the magical age when these beliefs begin to disappear.  One source explains the science behind this: “This shift in belief from age 5 to 10 has some psychology behind it. The influential child psychologist Jean Piaget proposed that around age 8 children enter the ‘concrete operational stage’ of thinking — a critical, observant phase of questioning impossible things.”  It is this questioning curiosity that makes children begin to doubt. And children, then teens, continue to doubt and question much about what their parents have told them for a good many years.

     Most children look up to parents and adults. They want to emulate them when they grow up. However, once in high school, nearing graduation, some seniors realize that they don’t actually want to  grow up anymore. “I don’t want to grow up because I don’t want to have the responsibilities of having to know what college I’m going to go to and what major I’m going into. That’s a lot of stress on a 15 year old,” states sophomore Emily Filicky.  Perhaps, at this point, students might like to turn back that time machine and once again embrace those beliefs that made them feel most child-like and protected.