Who are Santa's parents

Does this damage parents to their children?

BERLIN. Thousands of children in Germany are looking forward to Christmas Eve these days. They write wish lists, count the days until the presents are presented. Depending on the region, they believe that Santa Claus or the Christ Child brings gifts and disappears again unnoticed.

Most parents convey the belief in the existence of these characters without long pondering. But there are voices who question the meaning of this construct of lies.

Does the Santa Claus myth destroy trust in parents?

The Santa Claus fairy tale could damage the trust between parents and children, two researchers recently suggested in the journal "The Lancet Psychiatry".

Ultimately, the uncovering of the lie cannot be stopped: "At some point, children all find out that their parents have brazenly upheld a lie for years," write Christopher Boyle from the University of Exeter (Great Britain) and Kathy McKay from the University of New England ( Australia).

The soap bubble bursts when parents, older siblings or third parties gossip. People recently reported to Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB) what dramas then take place. A traditional children's program was broadcast there - modernized and with frivolous statements by the presenter about her parents' closet hiding places. A scandal for many viewers.

According to Boyle and McKay, children face several questions in such situations: If the Santa Claus story was a lie, where else did Mum and Dad tell the truth? Fairies, sorcery, even God falter.

"The spell was broken"

The two scientists do not argue with a raised index finger. They also remember their own childhood and the great disappointment when the illusion of "Santa" burst: "The magic was broken. The escape from reality that children and adults share for a few months was over. Christmas was no longer that same."

But is lying really harmful to children? "The story of Santa Claus is more of an enrichment for small children", the Berlin psychologist Peter Walschburger is convinced.

Basically, he sees myths, fairy tales and rituals as a beneficial counterpoint to the otherwise rational explanation of the world. "We humans need both: enlightened thinking and enchantment."

Lies in this regard have a long tradition: With the enchantment of reality, people have always made a sense of home, security, consolation and social solidarity tangible.

Reality and fiction are the same

Moral standards such as good and bad are also often taught to children in this way. Until the age of four, they cannot distinguish between reality and fiction, explains the scientist.

Only then are they able to understand other people's perspectives. Then they became increasingly critical of their parents.

When children discover inconsistencies such as allegedly flying reindeer, it is an opportunity for dialogue, says Walschburger. "Parents could then explain that it was a story, but one that had a real core or a good message."

Authentic Christmas stories

In an interview, the religious educator Albert Biesinger spoke out in favor of authentic Christmas stories instead of lies: "I tell children that we celebrate Jesus' birthday at Christmas. And because Jesus was such a great gift from God to us humans, Mum and Papa today presents presents for you too. The present does not fall from the sky, nor does the Christ Child bring it through the window - it is from mum and dad and others who love you. "

Parents who create the illusion of Santa Claus for their children benefit from it themselves, observe Boyle and McKay. They are able to "return to a time when they themselves believed that magic was actually possible".

So you become a child again. A comparable mechanism is behind the enthusiasm of adults for children's books and films like Harry Potter.

As many parents report, children themselves are very attached to Christmas stories. So much so that in the year after seeing through the lie, some pretend that nothing happened. (dpa)