With the war over Christmas raging already I was wondering if it mattered at all if Christian children believed in Santa. I personally stopped believing in Santa about age 6. I waited up all night for 2 years straight in stake-out and no one ever came. And my mother’s wrapping paper was suspiciously the same and the paper Santa was using. It was an easy case to crack.
When I was about 9 my mother told all the kids that Santa did not exist; to which we replied, in unison, “of course he doesn’t.” My mother was a little shocked that we all already knew and no one cared. But this is the nature of things when you have type-A children.
But I digress. Let us address the question at hand. Should we let our children believe in the mythical man with a beard who flies all over the world one night a year to deliver presents? To answer this let’s examine our 3 options.
- Play along with the Santa thing.
- Make sure your kids know Santa is not real.
- Don’t bring it up and just let nature take it’s course.
1. Play along with the Santa thing
I think this is where most parents default to. Everyone of your kid’s friends are likely to believe in Santa so it’s the easiest path to take. They already believe in fairies and Peter Pan, one more fictional character isn’t the end of the world. Of course it might be difficult to explain to your kids how Santa somehow has anything to do with Jesus.
- He/she won’t be the weird kid at school.
- You get to eat as many cookies and milk as you want on Christmas eve.
- It can dove-tail into a lesson about the real Saint Nicholas.
- Santa encourages giving.
- Santa is not real and eventually your kids will find out.
- Sometimes accompanied by wailing and gnashing of teeth.
- Santa has nothing to do with Jesus.
- You’re basically lying to your kids.
- Santa has a different budget than real people do.
2. Make sure your kids know Santa is not real
This is the inverse of the first option. Essentially you let your kids know right away that Santa is not real. There is no point in participating in a tradition that has nothing to do with Jesus. More importantly, gifts are not the reason for the season.
- Getting rid of Santa clears the way for kids to focus on the true meaning of the season.
- Your kids will probably appreciate your generosity more, knowing that the gifts are from you.
- Not having to cover your tracks all the time to make sure the kids don’t find out.
- No waiting in line at the mall to get pictures with Santa.
- Your kids might be “that one kid” in school who ruins Christmas for scores of other students who DO believe in Santa.
- There is something fun about fantasies and that might get lost.
3. Don’t bring it up and just let nature take it’s course
I actually like this one the best. I think it captures the better parts of the previous two options. You are not ruining the Santa fantasy purposefully but also not really encouraging them to believe in Santa either. Your kids will likely believe in Santa early on because all their friends do. When they are mature enough to wonder for themselves if Santa is real they will come to you. You can tell them the truth and they should be mature enough to handle the information and also not run around telling other kids that Santa is fake.
- You don’t have to have a real plan; just go with the flow.
- You don’t have to pretend or make stuff up.
- Your kid won’t ruin Santa for their peers who might believe in Santa.
- Your kids will probably stop believing in Santa a little earlier than their peers.
- Somewhere around age 5 you won’t be able to pig out on cookies and attribute it on Santa.