4 Reasons Why We Don’t *Do* Santa Claus

I hesitated to write this post, because it has been written over a dozen times, at least. I was also afraid of the common things said in response to articles like this one by the pro-Santa crowd.

“Oh come on, it’s just a white lie. It’s fun!” or “I love the magic of Santa,” or “Geez you’re such a scrooge. What’s wrong with Santa Claus? Your poor kids are so left out,” etc, etc, etc….

So before I begin with why we decided (actually it was never even a thing we had to sit down to discuss and decide on. It’s more like the natural result of our personalities and personal values) to not tell our son that Santa is a real person who comes down the chimney at night to brings him gifts if he’s been a “good boy,” I want to emphasize this:

THIS IS NOT ME TELLING YOU THAT YOU SHOULD NOT DO SANTA AND BE THE SAME AS ME. Do I like to make people think and show them alternatives to the status quo? Yes. Do I hope that people find what I have to say useful? Sure. Do I need you to change your relationship to Santa Claus in order for me to be happy or even for me to like you? No. Ok, cool. Now that that is out of the way, here are the top 4 best reasons I could think of for why we don’t tell our son the tale of Santa Claus in a way that would lead him to believe it’s real:

  1. It’s a lie, and I don’t feel good telling a lie.

    This seems to be the most popular reason for parents choosing to opt out of telling their kids that Santa is real. And while yes, I think it’s a great reason and I don’t condone lying to our kids, it goes a little beyond this for me. While I don’t want to lie to my son, I also can’t lie to my son. I also can’t lie to my partner and tell him something is real only to know that one day he is going to find out it’s not. I don’t see my son and his potential feelings about finding out he was lied to as less important than my partner’s just because he is two. Not only am I not a good liar, I feel fake and slightly mean doing it. I also feel like it is insulting to the person I am lying to. Just because my son is a child does not mean that I see him as gullible or worthy of a lie. I think this is one of those unconscious ways we act out thinking that children are “less than.” We see them as gullible and susceptible to falling for it, and we exploit that reality. I have done a bit of personal work and gone through  programs that focus on honing in on the sensations in the body, authentic communication, and vulnerability. Telling someone I feel a deep limbic connection with (my child) a lie goes against everything my body is wanting me to do. In my own opinion, one of the biggest reasons so many people are able to tell their children about Santa and feel okay with it, is because we’re disconnected from our bodies in terms of how it feels when we treat our children as less than human beings because they’re children. It’s why we have a hard time meeting so many of their wants and needs.  We have been successfully able to not feel and listen to them when they are crying alone to sleep, telling us they aren’t happy at school, and screaming at us that they don’t want to wear their shoes. We can’t feel them so we force them and we’ve sold ourselves the story that it’s our job to coerce little people because we are the big people. I don’t believe in, “because I’m the parent and I said so.” This doesn’t mean I don’t enforce boundaries, it just means I don’t say no for the sake of saying no. I digress. I feel really connected to my son and building trust with him is very important to me. Telling him the lie of Santa Claus seems to run the chances of potentially breaking that trust. Some kids take it really hard when they find out Santa is not real and I don’t want to chance my son being one of them. I also don’t think telling kids that Santa Claus is real is a “white lie” as so many people claim in defense. It’s actually a very big lie. If Santa is a white lie, then what’s a big lie? Making our children believe that there is a man that lives in the North Pole with elves who make toys for all the children and one night out of the year he gets on his sleigh with 8 reindeer and goes to every house and down every chimney and leaves you presents is a huge, well thought-out lie if I have ever heard one.

2.) Santa Claus doesn’t want kids to cry.

Sing it with me: “You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout I’m telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town….”

Yea, I don’t like Santa Claus for this reason. Why does he not want kids to cry? What’s wrong with crying? This song implies that crying is wrong or that if you cry you’ve been “naughty” and you better watch it because Santa Claus is coming and you won’t get any gifts if you’ve been “naughty,” AKA crying. No thanks Santa Claus, your services won’t be needed in our house. Our son cries and we don’t take issue with that, rather we try to embrace his big emotions. Over here we think crying is healthy and the way young children express their needs and tough feelings. Stopping, controlling, and punishing children for crying leads to adults who suppress their feelings and who can’t trust their own emotional state. Trust me on this one. This song and the idea of Santa Claus watching over kids to see if they’ve been “naughty” (refer to the rest of the song) perpetuates another tragic idea in our culture that crying is something that needs to be controlled and that a “good” baby/child doesn’t cry. It’s not true and it’s a shame that so many people believe this. It also goes back to my first point about our lack of being in touch with our own bodies. We mistake the discomfort in our bodies when our child cries to mean that there is something wrong when they cry. Our reaction to their cries isn’t because it’s “bad,” it’s because we can’t handle the big sensations we’re experiencing and getting upset at them rather than being vulnerable is the only way we know how to dissipate those feelings. So let me say it one more time: There is nothing wrong when kids cry and everything wrong with how we treat them when they are crying. Again, it’s our unconscious idea that because they’re little they deserve less respect. The next time you’re having a reaction about your child crying (no matter the reason) ask yourself if you would say or do this to your best friend, sister, or spouse if they were crying. Please read my previous post titled, “7 HURTFUL WAYS WE RESPOND TO OUR CHILD’S EMOTIONS (AND WHAT TO SAY INSTEAD)” for more on this topic.

3.) I want to model living in the present moment (no pun intended).

I see way too many people living for weekends and holidays. People are chomping at the bit to put up their Christmas tree at Halloween. I’m not saying that these things aren’t fun and special, but it’s when they’re the only special thing you have to the point that you’re only looking forward to that one thing, then it becomes borderline worrisome. I often hear people comment that Santa is magical and they want their kids to have that magical feeling of Christmas. I even had one person tell me, “Our world is shitty and the least I can do for them is give them this one magical time of the year.” It’s sad really, because the most magical moments for me is when I am so seeped in and consumed by the present moment. In nature, looking in my son’s eyes, climbing a rock, in deep conversation with a friend, traveling and meeting new people, looking up at the sky, these are magical moments that are accessible every day of the year. Not only on weekends and holidays. I want to grant my child the ability to find joy and magic wherever he finds himself and not limit it to one time of year with one jolly man. Which is where I still see many adults, waiting for that next holiday and proclaiming, “Is it Christmas, yet?!?!” when they’re going back to work the weekend after Thanksgiving.


4.) We are pretty minimalistic.

Many people would describe me as simple or a minimalist. While I don’t live in a tiny home, I also don’t have much stuff. I don’t go to shopping malls or chain stores, and I don’t really fall into the stereotypical idea of someone in consumer culture. Santa Claus is that person. Santa Claus represents chain store America and consumerism. He is all about things, things and more things. He is highly profitable for companies like Wal-Mart, Target, Barnes and Noble, Best Buy, and Coco-Cola. I don’t shop at these places or buy these products and while sure, I can make my own gifts or shop locally, it’s the story of Santa Claus that keeps big greedy America, well…big and greedy. The Santa Claus tale emphasizes more gifts, presents, things, and piles of stuff and less about connection and experiences together, which I value. I am not saying that people who *DO* Santa don’t have connection and good experiences, but just that Santa is another distraction from all that in an already highly distracted world. Maybe some people are skilled enough to have the attention for both, but for me, as someone who has a hard enough time being present and pushing my edges around connecting with people, the Santa Claus story is the last thing I need to worry about upholding during the holiday season.

So there you have it. Why do you or don’t you tell your kids that Santa Claus is real? Tell me below, and happy holidays 🙂

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  1. We don’t do Santa because once upon a time a small child asked me, “Why does Santa only love the rich kids?” and I still don’t have a good answer.

    1. I thought this was a great read. I have a newborn and my step son is 5 years old. He believes in Santa and I have always gone along with it, and honestly it never crossed my mind to do otherwise. However, now being a parent to my own child, I don’t want to lie to him. I love my step son and have raised him as my own, so I am not sure what to do in this situation.

  2. I agree with the rationale in this article but wondered how you deal with questions from you child about Santa? Do you tell him he doesn’t exist, and does he talk to his friends about that? My son is 6 months and I’m not sure that I want to pretend about Santa but at the same time I don’t want my son to be the one to tell others and get into disagreements about it etc.

    1. Hi Sarah. My son is only 14 months old so he’s not asking yet. When he is older the idea is that Santa will be presented like any other make believe character. Like Mickey Mouse or Dragons. They are fun, pretend characters in the stories. If he wants to believe that he lives in the north pole with his elves, that’s fine. Kids love to use their imagination. But we won’t tell him he goes down the chimney every night giving everyone presents. We won’t present him as if he’s a real person. He’ll know Santa Clause at the mall is a man in a suite. As far as upholding the lie for other people, I don’t see it as my job. I’m not sure how my son will talk about it with other kids. Maybe they’ll just all have fun and he’ll go along with it. But we won’t tell him make sure he lies to the kids who think it’s real. He might spill the beans a time or two. Again, I don’t feel responsible.

    2. I’ve just always told my kids if you believe in magic then you believe in Santa. It’s not a lie. Whenever they ask if he’s real that is what I say. They are now 13 and 10 and they know he’s not real but they don’t spoil it for others or Thier 1 Yr old brother 😉

    1. God that is just mean. Your lack of empathy and care for others excluding your immediate family is overwhelming. You say you don’t want to risk your kid being one of the children that take santa not being real too hard, but you’re totally okay with him shattering kids spirits? Wow, each to their own, but you are horrible.

      1. Casey, if learning that Santa is not real will shatter your child’s spirits, then shouldn’t you rethink telling them he’s real? They will find out eventually. I find it sad if a child has all their happiness and spirits tired into this myth being upheld. Did you even read the article? I want my son to find spirit in happiness in things that are real and true. I don’t want his well-being tied to lies. That’s what’s horrible.

      2. I don’t care what you tell your kids. Tell them Santa is real. And the tooth fairy, and Easter bunny, Jesus, Muhammad, Eagle Spirit, Dragons, and donkey’s. I don’t care, but don’t expect the world to go along with your stories.

        1. Loved the article and I know how bad it is to be lying to your own kids. I unfortunately had to go along with all the lies because of my kids’ father who says, why should we be mean to the kids and not let them experience the “magic”. I know these lies will cause great disappointment. I also think there’s more real magic all around us that fills our heart with a deeper joy than any made up characters. Let’s not even get into the part of greed for money and Santa turning people into consumers of garbage that we could be much happier without. So yeah, excellent writing I could not have put it together better myself. Greetings from a Hungarian mom, where baby Jesus and God’s angels put the presents under the Christmas tree 😃 (another lie).

      3. I was 6 years old. Grade 1. When I was shattered in the heart finding out Santa’s wasn’t real. I recall my heart sink… And feel pain of sadness. It was like some ripped away from me an important part of my family life.
        I now have 5 children under my wing. I have decided I would never do that to them. Christmas is not a time of lies. It’s a time to love. Love doesn’t lie. And my kids don’t give 2 thoughts of Santa. They know he is a fictional character that does have a bit to true history that people like to semi-honor today. But as for me and my house. We Honor Christ….. Every day. God bless you all.

  3. We chose not to do santa too—our oldest is 11 and we told him as soon as he could understand. We told him not to tell other kids because it wasn’t nice to make others feel bad. He has never ruined it for another kid. We didn’t do santa because my husband remembers finding out he wasn’t real and that his parents were telling lies to him—-His mom told me that when he found out he didn’t talk to them for a month!

    1. I’ve heard of stories like that, too. A post was going around Facebook of a letter a little girl wrote to her parents when she found out Santa wasn’t real. I don’t remember the letter exactly, but I do remember the words, “heartbroken,” and “I will never trust you again.” It was sad.

  4. How refreshing it is to stumble across someone who holds a similar viewpoint! I have heard all the same pitiful pleas and I can’t see myself changing my mind. Happy to buy into it as a fun myth that my son can pretend is real (I mean, that’s what kids do! ) but to make up a whole backstory and leave out food and write letters… it just seems misguided. Kids have great imaginations. That’s exactly my point. They don’t need to believe that Santa is real… Adults do.

  5. Santa is for kids, what God is for adults. I don’t agree with lying to my child. However, the majority needs some sorta magic in order maintain a civilized lifestyle. It’s very sad =\

  6. This is such an interesting post!
    We have a five year old, and two year old, and we sort of dance around the Santa issue. I guess it started with my lack of organization as a mom! Lol.. we never sat down, the hubs and I, and said we were against SantaClause. But, lying did not feel right, in the physical way you describe in your post. It feels soooo icky. So, when my son was younger and would ask about Santa, I would say “Santa is the spirit of giving. He is in each of us, and when we think about him we think about what we’d like to make, purchase, or create for our loved ones”.. That held up for awhile, but then one day we were singing Xmas songs (he loves them so we play them all year! Lol), and Santa Clause is Coming To Town came on.. He was old enough to listen to the lyrics. I cringed.. I tried to fast forward but he was intrigued by then. So now, he’s hearing about Santa knowing when you’re naughty, seeing you when your sleeping, etc. He asked a few questions but mostly just didn’t give it much thought.. But now we’ve started writing one tag on a gift as though it’s from Santa. Like many things parenting, I feel like I’m a leaf caught in a stream and I’m floating by the choices I thought I’d make, or wanted to make. I feel powerless to some of the current mainstream ideas and childhood necessities.
    But, we don’t make a big deal about Santa, and hopefully the kids won’t give him much thought. They don’t think about Santa’s list or any of that shaming none sense:)

    1. Nice. Thanks for sharing 🙂 I like hearing about other experiences. I look forward to seeing how my two year old relates to Santa.

    2. I love the way you described Santa to your little boy – as the spirit if giving. As with most things we have always let our 3 boys make up their own minds about what they choose to believe. They go to a CofE school but they know that everyone has different beliefs and they really respect that. They often let us know what they believe at any given time and they’ll listen to each other’s differing beliefs and find it interesting – they listen to our beliefs too but feel no compunction to follow them. I have never confirmed or denied the existence of Santa because I want them to be able to decide for themselves. They know that they’ll have a stocking with some small presents that they’ve chosen for themselves at the end of the bed on Xmas morning – whether they believe in Santa or not. I remember when I was a child taking my toys and leaving them at the end of my siblings’ and my parents’ beds – all year round! I loved the idea of Father Christmas but I think I always knew the truth and never felt bad towards my parents when I “found out”. In fact I think it was a very gradual realisation. It was just like any other make-believe game. I remember convincing myself that fairies existed when I was 8 years old and then decided they didn’t. I think I felt the same about Santa. It was up to me what I decided to believe. I was in control of that so no one was to blame and no feelings or relationships got damaged (and I have always been a massively sensitive person so this was an achievement for my parents!!) Hopefully my boys will feel the same. They’re more openly questioning it this year – I guess because our stance makes it clear that there are questions about it. We don’t tell them lies though, we let them decide the rules and who/what Santa is, like we would in any other make-believe game. I think every family will find the way that works for them and that they feel comfortable with. Merry Christmas everyone 😀

  7. Remember finding out about Santa – i.e. That it had been my parents all along, and I remember feeling really grateful that they had provided that magic for me every Christmas. And that made me feel really happy. The same with the tooth fairy. They were examples of the great love that my parents had for me. So that is why I continue them for my children.

    1. I’m glad that it worked out so well for you, but that isn’t the case with everyone.

      1. It will be interesting to see if your child feels they have been cheated out of the ‘magic ‘ of santa, tooth fairy etc. when they are older. I think it is a shame you try and suggest that everyone has the right to their own opinions but a few of your comments make it clear that you think your way is really the right way!

  8. Man, such anger here. I am wondering if it comes from the deep down knowledge that lying about Santa really is wrong. 😬

  9. I loved your post. I have a friend whose own kids will tell you that “Santa is just a story that some parents tell their kids” but they don’t mean it in a hurtful way, more in an “acceptance” way.. I think the bigger issue is people modeling acceptance for others. You don’t have to like everything someone else does. Different strokes for different folks. I don’t want to tell my son the lie of Santa Clause either, but honestly my bigger worry is sharing that view with his grandparents. My family sometimes used it as a disciplinary tool, “if you’re not good, or if you don’t listen to your mom, Santa won’t bring you presents..” Maybe if i just let my son know the truth, then he can tell them he knows Santa isn’t real. Idk..

  10. We kind of met halfway on the santa clause issue– my parents always told me santa wasn’t real and I LOVE Christmas! It’s always been about the magic of connection and beauty and stillness and love for me. We have rich family traditions that I love and that I’ll carry on with my kids. Their dad, though, grew up believing in Santa and the magic was lost for him once he found out Santa wasn’t real. So we compromised: its a big game for us. We put out the cookies and tell the mall Santa what we want for Christmas and joke about lumps of coal (never in a punishing way) but we call it “a big pretend.” When they ask us if Santa is real we say no and explain it’s just a fun game everyone in our culture likes to play and pretend together. So far, they haven’t told any other kids (ages 6, 2, and 1) and no magic lost.

  11. Thank you for writing this article, it’s great to read different points of view and I appreciate how hard it is to write about something which is considered so controversial!

    My husband and I discussed Santa Claus a couple of months ago and decided that we wouldn’t lie to our daughter, for the reasons you stated above, but we’re still not sure exactly how to approach the topic. She’s 20 months and recently has been given some books with Santa in. When she points at the pictures I say “That’s Santa” and now when she sees a Christmas tree she points and says ‘Santa’. Already it feels like we’re being drawn into talking about him, but she’s not old enough to understand discussions about what’s real and what’s just a story. I guess for now we just continue to treat him like a character in a book and wait for more questions in the future.

  12. I believe lying is wrong. It breaks trust and threatens relationships. For that reason we have never told our kids Santa Claus was real. When the asked about him we give them the story of how he came about. We also told them that for others they think he is real so they should be sensitive to how others might feel.
    Yes, my kids were young but kids understand more than you give them credit for. If they can ask the question they can receive the answer. I grew up with Santa Claus being real and I remember the disappointment and being thought of as foolish for believing it. No, I’m not scarred for life but we decided we wanted our children to trust us. We expect them to tell us the truth so we have the same standard set for ourselves.
    I don’t expect everyone to agree with my method but I do believe it is right so I live in harmony with my conscience regarding it. In the same way if you believe that it is ok to tell your kids Santa Claus is real then do that. What someone else does or believe shouldn’t bother you. I don’t expect people to conform to my belief in the same way they shouldn’t expect me to conform to theirs.

  13. Thanks for posting. I have a 3 and 1 year old and I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I hope to be intentional in how and why I chose to incorporate the santa myth into our holiday traditions. I am not someone who goes along with things just because. Your post makes me think about the whole holiday in general and how it is so consumer based. I’d love to find ways to get away from that and have meaningful traditions that focus on giving and connection.

  14. The true is, santa is not real. It is up to you how to tell the other part of this industrial/imaginary story!!!!!

  15. I think that your opinion is beautiful, valid, speaks truth. ✌🏻️ We DO Santa in my home, however I’m not about to lie when asked..I believe in the magic of make believe, we play dragons and watch Harry Potter.. to me, “Santa” is just a fun imaginative character. I do not preach he’s always watching, out to catch bad kids, a reason why I don’t do elf on the shelf..Holidays shouldn’t be revolved around teaching children we are watching their every move and they can’t make mistakes or show their feelings..but to me, make believe, imagination, creativity in what you’d like to see is fun and bring my inner child alive 😊

  16. My kids will experience the magic of Christmas in a different way, as a miracle from God. Day by day, we will gather and read about different things that happened leading up to the birth of baby Jesus. During that time, December 6th, is the feast day of Saint Nicholas who was a caring, generous philanthropist who was unanimously appointed bishop and whom has either performed miracles and appeared to leaders in dreams telling them to let prisoners go who were wrongly accused. That’s what Christmas is about to us- strengthening and renewing our faith in God. Remembering all the miracles. Remembering what god wants of us and how to be generous and loving people.

  17. Oh my- I read this and felt a mixture of anger and utter dismay. I think children need to believe in magic- it’s one of the beautiful things about being a child. Let’s face it life as an adult in the real world can be brutal and cold. Those few years of believing in wonders and the impossible are special.
    Fantasy, fiction and art enrich children’s, well everyone’s minds and lives, and make the reality of the world less harsh. I don’t lie to my children about the dangers of the world but I absolutely indulge my children in fantasy, in worlds of the mythic and the magical because it’s key to them developing creative minds and enriching their own and the rest of mankind’s future.
    Believing in Santa does not delete the ability to educate a child about those less fortunate than themselves. In fact often it is the time they are most able to understand the sadness of how others exist.
    I think sometimes parents make decisions like this to stand out to say well loook I” really thinking about every aspect of my child’s upbringing as an intellectual. In doing so you forget what being 3 or 5 or 7 years old and believing in magic feels like. It feels beautiful and safe and enchanting and children should be allowed to experience that before they grow to understand the much more brutal realities of life.

    1. Caroline, who said anything about magic? I’m talking about Santa Claus. What’s sad to me is adults who think Santa Claus is synonymous with magic and wonder. I’m all for children playing fantasy and fiction. When parents lie about SC, children aren’t doing that because they think it’s real. I don’t think so low of children to believe that they need *me* to make up stories for them to indulge in fantasy. They’re perfectly capable of doing that on their own.

      1. Absolutely! Children will not go without “magic” and imagination, even if they are not lied to about SC being real. You can still enjoy the songs and stories without believing they are “real.”

  18. I believed in Santa 🎅 and many years ago he was real well he never had a sleigh or flying raindear but he was a real person called st nick so when it’s time we’ll tell our kids about him and celebrate a man who had everything and yet he still helped the poor he also went to people’s houses and give them secret presents to people who need it and that’s not the only reason it’s also the Christmas magic in the air that we give to our kids and see them light up and we tell our kids that Santa only gives 1 presents to all good boys and girls the rest of the presents are from us and family I don’t like to lie to them but as I did with my parents when my kids find out santas not real I will tell them the story of st nick and that he was once real xx

  19. Oh thank you for this, I have thought the very same thing even before I had my son! It’s the LYING, the looking into your child’s eyes and LYING right to them with a straight face! Also, I want my son to develop critical thinking skills, and the​ Santa lie is the opposite of that! When he gets older, I want him to know how to analyze things for himself, not just accept what authorities say!