Why Some Families Are Giving Up The "Santa Story" This Year
Some families are choosing to give up the "Santa" tradition this year - but why?
Although the Santa story and magical thinking are things many parents emphasize during the holiday season, some families are choosing to forgo the Santa myth and focus on other things during the holidays.
What are "Santa stories" and what do they teach kids?
The story of Santa Claus is deeply ingrained in modern Christmas celebrations. Many families can't imagine how to celebrate Christmas without relishing in the whimsy, magic, and joy of the story of Santa Claus traveling the world on the night before Christmas, bringing Christmas presents to children on the "nice list" as they slumber in their beds.
What some parents have noticed about the story of Santa:
Some parents choose to play out the Santa Claus story even more, coming up with the idea that Santa (or his elves) carefully observe children in the time leading up to Christmas, watching their behavior for "bad" actions such as lying, being rude, not listening, refusing to share, or refusing to clean up. A child might change behavior out of fear that Santa won't bring them presents.
In a moment of exhaustion or frustration, Mom or Dad might issue a stern warning to their children: All the Christmas fun will be gone unless they change their behavior.
Telling kids about a Santa who delivers a bunch of presents all around the world in one night is viewed by some parents as a form of lying to their children, and lying can eventually put a strain on family relationships as kids decide not to trust everything their parents say.
Christmas stories also depend a lot on a child's age and maturity. Although some kids latch onto the fun of the Santa Claus story, others get the sense that somebody is watching their behavior to determine whether they've done right or wrong and become overly anxious.
If belief in Santa causes your little boy or girl to experience higher levels of stress and worry during the holidays, perhaps it is time to reevaluate how you're talking to them about Santa. This is an important conversation to be had at any age!
The magic of Santa is one of those white lies that have become a part of mainstream family life.
While all kids eventually learn the truth about Santa, the belief in Santa and his holiday magic is something many families emphasize during the winter season. Although focusing on Santa and his naughty versus nice list is a form of lying, most parents use it as a way to encourage good behavior in their children, which isn't all bad.
The Santa story centers on the belief that Santa lives at the North Pole, and watches children create a list of ones with good behavior that earn them special gifts that he delivers on Christmas Eve. Santa becomes the portal to getting presents, and the holiday fun is circulated in toys, books, games, movies, television shows, and whimsical photo opportunities at the mall.
The magic of Santa bringing presents the night before Christmas has become one of the beloved traditions of the holidays. As children are fast asleep in their beds, adults sneak downstairs and put the presents in the children's stockings or under the Christmas tree for them to discover on Christmas morning.
Talking about Santa, believing in Santa, and continuing the magic of Santa have become deeply rooted in family life. Santa reenactments can be observed in children's pretend play this time of year. Many children excitedly write letters to Santa about what specific present they want for Christmas.
However, not all families believe in bending the truth to coerce good behavior. They believe that Santa is a lie, and encouraging their kids to believe in Santa hurts trusting relationships between children and the adults in their lives.
Should you "lie" to your kids about Santa?
Many parents are choosing to become a no-Santa household. Some parents view encouraging the belief in Santa as wrong, and a form of lying to kids until they are at an age where they can realize for themselves that this mythical person doesn't exist.
The moment that kids realize a Santa that travels the globe on Christmas Eve is a lie can be a devastating discovery. That's why many parents choose to tell their kids the truth about Santa from the beginning and let them come up with their own conclusions about the truth and the meaning of Christmas.
A religious family will often choose not to perpetuate the Santa myth, and instead emphasize ideas such as selflessness, joy, peace, kindness, and hope as exemplified in the Christian story of Christmas.
What if exposing the lies about Santa "ruins it" for other kids?
Just because one family doesn't believe in Santa, doesn't mean another family won't continue the ideas and try to affirm Santa's existence to their kids. Some parents get upset if a non-believing child "ruins" the Santa legend by telling another kid that Santa doesn't exist when that child asks questions and starts to figure things out.
Is it your child's responsibility to continue the Santa legend so that all children can believe it? Of course not. Parents should, however, teach their children to be respectful of the unique culture, beliefs, and values of another family, even if they differ from their own. But there is no need to punish children for telling the truth.
Santa versus religious beliefs
Some parents decide that their religious beliefs don't line up with believing in Santa. Some families center their holiday celebration on God, humility, the spirit of giving, and the promise of hope during the holiday season.
Society tends to fixate on characters like Santa, Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, and the Grinch, but many families forgo these characters if they live in a very religious house. For them, good parenting means focusing on religious events like the story of the Nativity.
Is belief in Santa a form of bad parenting?
There are no perfect parents, and every family has their own unique holiday traditions. However, what does matter is how traditions affect your son or daughter. It is up to parents to decide whether or not to continue certain traditions in their home. Teaching kids about Santa doesn't make someone a bad parent - but it's important to respect people's differing ways of celebrating holidays. Parents must realize that telling their children that Santa will bring them presents is a lie.
Someday, your son or daughter will learn the truth about Santa, whether you've discussed it in your household or not. Good parenting means being there to support your kids when they come to you with questions.
Some experts in the field of psychology say that continuing the Santa lie can potentially harm children. Some children might grow up and wonder that if their parents can lie so convincingly for such a long amount of time about something, what else can they stretch the truth about?
Every family has their own way of celebrating.
Each family has their own sense of what is most important during the Christmas season. While many families choose to continue the magic of the Santa narrative, some families in today's society are choosing to be a no-Santa house and instead focus on other aspects of the holidays: giving, love, hope, and peace.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez
I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.