Before we know it, we will be rocking around the Christmas tree and enjoying the most wonderful time of the year with the people we love the most. There’s something beautiful about experiencing the magic of the holidays from the eyes of our children. Yet we’re all nervously awaiting the day when our kids ask us that big question: Is Santa real?
With any luck, this conversation will go smoothly for your family. But that doesn’t keep parents from worrying about the best way to handle it. If you’re waiting for your kids to ask you the big Santa question, here are some parenting tips that will help you navigate this holiday season smoothly and joyfully.
You Know Your Children Best
There is no magic formula for when or how these conversations arise. You must stay present enough to meet your children where they are. You know your children better than anyone. You know their level of emotional maturity, how they handle hard conversations, and whether they’ll run and tell their siblings who are not prepared to find out. How you approach any important discussion with your children will depend on who they are.
Avoid Being Dishonest
Your children are just like all the other people in your life. When you set a precedent of lying to them, they remember it and may lose trust in you. We don’t mean to say that you shouldn’t allow your children to believe in Santa. It’s a lovely story that brings so much happiness to parents and children alike. But, when your kids ask you directly, avoid lying at all costs. A great way to handle the BIG question is to respond to their question with another question. When your child asks, “Mommy, is Santa real?” you could say yes or no, or you could say, “what do you think?” This response allows you to skirt their question and get a sense of what they’re thinking.
Remind Them Of The Real Meaning Of Christmas
Each child is going to respond differently to the truth about the Santa story. Meet your children where they are and use this opportunity to redirect. The Santa Claus story is a fun element of the Christmas season, but it’s not the heart of the holiday. At St. Barnabas, we celebrate Christmas as a reminder of Jesus’ birth and the love, truth, and generosity he brought to the world. When your kids begin to question the Santa story, remind them of the real reason we celebrate. But also demonstrate that even the Santa story is more profound and powerful than we give it credit. We let the story of St. Nick remind us to be kind and generous during the Christmas season and all year long. Santa is much more than an old man who rides a flying sleigh or a bearer of gifts. He’s an example of what it looks like to be generous and go all out for the people we love. One easy parenting tip is to teach your child to redirect that Santa spirit outward. You might say, “even though we know that Santa Claus is just a story, we can still be Santa to other children.” There are tons of opportunities in our community and worldwide to give gifts to families in need this time of year.
Invite Them In On The Secret
The day your child comes around to the truth about Santa Claus is also the day they get to be part of the plot. Your child is likely surrounded by other children who may or may not be ready to let go of the Santa story. Now, your child gets to be part of keeping up the excitement for the other kids in their life. Whether you’re considering other children in the home, younger extended family, or even the other children at school, this is a fun opportunity to make them part of the game and introduce them to the fun of seeing the joy on other kids’ faces. Learning the truth about Santa doesn’t have to mean the end of the joy that Santa brings.
Like it or not, we all have to navigate the Santa conversation with our children. Some parents find it very stressful, while others breeze through it with no problem. Fortunately, you can prepare yourself by determining in advance how you’re going to handle the situation. When the question arises, what will you say? How will you say it? Take some time to think about that, and you’ll feel much more prepared when the day comes.
You are a great parent. The fact that you’re reading this article is a testament to the fact that you only want what’s best for your kids. No matter how or when your kids discover the truth about Santa, they will be just fine. We offer these parenting tips to you each month because we are passionate about seeing our students and their families thrive. For more information about joining the St. Barnabas Episcopal School family, contact our office any time.