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The Easter Bunny and other great lies we tell children

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April 20, 2014

Out of the mouths of babes

Out of the mouths of babes

Besides the religious implications of Easter, this particular Sunday is also dedicated to one the “three great lies” that parents tell their children.

That lie, of course, is claiming that an “Easter Bunny” lays eggs.  A rabbit laying egg? Oh, please.

The remaining two of these “three great lies” are the existence of Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.  Back in the 1970s, when most of us were well past childhood, there were another three great lies: The check is in the mail; I’m from the federal government and I’m here to help you; and a third one that promised a certain sexual act would not leave anything in your mouth.

But when it comes to lying to our children, those who pay attention to such cultural trends have long debated whether pushing the myths of such fantasy creations harm our ids.

Writes Victoria Metcalf of Lincoln University in New Zealand:

Many parents promote belief in these fantasy figures as harmless fun, part of upholding the innocence of childhood or even that they help fantasy play and critical thinking.

Others question whether promoting such deceits is in children’s best interests. There has been surprisingly little research conducted to look at impacts our societal investment in these figures has on children.

In 1994, a book by researchers Carl J. Anderson and Norman M. Prentice, both PdDs, studied the effects of the three great lies on children.

In “Child Psychiatry & Human Development,” they that finding out such mythical characters were lies from their parents found:

  • 50% of surveyed children felt bad
  • 48% felt sad, disappointed or tricked
  • 42% felt confused
  • 35% felt angry
  • 33% felt upset
  • 29% felt sorry
  • 13% felt hurt

The researchers found that some children suffer “ill effects” from discovering that the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus don’t exist and the discovery left others feeling that not telling the truth to others was not only OK but acceptable in everyday practice.

So, are you a good parent or a bad one when you hide Easter eggs and send your kids out to find them on this day?

Opinions apparently vary.

My mother chose to tell me the truth about Santa Claus when I was a first grader at Floyd Elementary School. Being a precocious child I could not wait to impart this discovery to my classmates the next day.

Some of my fellow students broke down and cried.  Others called me a liar and at least one wanted to settle the debate with fists.

My teacher took me aside, scolded me, and demanded I tell my fellow students that I made up the story about what my mother told me so they would calm down.

When I refused, she sent me to the principal and I was forced to write “there really is a Santa Claus” on the blackboard many times. That action brought an angry visit from my mother to the school.

That’s when I learned that telling the truth can get one in trouble and it was a lesson that would be repeated many times once I became a newspaperman.

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Copyright © 2014 Capitol Hill Blue

One Response to The Easter Bunny and other great lies we tell children

  1. Grand1

    April 20, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    Well, God knows, no one else will lie to them in their lifetime. Better to let a stranger teach them about deception.