Mythical Childhood Characters: Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Truth

Spoiler alert: Santa and the Tooth Fairy are not real.  However, millions of children the world over take delight in believing such things.  When is the right time to align their beliefs with the truth?  Such is a tough question for moms and dads who are joyful about seeing their children excited yet feel guilty about fibbing to their kids, especially while teaching them that telling lies is bad.

When is the right time to tell them and how should you break the news?

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Liar, Liar, Nose on Fire: Why We Lie to Our Kids

Dear Mr. Dad: Like most parents, I encourage my kids to tell me the truth and I always give them consequences for lying. The other day, just after I’d taken away my 9-year-old’s video game privileges for lying to me about having done his homework, I realized that I lie to my kids all the time. Is there a difference between a parent’s lies and a child’s?
A: What a great question. As adults, we know how important it is to tell truth and we teach our children that it’s wrong to lie. But then we turn around and do it—right to their face—every day (and this goes far beyond the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus). In fact, several recent studies have found that about 90% of parents have a repertoire of completely BS stories that we tell our kids. According to researcher Gail Heyman, those lies tend to fall into four categories: diet and nutrition, getting the kids to either leave or stay somewhere, changing behavior, and money. Here are some of the best ones (if you haven’t used them already, you’re free to add them to your arsenal).

Lies, Damned Lies, and the Stuff We Tell Our Kids

Okay, is there anyone out there who can honestly say he or she hasn’t lied to a child? We all do it and we know that everyone else does, but there’s something about reading a study that makes things sound a lot worse.

Turns out that 90 percent of parents have a whole arsenal of completely BS stories we tell our kids, according to Warbutrons, a major UK bakery firm. And this goes way beyond the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus. Here are some of the best lies (if you aren’t already using these, feel free to claim that you made them up):

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