Mums and dads are being warned that encouraging their children to believe in Santa could affect their parent-child relationships in the future.
Psychologists from the University of Exeter have suggested the lie could undermine a child’s children trust in their parents.
In an article published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry, Christopher Boyle and Kathy McKay wrote: “If [parents] are capable of lying about something so special and magical, can they be relied upon to continue as the guardians of wisdom and truth?”
The psychologists said the idea of an all-seeing North Pole resident who judges kids as naughty or nice is – when considered as an adult – terrifying.
“The morality of making children believe in such myths has to be questioned,” said Professor Boyle, of the University of Exeter.
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Professor Boyle continued: “All children will eventually find out they’ve been consistently lied to for years, and this might make them wonder what other lies they’ve been told.
“Whether it’s right to make children believe in Father Christmas is an interesting question, and it’s also interesting to ask whether lying in this way will affect children in ways that have not been considered.”
The authors did concede that some lies – white lies – aren’t always bad for kids.
“An adult comforting a child and telling them that their recently deceased pet will go to a special place (animal heaven) is arguably nicer than telling graphic truths about its imminent re-entry into the carbon cycle,” they wrote in the journal.
Not all psychologists agree that the’Father Christmas lie’ can be damage children’s relationship with parents.
Commenting on the report, Dr Danielle Jackson, chartered clinical psychologist, at Jackson Psychology Services disagreed with the claims made.
“There are a great many threats to the moral compasses of our youth, Santa is unlikely to be one of them,” she told The Huffington Post UK.
“In fact, the presence of Santa may…