Childhood is marked by the innocent joys of the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and Santa and his helpers, but there may come a time when you, or your children, are questioning whether such things are real and wondering why it’s necessary to have beliefs like this.
So, what happens if someone starts questioning whether Santa is real or whether it is just their parents?
Santa Claus isn’t real, but sharing this with your kids doesn’t have to be a devastating moment that shakes their belief in the spirit of Christmas. Sharing that Santa represents goodness, kindness, and love is an opportunity to teach your children life lessons.
There’s more to the idea of a mystical figure like Santa, though, and understanding why the legend exists may help you decide whether or not you want to be upfront with your kids about whether Santa is real or not.
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The Origins Of Santa And Whether He is Real Or Not
Santa is most certainly real. Or he was, at some point in his story. The figure of Santa Claus is based on Saint Nicholas, a monk who lived in 280 A.D. in the region we now know as Turkey. He was known for his pious nature and his kindness, and he was said to have given away all of his wealth to travel and help the poor and infirm.
Tales of St. Nicholas show how he saved three sisters by being sold into slavery by paying a dowry to their father so they could be married. Many such stories exist, and St. Nicholas became increasingly popular until he was known as the protector of children and even sailors. An annual feast was held on December 6th to celebrate his life.
The figure of St. Nicholas took on the nuances of various cultures around the world. In the early 1770s, Dutch families living in New York gathered to honor Sinter Klaas (a shortened name for their Sint Nikolaas). Santa Claus, as we know him today, evolved from these early ideas, always upholding the belief that kindness and goodness are rewarded.
So, in a way, Santa Claus is real; but that isn’t what kids want to know these days. Their primary thought is likely whether the jolly man in red and white is genuinely crawling down their chimney on Christmas Eve to leave them gifts. And how do we answer that?
Is Santa Claus Real, Or Is It Your Parents?
If your child is starting to ask questions about whether Santa is real or not, you may be wondering how to respond without being the parent that dashes their belief in magic and flying reindeer. Here are some things to consider before deciding to tell the truth about Santa:
- Age: How old your child is may be one of the more important things to consider. Young children under five may struggle to grasp complex ideas behind the real Santa and why we’ve chosen to tell them something that isn’t true. This should guide you; with older children who can reason and understand better, the truth about Santa will be best received.
- Religious convictions and beliefs: Many people may shy away from talking about Santa and whether he is real because of perceived religious convictions – or their beliefs. Consider whether your religious practices and personal convictions will be upheld if you tell your children the truth about Santa.
- The core message: What do you want your child to learn about Christmas? If they are ready to understand that Christmas is about more than just gifts, having this conversation with them is good. It’s also good to foster a spirit of kindness and caring regardless of whether you’re telling them the truth about Santa or not, so the main focus isn’t on materialistic things.
How To Respond If Your Kids Ask If Santa Is Real Or Not
If you’ve decided that your child is old enough to hear the truth about Santa, you will want to do so without crushing their belief in the wonder of Christmas and without destroying what Christmas represents for your family. The first thing to remember is to prepare them – and hopefully, you have focused on the real meaning of Christmas as they have grown up.
Secondly, pick the right time to break the news to them. Out-of-the-blue statements or simply dropping the bombshell on them is never ideal and can even be seen as a cruel and unnecessary way of dealing with the situation. Gauge the appropriate time by their ability to understand that the world is not just about gifts and that they can understand concepts like kindness and caring.
If you are asked whether it’s just you putting presents under the tree and you deem it the right time to tell them that Santa isn’t real, there are two ways to respond. The first is to be open and transparent and admit that Santa isn’t real but that it’s been your delight to help them believe in magic all these years. This works for families that rarely make a big deal of Christmas.
A second way of dealing with the situation is to use it as a teaching opportunity or a special time to impart a life lesson to your children. Similar processes have been shared far and wide on the internet. However you choose to explain it to your children, the idea is simple: explain that the ideals of love, care, and kindness are ideals Santa represents and that, as parents, you are tasked with sharing it.
Here are some simple guidelines for making this conversation work:
- Admit that the Santa your children imagine isn’t an actual figure crawling down the chimney. Instead, Santa embodies all the good things we wish to fill the world with: Love, kindness, grace, caring, charity, appreciation, and the like.
- Say that as ambassadors of Santa and his message of love, you (the adults who love them) keep that spirit alive by making Christmas time special and showing your care through gifts, family time, and sharing with others.
- Explain that sometimes we can’t see things, and we still have to believe in them – like the magic of Christmas, and that’s important to learn growing up. Whether that pertains to faith, hope, or belief in yourself, these are important concepts to grasp.
- Remind them that Christmas is about loving others, and as you love them, they can share their love with those around them too – and with a focus on those less fortunate.
Benefits Of Telling Kids It’s Their Parents, Not Santa
Telling your kids that Santa isn’t real doesn’t have to be a heartbreaking time. In fact, there are some benefits to being upfront with them – provided it’s done appropriately, within the proper context, and with the assurance that the Christmas spirit isn’t diminished because a smiling man in red and white isn’t actually flying overhead in a sleigh.
Some positives about telling the truth about Santa include the following:
- Cutting out the threats of being on the “naughty list” and forcing children to live a cycle of doing good for a reward. Instead, the suggested conversation urges being good for the sake of being good.
- Building trust relationships requires some measure of transparency, and our children are likely to catch us in a lie at some point – most kids become suspicious of everything a parent says when they realize they have been lied to.
- Trust them with a truth of this magnitude can make them feel part of the Christmas magic by reminding them they also have a role to play in sharing the Christmas spirit.
- The true meaning of Christmas becomes paramount – whatever that may be for you, whether it’s about a Savior being born or about celebrating our love for one another. This should always trump materialistic gift-giving as the main gist of the season.
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Whether Santa is real or not is likely a conversation you dread having with your kids. A harsh response indicating your kids are old enough to know the truth is unnecessary. It takes away from a beautiful teaching opportunity to instill the values of love, charity, and kindness in their lives.