Protecting delusions

As discussed on Jonathan Turley’s legal opinion blog, parents are angry with a teacher for telling their 7-year old children that Santa Claus does not exist.

This raises a really interesting question about the circumstances under which delusions ought to be protected.

Personally, I’m toeing the line and going along with the whole Santa thing for my son. But it feels a little underhanded, to be honest – I’m lying to him, plain and simple. And if we had taught him, from the very beginning, that Santa was just a fictitious character, I doubt he would have been much less happy than he is today. (Perhaps he would have gotten some flack from his friends at preschool?)

What will upset him now, though, is the inevitable disillusionment that comes when his belief in Santa is shattered. And we will have ourselves to blame for setting that false belief up in the first place.

But it’s all innocent fun, right? And don’t kids enjoy their Christmases more if they believe in Santa?

I cannot answer these questions. And at least kids get over their belief in Santa pretty quickly: we’re not scarring them for life. It does suggest to children, though, that they can’t always trust their parents to be telling the truth.

Maybe that’s a good thing, too.

And telling children the truth about Santa – when the time is right – is the best thing about the whole ordeal, even though it’s the hardest. We end the delusion because we know the truth is important. It doesn’t serve any child well to continue to believe in Santa Claus, because Santa Claus is not an accurate representation of the real world.

If only other delusions were so readily expelled.


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