When Does the Fantasy End?

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When Does the Fantasy End?

Jerri Moyes, Editorial Editor

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    When we were children, stories of lore and fantasy painted our lives, making them seem just a bit more magical than they really were. As we aged, fantasy became reality. Santa became just a guy in a costume, the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy became your parents trying to add a little more magic to your life, and other magical creatures became simple lore.

    The question is: When and how is it appropriate to explain this to children?

    Of course every person has their own techniques: slowly transitioning them out of it, maybe debunking working one story at a time, blatantly telling them, even waiting until they figure it out themselves. Some methods work better than others and create less stress on the young mind.

    An important thing to learn is don’t wait too long. Otherwise, someone else might beat the adult to it and create a worse situation than if they had just spoken to them earlier. Nobody wants to have their child come home crying because their classmate declared Santa is

not real in the middle of the school day. The abrupt death of their childhood favorites can cause trust issues between the child and their trusted adult if they are too sensitive to the subject.

    Blatantly telling them may be a step above, but the same effect will be had. To them, fantasy characters are a large part of what the world is. It would be like explaining that half the world (the fun half) doesn’t exist and everyone has been lying to them this whole time. What children need is a more gentle approach.

    Gently going at it isn’t going to fare much better. Depending on the age and intelligence level of the child, they might either not understand what is being said, or they will feel like they are being talked down to. If they’re old or smart enough to have this explained to them, they shouldn’t be babied.

    Every child is different. It is up to the caretaker to weigh the options and while working to not damage trust or weaken bond between guardians and their children, they still need to know the truth and dancing around it isn’t going to be useful.

 

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