16th December 2007
Well – ’tis the season to tolerate the tabloids feigning outrage at the alleged suppression of Christmas traditions in the name of political correctness (see HERE for an example, and HERE for an article from the Guardian on the topic.).
We discussed this last year (see: http://r-p-e.blogspot.com/2006/12/christmas-banned.html
), so will leave it for now: but I did wonder, amidst the songs, the tinsel and the crowds in the shops this week: Is it morally acceptable to lie to children about the existence of Father Christmas / Santa Claus ?
Leaving asides cheap jibes about believing in a fictional old man, who you can’t see: why do we perpetuate this falseshood? An interesting discussion at http://urbansemiotic.com/2005/09/12/lying-to-children/
also (as well as mentioning the Tooth Fairy) takes it on to a more serious note with discussions of how much doctors should or should not reveal to seriously ill children. I suppose a number of questions emerge from thinking about this:
– Is it somehow less wrong to lie to children? Is our (apparent) epistemological superiority sufficent warrant for us to deceive them? Would it be wrong to lie to an adult for the same reason.
– When we tell children things about Santa that are not wholly factual – is it for their benefit (the magic of Christmas) – or our own – an attempt to recapture our own lost innocence?
How would/should we react if someone were to tell us that they were going to always be honest with their children – including about the Tooth Fairly and Father Christmas? (or the culturally-specific equivalents)