The Answers to Parents

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The Answers to Parents Most Common Questions


Should I tell my child the truth about Santa?

Most young children believe in Santa Claus. They think he’s real, he comes to each home, and he brings all the Christmas presents. From earliest memory, kids are taught to believe in him and they rarely have reason to doubt until they turn six or seven. Even at those ages, many are convinced Santa is real.

Parents who encouraged their preschoolers to believe in Santa may have second thoughts when their kids get older. Is it right for a third- grader to believe Santa is real? Should parents tell the truth? Some want their children to hold onto the belief as long as possible, but other parents feel uneasy about misleading their older children.

By elementary age, most children have heard people say Santa isn’t real. Young friends say, “Santa is really your parents.” Older siblings tell younger ones, “Mom and Dad are the ones who buy the presents.” While some children discover the truth this way, some are unaffected. Their belief in Santa can’t be shaken: “Santa’s real at my house. He really comes and brings the presents, and he even eats the cookies we leave him.” In fact, children with very strong beliefs may reconvince doubters: “You’re right. Santa does bring the presents.”

Some children have a hard time giving up their belief in Santa. After all, he’s a wonderful, mystical person who brings gifts and pleasure. By the time a child is six, her vision of Santa is all-good and she no longer fears his judgment and his unusual appearance. She may hold onto her belief in him because it’s so comforting.

To find out what your own child thinks, ask, “Do you believe Santa’s real?” You may be surprised to learn she already knows the truth. Some children hesitate to share their knowledge because they fear they’ll disappoint their parents. If your child says she doesn’t believe in him, question her a little further to find out what her feelings are: “You believed in Santa for so many years. What made you change your mind? Who do you think delivers the presents?” Most likely, she’ll answer, “YOU!”

If she still believes in Santa or is only beginning to doubt him, you may be afraid of destroying her fantasy. Yet many six- to eight-year olds are ready to find out the truth, even if they’re a bit disappointed. The truth can’t ruin Christmas for your child, because all the enjoy able and meaningful rituals will continue.

You might be reluctant to discuss Santa because you’re uncomfortable explaining why you misled your child. If she asks why you didn’t tell her the truth, or if she seems to doubt what you tell her now (“Are you sure you’re telling the truth? There really is no Santa?”), explain that having kids believe in Santa is a special part of the Christmas tradition. “When you first saw Santa, you thought he was real. We decided to go along. But now you’re asking questions and you’re old enough to understand.” Explain that your family won’t have to give up the spirit of Santa just because he isn’t real. Talk about what Santa represents—love, kindness, caring, and the spirit of giving. As your child gives up her long-held belief, show her that the values Santa rep resents will always be an important part of Christmas.






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