Despite the potential loss of future earnings, kids stop believing the stories.
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I grew up with the immortal words of J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan: "If you believe," he shouted to them, "clap your hands; don't let Tink die." These days, I'm old enough to have moved on from the realms of imagination, but I confess, when my kids lose their willingness to believe the parenting myths of Tooth Fairies, Santa and the Easter Bunny (ok, ok, lies!) it feels like a bit of their childhood is vanishing.
Despite whispered conversations with my eldest son- "don't say anything about Santa not being real" so as to protect his younger siblings, somehow, the truth filters through. My youngest has recently renounced all faith, although my daughter, in the middle, remains stoically committed to her beliefs in fairies and pixies.
Fairies, like nappies, disappear in the end...
That's part of the process. If I go to the dentist and have some horrible extraction, I'm not going to go home and stick the offending tooth under my pillow for the tooth fairy to collect. I do remember the warm feeling of finding a coin in place of a tooth from when I was a child, but I have grown up. I don't listen for sleigh bells on the roof at Christmas, and I find the concept of an Easter Bunny slightly creepy.
The myths outlast the unbelief- Long after the tooth fairy has been exposed as a fake, Santa has been outed as "d'uh, it's your mom and dad" and your fake rabbit paw prints done in flour don't fool them anymore, still parents carry on sneaking around with coins, presents and chocolate eggs after midnight, trying not to wake their cynical kids.
To be honest, I love playing along with the myths. I enjoy seeing the happiness on their faces, and I know that despite their bravado, part of them is still thinking that maybe, just maybe, if they close their eyes and shut out all of the other sounds, they can hear the tintinnabulation of thousands of tiny bells in the night.
If you do perpetuate these traditional myths, you'll probably find your kids are just as pragmatic- they'll play along, as long as they get something out of it. Between you and them, there will be an understanding. "Look", they'll say, "as long as we hit paydirt, dad, we'll let you play your little games..."
Will you be the one clapping your hands, saying, "I do believe... I do!"
What age should kids give up pretending to believe in the Tooth Fairy and other imaginary beings?
By: Scott Dunlop