Monday, October 8, 2012

Tooth Fairy Entitlement vs. Toenail Fairy Joy

      Do your children believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy? And how's that going for you? Most of us grew up believing in such fantasies, and we would probably say that we turned out fine, and that is probably true as well. There have been many articles written about these holiday icons, and whether is wrong to not be completely truthful to your kids, or whether it is just harmless childhood fun....sorry, but this is not one of those articles. My purpose is to give you a different perspective  to consider...what is the effect of these traditions? I propose that the result is that our kids learn a sense of entitlement. What flabbergasted parent has not on Christmas morning heard something along the lines of: "Is that all the presents?!" or, "This is not what I wanted!" or "Not fair! Johnny got a (fill in the blank with this year's overpriced completely useless popular toy) and I didn't!"  Then every year the expectations are raised even higher, which is impossible to keep up.

        Let's just focus on the Tooth Fairy for the sake of argument.  One year I actually received a note from one of my children saying, "Dear Thooth Fairy, I can't wait to see what you are going to give me. Thank you for giving me the mony and candy.  I hope this time you wold leve me a toy to go with the candy and mony. Love, (name of guilty child here.)  P.S. I hope you give me a toy." (Actual transcript of note.)  Apparently the money and candy were not enough. One friend told me that her daughter said, "But I wanted a crisp, new $20 bill!" Very endearing, indeed.

          All right, enough of the negatives. What I really wanted to share with you is the wonderful fruit of going a different route. With seven kids, fairly spread out, we have learned a lot over the years, and are constantly changing the way we do things.  One of these was that we'd always tell the truth to the kids, because we wanted them to believe us when we taught them about God (oops, sorry--that's a whole other post.) At first , we were afraid that the younger kids would be deprived of all the fun that the older ones had gotten, but we went ahead with what we believed to be right. I would now like to share with you the results in one child, and in regards to the Tooth Fairy specifically. 

          My four-year-old was quite saddened by all the older kids receiving special treats from the Tooth Fairy under their pillow, and none for him. Having to wait two years for any possibility of this special visit was almost too much for him to take. Well, one day he knocked a heavy patio stone on his toe. It was very painful; the nail turned purple, and eventually fell off. I told him that maybe the "Toenail Fairy" would come if he put his toenail under his pillow. Eagerly he did so, and woke up to a wonderful surprise. When he asked if there really was a "Toe Fairy," we told him that no, it was just his mom. Well, his eyes lit up as he got a brilliant idea...the next morning, I had a treat under my pillow!  Oh, was he excited to be the cause of such a surprise. Soon he was surprising other members of the family with treats under their pillows as well! Oh, the pure joy those secret acts of giving gave him! He was learning how to give joyfully to others without thinking only of himself! What a blessing, and great gift that has been to him! Now, we just never know who will be the recipient of a secret gift from that sneaky fairy in the night.. ..and there's never any doubt as to who that fairy's the one who is grinning from ear to ear!

          So, don't deprive your child of the joy of giving to others, especially in secret. Consider letting them know that the gifts they receive at Christmas, Easter, and Tooth Fairy time are from you, because you love them, and it gives you joy. Encourage giving, especially in secret, all year long. It just may stop the miserable, selfish feeling of entitlement in its tracks, and replace it with joy.


  1. I love that story with your little one putting something under your pillow! So sweet!

  2. one of my greatest anxieties was letting my children down, by them finding out about santa et al. It is only now that they are older that I can enjoy giving christmas presents. I think you are doing a fine thing.

  3. Awwww what a sweetie! I love it :)
    We never even heard about santa claus and the tooth fairy, not until we were a lot older. But it was the same thing as your son, I remember my little brother (3) wanted to give Christmas presents too, because that's what every one else was doing.
    Found you at teach me tuesdays.

  4. You touched on exactly what happened to me as a child. Around 6 I guess, I started to notice some suspicious activity--Santa's thank-you note to me for the cookies was in my dad's handwriting and the gifts from Santa were tagged in my mom's. I really fought the truth for awhile. I didn't realize till much later why. I had Jesus and Santa completely intertwined in my mind and by finding out Santa was a fake, I knew what that meant for Jesus, too. I never wanted my children to experience that doubt about Christ, so we never mentioned Santa when they were little.
    I love your suggestions for the surprise gift-giving. When I have grandbabies one day.... :-D

  5. Love this, Paula! We don't do tooth fairy or Santa, etc either. And don't get me going on Halloween either, lol.

    I'VE had a bee in my bonnet about people having entitlement issues ever since the Pres debate...the college kid who stood up and asked the candidates what they were going to do to make sure he had a job when he graduated. Ha!

  6. What a sweet story! I didn't grow up believing in any of those things and it never harmed the joy of the day for me. I've taken the road of honesty with my children and I don't regret it at all. We also have chosen to keep holidays simple and focus on family time. It's good for the budget and I hope it will be good for them as well.