The holiday season is officially upon us, which means the great Santa Claus debate is in full effect. Is Santa Claus real?

Deciding what to tell your kids about the existence of the jolly one can be a surprisingly challenging decision.

On the one hand, you don’t want to lie to your kids or seem untrustworthy.

On the other hand, you don’t want to be the parent that ruins the magic of Christmas either.

Conducting an informal survey amongst friends, I found some people who are hardcore Santa fans. They do anything and everything they can to preserve the Santa Claus story for their children.

Others are more ho-hum about the jolly guy, thinking it’s an outdated tradition that isn’t really relevant any more.

While others are actively opposed to Mr. Claus for a variety of reasons; the most notable being the need to lie or threaten to withhold gifts for not being good.

So how do you respond to the dreaded “is Santa Claus real?” question. Maybe it’s time to rethink perpetuating the same old story.

 

Is Santa Claus Real?

 

Reconsidering Santa Claus

When you stop to think about it, the real Santa Claus story can be borderline creepy. “He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake”.  

Santa’s got a big-brother surveillance thing happening., and the threat of punishment is always there.

Be good or else Santa will put coal in your stocking. Santa obviously didn’t read his copy of positive parenting.

Threatening kids with the “naughty list”, which sounds surprisingly similar to having something go on your permanent record, never sat well with us.

 

I want my kids to be good because they are kind and it’s the right thing to do.

 

Not because they’re going to get a bunch of gifts, or because they know if they don’t behave they’ll end up shamed and called-out on some list.

Which is why when the “is Santa Claus real” question comes up, we suggest you go with the truth.

 

Telling Kids The Truth

You can tell your kids the truth about Santa Claus. Seriously, they can handle it. And it won’t ruin the holidays.

Christmas is going to be fun and exciting whether Santa is a real guy or just a character.

It’s the same as how you and your kids can watch a superhero movie and thoroughly enjoy it, without believing Batman is real.

Kids play make-believe all the time and find joy in it.

So when asked, “is Santa Claus real?” you can frame Santa as a beloved character that plays a part in your family’s Christmas traditions.

But he’s not a real person with impractical transportation accomplishing feats science can’t explain.

Some psychologists suggest that Christmas can be even more meaningful if you debunk the Santa Claus myth. Why?

Because you can tone down the extravagance and commercialism of Christmas when there’s no longer an expectation that a giant elf will bring bags of free gifts.

Instead, you can focus on creating quality family traditions, instead of immense Amazon wish lists.

New traditions can take center stage. Traditions like:

  • Holiday movie night
  • Cookie decorating bonanzas
  • Christmas tree decorating
  • Making DIY gifts

 

Is Santa Claus real
Getty Images

 

Manipulating Kids To Behave

The other major reason telling the truth about Santa is so compelling to us is that using a manipulative strategy to get kids to behave, which in essence is what Santa Claus is, teaches children that they have to be good to get gifts.

If they are imperfect, and who isn’t, they get nothing.

 

You don’t want to equate a child’s behavior with their worthiness to get love or gifts. Connecting the two things is problematic.

 

You don’t want your kids to think they have to be perfect to deserve presents. Just like you don’t want your kids to be good just so they get gifts, you want them to help others because they’re kind and compassionate.

And research shows that kids who are lied to by their parents are more likely to lie.

Is the magic really worth the distrust and disappointment your kids will feel once they find out the story they believed for years was a sham? It’s something to consider.

And why would you want to spend time and money picking the perfect gift for your child, only to give the credit to Santa?

Let your kids appreciate your thoughtfulness, and know the handpicked treasures under the tree came from your loving heart.

 

Is There Still Room For Santa Claus?

We believe in telling kids the truth about Santa Claus, but do we think they’d suffer hardcore psychological damage if you let them believe?  No.

Deciding how to handle the is Santa Claus real conversation is a personal decision.

We do think there’s a way to do Santa that is less manipulative; which is to let little ones believe, but not go out of your way to propagate the myth.

Let kids believe up until the point when they start naturally asking questions. Then encourage your child’s own critical thinking and don’t lie or mislead them to keep the belief.

Can a sleigh really fly around the world in one night? How does he get into your house through a tiny chimney?

Eventually curiosity will lead to the final BIG question, is Santa Claus real?

You can reward your child’s deductive reasoning skills by congratulating them on figuring out the truth.

Your kids will probably be less disappointed knowing Santa isn’t real than you might think.

By the time they start to question everything, they might be relieved, or feel cool to be “in the know” about this well kept secret.

Also, you might want to dial back on the whole naughty list thing.

When kids find out there is no Santa, they’ll just feel more manipulated by you.

Plus, if you know the real Santa Claus story you know the pagan roots of the punishment thing, which doesn’t seem relevant in modern times.

If your kids misbehave, you’re not actually going to cancel Christmas – and we already talked about how being good just to get a gift isn’t a great life lesson.

You can share the magic of Santa without referring to his dark punisher side.

Lastly, if you do decide to forego Santa Claus all together, have a little compassion for those families that make it a big part of their Christmas tradition.

Just because your kids are past the story, they don’t need to take it away from someone else. Ask them not to spoil the secret for others.

 

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