Google+ Authentic Parenting: Holidays: Breaking The Myth Or Maintaining The Lie

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Holidays: Breaking The Myth Or Maintaining The Lie

The next edition of the Enjoy Life Unschooling Carnival focuses on Celebrating. Strangely, the day I got the topic in my mailbox, I had been discussing that same topic with a fellow plantation mom.

In celebrating with a small child, a parent must ask him/herself wether to perpetuate the myth or to tell the truth and possibly lose some of the marvel.
This can prove a hard nut to crack.

On the one hand you don't want to lie to your child, on the other you don't want to rob your child of his childhood fairy dust.

As a child, the mother I talked to had been made to believe some myth about Easter eggs (that easter eggs are different from normal eggs because they are laid by the cock) and in Sinterklaas (from which you Anglosaxons have ripped off Santa Claus). She had experienced a rather traumatizing episode in school when all her classmates knew the truth and she didn't (resulting in everyone - including the teacher - laughing at her ignorance), and a few months later, with Sinterklaas, the story repeated itself, since her parents had only told her that the thing about the cock and the Easter egg wasn't true.

I on the other hand found myself at the complete opposite of the spectre. I had told my class that all their beliefs about Sinterklaas were wrong, that the presents they got were left there by their parents, as my parents had always told me the truth.
I spent the rest of the afternoon standing in the corner.

Image: Phil Fenstermacher on Picasa

My daughter won't be schooled, so all these peer issues won't ose a problem. However, I think the story plantation mom told me has a deeper ground than the shame she felt from her peers, I think she felt especially betrayed by her parents.

I have always felt that hanging up these stories about easter bunnies and old men on horses throwing gifts down the chimney isn't being Authentic to your child. Especially when the parents try to maintain the myth no matter the cost (Why did I see Santa in the mall and now he's standing outside?)
I think being respectful to your child means that you don't lie to them.

Yes, I mighht read a story about Sinterklaas to my daughter. I might even withhold some details until she asks about it, but when she asks I wont lie.
And I won't lie on purpose.

For Easter, I told her we would be welcoming spring by doing an egghunt. And I told her I would go and hide the eggs we had painted together.
For Sinterklaas, I will tell her it is the holiday of sinterklaas. I will tell her the story and why we celebate, and I will tell her that she will receive a present if she leaves her little shoe outside the door. I won't ask her to write a letter to sinterklaas. I won't tell her Sinterklaas will come to our house and bring the gifts.

I hope this way I have found a middle ground



  1. my son will be 3 in february so this is an issue that we will have to start thinking about soon. i will likely take your approach - teach him about the traditions and what they mean but not outright lie about santa. i cant bear it when kids are blackmailed to be 'good' lest they not get any gifts at christmas.

  2. I come from a German family so we celebrated Christmas with vigour and enthusiasm every year. It was ABSOLUTELY MAGICAL for me as a child and I loved it every year! One year, when I was eight, I grew suspicious that Santa Clause wasn't real so I asked my mom. I remember she sweetly said, "Oh, sweetheart, it's not that Santa isn't real, it's just that he's dead." Then she told me the story of Saint Nicholas and said that because he was so nice, kind and selfless he changed the world and people in countries all over the globe carried on his tradition of giving. I will give my children the same explanation when the time comes and they ask me.

  3. aaf. We are also very keen on celebrating. I think your mother had a healthy attitude, as do you

  4. I also believe we shouldn't lie to our children. We celebrate in the German way because my husband's family is German. Kristkind comes Christmas Eve with gifts at my in laws house. My children are still young enough that they don't understand what is going on, but when they do ask me I will tell the truth. We ran into a little trouble last year when my daughter was going to get a cute little dollhouse for Christmas, but her cousin saw it so my mother-in-law had to return it because now Kristkind couldn't give it to her. My husband and I were a little disappointed with the replacement dollhouse. They already know that mommy hides the Easter eggs and Halloween is just for the fun of dressing up.


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