When this teacher is concerned, she asks Reddit:
I’m a private tutor and teach a fourth grader who has a lot of anxiety. He randomly brought up Elf on the Shelf and started frantically asking me where it came from and if I had one.
I told him I didn’t have one and he told me he didn’t but he didn’t know why because he “celebrates christmas.” I explained to him that different families have different traditions so maybe it wasn’t part of his families tradition.
He was still upset asking me why the elf didn’t come to his house. He asked me where the elf came from and I told him families bought the doll at the store.
He looked shocked and a friend told him the elf was real and came when you believed in Santa. I don’t have kids so I didn’t realize that kids, especially 9-10 years old thought it was real.
Later he told kids at school that the elf came from the store and one of the kids called his mom.
Now his mom is mad at me and says it wasn’t my place to tell him the truth. That i crossed a line. I was only trying to make him feel less anxious . AITA?
NTA - honestly parents need to stop treating kids like they're idiots and actively give them opportunities to ask those sorts of questions. It wasn't your place per se but apparently you're the adult who gave him the chance to ASK in the first place, which is commendable.
Also, the whole surveillance aspect of elf on the shelf literally isn't even healthy for kids and the spread of that info to other kids where families do it will quite possibly alleviate their anxiety as well as the kid who actually asked the question.
The problem with not answering 'hard' questions is some people are hold such bizarre beliefs that you don't know what the 'hard' questions are in their family.
When I was 16 I worked in a church nursery babysitting kids ages 1-5 while their parents were in church. One hour a week, easy service project.
One day I read them a picture book about Noah's Ark, a story where God asked a man named Noah to march a pair of each animal onto a boat so God could flood the world and start over.
There were pictures of all the animals marching in paired up. One girl asked where the dinosaurs were.
I grew up Catholic, and was babysitting Catholic kids during a Catholic Mass, and most Catholics don't have the wild antiscience beliefs you hear about Evangelicals having.
So I told her that this story happened after the dinosaurs went extinct, then explained 'extinct' meant that they all died at the same time, because there wasn't a Noah to help them like for the flood. For a 4 year old who didn't know what extinct was I thought that was decent.
I got a super angry call from a parent that wasn't even the little girl's parent straight up screaming at me, a teenage girl making service hours, because supposedly dinosaurs aren't even real, their bones are a faith test from God and the earth is 5000 years old.
I'd never heard that before, from either public school OR religious education. How was I supposed to know a simple, matter of fact answer to an easy question was such a minefield to some people? It was bonkers haha