Happy parents raise happy kids

Kids, Santa Claus and Tooth Fairies (poll)

Tooth FairyThis week, my 9-year-old daughter Noff went to a play day with 4 of her friends. The parents who came to pick them up also had a bit of "play" time socializing and having a nice pizza and some watermelon.

The discussion was about kids, Santa Claus and fairies. We talked about the right time to tell kids who really puts the money under their pillow and who really buys their gifts for Christmas. I had taken part in similar debates and they always become passionate, as did this one.

  1. Is it honest to tell kids about Santa and the Tooth Fairy?
  2. What should we say when they ask? (Liar, liar pants of fire!)
  3. When is the right time to tell them about the role their parents play in this?
  4. What will they think when they find out we are the real fairies?

I am very passionate about Santa Claus and fairies. When I was a kid, there were no Santa or fairies in my life and my family was very much down to earth. "Don't get silly ideas in kids' heads" was their motto.

Magic, as you know, is a pretty expensive game and my family was very poor. My parents had 5 kids, my mom worked from 5am to 3pm and my dad worked two jobs from 6am until late in the evening, so they could not afford to play with magic. At least they did not think they could and, as Henry Ford said, "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right!"

Gift / PresentMy parents did not believe in magic and, although I believe they did their best to raise us, I think we missed a big part of childhood, that fun part when your imagination goes wild and you have the comfort of believing someone is taking good care of you and someone will grant your wishes.

When I had my first child, I vowed I would create magic in her life, so I told her stories about the Queen of Stars, the Tooth Fairy and Santa and even came up with beliefs about things that never happened to make her feel good. For example, did you know that if you take a fallen eyelash and blow it away while you make a wish, your wish will be granted? Well, you do now!

In my parent coaching course, I teach parents to plant seeds of thoughts in their kids' mind so they will think they are awesome, friendly, healthy, happy, successful, sensitive, smart, gifted, talented … (oh, my list is huge).

Someone always says to me, "But Ronit, what if they're not?"

Well, if they are not, it only means you have not convinced them yet that they are, because everyone is…

I think the debate about fairies is exactly like the debate about planting seeds.

  1. Is it honest to tell kids they have a quality they do not?
  2. What do we say when they behave in the opposite way?
  3. When do we tell them we have manipulated them to think good things about themselves?
  4. What will they think when they find out they were not gifted and we convinced them they were?

Well, the answer to the question lies in the way kids form their identity.

Forming our identity is a long life process and the major part of it happens in the early years. Kids receive messages (verbal and non-verbal) about who they are, about their place in the world and about their personality from the people who are closest to them. A 2-year-old toddler who is told he has no manners during every meal will develop an identity of someone who has no table manners. Being just a kid, nobody expects him to come to his mother and say, "Excuse me Mom, but I'm just a kid and my motor skills are not yet fully developed and I have not experienced eating by myself with a knife and fork and the chair is a bit too far from the table, so please cut me some slack. Let's have a discussion about it in 6 months to evaluate my progress…"

FairyHe is just a kid!

If we tell him instead he is making great progress and already holding his teaspoon like a really big boy, he will eventually live up to our statements.

Believing in Santa and Fairies is the same. We have the power to plant a seed of magic in our kids' minds and make them feel good. They will figure it out at some point, but then, they will not say you were a liar but that you were doing your best to make them feel good.

Anyway, on my daughter's play day, I did my spiel about magic and fairies and even told the other parents about some tricks I use to play the game better.

  1. I hide the gifts in the garage in different places so my kids will never find them.
  2. I buy different wrapping paper and throw away the leftovers so my kids will not recognize it.
  3. Sometimes, I even buy a separate gift from us and wrap it with our own wrapping paper.
  4. I buy Mom and Dad gifts too, to make it more real.
  5. When I buy something and I am not sure about the size, I attach the receipt and tell the kids that when Santa is not sure, he leaves the receipt so we can exchange it (this also solved the mystery of why so many people exchange things after Christmas).
  6. I print the cards and labels so they will not recognize my hand writing.
  7. I write a note to the Tooth Fairy to leave me their tooth and get them to place it with their tooth under the pillow ("Dear Tooth Fairy, you have plenty of teeth already and I would like to keep this one to remember, so can you please leave it there in the morning? Thank you, Ronit, Noff's mom").
  8. When I forget the tooth money, I "go looking" for it myself, put the money inside the pillow case and tell my kids to look again, "Maybe inside the pillow case". When they find it, they think it was just well hidden before.
  9. Santa Claus When my kids ask me if I believe in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, I tell them, "This is what everyone says and I've never found a way to prove it wrong" (have you noticed I did not lie?! This way, I can keep my pants from being on fire).

The host of the play day told us that when he forgets to put money for the tooth, he tells his kids the tooth fairy was probably very busy last night and puts the money under her pillow the next day.

I promised the other parents I would take a poll and find out what other parents think. So let's do it!

Answer the question if you are doing it now or did it in the past.

{democracy:16}
{democracy:17}
{democracy:18}
{democracy:19}
{democracy:20}

I would love you to share with us some of your Santa Claus and Tooth Fairy tricks and tell us what you believe and why.

Enjoy the magic of your kids' imagination.

Happy parenting,
Ronit

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  • http://susanheim.blogspot.com Susan Heim

    I think the reason we continue the traditions of Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy is because we have such wonderful memories of believing in them when we were children! In other words, these beliefs were magical, and we want our own children to experience the same wonder. I've never known of a child getting mad at a parent for "lying" to them about Santa or the TF. Children naturally get to an age when they're mature enough to understand the real reasons why we encouraged these beliefs. In fact, for those children whose parents did not allow Santa and the TF into their lives, the kids often resent that they didn't experience the same magic as other children. As Ronit pointed out, there are ways to handle questions without outright lying. We know our kids best and can figure out when it's time to gently share our part in bringing Santa and the TF to life.

  • E

    I agree with Susan. I was always dissappointed with the Tooth Fairy when I couldn't find the money and looked forward to getting presents from Santa in the morning. The knowledge that they weren't real simply grew on me until one day I found the stash of presents and my thoughts were confirmed. It wasn't a big shock or a great dissappointment, just funny and right. And then I was free to pitch in. To be part of the joy of giving gifts to my siblings. We give so much more to kids with this one lie than the truth ever could.

  • http://www.ronitbaras.com/index.php/about/ Ronit Baras

    Hi Susan,

    I lived in a house that we had no Tooth Fairy or any other magic.
    I discovered about it very late in life, when I did my education degree. I was so disappointed!
    I don't blame my parents or mad at them for not crating this magic at home. They did the best they could and in their generation, survival was much stronger than magic.
    There are magical things that you can only experience as a kid and the magic wears off as you grow. I have made the decision to create this magic and keep it as long as I can.
    I don't think there is an age to tell the truth. They will figure it out. When they are ready, they'll know.

    Happy day
    Ronit
    here is another magic I was involved with
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J25jTpshJ8I

  • http://www.ronitbaras.com/index.php/about/ Ronit Baras

    HI E,

    Think about it, you were disappointed when the tooth fairy didn't give you money on time and I didn't even know she existed.
    I love your statement
    " We give so much more to kids with this one lie than the truth ever could"
    How true!

    Happy day and come again.

    Ronit
    The Motivational Speaker

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  • John

    My wife and I committed to be honest with our three kids about everything. That never precluded make-believe; we had lots of fun with make-believe. But we felt -- and feel -- that as the primary source of truth in their lives we had an obligation to set a good example. Our oldest is 21 and our youngest is 17. All three enjoy fantasy, all three have great imaginations and are very creative. And all three have a very clear understanding of what truth is and why we need to be truthful. None of the three feels cheated about knowing the truth regarding fantasy. They always got Christmas presents; they always got baskets full of chocolate at easter; they got money when they lost a tooth. But they knew Mom and Dad were the source. We have asked them if they wish we had gone the traditional route, and all three vehemently say no, they are glad we did things the way we did and that they plan to do the same when they have children.

  • http://www.ronitbaras.com/index.php/about/ Ronit Baras

    Hi John,

    I think being true to what you believe is really the topic of this post.

    I always say to people in my workshops. your kids will not judge you on the things you truly believed in. Even if later in years they will not agree with it, they will always appreciate you for having values and living true to your values.
    You and your wife are a great example of it and the kids appreciate it.
    It is wonderful example that kids would prefer playing the game even if they know it is not true.

    When did you tell them it was mum and dad?

    Happy parenting
    Ronit

  • http://www.TheSantaStory.com Arita Trahan

    Isn't parenting just the best experience ever? We each do what we think is best, and hang on for the ride. I appreciate all the comments left here, and specifically resonate with John. I stepped into make-believing in Santa (rather than believing-in) almost by accident with my first daughter, and what she went on to teach me about a child's ability to slide gracefully into and out of the imaginal realm - well, it blew my mind! Kids are wonderful teachers. And each situation and each parent/child relationship is unique. More power to all you parents who are conscious and intentional in their parenting! You inspire me.

  • http://www.ronitbaras.com/index.php/about/ Ronit Baras

    Arita,

    It is a great ride!
    Our kids are amazing. I think we bring them to the world to learn to love ourselves.

    Ronit

  • misty

    I really apprecaite these comments! My husband and I could not agree on this topic. I voted to tell our children the truth, the traditions of the holidays, the reasons we celebrate each one, i.e. Christmas (for us as Christian) is a celebration of Jesus's birthday (though not actually celebrated on his birthday) and Saint Nicholas' stocking gifts. My husband voted for the magic of Santa Claus. As it turns out we have done both, Santa Claus and tradition. I have felt like I lied to them, and not liked it. I see how happy Santa Claus makes them so I have allowed, but I always make sure to keep the traditions important as well. Reading your comments has helped relieve the guilt as I see intentions of love, magic, and tradition are the what really matters. ^_^

  • http://www.thesantastory.com Arita Trahan

    Ronit - The Santa Story Revisited - How to Give Your Children a Santa They Will Never Outgrow" is now being distributed by Midpoint Trade Books. I would so great appreciate it if you would give it a boost on your wonderful site through review or recommendation. I certainly think that our ideas harmonize. 818-392-0400
    Thanks!

  • http://www.ronitbaras.com/index.php/about/ Ronit Baras

    Hi Misty,

    I think this is an important topic as many parents juggle with the two theories.

    Our goal is to raise happy kids and If Santa gives them happiness, I say it is cool!

    Happy and Merry Christmas

    Ronit
    http://www.behappyinlife.com

  • http://www.ronitbaras.com/index.php/about/ Ronit Baras

    Arita,

    I went to your website.
    you look so beautiful.
    Send me a link to the book, I would love to write a comment on it.
    It is funny, I really love the Santa Idea and I am actually Jewish.

    Merry Christmas
    Ronit
    http://www.behappinlife.com

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  • debaser71

    I am just going to say very briefly that it's fun to PRETEND these things are real. But it's still PRETEND. 

  • http://www.ronitbaras.com/ ronitbaras

    debarser71, 
    It is pretend but it is so fun and cost nothing. I love it! Ronit 

Ronit Baras

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