Keeping it Real: Why Our Son Has Never Believed in Santa Claus

This week, I saw passed around on Facebook, a post on the “sweetest” way to let your child know the truth about Santa Claus. The post shares a story of a mom who answered her daughter's request for more information about the nature of Santa Claus with a note about the idea of sharing and love and helping.

I guess that's nice.

Image source: King Prince via Wikimedia Commons

My husband and I have always been firmly in the “Let's be real about this whole thing” camp. Part of it might have to do with the fact that we felt kind of silly going through this elaborate hoax for our son. And part of it had to do with the idea that we really didn't want our son to have a series of experiences in which “people” he couldn't see turned out be fictional. (We never did the Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy or Leprechauns, either.)

Think about it: Who's next in line for the, “I'm sorry but he doesn't really exist” speech after all of these other characters turn out to be fake? I guess that's kind of a silly rationale, since I managed to make it into adulthood as a believer in Jesus Christ, even after being lied to about how my presents appeared under the tree.

The bottom line is that we never felt comfortable with the idea of promoting Santa Claus as a major part of the Christmas experience (although, to tell the truth, we don't actually do much with Christ, either, but that's another post). So our son's presents have always come from us. And when he asked us about Santa Claus, curious to know why it wasn't part of our tradition, we were straight with him.

We told him that there are stories about a nice man who gave presents, and that the idea isn't a bad one. Shouldn't we all be generous? But we were firm that there is no Santa Claus now. But we did sit down and tell him that some parents and kids think it's fun, and that he should, under no circumstance, tell the other kids that Santa Claus isn't real. It's not like we're trying to ruin others' holiday experiences.

And, really, the whole Santa Claus thing falls in line with the way we are kind of straight shooters with our son. If he asks a question about something, we're going to answer truthfully, and do our best to explain in an age-appropriate manner.

If that makes us Grinch-y, I guess we're guilty as charged.

8 thoughts on “Keeping it Real: Why Our Son Has Never Believed in Santa Claus”

  1. I think you hit it on the head though — If we tell our kids these magical people and animals exist and then they find out they don’t then we put a fundamental doubt in their mind regarding everything we say.

  2. I think you’re right that it’s about trust, FFB. There’s nothing wrong with imagination; my son and I both love the fantasy genre, and we sometimes discuss magic systems quite seriously. But, in the end, we do know they aren’t real, and we talk about the differences between them and reality, and talk about some of the applications we see to real life.

    And, of course, this frankness means that our son can trust what we say.

  3. I’m the second youngest of 7 kids. Not only were my parents exhausted from playing the Santa thing for roughly a decade before me (and three years later my little sister), my older siblings delighted in handing out spoilers…so I never believed in Santa Claus and it never damaged me.

    I agree with you, do you want as a family but be real about. If other people choose to buy into the Santa thing, don’t ruin it for them.

    My biggest beef with the Santa thing is that all year you tell your kids, don’t talk to strangers, don’t let strangers touch you, don’t take candy from strangers…but then Christmas rolls around and you’re shoving your kid on some VERY strange man’s lap and he’s giving them a candy cane. That has got to be confusing for kids, no wonder you see so many photos and videos of young children freaking out when they meet mall Santas.

  4. Great point about the nature of what we teach children. Stay away from strangers! But here, go interact with this one! My husband also made another point about inconsistency. So many Christian parents want to “put Christ in Christmas” or whatever, but then they make the season so much about “being good so Santa will leave presents” rather than “let’s remember Christ and follow his example.” Then they wonder why there’s so much materialism going around this time of year.

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