Do You Tell Your Kids The Gifts Come From Santa Claus?

Missy and I have been talking about what to tell our boys about Santa Claus. So far the consensus has been that we would rather them know that their parents are the ones giving them the gifts rather than a mysterious stranger named Santa. What is more, we would like more of a focus on Jesus than on the rosy cheeked guy from up north. A friend of mine shared similar thought. Here is an excerpt from her post titled, “the santa situation

today trent asked the question.
who puts the treats in our stockings?
so I told him the truth. and he laughed. 

we knew this was coming.
we never told our children anything about santa.
but santa seemed to be everywhere.
the whole idea never sat well with us.
there are plenty of naughty kids with loads of presents.
and lots of nice children with none.
we wanted Jesus to be the focus. and wonderfully real.
so the hubs and I sat with not a reason to share the santa story
and plenty of reasons not to.
as you can imagine, this does not fit well into the
great american christmas.
but isn’t that the point?
What is your take on sharing Santa with the kiddos?

About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

14 Responses to Do You Tell Your Kids The Gifts Come From Santa Claus?

  1. My parents never wanted me to believe in Santa, and I am not going to teach my future kids either. I just think that it prevents children from seeing the hard work that goes into those gifts, or how much love their parents have for them. I also think Santa Claus is a symbol of consumerism with a red hat.

  2. Matt,
    I think your instinct is right. It is easy to send a mixed message – and I believe we generally do. I blogged a series about Christmas a couple of years ago, and one of the early posts was about Santa and Jesus. An index to the entire Twelve Days of Christmas series is here.

    The point is that if we tell them about the Easter Bunny – and that’s a myth. Then we tell them about Santa – and that’s a myth. And we tell them about the tooth fairy…. And we tell them about Jesus, where does that leave Jesus?

    I really liked the song that made the rounds last year, “Where’s the line to see Jesus?

  3. James says:

    We told our kids from the beginning that it’s us. One reason, among those already mentioned, was that we don’t bluff, fluff, or lie to our kids. Whether it’s Santa or the death of a loved one, we’re straight up. Trust was more important to us than the tradition.

  4. hank says:

    Good thoughts, Matt. My wife and I both started out believing in santa as children and couldn’t have imagined it any other way. Neither of us remember any detrimental effects by coming to realize it was just a big “lie”. However, our daughter got a little crazy with the cheeze whiz. She had convinced herself that not only was santa real, but that she had even one time went with him in his sleigh! She was very upset when we had to have a sit down with her at around the age of 8 to convince her otherwise. Now, we have a 4 month old son and we have pretty much resolved to be straight up regarding santa this time (I really don’t like the idea of spending my money and saying that the gifts came from the north pole).

    However, I don’t really believe that in order to “not lie” that I have to take every opportunity to say, “santa’s not real bro”. Otherwise, when we go to disneyland, and he tells people he met mickey mouse and donald duck, must I tell him they’re “not real” as well? Should I tell him that there is a man inside the chipmunk suit and ask him to show himself? One could get rather crazy trying to be consistent there, in my opinion.

    Lastly, yesterday my wife and I took our son to the mall for the first time and we saw some batman and superman pajamas. We both thought about how cute it will be when he gets old enough to want those and pretend that he is an actual super hero. We don’t think we will need to tell him that there is no such thing as superman at first. Kind of like how if he thinks his new shoes one day makes him actually faster and able to jump further, we very well might assure him that they do! Seems mean to say “no, shoes don’t make you faster” all the time and rob him from a little fun and feeling special for a minute.

    I am not suggesting that you are saying anything different here. But, we have been having these converstions with aother couple from church and

    • James says:

      However, I don’t really believe that in order to “not lie” that I have to take every opportunity to say, “santa’s not real bro”.

      –And neither am I, just sharing an overall commitment that we’ve made, that our general cultural not only does not make, but often doesn’t even recommend (not lying to children). I’d file Santa in the “fluff” or “bluff” category, not the lie category. Like I said, I was sharing an overall commitment we made, under which Santa is a mere subsection.

  5. hank says:

    ….as well as others and I just think there are going to be some necessary “grey areas” when it comes to the pretend and the imagination and at the same time not allowing our son to be deceived.

    Seems to me, that always telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth will sometimes force a person (or father) to end up being no fun and even sometimes plain mean. But, I may be wrong there…

    Its an interesting subject.

    • mattdabbs says:

      You are making some really good points. Let me give you our approach so far that I think brings some balance to this. Santa is all over the place. He is in the mall, on TV, and just about everywhere you turn. We don’t mind Jonah thinking there is a Santa Claus while he is young. That is all fine. But when it comes to gifts, we would rather him know that he is surrounded by family and friends who want to show him generosity and bless him. When I was a kid, my biggest and best gift was always from Santa. Does it make sense to do it that way? So I think there is a middle of the road, balanced approach here that emphasizes their imagination and creativity as well as teach them healthy things about how family members treat each other. That obviously has more to it than just gifts.

      Thoughts?

    • James says:

      Mean? If you knew me, or the blast my kids and I have together every day, you’d know just how far off base that is.

      There’s a big difference between between honest, clear, loving communication and begin brutally honest. The later has rarely, if ever a place in parenthood. My kids still have fun, still pretend there’s a Santa and Rudolph, etc. They just know, at the end of the day, it’s play. And they’re good with that. A question, then arises…why would not being transparent be required to have fun or not be mean?

  6. We followed our generation’s lead and let our children believe in Santa, as I did. I still remember spending Christmas Eve with my grandparents and hearing sleigh bells during the early morning. By the time I asked if Santa was real, I pretty much knew, and I don’t believe there was any damage. I agree that there is something to be said for stimulating imagination. I also it can be good for our children to believe in a world of wonder, in which not everything can be explained in cold rational terms. Obviously, this is one of those individual decisions, but at 66, I still remember the magic days of childhood and the anticipation of Christmas morning.
    If you decide to tell your children the truth up front, I would suggest you emphasize to them not to share it with their friends. You might have a few upset parents.

  7. Paul Smith says:

    Interesting article here http://blog.christianitytoday.com/women/2011/12/why_santa_belongs_in_your_kids.html regarding this subject. I believed in Santa until I was old enough to basically think myself out of it. I still believe in Jesus, in fact, enough to preach! I understand the issues involved, but as the above article points out, there is a huge difference between myth and lie. I think it all depends on the family and how the story is related, and how the myth ultimately is revealed as myth. I love the story of the little boy and C.S. Lewis in the CT blog I listed. Hard to argue with C.S. Lewis!

  8. mattdabbs says:

    I don’t think I will be telling my children that every fiction book they read is a lie. I can’t imagine telling my 3 year old that Runaway Bunny was a myth or that the Cat in the Hat never existed. That is part of letting them figure some things out and be able to grow into learning what is real and what is not. That is a healthy part of the maturing process. I don’t want them to be 30 and still need me to tell them what’s going on. They need a guide and that starts early so they will be trained to distinguish things for themselves when they are older.

    • James says:

      “I don’t think I will be telling my children that every fiction book they read is a lie. I can’t imagine telling my 3 year old that Runaway Bunny was a myth or that the Cat in the Hat never existed.”

      I think that’s a false dichotomy. It’s not “believe he’s real until you figure it out” or “tell your child every make-believe character is a lie.” No one presented such a view, far as I can see. A child doesn’t need to believe his cap-gun is real to enjoy it. He doesn’t need to believe Spongebob is in the ocean to laugh. And a parent doesn’t need to soft-pedal when their child asks to maintain their imaginations. Speaking from the beginning of fiction as fiction isn’t calling it a lie, it’s simply placing the book in the right part of the library, so to speak. There’s nothing wrong with pretending, and there’s nothing wrong with calling it pretending…sometimes to a child, that’s half the fun.

      “I don’t want them to be 30 and still need me to tell them what’s going on.”
      Agreed. But, that’s not where saying, “Nope, honey, you’re right, Santa’s just pretend,” will lead.

      For the record, we still leave cookies and milk, a trail of Santa’s footsteps (flour outline), and the girls love calling Santa on the phone at the drive-through Christmas light display. Because pretending is no less fun that pretending not be pretending.🙂

  9. Linda Roe says:

    I made the mistake of telling my poor child the truth right from birth – That there was no Santa Claus….And we both missed out on a fun filled imaginary time, and I regret doing that to us both. Santa never hurt anybody, and he believes in Jesus too!!

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