UPDATE: 11/16/15 I know some of my readers were wondering how Alex (our 2nd child) was going to do with our handling of Santa. When I wrote the original article Alex hadn’t even started school and he was very outspoken about how he felt. I can say with gladness, that the approach we took with Santa has been successful with both of our oldest children! I can say with a certain amount of confidence that even when our youngest 2 that this approach should work for them as well. (Maybe in 3-4 years when they start school I will update this with how they did with this approach as well)
Originally Posted 2/5/14
So I understand that there are good families who allow their children to believe in Santa, and I am not here to tell them that they are wrong for doing so. To be honest this is an issue that some people at times go overboard with one way or the other. Some will say that Santa is evil, others will almost swear that he is absolutely necessary in order to celebrate Christmas. Whatever the case is, we choose not to teach our children that Santa brings them their gifts at Christmas time. But how can we do this when they are surrounded by friends, teachers, and family that choose to “believe” in Santa? We really handled this in a three fold manner.
First we laid the ground work for what we would do as a family long before our children started school (or were even born for that matter). We decided early on in our relationship, before we were even married, that we would choose not to teach our children that Santa was the bearer of their gifts at Christmas. If you were to ask our children today if Santa is real they would tell you, “No”. We approached this subject with them by teaching them that Santa is a fairy tale much like, Bugs Bunny, Cinderella, or Toy Story. This works well because it helps separate the fantasy from reality in their mind. Some people think that I am crazy for taking away the “normal” childhood belief in Santa Claus and that I am hurting the “magic” of being a child. They can think I am crazy all they want, but in reality my children have more fun with the gifts knowing that Mommy and Daddy bought them and that God provided the means to do so. It teaches them that God not only cares about our necessities, but also enjoys blessing us with extra blessings at times.
Second we have prepared our children to know that their are other who do believe in Santa and that it isn’t their place as children to tell them that he isn’t real. Alex hasn’t started school yet, but even as a 4 year old you never know what he will say to someone else. I could just see him going to school next year telling one of his little classmates that Santa isn’t real, sending him out in tears and being in trouble from angry parents for telling his once called friend the truth. Does this mean that I am promoting my children to lie to their friends by saying Santa is real? No. What we have instructed our children to do is: 1) Listen to what their classmate says Santa will be bringing them. 2) Wait for the friend to ask them what Santa will be bringing them. 3) Respond by saying, “I asked my Mom and Dad to get me such and such”. We teach them to approach it this way because they can skirt the Santa issue without having to say “Hey Santa isn’t Real”.
The third thing that we do to prepare our children for the Santa issue is to make their teachers aware of what we teach our children. Most teachers understand that not everyone believes in Santa and not every child even celebrates Christmas (I even know some Christians who don’t celebrate Christmas because of the pagan roots of the holiday). So in order to be prepared I let their teachers know ahead of time what we do with Christmas, that way if they are asking students what “Santa” brought them for Christmas they won’t be surprised that my children say, “My Mommy and Daddy got me this gift”. Again we have taken time to prepare our children to answer in such a way that they aren’t saying the words “Santa isn’t real”.
Does this approach take away from the fun of the Christmas season? No it does not. Aric still enjoyed watching “Polar Express” with his class. He still enjoyed doing crafts of Santa, reindeer, and other Christmas characters. He was involved in his Christmas program at school, but all along knows the true reason we as a family celebrate Christmas. Some might think that this is a good way to confuse a child, but writing from observation, the way we have approached it has not shown one sign of confliction in the true reason we have Christmas with our children.
What have you chose to do with your children? Why have you taken your approach? Does it cause difficulty at your child’s school? I look forward to your answers.