Just when you thought you had successfully kept the whole Santa myth alive, spring rolls around — and yet another loaded kid question is staring you in the face. “Mom, is the Easter Bunny real?”
First of all, try to remain calm. Then, go through some of these parenting pro tips.
Of course, you don’t have to follow these to the letter; you know your kid better than anyone else, after all. But if you feel the skepticism a-coming, this serves as a guide to prep yourself — because if you’re going to be dealing with some disillusionment, you’d best not be tongue-tied.
Don’t make it about you
Sure, sometimes it’s tough to see your child growing up. And the big Easter Bunny question — or the Santa question, the tooth fairy question, etc. — definitely signals a transition. But letting your judgment be clouded by wanting your little one to stay, well, little, can get in the way of the bigger picture. If your instinct is to tell your child, “Yes, the bunny is real,” because you don’t want her to grow up, take a step back and think about this. She can’t stay young forever, and these moments are opportunities for you to help your children take steps toward adolescence in an honest way. And speaking of honest…
Honesty is the best policy
Your instinct might be to keep the belief alive — at least for another year, right? Well, if your child is asking, they’ve probably already heard something from kids at school and are just seeking you out to verify the news. If you insist that the bunny is real, you’re just temporarily postponing the inevitable. More important, this is possibly a test. You’ve likely spent hours lecturing your kid about always telling the truth, and now they are giving you the chance to do the same.
But sure, a white lie is OK sometimes
If your child isn’t quite ready to find out the cold, hard truth about our furry friend, you’ll likely be able to tell. For example, they may angle the question, asking, “Someone said the Easter Bunny isn’t real, but that’s wrong, right, Mom?” Often, this will be their first “check in” about something they still want to believe in. And if your instinct is that your child doesn’t really want the news, you can feel OK about letting them keep believing for awhile. When your child is ready for the facts, you’ll likely be able to tell; they’ll ask directly and persistently.
Soften the blow
If you have younger children who still believe, invite the older child into the “adult club.” Tell her she’s now part of keeping the Easter Bunny secret for her younger siblings. Reinforce how important this is for younger kids, and that it’s a big responsibility for her. This will help her manage her feelings about the news she’s just heard. She’ll feel excited to be part of the joy of keeping the magic alive for others.
Trust your gut
If you’re not sure whether it’s time to reveal the news, don’t Google, don’t ask around — just trust yourself. You’ll know when it’s time and what needs to be said. Remember: There isn’t an adult on the planet who still believes, so obviously, we all had to find out at some point. And we all survived.
A version of this article was originally published in March 2012.