The holidays are stressful enough as a parent with shopping, planning and having family over. There’s one holiday season we may find ourselves not prepared for, however, and it’s when we get the question, “Is Santa Claus real?”
Peer Pressure at School
Peer pressure naturally plays a huge role in how our children form opinions. It makes for an incredibly tricky time for us, however, when our child comes home confused, wrestling between their belief and the disbelief of their classmates.
It’s also natural to be upset when we hear a different point of view on something we hold dear, especially if it makes the holidays so magical. Show your child validation in their feelings, but also explain that people will have different opinions about Santa Claus, and that’s okay. If their belief in Santa remains unchanged, and the thought of leaving out cookies for Santa brings a smile to their face, keep reinforcing it.
“People get real bent about lying to their children,” licensed clinical social worker Joelle Bangsund says. “People have lied to their children about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny for 100 years, and we all turned out just fine.”
Is Your Child Already Asking Questions?
Some children are skeptical of Santa and want to ask you for confirmation. Even in these situations, they may not be ready for the whole truth bomb to be dropped on them just yet. Acknowledge their doubts and explain to them that it’s okay for everyone to have a different view of Santa.
“It’s okay for the kids to say one thing at home and then go to school and say something else,” Bangsund says.
Keep asking questions and gauge their readiness throughout the conversation. Ultimately, let them decide which lens they want to go with. This method reinforces critical thinking and allows them to come to their own rational decision they can feel comfortable with.
“I always throw it back to the kids,” Bangsund states. “What do you think? What do you want to believe?”
Every situation is different when it comes to talking about Santa Claus.
“That’s a very personal decision. You tell [your kids] the truth; you ask them what they think. It depends on the parent,” Bagsund says.
Make sure it’s a positive experience by encouraging openness and emphasizing the joy of your holiday traditions while letting them know they’re loved and supported. At the end of the season, it’s not about the presents under the tree or the existence of the jolly head elf that matters; it’s the love your children experience.
Bangsund keeps a letter that she found years ago on the Web and uses it to talk to her children about the existence of Santa. It ends with, “With full hearts, people like Mom take our turns helping the elves and Santa do a job that would otherwise be impossible. So while they are not “real” or magic, they are love and hope and happiness. I am on their team, and now you are too. I love you and always will.”