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We all remember the soul-crushing moment we found out Santa wasn't real.
Whether it was school friends in the playground who cruelly broke the news or parents who could no longer keep up with the questions that became ever more sceptical as we grew older - either way, it was a defining moment for any child.
Sure, we felt a bit betrayed and gutted that the magic of Christmas was all a rouse, but the blow was softened by the fact the lie was universal (and there was always one gullible kid who believed it longer than you...)
But what would you do if your parents had told you that you were a witch headed for Hogwarts, only to find out you'd been lied to when your emerald green-inked letter never arrives?
This is exactly the sad situation one young Harry Potter fan is going to experience in a few years time, as her parents have been convincing her she's magic and is destined for the wizarding school for years.
The unnamed parents - who hail from America - first shared unusual parenting method in a Reddit post, where they were asking for "sophisticated and creative ideas" to keep the lie going.
They explained: "We have raised our almost eight-year-old daughter to believe she's a witch from an old wizarding family. We're looking for more sophisticated and creative ideas from the r/HarryPotter community to keep this thing going.
"Since our daughter was 5 and my wife and I first started reading her the Harry Potter books, we have told her that she is a witch and that the Wizarding World is real.
"She is almost 8 and as her questions have gotten deeper, we've kept building the illusion with more details about our family genealogy and its connection to book characters, stories about times we used magic (and the life and moral lessons we learned about it).
"She has processed many difficult subjects like racism, climate change and even the Coronavirus through this lens."
The parents said that "before other parents judge or lecture" they're aware what they are doing is "gas lighting" and that their daughter with eventually "be disappointed and have trust issues with us when she learns the truth".
However, they justify their move by saying: "We are adding magic to her childhood, and giving her motivation to reach her full (magical) potential (since she needs to study hard to be accepted to Hogwarts).
"We've asked serious questions of her teachers and they think its more awesome and creative than damaging. (At the very worst case, my take is that its analogous to children being raised to believe that traditional religious stories are true and that when the truth hits it will teach her to ask critical questions and not accept everything she hears or reads at face value.)
The post finishes: "We're looking for more ideas for how to inject little bits of Harry Potter magic into every day life using technology, crafts and adding more details to the fanfic that is our lives."
For the most part, the internet's response ranged from sadness to fury.
"This cannot be real. If it is it's horrifying," wrote on person on Twitter, where the post was re-shared.
"I think this is wrong. That girl will be devastated and probably lose a lot of hope when she finds out, and I think it's bad for her development to think that she is more powerful and different from her classmates. It's just sad, people shouldn't be lying or forcing things on their kids," put another.
Another fumed: "Teach your daughter a spell that makes you go to a good parenting class before you screw up her brain any more than you have already."
This kid is going to need millions of dollars worth of therapy and I hope the parents are prepared to pay for that
- Supernova Girl :sparkles: (@xstar_girl) June 25, 2020
Some more neutral commentators said its no different to telling children Santa or the tooth fairy is real, or raising them to believe in religious figures.
But another clapped back: "Saying Santa Claus is real is one thing, but saying that you basically live in a parellel universe! Yeah you people are crazy..."
"I was raised Christian but my parents didn't tell me that I was a descendent of Jesus Christ," another said.
Whatever your stance, it's never nice to find out you've been lied to by the people you trust the most - and it would be a double blow to find out you're also a muggle just like everyone else.
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