"The morality of making children believe in such myths has to be questioned. All children will eventually discover that they have been constantly lied to for years, and this could make them wonder what other lies they have been told," explains Christopher Boyle, co-author of the paper.
"Whether it's right to make children believe in Santa Claus or the Three Kings 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 because children may question parents as guardians of wisdom and truth," Boyle continues.
According to Kathy McKay, co-author of the study, some children may question whether they are able to trust their parents by discovering that their Christmas beliefs are a lie: According to researchers, it is sometimes correct to tell children 'white lies' that they are kinder and gentler than to give them realistic details (for example, when a pet dies).
However, the authors argue that when it comes to childhood myths like Santa Claus or the tooth fairy, parents may be perpetrating these lies for their own benefit than for their children. Is this Christmas lie driven by parents' desire to re-enter childhood?
"There is a persistence of fandom in adulthood. Examples like Harry Potter, Star Wars, Doctor Who... "Adults who take their children to a Star Wars convention as an excuse to dress like Han Solo or Princess Leia is quite common," the authors explain.
"It seems that upon returning to a fantasy world, there is a comfort in being able to briefly re-enter childhood, which was a magical experience for many. A time when imagination was accepted and encouraged but lost in the space and time of adulthood," they say.