Is It Telling Lies or Make Believe?

Updated on December 17, 2010
R.P. asks from Aurora, CO
18 answers

My eight year old daughter is still into fairytales. She still believes in the tooth fairy and since Christ's Day is approaching, her Santa questions are on the rise. I am getting to the point I don't want to keep telling her make believe stories or lies to keep her in awe. I admit that the questions are pretty unique and interesting but I have to reply back with something quick and meaningful for her. The latest question she's asked, "Depending on where we spend Christmas, how will Santa come into our house or dad's house if neither house has a chimney?" and "How is he gonna get the presents in the house if his bag doesn't fit in the windows (since they are small)?" and "Where are the reindeers' going to be at if there is no snow on the roof or a chimney to wait on ole St. Nick?" I told her in so many words that Santa is like a thief in the night only he doesn't break into your house to take your belongings he leaves you more new belongings he has a special key to unlock the doors, so his bag doesn't get stuck in the windows, and the sleigh & deers gonna magicall float in the air until Santa's done putting the presents under the tree. That was pretty much the only things I could get out of my mouth at that moment. However, its fun to do this but I feel as though I am teaching her to lie (and early) because there will be a time when she will figure it out and know that I've been telling lies. When that day comes how do I break it to her without it being lies? Or is it make believe?

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answers from Philadelphia on

Why don't you start telling her about the story of St Nicholas. I don't think it is a lie you are telling, you are creating Christmas memories for a child no that she is getting older now start telling her the Santa isn't a real person and clue her in.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Perhaps you could tell her that you just don't have all the answers, and that there are many mysteries and unknowns in life. Is that a lie? You mention Christ - do you KNOW that Christ is "real" - or is it faith? Good luck finding absolute, certain proof on that. Faith doesn't require proof. Every time my daughter asks me questions about the tooth fairy, or ghosts, or mermaids, or Santa I have to admit to myself that I don't really KNOW anything about them. I may think I KNOW the truth, but do we "grown-ups" really have the certainty we claim to possess?

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answers from Modesto on

Santa (St Nick) was real when he was alive. When your child really starts asking all of the questions and then ultimately comes up with "I don't believe it"... that's when you share that "Santa was real and we just pretend he still is because it's so fun while kids are little, but you are grown now and know the secret.... but we don't ever ruin it for little kids, okay?" And then you can choose to say that as long as you believe in the spirit of Santa it just makes Christmas time so much more fun for everyone. I still look in the night sky on Christmas Eve for the reindeer and sleigh. I'm sure my grown sons do it too. It's not a lie, it's a show of how powerful imagination can be. When the child reaches the maturity level to handle the truth, they are also old enough to get the concept and why we play the game usually without detrement to the psyche. The average child weathers the Easter Bunny, tooth fairy and Santa just fine. I'm sure there are exceptions to the rule tho.... some kids just have personalities that can't handle it, at least from what I've read on here by moms that don't do Santa because they think its awful to lie, or they were so hurt by the truth when little it's damaged them for some reason. Unfortunately I dont know anyone personally that has been psychologically damaged by the fairy tales, but they are out there.
It's a milestone when the kids quit believing, one to write down in their babybook so they can have a record of it for when they have their own child.
It's not a lie, it's a fantasy... and a teaching tool for the imagination, it opens the mind for other things.... and that is the healthy way to use what we do with these fictional characters.
I still look for an Easter basket on Easter... but the bunny hasnt brought me one in a zillion years. It doesnt make me need a Xanax tho :)

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Why overthink this to death? Children are full of wonder. It's called make believe and having an imagination. Don't stifle it! Children grow up QUICKLY these days. I wouldn't do one thing to hurry that along. When I was growing up no one seemed to question this at all, and we didn't turn into horrible liars with a terrible distrust of our parents. I'm so happy my parents encouraged my belief in Santa and kept it going. It's a wonderful memory of my childhood. If you want to really get her going, visit It's awesome and FREE! My boys are in awe -personalized (even with photos you upload) video email from Santa himself!

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answers from Minneapolis on


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answers from Tulsa on

its not a lie and its not make believe. its not a lie cause santa lives in your hearts. its not make believe cause a real guy named saint nick did this in olden days. she is old enough she knows the truth. but at the same time she is young enough she wants to believe. mine went through this phase too. santa still visits my house and fills his stocking. santa visited me at dads house every year till dad died. he loved the santa thing. when we got old enough he just put santa on labels here and there. :) ask her an open ended question and let her decide on her own answer by not answering.

edited as for mws answer i believed in santa and also believe in god. :)

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answers from Albany on

It's my opinion that a child's believing in such things as Santa, Easter Bunny, etc is essential to their future faith in God. It's a 'warm-up' of sorts to allow their imaginations to believe in Good Things they can't actually see.

When they were 4 and starting asking the questions you mention, the answer was easy, 'MAGIC!"

But since she's 8 and has already heard from kids at school that there is no Santa and so on, she is wanting you at this point to be straight with her. She will NOT see it as you've been lying to her all these years (unless you present it that way of course). She will take it as another milestone in her life and she's older, smarter, and mature enough to handle certain truths.

You can still talk about Santa same as you always did, you'll have a different bond with her now about it since she's 'in the know'.

I still refer to Santa and my kids are 18, 16, and 13.
It's just nice!


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answers from Jacksonville on

I have never known a child who stopped trusting their parents b/c they found out that Santa/Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy, et al, were make believe. By the time they are the age to figure it out, they usually grasp that it is part of the fun of the spirit of the holiday or whatever. (or they have lost most of their baby teeth and see that it was to help them focus away from the scary part of pulling the teeth out, lol).

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answers from Dallas on

I find turning it around and asking "what do you think" is a great deflector . . . .

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

If make believe were bad, then so much great fiction, fantasy literature or other classics would be bogus! So we should never go to Disney films, watch Mary Poppins or The Wizard of Oz, enjoy the Star Wars films or Aladdin, or watch old classics like Bewitched or I Dream of Jeannie, or read Dr. Seuss? There is plenty of time for reality later in life. Fantasy actually increases creativity!

Your daughter is thinking critically, which is a good thing, and she's working towards a more realistic view of the world. Eventually she will figure this out. But do you want to be the one to burst her bubble now? One thing you can do to buy yourself some time is to turn it around on her as ask "What do YOU think?" Another way to address specifics is to say that in the old days, every house had a chimney so that's how the Santa/chimney thing started, but that Santa is magic and very adaptable to new home designs and living conditions, such as condos and mobile homes. Say you don't know how he does it either - but it happens every year! Enjoy it, don't sweat over it as dishonesty!

Lying is something people do to obtain something to which they are otherwise not entitled, or to avoid punishment for something for which they are responsible. Telling a story for entertainment value or to give hope is an entirely different matter. How deprived we would all be if there were no fantasy in life!!!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

There is enough time in her life for cold hard reality! I say make believe away and let the magic of Santa and the Holidays take hold. Drink it in and enjoy it. As they get older Santa will live in the spirit of giving and the warm feelings of love, joy and family that the holiday's bring. I never had a bad Santa revolation he sort of faided into spirit. My parents never forced the issue when I got older and when would ask questions like is Santa real? They would ask me: What do you think? and What do you want to believe?, thus there was no abrupt Santa cut off and I have nothing but fond memories of believing. Relax and enjoy in the magic let yourself get carried away, as adults we forget how fun make believe can be and that we too can indulge in a little fantasy!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

We pretend, but don't over-do it. My son asked me if the Tooth Fairy was real and I always tell the truth. I told him no, but it's fun to pretend. 2 years later, he figured out Santa Claus and asked me and I told him the truth. We homeschool, so he doesn't really get a ton of info from other kids....thankfully in so many ways! I also told him that he can't tell other kids, since it's the parent's job ot tell their child when ready.

My mom lied to me over and over and over again. I was devestated when I found out. Not to much about the fantasy, but more that I lost my faith in my mother. I never went to her for anything after that, when I needed a truthful answer. I believed until 5th grade. I refuse to do that to my kids, but I also didn't want to take ALL of the childhood fun away.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I would stop giving details in my answers, the whole idea behind Santa (in my Opinion) is teaching kids to believe in something they cant see or understand (like God) Answers can simply be I dont know exactly how he does it but the presents are always there and the stockings are always filled arent they? As long as people believe in Santa he comes. Later she will find out how much Santa is helped by mom and dad and she wont remember that you told extensive lies just that you told her to believe in the spirit of Santa

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pocatello on

Fantasy is not the same as lying, it is fun to make believe, and your daughter probably knows more of "the truth" than you think she does. In a study I read once about children and their imaginary friends the researchers found that the children really did know that their “friend” was only pretend, but they LIKED to pretend that it was all real, it was just a game they were playing and they were not confused or trying to lie. I too have a VERY imaginative 8 year old daughter who is forever spinning stories about "Princess Land" and all of the adventures she has had there (she is a secret princess in disguise) and she talks about how Jack Frost lives at our house during the winter and what Santa must be up to etc. I think that it is a gift, these children have a great talent for imagination, which they may use someday to become successful authors or screen writers or some other type of artist. I heard a wonderful answer to all kinds of questions about how Santa does XYZ, a mall Santa told my kids that it all worked because of Christmas Magic, and that Christmas Magic was made and kept alive when people did kind deeds for one another, so the more you help others and do good deeds the stronger the magic becomes. I love this explanation for its simplicity and for the fact that it encourages children to have a spirit of charity. Best of luck to you and have a blessed and merry Christmas!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I am one of those who did trust my parents less after finding out about Santa, et. al. I believed until 4th grade and vigorously defended my parents as my peers told me it wasn't true. I don't remember how I ultimately found out but when I confronted my parents about it, it was handled as if "Yes it's true, but 'Oh, you found out?', well then yeah it's not true." I felt betrayed because I remember saying to friends that my parents had no reason to lie to me. Maybe if my parents handled it differently???? I never received an explanation at that time that may have served as an apology for the deception, or even a right of passage of becoming a "grown-up," now in on the secret.

With that said....I am very careful when confronted by my children about Santa. My stock answer is "Yes, I believe in the SPIRIT of Santa Claus." White lie/deception/semantics---could be? But I know that as they grow, I will never change my answer and it will not be a lie.

I have a 5th grader that still believes but is planning on somehow setting up surveillance of the Christmas tree--Santa's job is tougher this year.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Cloud on

I think you should start telling her the truth..... If you keep lying to her, she will not know when to trust/believe you for future answers you give her on more important issues than santa. She may not believe that God is real since you've been telling her santa is........

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Honestly, I think if she is asking really detailed logistical questions like this, it's probably time to 'fess up. That goes beyond fantasy, in my opinion. If you don't want to have all her beliefs come crashing down, you can always say that Santa has asked you and daddy (or whoever) to be your helpers and that's how the presents will get to her, no matter where she is.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cheyenne on

Make it a learning experience and explain that Santa claus is actually Saint Nicholas, a real person who gave gifts in secret and the tradition has been carried on for hundreds of years. You can look him up on google together and learn about him and about traditions in other countries.

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