Hold on to your pointy hats and wands. This is one wild ride. In a Reddit post originally posted to the Harry Potter subreddit that's since been deleted but screenshot and shared on Twitter for posterity, a parent describes in detail just how much they've been messing their daughter up. Like, oh my god.
They explain that they've been raising their 8-year-old daughter to actually believe she's a witch "from an old wizarding family." The purpose of their post is to get "creative ideas" to keep up the illusion.
"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," they write. Oh no.
As she's gotten older and asked more questions, they've kept making up details about their family history and building up the illusion. They've shared "stories about times we used magic" and she is now, according to them, processing "many difficult subjects like racism, climate change, and even the coronavirus through this lens."
They are aware of what they're doing but think somehow that their awareness protects them from judgment. "Before other parents judge or lecture," they write, "We know it's gaslighting and that eventually she'll have to be disappointed and have trust issues with us when she learns the truth.
"We justify it that 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)." They claim they've asked her teachers about it and they think it's "more awesome and creative than damaging."
They liken tricking their daughter into believing she's a witch to parents who teach kids that traditional religious stories are real. They don't seem to acknowledge that teaching your child that Moses parted the Red Sea thousands of years ago is different from teaching your child that she could part the Red Sea with her wand in a few years when she gets to Hogwarts.
They write that their post is about "looking for more ideas for how to inject little bits of Harry Potter magic into everyday life using technology, crafts, and adding more details to the fanfic that is our lives." But that is decidedly not the feedback they got.
Everyone in the comments was absolutely horrified that these parents are actively creating an entire reality for their daughter that, one day soon, will be revealed to be completely fake. I'd be surprised if she wasn't already experiencing bullying at school for believing that she is an actual witch.
There's so much wrong with this. They seem to know that she'll be scarred from this and have long-term trust issues, but they don't care. And that's disgusting! Not to mention, fiction is a wonderful thing, an incredible escape. They're setting her up not only to not trust them but to not have a healthy relationship with any fiction. What are they doing?
"Why the f--k would you do this?" the top comment reads. People on the Harry Potter subreddit were not mincing words with this couple. "That is horrific, you are a TERRIBLE parent, and I hope no one helps you. This is a soul-crushing lie," one person wrote.
Another good point: "If you think it's comparable to religious belief, hop on over to a sub with ex-believers and check out the serious damage it's done to them." It's true that extreme religion, even just while a child is young, can have lasting, damaging effects. And these parents have the added terribly layer of purposely lying to their kid. They know what they're doing is damaging. They just don't care.
Someone in the comments, remarkably, had a similar experience: "As someone who grew up in an abusive cult that did exactly the same thing just without the Harry Potter fandom attached, you're a terrible parent.
"From about 4 years old my mother convinced me I was a part of a magical bloodline and that she was too, so that I would never trust anyone else and would grow up with a superiority complex. This was all done to control my emotions and mind in the same way you're doing to your child.
"She rationalized it as 'escapism' and 'fantasy' in the same way you have here, but convincing your child of things that are not true is programming plain and simple.Your child should be taken away from you.
"What you're doing is called 'cult programming' and it's not acceptable. Your child will be traumatized for life."