The holidays are one of the most magical times of year. Most of us wait for this time of year with anticipation. We watch as our children's eyes light up at the sight of Santa, we help them create their list and send it off through the mail, and we see their joy Christmas morning when they see all the presents under the tree.
But maybe your child is getting to the age where they are beginning to question Santa. Or maybe they heard from a friend at school or in the neighborhood that Santa isn't real. So how can you tell them that Santa doesn't exist?
Here are four ways you can break the news of Santa to your kids without totally ruining the magic of Christmas.
Most parents agree that when your child comes to you and asks, "Is Santa real?" that you should just be honest. But there are several ways to display this honesty. Direct honesty can work out well if your child has a more logical mind or if you carry the conversation with a bit of sensitivity.
Here are some talking points:
- Simply explain to your child that the gifts are purchased and wrapped by mom and dad, and that you share in the magic of Christmas as a family by spreading joy.
- Let them know that the Santa they see in the store is someone paid to sit and give children the joy of believing in something magical.
- Allow them to ask questions. Be prepared that they might begin to question other characters such as the Tooth Fairy and the Easter bunny too.
"Santa" is the Magic of Christmas
Another way to explain the existence of Santa is to tell your child that the physical person of Santa no longer exists but that his spirit lives on through the traditions that have been carried out throughout the centuries since St. Nicholas was alive. We celebrate the magic of his presence through giving to others and by being kind to one another throughout the season of Christmas.
Here are good books about St. Nicholas and the traditions that have followed his legacy:
- Is Santa Real: How Saint Nicholas Became Santa Claus
- The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving
- The Legend of the Christmas Stocking
Belief in Santa Comes in Stages
Some parents find it easier to explain to their children that their belief in Santa is just like life stages. When you are young, you believe with your whole heart. When you become older, you begin to question his existence. And when you are fully grown, you see beyond the physical man that is "Santa Claus" and become "Santa" through gift giving and charitable works.
Some talking points to help parents with this discussion could be:
- Relate it to your faith or religion- explain that everyone begins to question their faith at some point, but as you grow older you begin to see that believing in something doesn't mean you have to see it.
- Talk to them about your own experience with learning about Santa Claus and how you share the magic of Christmas through your own gift-giving.
- Explain that all parents "become" Santa one day, sharing the magic of Christmas with their own children, and that one day they will become that for their family.
One of the most popular options for talking to your kids about the truth about Santa is to tell them that now they are Santa. Once a person makes the realization that Santa does not exist, it is now their job to become Santa for others.
Some ways you can enlist your child's help in "being Santa" is:
- Have them help purchase gifts for family members and siblings.
- Have them help with the wrapping- you can even have a special wrapping party to share in joy that is losing the scissors every three minutes.
- Let them help on Christmas Eve- setting up cookies, putting out the presents, and any other traditions your family may have.
Don't Stop Believing
Although there is no doubt that one day all of your children will realize that Santa is not real, that doesn't mean you can't keep up the traditions of Santa Claus with your children as they grow.
Keep on believing with traditions such as:
- Give presents from "Santa".
- Continue to put out cookies, milk, and carrots (for the reindeer).
- Never discuss the idea that Santa does not exist- because he can still live on in heart and spirit.
Realizing that Santa does not exist is somewhat a rite of passage for kids. But not all children find out in the same way or at the same time. Once your child knows that there are no actual flying reindeer or a man in a big red suit coming down your chimney, it is a parent's duty to remind your child not to tell other kids or their siblings. Nothing is worse than a kid finding out from someone else instead of on their own.
In the end, how a parent handles the discussion of Santa's existence is up to them. As a parent, you know your child best and you can best assess how they might react to the discussion. And there is no shame in continuing the magic of Christmas with Santa's spirit living on in your hearts and in your home.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out our holiday gift guides and let your little helper begin their new role as a "Santa" for others.