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:
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 🙂