Father Christmas ‘undermines trust in parents’

family law

Stories about Father Christmas can damage the relationship between children and their parents, academics have suggested.

Clinical psychologist Dr Kathy McKay and psychology professor Christopher Boyle have claimed that the children’s trust can be permanently damaged, leaving them feeling “abject disappointment”.

The Santa story is “such an involved lie, such a long-lasting one, between parents and children, that if a relationship is vulnerable, this may be the final straw” Dr McKay warned. After all, if a child’s parents “can lie so convincingly and over such a long time, what else can they lie about?”

In their article, the two said these can lead children to have questions like:

“If Santa isn’t real, are fairies real? Is magic? Is God?”

The revelation of the deception has the potential to cause serious damage to children, they claimed, but so can the belief itself. Some parents use the story “as a tool of control when they’re under a bit of pressure in the lead-up to Christmas” Professor Boyle explained. This is “potentially not the best parenting method” as it can give children the idea that “a mythical being [decides] whether you’re getting presents or not”.

Boyle and McKay suggested the story has been perpetuated by adults for their own benefit rather than for their children. The “desire to briefly re-enter childhood” can also be found in the adult fandoms of stories like Harry Potter, Star Wars and Doctor Who, McKay insisted. These all exhibit a yearning “for a time when imagination was accepted and encouraged” especially in the face of the “harshness of real life”.

The full article, titled A Wonderful Lie, was published in the academic journal Lancet Psychiatry.

Photo by Paul Hudson via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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5 comments

D - November 24, 2016 at 12:09pm

Great stuff! Yeap 🙂 Reckon the bit ‘ the story has been perpetuated by adults for their own benefit rather than for their children ‘ is particularly true.

Dr Grumpy - November 24, 2016 at 1:22pm

Oh dear! I must be terribly damaged then! Who do I sue for compo?

keith - November 24, 2016 at 4:15pm

They do make a relevant point but father xmas has been a part of the lighthearted festive tradition for so long we have to wonder would it be right to take it away from the children of today and the future. its open to debate i guess.
the so-called experts say-
“These all exhibit a yearning “for a time when imagination was accepted and encouraged” especially in the face of the “harshness of real life”.
Well i stand by the words of the late Great Albert Einstein when he said “intelligence can take you from A to B but imagination can take you everywhere”.
what a wonderful way to be a free spirit. and we have to bare in mind imagination was the beginning of many a brilliant invention that has helped shape our world today. i think i’ll stay with Mr E = Mc2.
Merry christmas Albert wherever you are!

Nemo Momenti - November 25, 2016 at 1:40pm

A wonderful example of what bloody idiots academics can be. And they get PAID to spout this nonsense? Have they really got nothing better to do?

keith - November 25, 2016 at 7:16pm

So true.
they live in a bubble world and have no real perception of life on the street.

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