Is it really detrimental to my two year old's enjoyment of Christmas if I come clean and tell the truth about Santa (that he doesn''t exist, only in the fairtales)? My husband and I don't know if we want to start the whole Santa gives you presents lie to our child and future children. Your thoughts on this would be welcome. Roman's (truthful) parents.
Yours is a dilemma that quite a few parents face and obviously comes up this time of year. Many years ago while my husband and I debated this same dilemma I came across an article which really bought clarity to this issue for us both. I can tell you the main points that I remember and my experience with parents.
The magical parts about Santa are the joy that Santa brings. Both to your child, whose imagination and excitement at the concept of Santa is quite unique to see and experience. Children love magic and imagination. To you, as Santa, in the joy you bring to others, by giving gifts without the expectation to receive in return. This is what Santa is about, to give without any expectation at all to receive and to revel in the joy of such giving.
The second meaningful part is the tradition that is involved. From a research point of view there is lots of research that rates family traditions as highly meaningful to children and adults alike from an emotional point of view. The traditions your family has are the traditions that your children and grandchildren will have, with their own twist of course. This is helpful to remember when answering questions or explaining Santa to your children. Santa is a tradition, an Australian tradition. Other countries have other traditions Italy for eg. has the good witch Befana who delivers presents to children.
How Santa does it? There’s no one answer. We believe ( we are believing in the goodness of giving to others solely for the joy it brings) that Santa brings presents and when we wake up, the presents are there. In reality there are many Santa’s around Australia.
I have heard parents say that they do not want to lie, so chose your words carefully, say it’s a tradition and it happens.
When then do you tell the whole truth? When your child 8- 14yrs develops the ability to think abstractly and scientifically and asks a couple of years in a row how santa from a mathematical equation point of view cannot physically do what he does, then it’s time to tell the whole truth with the added reasons of why you do this wonderful tradition. The spirit of magic at Christmas is in the hearts of those who want it to be.
Yes there is disappointment but never in my experience any backlash along the lines of ‘you lied to me’. Children understand that their parents wanted them to share in something make-believe and special when their children were young and it makes such nice memories. Children then see the joy it brings others and then follow the same tradition. All for the joy of giving.
I’ve asked my son today who is 10yrs old and found out 6 months ago the full story and his opinion, “it’s great, it makes you use your imagination, it’s really good to have Santa” and when he found out? “your disappointed in a way but you know why, it’s nice to give presents and it’s great to imagine, like magic”.