No, this post isn't about that mediocre Jim Carrey movie from 1997. It's about the lies we tell to our kids during the holidays.
My husband and I can't quite agree on the whole Santa thing. Right now, our six year old thinks Santa is probably real. I've been encouraging this. We're even doing the elf on the shelf this year. (Our elf is a girl and she is named Elfa.) I did accidentally terrify my daughter into thinking that the elf was going to trash our home while we slept, but then I convinced her the elf was good and she didn't have to sleep with her bedroom door locked.
My husband is very much not on board with the whole "pretending Santa is real" thing. He feels it's wrong to lie to your kids and they'll eventually find out the truth and think you're a liar. I disagree. I believe I'm just making the holidays more magical for her.
I don't really have a frame of reference on this, because I was never taught to believe in Santa Claus. Also, I was never allowed to trick or treat. (Damn traumatic childhood.)
What do you think? Does pretending Santa is real make the holidays more magical or does it make you a dirty liar?
Hmm... I agree with you, this time of year is about the magic, truth or no truth. My parents both told me santa was real, and their parents told them; and we all turned out all right (or I'd like to think so...hehe). Once you reach a certain age, you realize your parents didn't lie to you to hurt you they wanted you to see the magic; I wouldn't even consider it lying. And even if it is, no kid is going to hold something like that against their parents.ReplyDelete
Its fine to tell your kids Santa is real, but once they start voicing doubts tell them they are right. I remember being told off for saying Santa isn't real. There is a point where it moves from being cute to being patronising, be concious of that and you'll be ok.ReplyDelete
I wasn't told about Santa when I was little, and was against telling our kids about it, while my husband wanted to. When the time came, the kids already believed (from playschool, TV etc), so I just went along with it. My girl (5) is having some doubt I think, but keeping it mostly to herself in case he's real and won't bring presents if she doesn't belief :P If she asks me straight out, I will tell her the truth, or if she says "X told me Santa doesn't exist...", we will do the "different people believe different things/ have different lifestyles from us" thing. Until then, I will do the Santa thing.ReplyDelete
I agree with you. When I did find out Santa wasn't real I don't remember thinking my parents are liars. I'm pretty sure it didn't really bother me at all. I think Christmas is the best time of year for kids and Santa makes it even more special. I still wish I could wake up and find something under the tree. Unfortunately he only brings stuff for kids.ReplyDelete
I think it's magical to believe. There's nothing more fun than that feeling you get Christmas Eve awaiting santa's arrival.ReplyDelete
Funny story - my adorable (and VERY trusting) youngest brother believed in Santa until he was 12. Our 5 other siblings knew, but of course played along with it. My parents had told him one year that he wasn't real, and forgot to tell the rest of us. When I came home for Christmas I asked "so what are you asking Santa for" my brother played along and told me. Finally, he asked my mom "does R (me) know?" What a sweetheart. I love that he was trying to protect his 20 something year old sister from the harsh reality that Santa doesn't exist.
I believe it is more magical.ReplyDelete
My parents wrote "Santa Claus" on the presents and wouldn't put them out until we were all asleep on Christmas Eve, HOWEVER - I don't recall ever believing in Santa. It was like a little joke we all went along with. Still magical to wake up to presents on Christmas morning, but I like to think it made me a lot more thankful to my parents instead of some imaginary bearded guy on a sleigh.ReplyDelete
Yeah. I got the whole, "It's from Santa," followed by the *wink wink*.Delete
Yes to both questions. It makes it more magical, and it makes you a liar.ReplyDelete
The fact is that some kids will handle the disappointment of finding out the truth well and others will not. I don't think there is any way to know in advance how yours will handle it.
My wife and I decided to teach the true meaning of Christmas and we decided that we would never tell them Santa was real or say that any gifts were from Santa. We allowed them to draw their own conclusions about Santa, though, and they all believed (because they were surrounded by a society that encourages belief). Our kids are now all above the believing ages and all experienced significant disappointment when they found out. They didn't feel like we lied to them, though.
It's a tough call, but I think we handled it as well as we could have. If you tell your 3-year-old Santa isn't real, he or she is going to tell every kid they know and all your friends will be pretty unhappy with you. Good luck with your decision.
We have a new wrinkle to this question this year in our family. We are adopting from Ethiopia and our new son is going to be at a borderline age (7). Santa is not really a thing in Ethiopia, but it will be interesting to see what he thinks about all the Santa stuff around us. We definitely are not going to encourage any belief on his part.
It's a running joke in our house. I have never admitted he's not real. I still make all the kids say they believe in Santa or I sarcastically threaten them with nothing under the tree. It's fun and even though they are 20, 17, 15 and 12, they ALL still love coming downstairs on Christmas morning and seeing all the gifts under the sparkling tree. It's all in creating special memories and good family fun.ReplyDelete
I promise you, your daughter will not end up on a therapist's couch if you continue the charade. They might actually appreciate it later on like ours do.
My DD 6 still believes, mostly, but I think this is the last year. I have told her kids get magical, nonsensical stuff better than grownups do, so as you grow up Santa becomes more of an idea than a present thing, but that it's a great idea no matter how grown up you get.ReplyDelete
When I was losing my baby teeth, I would eagerly anticipate waking up the next morning to money under my pillow from the "pretty tooth fairy." I would be so excited. Anyway, one night when I was six or seven years old,I wanted to see how pretty the tooth fairy was so I forced myself to stay awake. I actually put stuff in my bed that would poke me and lay on top of that so I would not fall asleep. Anyway, I was awake when my father came into my room and quietly put money under my pillow. I cried myself to sleep.ReplyDelete
Okay, it did not have a lasting effect on me. I got over it and I did not need therapy as an adult. I also never blamed my parents or thought of them as liars even back then. I was just so disappointed as a little 6-7 year old that there really was no such thing as a tooth fairy. Perhaps if I found out differently, i.e. kind of outgrowing it, I would not have been disappointed. Obviously, after that I did not believe anything that was "magical" and questioned everything my parents said.
I say keep the magic. My friend's mother told me the truth about Santa when I was four and it still makes me angry that an adult could do that! I feel like she stole something from me. But I was never mad at my parents or felt like they lied. My oldest daughter believed (more or less) until she was 12. When she asked me in all seriousness at that age, I felt like I had to tell her - I was afraid the other kids would make fun of her. Last year, when my kids were 15 and 20 years old, was the first year we put the Santa presents out before Christmas Eve. But the labels still say "From Santa". I just think it has just been a lot of fun to have Santa around at Christmas.Delete
Keep the magic. In a year or so, her schoolmates will fill her in. I recall when I figured it out, told my Mother, and was told to keep the secret for the sake of my younger sister (who was informed/figured it out faster than I did at 8)ReplyDelete
It WAS fun to keep the secret like a grown-up!
I'll weigh in on the less common side: I was raised with Santa until the kids at school raised enough doubts in the second grade that I persisted in asking my parents. I felt deeply betrayed to find out that my parents had been lying to me for fun. I would have felt differently about the lie if it had been for a good reason, like keeping us safe.ReplyDelete
It didn't turn me into a juvenile delinquent or anything, but it made me have less trust in them for quite a few years afterwards.
In our household, it was the only way to get presents in the house without me and my brother seeing them. My brother still believes in Santa because of his innocence. He's very innocent. He thinks whenever someone's name is like "Dick" he doesn't want to say it because it's also bad to say. My mother doesn't want to see his innocence go away sooner or later, so we just say all this stuff. Like the Easter bunny, Tooth Fairy, leprechaun, and such. So, I would have to say magic but it's your choice to say if it's lying to your kids.ReplyDelete
I would definitely say that pretending Santa is real is more fun for the kids. I believed in Santa as a kid. As I got older I sort of gradually just understood that Santa actually was some dressed up relative.ReplyDelete
But then again it's harder to keep the lie going in Sweden I guess, where Santa actually introduces himself and comes into your house on Christmas Eve.
My mother tells me as a child a friend of mine told me Santa wasn't real and I cried, and I don't remember this happening at all, but don't remember ever believing in Santa Claus either. I managed to somehow have a happy childhood though? And still like Christmas a lot?ReplyDelete
I remember one year, when my brother was 16, my sister had written on all of his presents "To -brother- from Santa Claus" and my brother actually went through and crossed off every "Santa Claus" and wrote "Mom and Dad." He would not be fooled!
When she is grown, will your daughter be angry with you that you lied to her and gave her magical Christmas memories in childhood? Or will she be angry with you for being the one to burst her bubble? Let someone else do it. When and if she ever asks why you perpetuated the myth, tell her the truth: that it made her happy and it made you happy to see her happy.ReplyDelete
I think you should keep the magic. Believing in santa was the greatest thing ever. When I finally asked my parents, I didn't entirely believe it myself, but I had to ask. They told me the truth and I remember taking a bath that night and crying in the bathtub. If anything, I wished they'd lied to me for a little longer. But I definitely never thought of them as liars even for a second. And when I have kids some day I fully intend to help the "Santa" beliefs stay alive.ReplyDelete
I don't ever remember thinking Santa was real, but I chose to let my kids believe. Now, I just have one that still believes. And I can't wait till he learns the truth. Do with that what you will.ReplyDelete
An aside: I saw a fb post with the elf making a snow angel with flour! Very cute- I think you should do it.
What is the purpose of lying? Why give children a false sense of magic? Where do we draw a line, what is an acceptable lie? Children learn by example, so I guess lying is not the right approach, lest we want our children to deceive us later in life.ReplyDelete
My children grew up in Germany - not forces by the way - and there St Nicolas comes on 5th/6th December with sweets and oranges and nuts. They sometimes put out their shoes for them to be filled, sometimes someone dressed as him visits kindergarten or homes. On Christmas Eve a bell is rung after someone has decorated the tree with the door shut - and the Christchild has brought the gifts. Santa had only relatively recently started to appear there when our children were small so from the outset we explained the traditions of the 6th and the 24th and why there were all these Santas wandering around shops. I live in Italy now - and Babbo Natale (Santa) is quite a terrifying-faced personage who appears at hotels with a tiny gift for everyone.ReplyDelete
Our older daughter has children - and Santa brought gifts (I think), we've never been able to spend Christmas with them. I imagine they know otherwise now at 13 and 11.
For me - I agree with S.A. but I suppose it often needs to be done carefully depending on the local culture so other children don't end up discovering the truth in a hurtful way. I think we avoided most of the problems - I hope we did.
KEEP THE MAGIC!! I loved believing in Santa and I didn't want to believe that there was no Santa (with the exception of the brief time in my life when I was concerned about a fully-grown man coming down our chimney and having unfettered access to the house). When I told my mother that other kids told me that Santa wasn't real, she told me that Santa was part of the magic of Christmas and I could believe in magic for as long as I wanted. I never considered my parents liars. As an aside, when my elder daughter lost a tooth, long after she knew that the Tooth Fairy was dad, she said, "I know the Tooth Fairy is pretend, but Lindsay (her younger sister) still believes, so I am going to put it under my pillow anyway. You don't want her to find out now, do you?" TriciaReplyDelete
I remember the excitement of believing the last year. It was just not as fun when I found out. Just a suggestion - if you daughter asks her if he's real, I recommend asking her "what does she think." I don't think anyone who asks actually wants to know the truth, they are just wanting to think it through. But, the true surprise of getting things that Mom and Dad would never give you is so exciting, that its a true excitement. On the other hand, easter bunny and tooth fairy weren't really talked up, so we didn't really believe in them.ReplyDelete
what!!? santa's not real?ReplyDelete
What I tell my boys, who are 7 and 9 now, is this " Honey, you may here people say Santa is not real, but from my experiences when you stop believing in the little things, you stop receiving them. It is the same with the toothfairy, easter bunny, and so forth. When they no longer want to believe in them, they could loose every tooth in their head, and receive no money from the magical toothfairy."ReplyDelete