Why we don’t really do Santa…..

santa_clausI know that this is not a popular stance but in my house we do not encourage the belief in Santa. David and I decided many years ago that we would not encourage our children to believe in Santa. Instead we tell our children that Santa is an example of how we should give to others while expecting nothing in return. We also teach our children the story of Saint Nicholas and how his life became the background for modern day Santa stories. We also do not encourage belief in the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, or Cupid.

When Caleb was four or five he asked us, “is Santa real?”  This question came up because he had heard other children talking about Santa and all of the gifts that they would be getting on Christmas morning. Our answer to him was that each of us in our own way is Santa, when we give to others. We also told him that there were no flying reindeer or elves working in the North Pole. We have always taught our children that Christmas is not about the gifts we receive. Madilyn is 5 this year and we are having the exact same conversations with her as we had with Caleb all those years ago.

We do not ban Santa from our home, we have just assigned him an appropriate place and status. Our children still get to watch Christmas specials featuring Santa on television. Our children still get to have their photo taken with Santa for fun. Our children still get to sing silly Christmas songs. They just know that no one is coming down our chimney to deliver packages on Christmas Eve.

The problem with telling kids Santa is real:

  1. It is a lie, and the Bible says that we should not lie. I have never felt that it is alright to lie to children even if the lie is considered harmless or white. We tell our kids not to lie, but then we lie to them by promoting the myth of Santa.
  2. Once  you come clean about Santa not being real, how is your child suppose to trust that you are telling the truth about other matters. Years of being untruthful to your children may help to build a wall of mistrust between you and them. I know that I am less likely to trust someone who I know has lied to me in the past.
  3. How do you explain away the fact that wonderful “Sally Jane” got little or nothing for Christmas when horrible “Billy Bob” got everything he wanted and more? I have seen children assume that a poor child was a bad child because the gifts did not appear on Christmas therefore “Sally Jane” must have been on the bad list.
  4. Telling your child that there is a Santa can cause them to have high expectations for Christmas. What do you tell them during the years that the budget is tight?
  5. Having a child that really believes in Santa may cause a parent to feel the need to fulfill every item on the “Christmas Wish List”  in order to make the season more magical. This could lead to financial problems.
  6. Often parents use Santa to manipulate behavior. This is just wrong. Kids need to behave all the time, without threats that Santa will put them on the naughty list. I want my kids to behave because it is the right thing to do, not out of fear of not receiving the gift they would like to get on Christmas day.
  7. The belief that you get gifts when you are good can promote feelings of entitlement in children and continue into adulthood.

Several of our family members encourage the belief of Santa and that is fine with us. Everyone is allowed to parent their children in the way that they feel is best. We do not say anything to children to contradict what their parents have told them. We have also told our children that it is not their place to tell others that Santa does not really exist.

My children enjoy Christmas just as much as other children do, just without belief of Santa.

*Originally Posted- December 2010.

 Photo from www.sxc.hu/

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