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keobooks's avatar

Why are parents so protective about their children's belief in Santa?

Asked by keobooks (14296points) July 23rd, 2015

I know so many parents who get really weird about trying their best to keep children believing in Santa. They buy separate wrapping paper so the kids don’t catch on that Santa uses the same paper. Everyone talks in hushed tones to other adults about what Santa is getting the kids. It’s even been the plots of movies and television episodes. It’s extremely important to make tons of effort to keep the illusion of Santa alive.

I don’t think it’s worth the effort, myself. My husband and I both grew up with parents who told us very early on that Santa was a myth. My husband wasn’t bothered. I believed my parents were mistaken and believed anyway.
My daughter is four and we have also never bothered to keep any illusions about Santa alive. We have told her that he is imaginary. She still believes despite what we’ve told her. She thinks we aren’t very smart when it comes to Santa. She just knows he’s real. So we’ve got all the “benefits” of her believing and none of the effort that all the other parents I know put out.

Anyway, why is Santa so important?

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20 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

What are you saying there’s no Santa?

marinelife's avatar

It represents the innocence and purity of childhood, and parents do not want to see that shattered.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

There is a Santa Clause. He lives in a part of our hearts that likes to see the joy on someone’s face when they get that gift that they love. That’s what makes giving things or even just love to someone else so special.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I agree that it is crazy to go to “great lengths” to preserve the story. I let my kids believe in Santa. In fact, I used Santa to get them to clean their rooms on Christmas Eve, telling them Santa wouldn’t come if their rooms were messy! Same with Easter.

In our family, and I did this too, Santa didn’t wrap presents. He only had 1 generous present for each kid, unwrapped and sitting by the tree when we got up.

I figured it out on my own when I was about 8.

What I don’t agree with, though, is a third party, such as a teacher, taking it upon themselves to dispel the story.

Pachy's avatar

Worst day of my young life was the day my sitter told me there was no Santa Claus.

And I’m Jewish.

josie's avatar

Because it is fun for the grown ups and kids both. Everybody wins.
Personally, I don’t trust grown ups who seem to be in a big hurry to screw up the excitement and fun that Santa Claus engenders. What’s the harm?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I agree.

Also…I wonder…just musing….do the children of fundamental Christians hang on to their belief in Santa longer than average?

jca's avatar

What @marinelife said.

It’s innocent, it’s harmless, in my opinion. My daughter is 8 and still believes. I go through the effort of different wrapping paper, hiding the gifts, stuff like that. She also believes in the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. I know it’s going to end within the next year or so.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I was about 8 when I went up stairs and sat on my parent’s bed as they were getting ready to go somewhere.
I said, “Santa isn’t real, is he.”
They looked at me sadly and said, ‘No. He’s not real…..BUT the Little Kids (sisters 3 and 4 years younger) still believe, and you can help us put the magic together!”
It was sad for me, but kind of proud too.

Dutchess_III's avatar

As my son got older, like 10, 11, he insisted that the toothfairy was real! I kept saying, “You know better!”
But his logic was, “Mom isn’t going to give me money for a tooth but the Tooth Fairy will!”
He went through this stage of having loose teeth and when he was strapped for cash he’d just yank out a tooth and make sure I knew about it.
The last few teeth he presented as “These are genuine silver and ivory artifacts! Worth a LOT of money!”
I think I gave him 5 bucks for each one.

I love my son!

Dutchess_III's avatar

What I hate is when some folks insist that allowing them to believe in Santa = lying to them. That’s BS, IMO.

stanleybmanly's avatar

It’s only natural that parents would want their little kids to experience the same feelings of wonder and excitement that they experienced in their youth. Most of us can remember how wonderful things seemed before crass reality smothered our dreams.

DoNotKnow's avatar

@Dutchess_III: “What I hate is when some folks insist that allowing them to believe in Santa = lying to them”

I have to admit that my approach to santa with my kids has been one that I regret. Prior to having kids, I swore that I would never lie to them – and that included the pseudo-Jesus character of Santa Claus. I feel strongly that lying is immoral, and it’s the basis for any bad relationship. It would also set me up for the inevitable moment when my kids would find out that he doesn’t exist and wonder what else I had been lying to them about.

Well, when it came time to actually deal with the issue, my wife and I had extended discussions about it, and decided on a bit of a compromise. We would do the Santa thing, but would allow the fantasy part of it to be their own. We wouldn’t play up any “Santa did this” or any of that. When asked about specifics about Santa from my kids, I have always responded with “Well, how does the story go?”. And it has ended at that. I never made any claims of Santa’s existence. And I swore to myself that if my kid ever came to me and asked me if Santa exists, I would not (or be able to) lie.

Anyway, this has been the arrangement, and I have mixed feelings. This is the only thing that I have been less-than-truthful about with my kids, and it makes me feel a little sick. At the same time, I recognize the whole “magical” aspect to the whole thing – especially since I was brought up with the Santa thing. I just don’t know, to be honest. I just don’t feel right about it. It is lying, and lying is pretty awful. I love my kids more than anything, and it seems that the only thing approaching a lie that I have told in the past 20 years have been about Santa – to the people I love the most and would never want to lie to.

On the original question – I do think it has to do with lying. Since they’ve committed to the lie and have determined that it’s worth it, they must try to control enough of their surroundings so that the deception continues. If it is exposed accidentally or by a third party, the confusing decision they have made to lie to their kids may be for nothing. Just a thought.

whitenoise's avatar

I took the same approach with my kids as @DoNotKnow did.

We never told them wether Sinterklaas (the Dutch Original of Santa, Santa 1.0) was truly existing. Later when they started to question it, we explained that we think Sinterklaas exists as long as we decide he does. That it is a game we all play together.

The kids loved it… they never exposed Sinterklaas to any child and always happily played along and still do. Writing poems, throwing candy and knocking doors as Sinterklaas’ helper: Pete. I have fond memories of Sinterklaas as a child. I remember that when I found out as a child, I didn’t share that with my family. It was too clear we all enjoyed the myth.

I also have seen a great ‘video’ (super 8) of my sister and myself as young kids. My uncle was dressed up as Sinterklaas. It was extremely clear that it was him, but not to me… I only saw Sinterklaas. My sister told me that my uncle had more or less changed in front of us. The will to believe was strong.

I have never met a person that never lies…

Coloma's avatar

I see no harm in pretending there is a Santa, Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy when kids are small. They usually figure it out on their own and are not forever psychologically damaged. I was disappointed, at around age 7, when I walked in on my mom late at night wrapping “Santa” gifts. Deep down I had my doubts but having them firmly confirmed was rather sad.

Thing is I got over it in about 2 hours. haha
My daughter believed in Santa until she was around 7 as well, I don’t remember any big discussion or fanfare just a sort of quiet, uneventful transition, I think when we referenced Santa she just kind of rolled her eyes to let us know she knew the jig was up.
I also wrote elaborate notes to my daughter from the tooth fairy and it was great fun to see her reactions.

I even gave the tooth fairy a name “Sophia.” haha
To each his own but I see no harm in playing along, after all you’re only a child once, enjoy the magic before reality really sets in. lol

Dutchess_III's avatar

Excellent @DoNotKnow! Really, they get all they need to know from friends and TV and commercials. No need to embellish on it and pretend that you think he really IS real. They do that all on their own, until they get to the age where they will go…..Hmmmmm…..

ucme's avatar

Because they have different parenting styles than you do, which is fair enough.

Adagio's avatar

I told my daughter Santa was not real from a young age. It never stopped her enjoying Christmas one iota or getting thoroughly caught up in the whole Santa myth anyway. When I was a child I would repeatedly ask my parents if Santa was real and I found their answer of “oh, you know…” so frustrating! Yes, I did know really but wanted that final parental confirmation. It never came and I didn’t want to do the same thing to my own child. It wasn’t as if I constantly reminded her that Santa wasn’t real, I told her once and that was it. She still loved to have a photo taken sitting on Santa’s knee at the local mall each year or be given a gift from Santa at Christmas functions.

Dutchess_III's avatar

When I was 16, and driving for the first time, I saw Santa in a Pinto at a gas station. That’s how I found out he wasn’t real.

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