Let’s not beat around the bush here: I hate the Elf on the Shelf.
I know what you’re thinking. “Megan, you love Christmas and are a pure bundle of joy when it comes to spreading Christmas cheer; how could you not support one of the most cherished Christmas traditions celebrated by families across the world?”
It’s really not that complicated.
One. The Elf on the Shelf teaches children to fear big government and grow up in the throes of the panopticon for one of the most magical times of the year. Okay, maybe it is a little complicated. The thought that there is, what can can only be described as, a spy living within the comfort of my own home terrorizing my own children is absolutely absurd.
For the whole month of December (or even from Thanksgiving on if you’re particularly masochistic) your children are under the impression that they are under constant surveillance, as though there are eyes everywhere. The role of the elf is to report back to Santa about the naughty things that children do. From a parenting standpoint, this is simply problematic and can create behavior problems farther down the line due to the consequence and reward system you have created.
Now, sure. You can say that you don’t have to have the elf report only bad things, maybe he could tell Santa about the good things children do. I’ll let you have that, but we all know at heart that nobody’s parents tell their kids Santa will hear about the good deeds; your mom only pulled the Santa card when you were acting out in Walmart.
Next. The Elf on the Shelf is a hypocrite. Every night, the elf comes in, makes a mess of your house and does a whole slew of naughty things, but this is supposed to teach your kids not to do naughty things? And on top of that, it isn’t really the elf making a mess, I would have to make the mess. And clean it up. And then make another mess again the next night! The elf does not pay rent; the elf does not do chores. What is that teaching my kids? Just that some people can do whatever they want and snitch on other people for doing the same thing. Snitches get stitches and I’m not setting my kids up for medical bills ten years down the line.
And lastly, it is not as though yet another aspect of Christmas needs to be commercialized and consumed by the chomping maw of capitalism. Not every family can afford an Elf on the Shelf or has the time to maintain one. This feeds into many of the issues I have with Santa, in which children of lower income families are not living in the magic of the same shadow of a Santa with more economic resources.
So in short, Santa represents The Man, the Elves on the Shelves are his minions of death, elevated on an undeserving pedestal, and your children are products of the capitalist system on the Christmas to prison pipeline.
(All that being said, I also do still love Christmas, and if the Elf on the Shelf makes yours more magical, by all means have Pippy or Skip-Bob or Flower make snow angels in powdered sugar; I totally support you.)