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Neighbor Told My Kid That the Tooth Fairy Isn't Real!

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momlogic's Julie: Last night, as I was tucking my 6-year-old daughter into bed, she asked me a question that stopped me in my tracks: "Mommy, is the Tooth Fairy real?"

girl with missing tooth

I paused. She had never before given me any indication that she DIDN'T think the Tooth Fairy was real. In fact, her 9-year-old brother still believes in the Tooth Fairy.

"Why do you ask?" I queried.

"Michelle told me the Tooth Fairy isn't real, and that it's just your parents who put the money under the pillow," she replied.

Michelle is our 9-year-old neighbor.

I didn't know HOW to handle this question. I want my daughter to still believe in the Tooth Fairy and in Santa Claus! But I didn't want to lie to her, either.

I just said, "Well, maybe that's what Michelle thinks, but if you don't believe, you don't get money."

That seemed to satisfy her for now. I'm not sure I answered correctly, and I can't help but feel a bit mad at our neighbor -- even though she's only 9!

How would YOU have answered this question?


next: How Safe Is Your Kid's School Bus?
18 comments so far | Post a comment now
Becca Cait June 3, 2010, 7:42 AM

The way I learned to “handle” it was from my mother. When I first started questioning Santa Claus, because someone at school told me he wasn’t real, my mom said, “Nevermind what so-and-so said, he doesn’t get to control your brain… what do YOU think.” To which I timidly answer, “… Santa’s real.” “That’s right!” Which is probably why I believed in Santa Claus until I was, oh, about 12.

Ashley Darnell June 3, 2010, 7:48 AM

There is a really funny poem about exactly this in a kid’s book where one kid says he doesn’t believe in the tooth fairy, and she writes him a letter about how hard she works and how she can’t believe that HE doesn’t believe — so funny. The start of her letter is hilarious: “I slave all night! I work so hard! You simply can’t conceive! The only thing I’ve asked of you is that you just believe. But since your disavowal in this morning’s little crack, I’ve decided you can have your teeth - I want my money back!” — it’s from ‘Suzie Bitner Was Afraid of the Drain.’

I think your answer was a good one — just because her friend says she isn’t real doesn’t make her right.

Peggy Brister June 3, 2010, 7:55 AM

When other kids started telling my kids that Santa and the Tooth Fairy weren’t real and they came to me and asked me, I usually told them the truth. I could justify going along with a childhood fantasy to keep the wonderment of childhood for my kids, but once they are old enough to wipe their own butt, if they ask me the truth, I am telling them the truth. There’s the little white lie of mythical figures we tell our kids, then there’s perpetuating a lie once they ask you the truth and you don’t tell them. They’ll still likie the presents even once they find out they really come from you. My kids still like losing teeth eventhough they know it’s me who gives them the money. I can’t imagine lying to a 9 yr old about tooth fairy & santa. That’s dragging it wayyyy out way past the age that kids still believe in fantasy characters.

Stacie June 3, 2010, 8:47 AM

@ Peggy Brister: I like your response a lot. I would probably answer their question with a friendly “well, what do you think?” and if they said that they didn’t believe, then we could move on to the concept of imaginary creatures and how they seem real to us sometimes. I don’t like the idea of forcing the kid to believe in Santa or the Tooth Fairy—I feel it’s mostly a selfish act (on the part of the parents).

Black Iris June 3, 2010, 9:52 AM

I didn’t have this specific question, but when my kids asked if things were real, I just went with what do you think? That way if they wanted to go on believing they could, but I wasn’t lying to them.

Mo June 3, 2010, 11:47 AM

You know in my family we weren’t taught about Santa…..but Miss Fairy*w* would be there with bells on. She was so wonderful and if you wrote her a letter(spelling errors or gibberish meant nothing) instead of a quarter you received a half dollar!!!!!! My Mother taught us that just because we didn’t believe in Santa it wouldn’t be fair to take that away from other children. When we asked our parents if the Miss Fairy were real, she said that she is as real as we believe she is and if we stop believing she would go away. MIss Fairy has all my teeth….Funny my older brother had his tooth knocked out in High School, and put his adult tooth under his pillow(shared room with our lil brother…..Miss Fairy left car keys:)

Alice June 3, 2010, 12:14 PM

I remember when I was little I was just super angry at my mom for not giving me a straight answer. I would much rather have believed that my mom was honest than believe in the tooth fairy. My kids aren’t old enough to even know about the tooth fairy, and I’m still on the fence about whether or not I’ll even start this whole thing.

Alice June 3, 2010, 12:34 PM

You know, I really have to say, especially when reflecting on my childhood experiences with things like Santa and the Tooth Fairy… I really don’t get the point to these deceptions (and isn’t that just what they are?) What do they accomplish? And more importantly, if they’re supposed to allow your child to live in a world of whimsy for their own enjoyment, why lie when the kid clearly just wants the truth? At that point, your child is telling you what she wants; she wants the truth, or she wouldn’t be asking for it.

Mariah June 3, 2010, 2:29 PM

I have to agree with Alice. We tell our kids about Santa Claus, but in the same sense as telling her the story of “Horton Hatches an Egg”. It’s a story that she enjoys. She still loves the idea of Santa, she still loves everything about Christmas, I don’t believe that not deceiving her has deprived her of anything. When it comes time for the Tooth Fairy to visit, I think we’ll keep it in the same sense of fun, like playing dress up when Mommy becomes Princess Mommy! Now that sounds fun and exciting. And we’ll never have that cloud of shame hanging over our heads when we have to fess up that we’ve been lying to them all these years. There will be plenty of disappointments in life, I’d much rather that the major ones didn’t come from us, their parents :)

Kristin June 3, 2010, 7:48 PM

“What do you think?” My mother asked my 10 year old sister this whenever she asks if someone like the TF is real.

Missy June 4, 2010, 4:47 AM

I’m so happy to hear that others believe that perpetuating this lie, essentially, to a 9-year old is maybe not the best way to go. Mad at the neighbor? Nah. If it wasn’t her, it was going to be someone else - and 9 is a long time to go in believing in the tooth fairy so I’m surprised she didn’t find out long before! :) I actually don’t understand how parents can justify to themselves to continue the fantasy even when the child is questioning the actual truth - at that point, you’ve created the lie, now you’re distorting their reality even more by making them really believe in something that they sense is not true. How is a child supposed to learn to trust their instincts or critically think for themselves if we, as parents, won’t let them?

Alice June 9, 2010, 7:48 AM

Mariah - I LOVE that idea!

pharmacy tech June 9, 2010, 10:58 PM

Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

Super Dad July 18, 2010, 5:54 PM

I agree, wonderful comments guys!!! This realy helps in my decision of holding back or telling the truth.

Theresa December 20, 2010, 7:19 AM

OMG! You are all crazy. My 6 year old is already questioning Santa. I am heart broken. I still want to believe. Why would I want to take that magic from my kids childhood? There are so few magical things now adays. My mother alway told us that just because there may not be a man that brings presents does not mean there is no Santa. He is a feeling that makes people be a little nicer to each other. Family get together and you feel closer. It is more of a magical thing. I still believe in the magic of the season. I will not take that away from my kids until they come to me and tell me they don’t believe. I don’t lie to my kids because if you remember it is not about the presents.

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Thanks for the great post. Bookmarked

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