The Festive Perils of Parenting
The Christmas season is fasting approaching, with its songs and mythology - Santa, Reindeers, sappy Christmas movies, stockings and elves - and my offspring are now of the age when they start to become inquisitive and not a little cynical. I am trying awfully hard to get my children to believe the fantastical truth that a virgin became pregnant with God, and at the same time I am aware that this festive season is so entrenched with sentimental myths which distract one from the truth. So I am wrestling with the great dilemma that faces Evangelical Parents every Christmas: To what extent is it helpful for Christian parents to allow their children to participate in the mythology of Christmas?
My predicament was exacerbated by a family viewing of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, a few hours after which I found three of my children packed into Mrs Stuffed Shirt’s antique mahogany wardrobe, scratching the back to shreds with a fork, trying desperately to tunnel through to Narnia. I took the opportunity to teach them a lesson on the proper use of cutlery and the inappropriateness of vandalism, but the experience raised deeper philosophical questions about the dangers of mythology…
Since Lewis is a Christian hero and his stories have influenced generations of Evangelicals, how should I break the news that they are indeed fiction and that Narnia is not a real place? Having hitherto brought up my litter to believe in Aslan as a type of Christ, do I perpetuate the lie by adding new levels of deceit (“Narnia is closed for the holidays?” or “Border patrol has tightened regulations on inter-wardrobe travel” or “That only works on Ikea furniture?”) or do I shatter the illusions of my poor furry progeny by dismantling all their childhood myths in one go (“Narnia’s not real: neither are Santa, the Tooth Fairy or the Moon Landing”)?
After all, I would hate for the Chronicles of Narnia to become a stumbling block to my children’s receipt of the gospel. I couldn’t bear it if they turned round to me in later years and said “Father, if you have lied to me about Tumnus and Rumblebuffin, how can I believe the stories you’ve told me about Jesus?”
But on the other hand, I don’t want to be responsible for shattering the dreams of dozens of other children. The prospect of angry parents turning up on my doorstep because my pups have told their peers that Reepicheep is a CGI work of fiction hardly fills me with Christmas cheer.
So, dear readers, what is the loving and kind thing to do? Should we cease in writing our Christmas letters to Aslan? Ought we to desist from leaving festive treats in the hearth for Mr and Mrs Beaver? And should I allow my children to eat some of my Turkish Delight without fear of being enchanted by the White Witch?
These are difficult questions, which demand rigorous thinking. I should be thankful for any advice you might offer on how to navigate this festive ethical quagmire. Oh… and if anyone knows how to repair a broken wardrobe, I would be most grateful for your assistance, before Mrs Stuffed Shirt finds out!