At a certain point, you are going to face the situation when your kid comes to you and asks: “… Is Santa Claus real?”
A lot of parents fear this question because they want to keep the magic of Christmas alive for their kids as long as possible. Others think that keeping the ‘wondrous’ secret alive is akin to gaslighting your own children. *
Because the question can pop up anytime, why not consider some pros and cons of telling the truth about Santa and see which school of thought fits your parenting style.
Go ahead, tell them
You can’t build a trusting relationship based on lies (this current example for instance). No one will disagree that letting your little one believe in Santa is a little white lie. But this little story can challenge their comprehension of reality and fiction. Telling your kids about Santa (Or Father Frost or Jack Frost or any other traditional storyline) is not exactly a solid way to build trust and understanding with your kids.
The truth about Santa might sound like a cold bitter reality to your child, and no one wants that. But the truth is the truth, and people who adhere to telling their kids the truth adhere to this. Your precious one might get angry with you after you give them a dose of truth, however, it’s necessary to understand that your kid will sooner or later find out the truth. Hearing it from you (rather than from their peers) might be a best-case scenario.
The arguments against telling them… at least right away
The idea is to let your kids enjoy Christmas for as long as possible, so don’t go and ruin it. Christmas is one of the great eye-popping holidays in a kid’s life, and what’s so wrong with extending that a year or two. Kids go nuts every time Christmas approaches. They get to put up the Christmas tree, decorate the house, and of course, get presents from Santa Claus. What kind of Grinch would want to spoil this wonderful Christmas experience?
So what is the verdict?
If you feel compelled to tell your kids the truth the first time they ask, go for it. Do it in a clear and kind way. After all, you’re about to confirm the suspicions that led them to as the question in the first place.
Or, you can double down. If they ask and you tell them that Santa is indeed real, you will probably get away with it for a year. Eventually, they’ll figure it out. How or where is anyone’s guess.
In my family, we are coy about it. When asked if Santa is real, we turn the question around and ask what they think. That way, we live guilt-free while the curious little One charts their own path through the wonderful Christmas story and life beyond.
* Gaslighting: The term gaslighting comes from the 1938 play Gas Light. In it, a husband tries to drive his wife crazy by dimming the gas-powered lights in their house. The wife notices and points out that the lights are dim. The twist is, he denies it and acts like nothing has changed, thus driving her to call into question what she observes and ultimately her entire belief system. Wow!