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Believe it or not – how to deal with the dreaded Santa Claus question

By Rachel Moore - 11 December 2016 5

Santa Claus

12 days of Christmas

On the fourth day of Christmas The RiotACT gave to me – the fourth part in its comprehensive guide to dealing with Christmas in the Territory.

Believe it or not – how to deal with the dreaded Santa Claus question

It can be really confusing to know what to do when it comes to the big S question. Do you lie? Do you tell the truth? Does this mean the rabbit is out of the bag with the Easter bunny & tooth fairy?

Even if your choice is to not tell your kids, another parent or family member might let slip the Santa truth. You also might be a blended family where one set of parents want to tell the child and the other parents don’t. Perhaps you don’t want religion to be a factor? This question is something really difficult to navigate.

Taking a proactive approach to the situation helps avoid or tackle any devastating impacts you and your child might face. Regardless of what you decide here are some tips on how best to scale this monstrosity of a question.

If you tell your child alert them – other kids may not know about Santa

Your family may never choose to participate in the Santa side of Christmas but there are likely to be a significant amount of parents in your community who do. Ask yourself if you want to be responsible for shattering a child’s view of Christmas. Remind your children how important Santa is to other children and that this time of the year is about giving and joy.

Talk to your children about other religions and cultures

“Each to their own”, “Not my cuppa tea, but good for them”, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. There are almost as many colloquial slang sayings about beliefs as there are actual beliefs.
Giving your child the gift of learning about different cultures and religions allows them to expand their curiosity and discover diversity. This might also make the dreaded Santa question easier to explain.

Talk to your partner

This question can be particularly difficult if there are multiple sets of parents, family and grandparents involved. Before walking into any conversations about what is going to happen ensure that you and your significant other are a united front. Unfortunately you might find yourself in a situation where you are hearing from your child that another party told them. You want to ensure that you’ve been proactive and already have a solution if you are presented with this.

Seek advice from friends and family

You often hear of delightful and heart-warming ways that parents tell their children. Talk to those around you and see how they feel it is best to break the news. Seek advice on how they told their children and think back to how you found out and whether it was a positive experience.

Let your child be angry

When they do find out, because they eventually will, let them be mad. It is pretty devastating to find out a core belief you held was not real. For a child this belief let imagination expand and grow so it is important to help them continue to explore their individual creativity. Encourage them to talk to you about how they are feeling and what you can do to make them feel heard.

Do you remember when you found out? Have you told your kids or have plans to? We would love to hear from you.

Up next in your comprehensive guide on dealing with Christmas in the territory the RiotACT brings you: Day 5 – Advertising, why is Christmas advertising everywhere in October?

You might also like to check out Day 3 – Christmas with the family and in-laws – a survival guide

What’s Your opinion?


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5 Responses to
Believe it or not – how to deal with the dreaded Santa Claus question
Holden Caulfield 4:51 pm 12 Dec 16

Mysteryman said :

I think that not lying to your child in the first place is the most sensible option.

I agree, but not having kids myself I find it easy to take such a practical moral stand.

Explaining the background is a great idea, but really, like Mothers’ day/Fathers’ day/Valentine’s day etc, Christmas and Santa Claus may as well be brought to us by the Reatailers’ Association of Planet Earth. It’s all just a way to separate us from our cash, any core value are used to support the cause of extracting money from us, nothing more.

Mysteryman 11:03 am 12 Dec 16

I think that not lying to your child in the first place is the most sensible option.

miz 2:36 pm 11 Dec 16

My approach was to explain who Santa actually was (St Nicholas – see http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/real-santa/) – i.e. a person who became very well known due to his actions in genuinely putting our Judeo-Christian values into practice (e.g. giving and helping those less fortunate)
You can then explain the various cultural myths about ‘Santa Claus’, e.g., some people believe he is real and has certain superpowers like knowing if you’ve been bad or good, flying through the air with a sleigh full of toys made by elves in the North Pole, being able to magically go down chimneys and leave presents for you, etc. If the kids are older you can contextualise all this by telling them about the CocaCola ad ( http://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/coke-lore-santa-claus ) and the Clement Moore poem ( https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/43171 ) which cemented a lot of these myths in the early 20th century. You can also indicate that while this stuff is ‘just pretend’ you can still have fun with it as part of the celebration.
You could even mention that the real reason for Christmas is actually celebrating the birthday of Jesus Christ (Christ being another word for Messiah), who was also a real person and the actual model for St Nicholas’s good works.
The coming of the Christ was said to fulfil a lot of religious prophesies and it has been a very important Christian celebration for hundreds of years. We celebrate Christmas and other Christian holidays in Australia because Australia has historically been a ‘culturally Judeo-Christian’ country, even if most people don’t go to church much.
Personally I find it better not to create a problem for yourself by telling your children a load of rubbish which later jeopardises their trust in you.

John Moulis 10:07 am 11 Dec 16

My parents never told me, nobody at school told me, I just worked it out for myself as I got older. The logistics of visiting every house in the world in one night as well as the supposed supply chain from the North Pole was dodgy.

The presents I was receiving had familiar brand names and the boxes said Made in Australia so the story about elves in the North Pole making the presents didn’t stack up. Also here in Australia the story about a reindeer sleigh was complicated by a song that used to be played each Christmas period – Six White Boomers by a person who shall remain nameless.

So in addition to all that we were expected to believe that the reindeer magically disappeared and were replaced by six kangaroos in Australia, then once that leg was completed the kangaroos disappeared and the reindeer reappeared.

All in all it was really quite a stretch expecting a half intelligent kid to believe all that.

Lucy Wilson 8:47 am 11 Dec 16

The best advice I got given by a friends mother was if a child starts to question ‘Santa’ just say that only kids who believe in ‘Santa’ get presents. It worked a treat with my 9 year old who hasn’t raised it since.

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