Social Question

mithical's avatar

Do you enforce the belief in Santa Claus to your kids?

Asked by mithical (289points) December 21st, 2010

I’ve seen parents who struggle when their kid doesn’t believe in Santa anymore and then later try to convince them otherwise to keep the “magic” real. However, is it really worth doing it knowing that when they are a little bit older they will be faced with the harsh realization that there may not be a Santa after all?

What do you do? And why?

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22 Answers

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

When my stepsons stopped believing in Santa, I just went with the flow. If, someday, I happen to have children of my own.. I don’t intend to ever tell them about Santa in the first place.


No. They have always seen Santa as a story-book character, so they know he’s not real, only a fantastical figure. They are more into the spirit of Christmas and enjoy believing and honoring baby Jesus and the Three Wise Men instead.

muppetish's avatar

I have never heard of parents attempting to reinforce the concept of Santa. That sounds peculiar. I think when a kid is ready to stop believing in Santa, they should be permitted to grow up accordingly.

I wasn’t raised with a belief in Santa. I never missed it and the few kids I was friends with didn’t believed in him either (so the issue of “oh no, the kid is going to tell everyone! the horror!” was averted.) If I ever have kids, they won’t learn about Santa from me.

wundayatta's avatar

Good God, NO! Kids are smarter than they let their parents think. They can choose to believe or not believe all on their own. My daughter knows the score and she chooses to believe because she likes the story. It’s the same as children or adults loving some story in a movie. They want it to be true, so they act as if they believe it.

Enforcing a belief makes it clear to kids that you want to believe they believe and you don’t really care about truth. It tells kids that you would rather they lie to you than to disclose an inconvenient truth. I’m sure there are a lot of parents who want that, but I don’t.

One example of how children allow us to keep our fondest beliefs. My children never swear at home. But one day we found out they swear like sailors outside the house, when amongst friends. We asked them why they espouse the values of not swearing at home, and my daughter told us that they don’t want to burst our bubble of innocence.

We think we are protecting our children’s innocence and the truth is they are protecting our innocence. They want us to believe they are still children—or at least the children we imagine them to be, so they often don’t talk to us about how it really is. Generally, the issue of the myth of Santa Claus is the first time kids start to learn that adults want to keep their innocence about their children.

I find this highly ironic. We think we are keeping their innocence and in truth, they are keeping our innocence. Parents have a lot of myths about childhood. The idea that children are as innocent as we imagine them to be is one of the biggest myths they allow us to keep. Later on, when dealing with sexual issues, this becomes a much more serious problem.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

OH MY GOD, SANTA’S NOT REAL? Fluther has just ruined my life! <cries>

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Unnh Unnh sniffle. Don’t talk to me right now.

sahuleka546's avatar

Well, if they’re only 3 to 6 years old, I’d want them to believe in Santa, so they’d be able to socialize with other kids easily. Other than that, there’s not really any reason for them to believe in Santa.

mithical's avatar

@sahuleka546 Are you saying that Santa is a key factor in socializing between children? I can see your point, but shouldn’t it be better to teach your kids that it doesn’t matter what the other kids believe? Seems to me like the beginning of future peer pressure.

sahuleka546's avatar

@mithical ah, yeah probably. not a key factor but it helps, everytime I talk to kids during December the topic is usually about Santa, I just thought that Santa’s really popular with kids.

mithical's avatar

I can’t argue that Santa is definitely popular, however to impose a kid to believe in someone that may not exist just seems kind of cruel, especially for reasons such as “everybody does it.”

sahuleka546's avatar

@mithical yeah, you’re right. I won’t enforce it, it’s still their choice. I just hope he wouldn’t tell other kids that Santa doesn’t exist.

mithical's avatar

There will always be a spoiled bunch who will try to ruin it for the rest. Hopefully either their beliefs are firmly grounded, or they simply shrug it off.

sahuleka546's avatar

Unfortunately, most kids I know will try to ruin it…

meiosis's avatar

@wundayatta Last Christmas, I was a friend’s house when their 7 year old daughter whispered to me that “I know Santa doesn’t exist, but Mum and Dad still think he does so I go along with it for their sake”.

jlelandg's avatar

it’s fine as long as you reinforce the realness of the easter bunny.

Deja_vu's avatar

I don’t have children…
Why not? I think it’s one of those things that inspire imagination and creativity. Just don’t be so serious about it. Santa is all fun and games. Besides, by the time they are 6 or 7 one of their friends will clue them in. They will go along with it because it’s fun… (As a child at an early age I noticed Santa had the same handwriting as my mom, so what…. it’s the fun in it all) Why be all _Ba Hum Bug_ish?

Cruiser's avatar

I giggled to myself when it became apparent my 11 year old still believes! That really adds to the fun of Christmas. When he finally figures things out I will still keep the traditions the same because Santa is a cool dude! :)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

No, my kids don’t believe in any mythical creatures, Santa included. They seem all right to me, :)~

christine215's avatar

When my daughter was 9 she asked me about Santa, I didn’t want to say directly one way or another about the “is he real” question and I told her that Santa is the spirit of Christmas and she seemed to be OK with that… except that she interpreted the meaning to be that Santa is a ghost and he comes around on Christmas eve and she somehow she incorporated some of the other fables regarding Saint Nicholas, and for the next year told everyone that the Santa Ghost is who puts the candy and presents in your stocking

I don’t reinforce the idea any more (she’s nearly12) nor do I discourage it. I somewhat relate to what @wundayatta said….I think that as long as they believe, they’re holding onto their innocence, there’s that part of their brain that believes that anything is possible… If a rabbit can deliver Easter baskets, if a big fat guy in a red suit can fly in a sleigh with reindeer and give presents to ALL the good girls and boys, if a fairy will give you a dollar when you put your tooth under a pillow… if all of that is possible, then ANYTHING can happen. (and we DO want our kids to believe any thing is possible for as long as we can, and we want our kids to keep as much of their innocence for as long as possible)
Where I disagree with @wundayatta, is that in my personal experience with my children, I’m wistful remembering her days as a wide-eyed seven year old, and even the innocence of her asking me if Santa was real… but I understand that my child is growing up and we have a great line of communication, and I know what level of knowledge she has about “adult things” and we talk about stuff all the time… she’s growing up, I’m not ignoring that and I don’t really thing that MOST Parents ignore that fact… they wish their kids were still innocent, but most parents have a good idea of what their kids are up to.

And preemptively I’m going to say to those who wag your finger and say “you’re lying to your child” if you let your kid believe in Santa in the first place…. well, I feel bad for you. I remember the excited feeling trying to fall asleep on Christmas eve before Santa showed up and how happy I was to have presents from Santa under the tree… and I think would be selfish to deprive my kids of that excitement.

john65pennington's avatar

I believed, my children believed, my granddaughters believed, and now my great-granddaughter believes.

Remember, believing in Santa Claus is like an automobile than runs out of fuel. sooner or later, you are going to tell them the truth and retrieve some gasoline to start moving again.

No harm in having a fantasy about Santa Claus. all of my family has survived it and there are Santa’s memories that will never be forgotten.

wundayatta's avatar

I think that in my house, Santa is a game we play because we like it. My daughter, who is 14 now, and has long know the deal here, still takes the lead in writing a letter to Santa in which she asks any number of unrelated questions. (I should probably put a few up here). Then I answer them. By hand. I think it is the most I write in a single time all year.

She also puts out cookies, and something to drink that is hopefully something that Santa likes.

In a funny way, it’s about the only way we can write to each other. Like we can’t talk directly, but we can talk through stories in our imaginations. My kids and I tend to live a bit in imagination, and I think it’s easier that way—at least for us.

She has been trying to keep my son believing the story about Santa. She hasn’t gotten any support from me, though. I don’t care. I’m not big into innocence. It isn’t safe around here. Probably isn’t safe anywhere.

But Santa is a pageant that we all act out every year, and it is a wonderful pageant (unless I“m depressed). The kids get so excited about presents. They like decorating the tree—and did it mostly by themselves this year. I think it’s that youthful enthusiasm that is most exciting. It’s a lot a lot of work, but it’s worth it.

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