Thorny Santa Claus Question Raised by Justin Bieber's Mom

Justin BieberIs telling your kids that Santa Claus exists "lying" to them? And if so, is it OK to do it anyway? Will they ever trust you to tell the truth again?

This very thorny parenting question has recently been raised by none other than teen pop star Justin Bieber, who never believed in Santa, even as a little kid, because his mom didn't want to mislead him in any way.

"My mom always told me there wasn't a Santa," Bieber told AOL Music. "This was her logic: She thought if I grew up knowing about Santa then finding out he wasn't real, that it would be like she was lying to me. And then when she told me about God, I maybe wouldn't believe her."

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The 17-year-old singer said that, although his mom decided to be "straight-up and honest with me all the time," she also made sure he didn't out Santa to other kids. "I didn't tell my friends or ruin it for anyone -- I was a good kid!" Bieber said.

I can totally see Bieber's mom's point. In general, I make it a very strong policy to tell my kids the truth at all times, to preserve trust and also because I am a lousy liar. Because my kids are Jewish, they've never believed in Santa -- and they, like Bieber, are under strict orders not to ruin other kids' fun. (So far, so good.)

On the other hand, if Santa Claus was a part of my family's tradition, I'd probably feel OK about allowing them to hold on to the fantasy and feeding it for as long as seemed suitable. I'd probably tell myself that the spirit of Santa -- of giving generously without expecting anything in return -- is real, or at least worth the fiction. And I'd probably happily accept the "naughty and nice" tool to help ensure good behavior in the run-up to the holidays.

After all, I do let my kids believe in the Tooth Fairy and go to some lengths to preserve their belief. Lying? Perhaps. But for a greater good, I'd say. It's great to have some magic -- a rich fantasy world -- when you're a kid! How wonderful to believe that anything is possible: even a jolly heavyset man flying through the air on a reindeer-drawn sleigh and tumbling down chimneys to spread gifts and good cheer, or an invisible, deep-pocketed fairy who's really into incisors. There's plenty of time for reality and disappointment later.

Do you think letting your kid believe in Santa Claus (or the Tooth Fairy) is lying?

 

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