Social Question

Val123's avatar

If you believed in Santa when you were little, then when you learned he wasn't real, did you feel like your parents had "lied" to you?

Asked by Val123 (12694points) December 24th, 2009

I didn’t. Not at all. I remember slowly coming to the realization on my own that all that magic wasn’t really possible. So one day I said to my folks, “Santa isn’t real, is he.” My dad turned to me, and with sadness shook his head and gently said, “No. He isn’t.” I felt sad, but didn’t fell betrayed at all. I felt like they’d played a game with me, a really fun, magical game, but now it was over and I would really miss it. I also felt a little more grown up, because they said that now I’d get to help them make the magic for my little sisters,and that was almost as good!

I don’t get that concept that people think the kids are actually going to feel like they’ve been “betrayed” and lied to.

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65 Answers

jrpowell's avatar

I felt like they lied to me. I was watching the evening news when I was about 5 and saw the mall santa on TV getting dressed. I was devastated and I didn’t believe the “helper” bullshit my parents tried to feed me.

holden's avatar

Nope. Wasn’t crushed or anything either.

mollypop51797's avatar

If you think about it, not believing in the magic of Santa Claus means that you’re giving the magic to other children out there who really do believe in them.

pearls's avatar

I didn’t feel that way at all. I always wondered, though, how he got in because we didn’t have a fireplace with a chimney for him to come down.

Jewel's avatar

My dad never allowed me to believe in Santa. Or anything that wasn’t provable. Mom says that when I was about 4 yrs. old, I asked Dad to please let me believe in Santa. He made fun of me. Of course. But as a child, I wanted to believe in magic and joy and light.
I worked hard to help my younger siblings believe. But was Dad wrong? I don’t think so. He did what he thought was right, and I incorporated this lesson into who I am. And I am OK.

LeotCol's avatar

I didn’t feel lied to at all. It was just a game really. Like all games you pretend something is real. If you take away that then there is much less fun in childhood. I stopped believing when I was 10. I didn’t tell confront my parents and say “WTF parents! Why did you lie to me!?!”. It was just a thing of telling them I didn’t believe anymore. And they were ok with that. At no point did I feel betrayed. I felt like a “big boy”. It would take a very sensitive child and one who found out sooner than his/her maturity should have let him find out the truth, that would take this out on their parents. Only a child not mature enough to not believe in Santa would feel betrayed or angry.

Val123's avatar

@johnpowell I almost added, in the detail, that if I’d said, “Santa isn’t real, is he,” and my parents had continued insisting at that point that he was, I would have felt lied to, because I KNEW better. There comes a time when the parents need to fess up, and that time comes at different times for different kids. That time is when the kid directly confronts the parents and say, “Is he real?” The answer must be, “No.”
Most parents never even SAY Santa is real at any time, and they certainly don’t insist on it. They just let the kid’s imaginations loose, and play along.

Val123's avatar

@pearls We leave the widow’s unlocked. Didn’t you know???!!

Sarcasm's avatar

My parents taught me santa existed. But over the years, their santa-ness faded. Santa would use the same exact wrapping paper that we had. He’d put stuff in boxes that I had seen around the house. He had the same handwriting as my parents.
So it’s not like there ever was one sudden year when I thought “omg santa’s fake!”

I never felt lied to, or betrayed.
My parents still sign some presents, “from Santa”.

pearls's avatar

@Val123 I just assumed my parents waited up for him and let him in the through the door.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

i always knew it was my dad dressed up. it didn’t bother me.

Val123's avatar

Everyone is making my point so perfectly. Yes, many times kids come very slowly to the realization on their own…

@pearls Well, there is that too. We had a fireplace, and I always made sure Dad put the fire out on Christmas Eve, although he reassured me that Santa’s Suit was fireproof.

pearls's avatar

@Val123 That is funny. Guess it would have to be after coming down so many fireplaces.

mcbealer's avatar

Yes, and as a result I made a promise to myself to never do the same if I ever became a Mom.

Val123's avatar

@mcbealer So, what were the circumstances in which you found out? Because, as you can see MOST people didn’t feel that they’d been lied to.

mcbealer's avatar

This kid named Ralph told everyone on the school bus one afternoon that there was no such thing as Santa Claus, and to ask our parents what a period was. I was 6 years old.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

No I didn’t feel lied to, I enjoyed it at the time, and when I was old enough I knew better. Looking back, I’m quite glad they did tell me Santa existed. Christmas would have sucked without that belief as a kid.

Val123's avatar

@mcbealer LOL! Well! What did your folks say?!
@jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities Yeppers. It’s all about the magic. Grown ups lose it. No reason to rip it away from the children.

ratboy's avatar

Yes, of course. It was very traumatic; disabusing a twenty seven year old boy of a cherished myth is unspeakably cruel and unnatural.

Val123's avatar

@ratboy I agree! The older you get the harder it is to accept. I’m so sorry for your loss! :)

DrBill's avatar

but Santa is real

jbfletcherfan's avatar

No, I didn’t. I just thought it was all part of the magic.

Val123's avatar

@DrBill Oooooo noooooo MrBill!! O

galileogirl's avatar

I remember I believed in Santa when I was 4. My 2 youger bros and I went into the darkened living room lit only by the tree lights and there was a child sized console phonograph with radio and I knew Santa had brought it. The next year there was another baby and I remember knowing there was no Santa but my folks had given me the greatest gifts and I didn’t know how they knew. That was just as magical as Santa. I don;t ever remember talking about Santa’s reality but I always knew the younger kids should not be disillusioned.

J0E's avatar

Not in the least.

Haven’t we had this discussion a BILLION times already?

daemonelson's avatar

I was an odd child. I got a calculator several times and tried to figure out the speed at which someone would need to go to reach every house in 24 hours. This was never really conclusive, since there were many approximations I used.
Didn’t stop me accepting the presents though.

I don’t think I ever really felt sad or betrayed.

mrentropy's avatar

I used to believe in Santa Clause. So much so that when I would look out the window when I was supposed to be asleep I would see the red light from an airplane and dive under the covers because I thought it was Rudolph and Santa would know I was still awake.

I don’t remember, exactly, when I stopped believing in Mr Clause but I never felt betrayed or deceived. In fact, I’m glad I did because I think it’s what kept my imagination going and let me be creative. There are times, as an adult, when I wish I could believe in a Santa Clause.

Val123's avatar

@J0E Yes we have, but not in this way! This is not an argument about whether it’s good or bad to let kids believe in Santa. They nay sayers always say the kids will realize they’ve been LIED to and will never trust their parents again, as though it’s going to be a major trauma that will follow the kids all of their lives. I am disproving that theory. So far the over-whelming majority are saying, “I’m glad I believed in Santa Clause,” and no, I didn’t feel I had been lied to. I did not feel betrayed.

@mrentropy I know what you mean….

TominLasVegas's avatar

I was shocked at first until Christmas Day and then I realized who cares who brings the gifts as long as they are brung!

phillis's avatar

@Val123 – Hi, and thanks for this question! I felt horribly betrayed when I found out that the Santa I envisioned was nonexistent. But I did not feel that my parents were responsible for it. I just felt crushed that my idea of who he is was obliterated. As I grew older, I came to understand that a lot of what I felt was because of where I was emotionally when I discovered it, and that was nothing more than circumstance.

I LOVED believing in Santa Clause! It was so magical. When everything else was falling apart around me, Christmas brought the happiness I needed. As an adult, I get to enjoy Christmas the same way I did when I was young, because of my children. Plus, I get to take pictures of thier happiness so those moments are preserved forever.

I’m glad my dad “lied” to me about Christmas (and probably threatened my mother with bodily harm wif she ruined it for me). It allowed a special happiness for me that would never have existed, otherwise. And I love doing that for my children, too! They trust me, so when the time comes for my youngest to know the facts, she will understand exactly why I did it. It’s the only “lie” I ever told either of them. Year after year, it gave them wonderful memories of childhood that they can reflect on indefinitely.

As a parent, I have to be cautious all year long not to over indulge my children so that they do not become spoiled, demanding, ungrateful brats. Christmas is the one time a year that I can give to them with total abandon and feel the joy that comes from it. I don’t want anyone messing with our deal!

Val123's avatar

GA @phillis! I think…..the degree of sadness we feel when we learn about it depends on how we learned about it. Mine was gradual, probably over the Christmases when I was 8 and 9. In fact, I remember waiting until a couple of days after my 9th Christmas to ask because..I wanted to keep pretending a l little while longer. However, I think if somebody yells at a 6 year old that they’re stupid if they believe in Santa, then that could be traumatic.

phillis's avatar

Aww…..that is so sweet! It makes perfect sense that you wanted to wait those few days after Santa came before finding out. Very touching, Val :)

Val123's avatar

@phillis I really didn’t want to know, even though I already knew. It’s funny….looking back on my 9 year old self, how much the same I still am. How I still handle situations that same way. Take a breather, and when I’m mentally ready, confront it. I don’t ignore it, I don’t pretend it isn’t true, I don’t cry over the answer, I just deal with it, straight up. (I wish I could go give my nine-year-old self a high five!)

StupidGirl's avatar

I can’t remember believing in Santa. It’s Saint Nicolas around here.
Anyways, I felt like a complete fool when I found out.
Not funny.
I’m stupid enough as it is without the people I was supposed to be able to trust telling me lies.

Val123's avatar

@StupidGirl You are? Stupid? Why you say that?

phillis's avatar

You’l have to let me know whether this makes any sense, but that image of high-fiving beween your adult self and your 9 year old self is one of the most emotionally healthy images a person could ever have, and you have it! It’s loving that little kid inside you that creates such harmony in your heart as an adult :)

StupidGirl's avatar

@Val123 Looooooonnngg story. Very long story.

Val123's avatar

@StupidGirl I have nothing else to do! You can put it in a PM if you’d like. For a little kid to feel like a “fool”, to me, it sounds like someone told you, when you were little, that you were “stupid and foolish” for believing in Santa, and that’s pretty much been the theme of your life. And that is just so wrong for the adults around you to behave that way.

@phillis Um..I do like myself! I remember being perfectly happy playing by myself on the playground if there was no one else to play with. I think I was just born that way, and I’m a very fortunate person in that regard…

smartfart11's avatar

I hope someone on this site still believes in Santa. And sees this. Wait, no, that’s kind of rude.

I felt like I had been initiated into a secret society. And then I could help the parents out with gifts and stuff. What I think is really sad, though, is that my sister is in 6th grade this year, the same age I was when I began helping my mom out with being Santa. She insists that he is real, when my brother who is in third grade doesn’t even believe in him anymore.

Seek's avatar

I was devastated. I was not only upset, I was angry.

How dare my parents and grandparents concoct this elaborate scheme with which to corral us children into a “seen and not heard” state for well over a month of the year!? How dare they invent this pseudo-benevolent person who watched us while we slept, rewarding us for doing good, and punishing us sorely for doing bad!

…It’s much the same way I felt as an adult when I realized God was imaginary, as well.

coolbeans's avatar

I was not annoyed at all I was like 3 and I had never thought he was real because even though I was little I thought that santa would have to have a very very fast sled. I also knew when I found my mom wrapping presents at two in the morning

Val123's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr They didn’t invent it or concoct it. It’s a long standing tradition in our culture, going back centuries. They just went along with it. Most little kids believe in magic, and like it. So, your parents and grandparents were mean about it, and I’m sorry. Most aren’t.

As @LeotCol said, at the very top of the thread “I didn’t feel lied to at all. It was just a game really. Like all games you pretend something is real. If you take away that then there is much less fun in childhood. I stopped believing when I was 10. I didn’t tell confront my parents and say “WTF parents! Why did you lie to me!?!”. It was just a thing of telling them I didn’t believe anymore. And they were ok with that. At no point did I feel betrayed. I felt like a “big boy”. It would take a very sensitive child and one who found out sooner than his/her maturity should have let him find out the truth, that would take this out on their parents. Only a child not mature enough to not believe in Santa would feel betrayed or angry.

I love us logical, calculatin’ kids! I was kind of the same way. I really think we all were….there is always too much evidence to be ignored indefinitely…..the rustling of wrapping paper after you gone to bed, the sheer illogical of it all! But the magic outweighed the logic….so we made a choice.

YARNLADY's avatar

This never happend to me. My parents were not into lying to us at any time, and we were told that the Santa Claus spirit was based on a historical legend, and the “spirit” of giving was the important part, not the fake “santa claus”.

Seek's avatar


Eight year old children do not understand the concept of “long standing tradition”. All I knew was I was told Santa was staring over my shoulder my entire life, and then, Santa wasn’t real.

phillis's avatar

But, @Seek_Kolinahr, something beautiful was used as a weapon against you, is what it sounds like. Please let me know if I am wrong. It was used to manipulate and control you. That isin’t positive at all. No wonder you were pissed!

Seek's avatar


Story of my life. Honestly, that’s my relationship with my family, in a nutshell.
There’s a reason we don’t speak anymore, and why my son will never have to set eyes on them. ^_^

Val123's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr OK…so the situation isn’t about “Santa,” it’s about everything, throughout the year. Santa was just a drop in the bucket. They destroyed the magic of Santa for you, along with the Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, and every other magical thing a child believes….they destroyed the magic of every single thing….that just sucks. ((hugs))) I’m so sorry. (I AM the tooth fairy! Just ask my kids!! :)

sweetteaindahouse's avatar

I guess I was 11 or 12. I had a little brother that was 6 or 7 at the time so my parents didn’t want to ruin it for me. Now, my brother is 11 and he knows.

OpryLeigh's avatar

Not at all. I just grew out of the whole Santa idea rather than have it hit me like a tonne of bricks that he doesn’t exist. Like you, @Val123, I just came to realise that Christmas wasn’t as magical as it is when you are a kid but other things become equally as important and Santa once was.

Austinlad's avatar

I don’t recall anyone in my Jewish family ever discouraging me from believing in Santa. It was a sitter who did that one Christmas when she found me looking for him out the window… and SHE was Christian.

randomness's avatar

I did feel betrayed. My parents did lie to me, they told me that he existed when he didn’t. I think that lying to kids is totally unnecessary, and it’s also somewhat mean.

I got them back though. I found out that Santa was not real when I was about 3 or 4. I pretended to believe in him until I was about 12, so every year my parents were forced to buy me a present from Santa, as well as one from them. I milked it for all it was worth.

DominicX's avatar

Nope, not at all. I found out on my own kinda late (when I was 9 or so). My parents made it very believable by saying that Santa only filled the stockings and that they got the presents.

It was nice to have that bit of magic in my life when I was younger. It was not negative in any way.

If my partner is okay with it, I’ll probably end up passing it on to my kids as well.

The problem with this, as with ALL parenting questions, is that people assume what works/happened for them will work/happen for everyone else. Simply not. true.

@Sarcasm That’s cute…haha :D

Val123's avatar

@randomness It’s very interesting that when you some how find out when you’re way young, it seems to be more traumatic…Referring back to @LeotCol “one who found out sooner than his/her maturity should have let him find out the truth, that would take this out on their parents. Only a child not mature enough to not believe in Santa would feel betrayed or angry.”

Out of curiosity, how did you find out and how was your relationship with your parents otherwise?

galileogirl's avatar

How I told my daughter:

When she was almost 8 (Capricorn) she still believed but we were going to spend Christmas 100s of miles away with my brother’s family. He was one of those “never lie to your kids” guys so I thought I should clue in my daughter before her 6½ yo cousin did. So I did the whole difference between imagination and reality andspirit of Christmas thing’

The first night, Christmas Eve, everyone went to sleep except bro and I. We are less than a year apart and had always been very close. We stayed up til almost 2 talking. Within half an hour the 2 little girls were up and standing in the front yard, calling for us to come and see Santa. My niece and daughter had a “Is he or isn’t he” discussion and my niece convinced my daughter I had lied. Then they got up to wait for him to arrive and then they saw him fly across the sky. I don’t know if my daughter trusted me unconditionally again.

Val123's avatar

@galileogirl Hm! AND your brother’s child felt that her dad had lied to HER! That’s a bit convoluted! Wait..the more I think about it, the more confused and convoluted it gets. Your niece, who you said would not believe in Santa Claus because that’s the way your brother raised her, convinced your daughter that you had lied to her about there NOT being a Santa Clause? did your niece come to the conclusion that there WAS a Santa when she’d been raised to know there wasn’t?

Val123's avatar

I’m still trying to figure out how to phrase this:
Your daughter believes in Santa.
Your niece does not.
Before you go to visit your niece and her family, you tell your daughter that, actually, there IS no Santa.
Get to the family’s house.
Your niece, who does NOT believe in Santa, convinces your daughter who USED to believe in Santa that you had lied to her when you told her there WAS no Santa.
Your niece re-convinces your daughter that there IS a Santa although the niece was not raised to believe in Santa….
How does that happen?

galileogirl's avatar

No my niece DID believe in Santa. My bro who was always going to be straight with his daughter couldn’t look into that sweet little face and crush her imagination (a wimp, just like the rest of us). That leads to all of us staring up at a starry NM sky hours before sunrise.

Val123's avatar

@galileogirl Ok! I was seriously confused! I understand now~

anguilla's avatar

The concept that they were lying never occurred to me until I read your question. I looked at it as giving me a nice fantasy for a while.

Val123's avatar

@anguilla Oh, I agree with you whole heartedly. I never considered it “lying” either, but, man. The arguments the people give against allowing the kids to believe in Santa ALL revolve around, “You’re lying to your child! They will never trust you again!” I’m just proving that that is not true.
The couple of people on here who say that yes, it affected their trust in their parents, have never answered my question of what their relationship with their parents were like overall…..

anguilla's avatar

I think it’s OK to help a child exercise his/her/its imagination.

StupidGirl's avatar

That’s not his/her imagination. For all I know it’s Coca Cola’s.

mrentropy's avatar

The Coke ad only changed the way Santa looked, not his function.

mattbrowne's avatar

My parents talked about the

Das Christkind is the traditional Christmas gift-bringer in regions of Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Slovakia, Hungary, parts of Hispanic America, in certain areas of southern Brazil and in the Acadiana region of Louisiana.

The Christkind is a sprite-like child, usually depicted with blond hair and angelic wings. Martin Luther intended it to be a reference to the incarnation of Jesus as an infant.

No, I didn’t feel like my parents had “lied” to you. The Christkind symbolizes the birthday of Jesus.

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