Recently on a friend’s bachelorette weekend, the discussion of kids and make-believe holiday characters came up (i.e. Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny). A friend of the bride chimed into the conversation and told us that she has always told her kids that these characters aren’t real. According to this mom (among a few other reasons), she felt that she would be betraying her kids’ trust by perpetuating “the lie” of Santa and the like. She still celebrates Christmas and adheres to all of the Christmas traditions, just not Santa Claus. Her kids still leave their teeth under their pillow, but they know it’s Mom and Dad leaving them money and not the tooth fairy.
I’ll admit, as the mom of two VERY excited 3 and a half year old’s this Christmas season, I immediately thought to myself “that’s so sad.” I also selfishly thought, how does she get through the month of December without telling her kids that Santa knows? Let me tell you, it’s currently a real game-changer around here.
However, as I continued to think about her opinion on the matter, it became more interesting and I became more insightful. Especially as we approach the Christmas season. Am I really “lying” to my kids by telling them a fat jolly man leaves them presents on Christmas Eve? Once they find out “the truth” will they be angry at me for lying to them? Or is the whole concept of some higher being keeping score of naughty v. nice really appropriate for a three year old?
Of course, MORE MOM GUILT.
I decided I needed to do some additional research into the matter. And where else to turn, but the internet.
If you Google, “telling your kids about Santa,” (or some similar variation) you’ll see over a million search results. Parenting blogs, psychiatrist reports, National Public Radio and New York Times articles, all attempting to address the topic of these make-believe characters. The question “should I tell my kid that Santa isn’t real,” has recently appeared on my local Facebook moms’ group more than once. But if you scroll through these articles and the Facebook groups, there’s really no clear-cut answer.
And as I thought about it more, it became perfectly clear as to why that is…
As it is quite often the case when it comes to parenting, there is no right or wrong answer. Every child is different, every family is unique and requires their own individualized approach. As a parent you adopt your own approach and viewpoint based on your own family’s personalities, needs, morals, religion, etc. Who am I to judge a parent with a very inquisitive 5 year old who NEEDS to know WHO left that tooth under their pillow? Or on the other hand, the parents of a dreamy, sweet nine year old who still believes the magic of Santa or the Easter Bunny. Or like the mom from my bachelorette party, who decided that it just wasn’t right for her kids. You do what works for you and your family.
At this point in my parenting journey I honestly have no idea what I plan to do. So far I haven’t yet broken out that “Elf on the Shelf” character. Mainly because after I get all three kids to bed I can barely peel myself off the couch, let alone figure out where I’m going to move a plastic elf. Also, admittedly I do find it a little creepy.
Here’s hoping I’ve got at least another two years to figure it out before the questions start. Hey, I’ve made it through sleep training and potty training twins, so this can’t be worse than that. Or can it? Maybe I’ll traumatize them for life. Who knows.
I hope everyone has a magical and joyful holiday season, in whatever way they choose to celebrate!