Imagine a scenario: A 3rd grade classroom, the teacher is busy at her desk helping a child, the rest of the class is hanging out together talking with one another. Seven year-old Claire asks her friends what they are hoping Santa will bring them on Christmas. Her friends laugh and say, "There's no such thing as Santa! You still believe in Santa Claus?!" Claire responds, "What do you mean? Santa is real; he visits my house every Christmas Eve." Claire goes on to talk about the tags on her presents reading - From: Santa. She says her mom and dad put cookies and milk out the night before Christmas and in the morning they're gone. Claire goes on to defend the existence of Santa on the mere basis that her mother wouldn't lie to her. More laughter from her classmates. After more discussion, Claire comes to the realization, in front of the whole class, that she has been duped. She is hurt and embarrassed and can't wait to get home to talk with her parents.
Some may argue: That's not a typical scenario, and even if that did happen, it's not the traumatic experience that you are making it out to be. Maybe... However, I have come up with 10 reasons why you should tell your kids the truth about Santa. It's my belief that many parents haven't thought through this issue enough. If you are a parent, or not, let's take a fresh look at this issue and consider these reasons, and I hope they persuade you to come clean with your kids.
(These are not necessarily in order of importance.)
YOU WANT YOUR KIDS TO TRUST YOU
I want my kids to know that whatever I tell them is the truth, to the best of my knowledge. I don't want to intentionally lead them astray. I may tell them false things, but I won't knowingly do it. When I told my kids about Santa, I told them, "Some dads tell their kids that Santa is real, when they know he's not. I refuse to do that to you. Even though Daddy is a sinner, and I'm going to mess up, as best as you can trust any man, you can trust me."
Once your kids discover that you were actively lying to them for years, how much do you think they'll trust you? Some kids may not be affected, but I have to believe that many kids trust their parents less after learning the truth.
Moreover, how do Christian parents who propagate the Santa lie, expect their kids to trust them when they tell their kids about God? When a little girl realizes that Santa doesn't exist, and that's the reason why she didn't always get what she asked for at Christmas, she might figure that God's non-existence was the best explanation for why her prayers also went unanswered. This is a definite possibility. Why are we trying to confuse our kids and make trusting God more difficult for them? Sacrifice Santa, and gain your children's trust!
YOU WANT YOUR KIDS TO BE CRITICAL THINKERS
At some point, inevitably the questions begin:
- How does Santa make it all the way around the world visiting every house in a single night?
- How does he get into our living room, seeing that we don't even have a chimney?
- He's watching me while I sleep? Uh, that's a bit creepy.
- What's with the Wal-Mart receipt in this box, I thought the elves made my PlayStation 4?
How we choose to answer these questions will help shape how our kids discern truth. The Santa lie encourages credulity. Do you want your kids to be gullible? I don't. I want them to examine claims and think.
We teach kids about things like physics, logic and reason. Then we tell them an old guy from the North Pole, flies through the air in a sleigh pulled by reindeer, travelling the globe in a single night, dispensing gifts from what must be a bottomless sack of goodies, to every child on the planet. What?!
If the doubts have begun in your home, and your kids are asking the questions, tell them, "Way to go! That's a great question. Let's consider it." Congratulate them for figuring it out. That's a kid confidence booster!
YOU WANT TO EMPOWER YOUR KIDS
When I told my son the truth about Santa, it created a special bond between him and me. He knew something that the other kids didn't know. He had a dad who thought enough of him to tell him the truth. When he heard other kids talking about Santa, he had special knowledge that his dad shared with him.
Some may interpret this as not letting my child enjoy the wonder of Santa, and somehow that detracts a bit from Christmas, but I don't think so. I would rather have a tight, trusting relationship with my son, over any perceived joy that Santa might bring.
Knowing what I know about kids, it is very important to them to know something that their peers don't. If they think they know something that those around them don't, they like that, and they will want to express it verbally.
On a side note: I told my child not to share what I told him with the other kids. I don't think that is our job. But the fact that so many kids do relish telling their friends that Santa isn't real, supports my earlier point - they want everyone around them to know that they have some special knowledge. (Or perhaps they just like crushing the hopes and dreams of other children.)
YOU WANT YOUR KIDS TO KNOW THAT YOU BOUGHT THE PRESENTS BECAUSE YOU LOVE THEM
If your kids are crabby toward you, and they feel like you don't ever do nice things for them, is it because all the credit at Christmas is going to a fat guy in a red suit? Instead of telling your kids about Santa, tell them, "We bought you that iPad, not Santa. We worked hard to do that, and we did it because we are celebrating the birth of our Savior, and we love you."
YOU WANT YOUR KIDS TO UNDERSTAND THE GOSPEL
The gospel according to Santa: Be good - get good things. Be bad - get a lump of coal.
The gospel according to Jesus Christ: We're not good - yet we still get good things.
People who have repented of their sin and are trusting in Christ, have been given eternal life, the greatest gift anyone could ever receive. In fact, God is so good; He even gives good things to those who hate Him. Don't those people have food, a home, and people in which to share those things? The Bible tells us that every good thing we receive comes from God. James 1:17
Santa withholds from the undeserving. God gives abundantly to those who deserve His wrath - people like me. The whole notion of Santa is antithetical to the gospel! No wonder so many people have a false understanding of how to be saved. Millions hold to: If you are good, you go to heaven. If you are bad, you go to hell. That's not the gospel! I wonder where people get such faulty doctrine...
YOU WANT THE FOCUS OF CHRISTMAS TO BE ON JESUS
This one's really a no-brainer. Jesus Christ is greater than Santa Claus. (That might be the understatement of the century. I can't believe I actually had to type those words.)
However, in the mind of a child, Jesus can't compete with Santa Claus. This jolly guy comes around once a year peddling all kinds of toys and he delivers them right to your home. The gifts under the tree come at no expense, you just have to be a good boy or girl, and his standard of goodness really isn't that high. (I don't know of anybody who actually received a lump of coal on Christmas day.)
The fact is, most kids haven't come to that place of brokenness over their sin, and recognizing their need of a savior. I certainly don't blame them. But it's our job as parents to gently instruct them and guide them to the arms of Christ.
I would like to suggest this: Tell your kids, "Santa doesn't exist. We can pretend like he does, but I want you to know the truth about Christmas. It's not about Santa, and all that he brings. It's about Jesus Christ, and all that He is! In our home, the focus will be on Jesus, because the grace that He offers is far greater than anything Santa could ever produce in his workshop. Your mom and I need that grace so desperately, and so do you, here's why..."
YOU WANT YOUR KIDS TO BE CHEERFUL GIVERS, NOT GREEDY MATERIALISTS
Santa is about stuff. As a Christian, it's difficult to watch how companies and their advertisements focus so much on the materialism of the Christmas season. Both adults and kids are immersed in it. I'm an adult, and I'm susceptible to the ads, how much more are the kids? I don't really blame the corporations. They are trying to turn a profit, and they are going to take advantage of what Christmas in America has become. Of course, they want to perpetuate the Santa myth, but as parents who desire to raise our kids right, we have an uphill battle before us.
Those who call themselves followers of Christ ought to emulate Him. Jesus wasn't about stuff. He was about people. He was about relationships. He was about reconciliation. He was a giver, not a receiver. We sometimes forget it was Jesus who said that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35 Kids do want to give; and we have a responsibility to cultivate that in their life. We can start by knocking Santa out of the picture.
YOU WANT YOUR KIDS TO BEHAVE FOR THE RIGHT REASONS, NOT SO THEY CAN GET STUFF
Let's be honest. You've heard this tried before:
- "If you don't quit crying, Santa Claus won't bring you anything!"
- "Pick up your toys and clean your room, or Santa won't bring you anything new to play with."
- "Go to bed and get to sleep, or Santa won't come tonight."
I am a flawed parent. I make all kinds of mistakes, but this is lazy parenting. Besides, has this technique ever worked outside the month of December?
Parents are using Santa for leverage. They threaten their kids into good behavior. We need to be diligently teaching our kids obedience. But not only that, teach them about the motivations behind their behavior as well. It's not easy, but let's not employ Santa as a parenting tactic, it's not proper, and it just doesn't work.
YOU DON'T WANT YOUR KIDS TO BE EMBARRASSED
The moment they come to the knowledge of the truth, it could be a public acquiescence that might prove quite embarrassing. See the introduction of this article.
YOU DON'T WANT TO LIE TO YOUR KIDS
Lying is a sin. Even to those people who justify it in the name of fun. God desires truth in the innermost being. (Psalm 51:6) Please repent and come clean.
"Chill out dude, it's not that big of a deal! So what if my kid believes in Santa, it's just fun. It's not like he's going to turn out to be an atheist because of it."
First of all, you don't know that. Who knows how people end up embracing certain worldviews as an adult? I wouldn't take any chances. I will let the reasons listed above stand on their own merit, as to whether or not this is an important issue.
"Don't you know the story of St. Nicholas?"
Yes, I do. However, the modern Santa Claus figure bears almost no resemblance to the 4th century priest St. Nicholas. If you want to teach your kids about St. Nicholas, go ahead and tell them the origin of Santa, but also tell them how people have perverted the story of a very generous and compassionate Christian man.
"Telling kids that Santa is real promotes imagination, and imagination is good for kids."
Telling a kid that Santa is real doesn't encourage imagination; it actually does the complete opposite. Imagination involves pretending, and to pretend that something exists, one has to believe that it doesn't exist. The irony is that if you really want to encourage your child's imagination, tell them Santa doesn't exist, but that you are going to pretend like he does.
"It's just tradition. I believed as a kid, my parents believed as kids, we turned out just fine."
Maybe so. However, just because something is a tradition, it doesn't mean that it's right. See: bloodletting, segregation, and the Protestant Reformation.