Kathy Petersen’s Blog

Why I don’t teach my kids to believe in Santa Claus

Posted in Uncategorized by Kathy on November 25, 2008

First, my parents didn’t teach me to believe in Santa Claus as a child, either, and I know I didn’t miss out on anything — in fact, in some ways, I had more excitement because we knew when my mom bought all the Christmas presents, then hid them away in her closet, finally wrapping them one afternoon that she had free, and putting them under the tree until Christmas morning. We spent the time she wrapped the presents huddled outside the door, imagining what presents she had gotten. And the time between putting the presents under the tree and Christmas morning, we indulged ourselves in the art of figuring out what the presents were — clothes (wondering which ones in particular, and what colors or designs), puzzles (hmm, wonder what pictures?), games, books, movies, etc. Ah, the memories! So, yeah, I did “miss out” on wondering what Santa was going to bring, but kids who believe in Santa “miss out” on what I had.

Second, why my parents didn’t teach us to believe in Santa. My mom said she was devastated when her older sibling or an older cousin told her that Santa was fictitious, but she was still going to pass on the tradition to us until… when my brother (who was the oldest) was still a baby, my mom was visiting with another woman, and her youngest child came in sobbing, because s/he had just been told that Santa was fake, and the child sobbed, “But I know he’s real, because you said he was, and you wouldn’t lie to me, would you mama??” What do you say, “Yes, child, I lied to you”? or would you lie still further and say, “Of course, Santa is real!”

Third, almost none of the cousins believe in Santa, either, and we’re all glad about that. My sister who had the first grandchild was not going to have her kids believe in Santa, but when her daughter’s second Christmas came around, all of her in-laws and everybody in the stores asked her, “What is Santa going to bring you?” so my sister decided to let her believe in Santa. She’s now 10, and her brother is 8, and I’m not sure if they still believe. All the rest of the cousins on my side of the family know that Santa is not supposed to be talked about — privately, the parents have told them that he’s just pretend, but that K&A think he’s real, so not to tell them the truth. (They also really believe in the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny, which I think is a little sad at their age — especially as jaded as they are in so many other areas!)

On my husband’s side of the family, none of them believe in Santa, except the second oldest girl, who has a very active imagination, believes with all her heart (or at least, did a few years ago). One day when she was going on and on about Santa and what he would be bringing her, and the sleigh and reindeer and all that, her mother gently said, “But you know that he’s not real,” to which the young lass said, “SHHH, Mama! He’ll hear you!!”

Fourth, I don’t think that Santa should get the credit for what the parents do.

Fifth, it could be quite awkward (and lead to many more lies), if the child asks for something that Santa can’t give — whether it be a horse, some out-of-stock toy, for a dead relative to come back to life; or for “Santa” to give the wrong gift — whether it be the wrong color, style, etc.

Sixth, it’s lying. Yeah, there’s time for fantasy and fun, but I think kids should understand that it’s just pretend or make-believe.

Seventh, “Santa” gives rich kids more than he gives poor kids, and some kids don’t get anything at all from Santa. It is one thing if everyone is equally poor or equally rich. Laura Ingalls felt tremendously blessed by receiving an orange, a stick of candy, and a penny from Santa Claus (Mr. Edwards); but she would feel dreadfully poor if that is all she received if she knew that Santa gave Nellie a beautiful doll. Likewise, children today would feel slighted if they only receive one toy from Santa, while the child down the street brags that Santa brought him or her a room full of toys.

Eighth, I’d probably feel better about Santa if rude, mean, rotten, or otherwise spoiled children actually did receive a lump of coal or a switch in their stocking. Unfortunately, too often rich children who receive everything and then some from “Santa” are the ones who would most benefit from a switch, or receiving nothing. “He sees you when you’re sleeping; he knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so…” go ahead and let your little inner monster come out and be bad because you’ll still get a pile of presents anyway?

So, I will teach my children the lore about St. Nicholas — they’ll probably know more about Santa Claus than the kids who believe he’s real! They’ll know about the real man named Nicholas, who was good to the poor children in the winter who were hungry and cold — that he was so good that people started trying to emulate his good deeds, and give children food, clothes, and toys at Christmastime. I’ll teach them that it was this good example which led to the creation of the Santa Claus myth. But they’ll know it’s just a myth.

You may think that’s Bah! Humbug!, but I won’t be persuaded otherwise. After all, it is better to give than to receive, and the Santa Claus myth focuses all the attention on the receiving, and in many cases turns little children into little snots. I’d rather focus attention on giving, by letting them know about those who are less fortunate, and doing something good for them, rather than in just expecting toys that they don’t need and won’t really even appreciate.

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3 Responses

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  1. d said, on December 6, 2008 at 11:01 am

    Kathy-I have another perspective you might enjoy at
    parenttraps.wordpress.com.
    d
    ps-a little Jewish girl told me, and now I’m married to a Jewish guy…ha

  2. […] You may think Bah-humbug, but I won’t be persuaded otherwise. […]

  3. Audrey said, on December 9, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    For many of those same reasons, I decided when I found out I was pregnant with my now 19 month old child that I would not teach my kids to believe in Santa, I may seem like a “Grinch” to some, but I’d rather have my kids know the truth and tech them how the whole “Santa Clause” myth came to e than to have the elieve then be devestated when another chid sthe one break the news to em,


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