May 2006 I had my first born child and I followed in the traditions I grew up with for the first 7 years of her life. In December 2008 when my second child was born we did the same. In May 2011 when my third child was born, we decided that year was our last “Santa” Christmas, our last “Easter Bunny” Easter. We still did gifts and the kids got Easter gifts from their grandparents, but we did not speak about the tales. 2 years later, in November 2013, we had our last “tooth fairy visit”. By that time the children were 7, going on 5, 2, 1 year and 4 months old. That’s when my oldest realized the truth about the tooth fairy and then came to terms that Santa really wasn’t real after all either. The time had come and I knew that carrying on the charade with 4 other children would be messy. That is when I decided I would not continue to raise her siblings under the same false tales or beliefs, but I do not look down on other parents who do.
This may get some controversy as I know many of us parent differently. I’m simply posting this to express my reasoning and to maybe connect with like-minded parents.
Children look up to their parents. Children are raised to know the difference between right and wrong. Children trust and respect their parents… can you imagine having your child learn that you’ve deceived them since they were born, for whole 7 years and then question or doubt everything you ever say to them after the fact. I’ve been there. I saw the disappointment in my oldest daughter when she found out that none of it was real, that it was all a fabrication and it took a long time for her to even believe anything I’d say. I vowed from that day that I would not follow suit with the other children, that was it.
I don’t believe in promoting lies. I don’t believe in it creating a sense of wonder and magic in lies. The unknown maybe, but not complete and utter lies. Wonder and magic can come from more scientific possibilities, I’d rather have them in awe over why real life things are the way they are and to find magic in all the amazing things we see every single day. A flower growing, why does it rain, how can we see the moon during the day, turning water into ice. There are so many incredible things to give your child a sense of wonder and fantasy than to just straight out lie.
What we do: We taught them the true history behind the day as the celebration of the Spring Equinox, and that is how we celebrate it. We cherish nature and enjoy the new Spring. Spot new blossoms and witness and respect the new beginnings. Spring is the beginning of all the beautiful things to come and to enjoy and love life. We do crafts and sometimes we’ll get new plants. We have a large brunch as a family, we dye eggs and have an Easter Egg hunt, then cook a ham meal with fixings for dinner.
What we don’t do: We don’t leave out carrots or catch his tail in the door. We don’t tell them that there is an Easter Bunny that delivers gifts or candy to kids. We don’t give gift baskets/toys to them however, they have one set of grandparents that do give them gift baskets and we allow that. We don’t take pictures with the “Easter Bunny”.
Tooth Fairy 2013-present.
What we do: We give them $1.00 if they pull it themselves and $0.50 if we have to pull it for them ourselves. We teach our children about hard work and respect for hard earned money, so they understand that the money they earn is a reward from us for their effort and bravery in pulling teeth.
What we don’t do: We don’t tell them to leave their teeth under their pillow. We don’t tell them about a “creepy” fairy coming and taking their teeth from them in the night. (I don’t know about you all, but that sort of freaked me out when I was a child) And like I said we’ve taught our children the value of money and how it takes hard work to earn it, so we don’t allow them to believe they get free money from some entity other than ourselves.
What we do: We taught them the history of Christmas over the centuries and what it means to different people today. We celebrate the Winter Solstice. We do crafts. We bake cookies and goodies a lot during the winter. We do a Count Down Chain that each child gets a turn ripping off every night before bed. We give them stockings full of necessities such as tooth brushes and toothpaste, hand sanitizer, bodywash, new wash cloths, socks, underwear, fruit, other small toys and goodies. We give them presents from ourselves. The fact that Christmas tends to be a bit expensive shopping for 7 children, we’ve always told our children that it’s mommy and daddy that buy the gifts so they can appreciate them more and understand that it took our hard earned money to buy these things for them.We told them that the shopping mall and event Santa’s are just a job that real people like us have and because other parents tell their kids that he is real so they take pictures with him. We’ve expressed for them to NOT tell other children that he is not real, because that would make them sad. We do have our Christmas morning here with breakfast before presents, then we take the kids to their grandparents and later on we have a nice dinner. I have a rather large family, so we designate another day to spend having a family Christmas gift exchange and a Christmas dinner with everyone.
What we don’t do: We don’t leave milk and cookies or “reindeer food”. We don’t gift from Santa. We don’t go visit or take pictures with Santa. We don’t allow them to believe that their behavior is relative to a stranger bringing them gifts on Christmas Eve. We don’t let them tell other children he is not real.
We just do not believe in filling our children’s minds with false expectations, irrational beliefs and setting them up for disappointment, not to mention flat out lying to them their whole adolescence. We don’t talk down to or talk to our children as though they are babies, we speak to them like we’d speak to our peers, but in a more child friendly manner. Sometimes we can’t help but to have a broader vocabulary (but we define the words we use that they may not understand fully in a way they will understand). Our children are bright and for the most part understand rational conversations we have with them.
Though our biggest reasoning…
for not allowing these childhood fantasies to flourish in our home is because we have instilled in our children NOT to lie. We do not lie to them and we do not tolerate lying. With this strategy it does not make any sense to raise them with lies only to have them grow up to know it was a lie and think we’re hypocrites. We refused to go against our beliefs and our parenting strategies just to appease the commercialized holidays or the beliefs of others.
Telling the Truth. (this is a topic for another day, but still wanted to share)
Every day I appreciate our decision because in my opinion and observation our children do appreciate more, understand more, and respect us more. Regardless of what scientific studies may have shown for children, I think if my children would have continuously witness their father and I lie constantly that they would be different children than they are today. Our children are brutally honest to a fault, even if they know they did something wrong, because they understand that lying will get them in more trouble than telling the truth and they would rather have a lesser punishment for telling the truth.
I believe these young years are the stepping stones and the mold to creating the pathway for my children and who they will become as they are growing up. So of course I’m going to raise and guide them the best I can, starting solely without a childhood based on lies. Out of all five of my children over these years, I’ve noticed that my oldest (now 10 years old) tends to lie the most out of the lot. I can’t help but to feel like it’s my fault for instilling lies in her for 7 years. If I could go back in time, I would have done things differently, but I’m glad that I decided to change the way we did things from then on.