When my kids started asking me “Is Santa Real?,” I was in a real quandary. I didn’t grow up celebrating Christmas, so I had no idea how to handle this question. After all, I had never asked it.
I knew children who had believed in Santa and then the shocking news showed up one year when their parents informed them that he was not real. Their parents were afraid the kids would be made fun of at school if they still believed in Santa.
I also knew children who were told that Santa was real by their parents for the longest time and one day their friends told them he wasn’t. The kids actually wondered why their parents would tell them he was real, when he wasn’t. They believed their friends.
Personally, I wanted to do it another way. I wanted to preserve the innocence and imagination of my children. At the same time, I wanted to continue building trust and truth within our relationship.
What I chose to do was very simple. Here are some tips that might be useful:
Tip #1: Ask your children what they think about Santa being real or not (only if they are asking you this question ~ do not rush it). Where are they coming from? That would be helpful to know. Sometimes it just pops into their head and other times it is spurred on by friends. It would be good to know why they are asking.
Tip #2: Share stories from your childhood that would speak to this subject. Since I didn’t celebrate Christmas as a child, I shared that I hadn’t been taught that Santa was real and why. I shared what I saw in my friends’ experiences of being told that he was real when they were young and that he wasn’t real when they were older. And then I shared where I was right then. They loved hearing the stories.
Tip #3: Share with your children that everyone has a different belief and experience of Santa. There are numerous perspectives. Let them know that they get to choose what they want to believe and they can change it any time they wish. This way you are not misleading them and you are not bursting their bubble.
Tip #4: Then, allow them to explore (if and when they choose) the various stories and beliefs related to Santa. If each parent shares their story, that’s two perspectives. What about grandma and grandpa? Cartoons have a perspective. Friends have perspectives. Let them explore and figure it out for themselves. They’ll do a little exploring and then get bored. That’s okay.They’ll ask again.
Tip #5: Avoid giving them a “yes” or “no” answer. Is there really such an answer? Are we talking about Santa literally? Figuratively? Let them discover what Christmas and Santa means to them as an individual. And know that this will be an ongoing conversation for years. I just meet my kids where they are each year and we all compare notes. They get lots of new perspectives as they mature and our conversations create a lot of freedom, trust and inner connection.
You see, this is part of the Magic of Christmas. And this is part of the guidance that parents provide. We give our children many perspectives in life, sharing pro’s and con’s as appropriate, and let them choose what fits for them. This breeds confidence, self-esteem and acceptance of individuality.
I waited over 20 years to have the magical experience of Christmas. I choose to share that magic with my children and to allow them to create whatever they want to create around Christmas for themselves. We are practical and simple and we share abundance of love. What is the Magic of Christmas in your family?
Wishing you and your family a most joyous Holiday Season!