It’s that beloved time of the year again folks.
The holidays are rolling around and kids everywhere are writing their wish lists in hopes of getting the newest Lego set or Barbie doll on the market. Everyone is on their best behavior knowing Santa Claus is coming.
But, as fun and good-natured as the concept of Santa Claus is, it can perpetuate some dangerous ideas in the minds of young kids. With Christmas fast approaching, it’s worth noting some of the effects the myth of Jolly Old Saint Nick is thought to have on our youth.
When I found out that my parents were the ones giving me presents every year, I was heartbroken. For so many years I had indulged in this fantasy, thinking there was hidden magic all over. The story of Santa Claus helped me believe in the kindness of people and assured me that anything is possible.
But being devastated wasn’t the half of it. I was suddenly suspicious of everything else my parents had ever told me. Did this make lying okay?
“The Santa myth is such an involved lie… if parents can lie so convincingly and over such a long time, what else can they lie about?” said clinical psychologist Kathy McKay.
However, many parents feel that if they don’t keep up the Santa Claus tradition, they’re responsible for destroying the magic of Christmas and some of the wonder of childhood.
“I think it’s one of those things where the good outweighs the bad,” said Sinclair student Cole Turner. “The story of Santa Claus allows children’s imagination and creativity to run wild.”
Still, another issue that arises when considering the effects of Santa is the potential of receiving “a lump of coal.” This warning, as a means of controlling bad behavior, is not always the best parenting tactic, as it can send kids into a panic.
I know I, for one, was always anxious around Christmas time. I monitored my every move, scared I was going to do something Santa would perceive as irreversible.
Kids don’t need this kind of fear instilled in them. Christmas is a time to come together and enjoy the company of friends and family.
Besides, the unease surrounding the possibility of coal intensifies children’s desire for presents and at the end of the day, that’s not what the holiday is about.
“I think the Santa Claus story is a good and bad idea. On one hand, you’re teaching kids discipline—if they’re good, they get rewarded with presents. But on the other hand, it’s a lie,” said Sinclair student Kelsey DeLaet.
A possible balance to this dilemma is embracing the “story” behind Santa Claus. That is, letting your kids know up front that Santa Claus is a story, but keeping it up for their sake.
“There’s so much reality in this life, that one of the delights of childhood, and of being a parent, is to spread a little fairy dust occasionally,” said columnist Emily Yoffe.