05/10/2012 18:39 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Santa Is A Lie: Should We Be Telling Our Children?

Santa is a lie: Should we be telling our children? PA

We are lying to our children about a fat, hairy man who creeps into their bedrooms at night.

Is perpetuating the Santa myth really that acceptable in this day and age? I am not entirely sure.

My child likes the idea of Santa, the fantasy of a man who drops down her chimney and delivers fantastic gifts to her Christmas tree, but she is terrified of him in person. She has actually asked me if she can sleep in my bed on Christmas Eve so Santa doesn't sneak into her room while she's asleep.
This led me to ponder whether or not I shouldn't just tell my daughter the truth so she can dispel her fears, and so she doesn't end up feeling betrayed by me when she finds out in the future.

Nadia Mackay is 16 and she found out about Santa from her schoolmates. She says: "I still feel really betrayed by my parents. I completely believed in Santa until I was laughed at by some kids on the school bus, and I still think that my parents should have told me the truth."

Nadia is not the only person who was negatively affected by the Santa myth. Anya, mum of two, says: "I remember feeling utterly betrayed by the fact that my parents had never told me the truth about Santa. I was gutted. I've told my oldest child the truth already, she's five, and will tell my son as soon as he's old enough to understand. I don't want to lie to them, ever."

I'll admit to finding Anya's decision very brave but also somewhat sad. I'm reluctant to take this piece of childhood magic away from my child. Santa may well be a myth, but he is a delightful one. He is all about joy and happiness and noses pressed against frosted glass. But is the sense of betrayal many people feel when they find out worth the risk?

Shannon, from Everyday Stranger says: "I am a big, big fan of supporting Santa. Huge. Santa is hope, heart and childhood happiness. Santa is the good that children should always believe in."

However, she adds: "I found out Santa wasn't real from a friend and I was crushed. Absolutely crushed. I never quite forgave my friend and her mum for breaking it to me."

Lisha Aquino Rooney, mum to one and author of Oomphalos says: "I enthusiastically perpetuate the myth of Santa – if, in fact, he is a myth. With my three-year-old I have done it all; letters, visiting the grotto and the list goes on."

Lisha is such a fan that she owns a Santa T-shirt that she wears proudly. "For me, Santa represents anticipation – the anticipation of happy moments, family gatherings, wonderful smells in a warm room, and laughter. He may not exist but what he represents will always exist and that's why I am such a fan of the myth. I can't remember when I stopped believing in Santa but even then there was something that Santa represented for me and that is still the case today."

I don't remember when I discovered that Santa Claus wasn't real but I do know that I wasn't completely destroyed by the news. In fact, the event was so forgettable that I couldn't even say when I found out.

Louise, mum to three boys, says: I am not going to tell my children about Santa. It isn't because I was gutted when I found out, actually it's because I don't agree that Santa is an important part of Christmas. I would rather that my children associated Christmas with real charity and real kindness, rather than a jolly, red myth."

After chatting to all these mums and spending some Christmas time with my child I am inclined to agree with everyone. There is a risk that the lie will hurt my child in the future, definitely, but there are also at least five wonderful years where she gets to believe in magic and flying reindeer and mince pies by the fire.

I'm going to join the ranks of those who perpetuate the myth.

Perhaps it is a selfish decision because it is almost like I am vicariously recapturing my childhood through my daughter, but seeing the excitement on her face whenever she talks about Santa makes it all worthwhile.

Ho ho ho...

What do you think?
Do your children believe in Father Christmas?
Do you encourage them or not?