One of the greatest Christmas traditions for families every year is to put milk and cookies out for Santa Claus and try to stay awake until he comes with his reindeer to deliver gifts for the family. Millions of kids around the world get excited to possibly meet this mysterious man that has been supplying their deepest desires every year, as long as they were able to stay on the “Nice List.” It really is a wonderful tradition that many enjoy every Christmas.
As a parent, the question is, what do we do when our kids start to wise up? Every parent has just a little bit of fear inside of them that THIS could be the year that his or her child decides to ask that fateful question, “Is Santa Claus real?” Are you prepared to handle this situation when your child asks you?
Since most children are taught about Santa from a very early age, they would have walked around trusting in the concept of Santa as long as they could piece together thought. Some people may not realize just how important Santa has become to some children. Because of this mental tie they have with Santa, it can be a big challenge letting them in on the big secret.
Just as careful as you have been keeping the secret of Santa, you should be just as careful in how you let your child know the truth. As a basis, follow these general rules when you have your conversation with them:
Wait for your child to bring it up. Our kids are very smart, and they pick up on things easier than we may sometimes realize. Chances are, they have already heard Santa doesn’t exist from some friends at school, a television show, or perhaps a family member that accidentally spilt the beans. Whenever your child starts hearing these things, they will develop their own opinions and come to you for validation. Ask how they heard about, and ask them what thoughts and opinions they have developed themselves. This will be a great way to learn how the flow of conversation will go.
Tell them what you think they need to know. No one knows your child better than you do. For some parents, they may just say outright, “Santa isn’t real; we made it up,” and the child will be ok with that. Most parents will need to be much more tactical in their delivery. It’s important when revealing the truth to your child that you explain why you told them the lie, and how important it is to still believe in the spirit of Christmas. Just because Santa may not actually exist, that doesn’t mean the magic of Christmas is dead. You can even choose to teach about the St. Nicholas, where the idea for Santa Clause came from. He was a great man that did many great things, and I’m sure your children will love to hear his story!
Be prepared for any response. One can assume that your child’s first emotion will probably be sadness. Santa Claus was an important part of your child’s life, and now they know the truth about his existence. If your child is sad, or possibly even upset with you for lying, explain to them why you told them about Santa Claus, and how his story is special because it helps little kids understand the true magic and wonder of Christmas. Many children will also get the sense of being “in the know” and realize that they know something their friends don’t know yet. It’s very important that you explain why they can’t tell any of their friends, unless you want an onslaught of calls from angry parents asking why your kid told their entire classroom that Santa wasn’t real.
Create a new tradition. Since your child will no longer want to put out milk and cookies for Santa and wait for him to arrive, it is important to develop a new tradition. Some families will go to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and open one gift that night. Some families choose to adopt a family in need to buy gifts for; this, in some ways, turns that family into a real life version of Santa Claus. Regardless of what you decide to do, remind your child that just because Santa Claus isn’t real, that doesn’t mean Christmas Spirit isn’t real. Christmas is a magical, wonderful time of the year, and as we get older, we don’t need a bearded man in a sleigh to remind us of that!