One of the most controversial subjects to bring up among young parents is what to tell kids about Santa.
I’m not writing this to judge whatever you’ve decided in your home, but to give some clarity as to why we made the decision we did – our kids were told from the beginning that Santa Claus was make believe.
*We didn’t want to lie to our kids. I know that some parents get around this by not saying anything and simply going along with the flow. If the kids believe, fine. If they don’t, fine. But the parents never say whether or not he is real because then they aren’t lying.
I do a lot of workshops on developing thinking kids and one of the topics we discuss is the importance of giving kids correct information. Young kids can’t read. Anything they learn about God and the Bible comes from older people who can read. Our responsibility is to tell them the absolute exact truth. The Lord cares about the truth we put into these young hearts and minds. Santa, of course, is outside of the realm of biblical truth, but telling truth to our kids affects all areas of life.
So why would I want to lie to them?
* We knew kids who truly did get mixed up in what was true and not true. One of the key arguments for not claiming Santa’s existence is: “If I tell my kids about Santa and tell them about God, what happens when I tell them that Santa isn’t real? Will they then transfer that thinking over to everything I’ve taught them about God?” And I have heard people disregard this. “Not going to happen. No kid will get mixed up.”
Well, kids DO get mixed up. I have a friend who did the Sunday-church thing as a kid so she knew about God. Her parents also encouraged her to believe in Santa when she was little. She distinctivelly remembers the day her mom sat her at the kitchen table and told her there wasn’t a Santa (after years of telling her there was). She says, “Right then, I decided all the stuff about God must be false, too. I was 7, but I decided I didn’t believe in anything I was learning at church because I was sure, like Santa, it was made up.” Not until this friend was an adult with children of her own, did she accept the gospel message.
*We were concerned Santa would up the greediness factor in our kids. Think about it, we’re teaching kids that Santa has a never-ending access to the toy factories and can get them anything they want (and many parents go in debt, trying to keep up with that). That’s not the spirit of Christmas.
* Santa doesn’t truly give gifts. I don’t hear this talked about very much, but Santa is not a gift-giver. Santa rewards good behavior. He knows when you are sleeping, He knows when you’re awake. He knows when you are bad or good, so be good for goodness sake. This is something to fear. You’d better watch out! You’d better not cry! He even has his spies (elves) that tell him when a child misbehaves. If the child is good, she gets presents. If she is bad, she gets coal (or underwear or something equally unappealing to a kid). And even though most parents probably don’t give gifts on the basis of “goodness,” that’s what we’re portraying. Parents use Santa as a threat. “You’d better stop doing that. Santa’s watching.” A reward-based system is not something we want transferred to their understanding of God.
*We worked hard to give our kids their gifts. Our kids didn’t get everything they wanted, not even close, but we wanted them to have a good Christmas. As one man said, “My dad worked overtime to afford Christmas gifts for my siblings and me. Because of that only one present was designated from Santa. The others were from my loving parents who worked hard because they cared about us. They wanted us to know that.”
*St. Nicholas was a good man, but he’s not Santa. Saint Nicholas gave gifts to the poor, he didn’t hang out at the mall, listening to kids read endless wants. He was helping the poor and the sick, remember? One mom told me, “I decided to bring in the St. Nicholas story, but in the end it didn’t work. St. Nicholas has nothing to do with kids’ endless Christmas lists.”
All that being said – our family did not get crazy about Santa, either. We didn’t care that his name was an anagram of Satan nor did we get frantic if our kids made a Santa ornament at school or had a Santa coloring book. We told them he was a storybook character just like Cinderella or Winnie the Pooh and we treated him as such. So have fun with talking about him – but he’s not a real person.
Again, I’m not saying you have to agree with my thoughts, but I wanted to express what we did to give you some areas to think about when you’re deciding whether or not to tell your own child about Santa.