My daughter is turning eight and asked me today, "Mom, Is Santa Real?" How should I respond?

Tresha - posted on 12/07/2014 ( no moms have responded yet )

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Is Santa Clause Real? A Parent’s Cheat Sheet to Answering

Is Santa Claus Real - wezandtreshawallace.comOn the eve of the big day at our home, cookies and milk are set out for Santa as well as a carrot for Rudolph. I even take a bite out of the cookie and write a thank-you note from Mr. Claus for the kids to find the next day.

However, my ritual may be short-lived as earlier this year when my older daughter lost a tooth and we were putting it under her pillow she turned to me and asked if the Tooth Fairy was real because her friends at school told her that it was all a big red lie that parents don’t want kids to find out about which also included the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.

However, my ritual may be short-lived as earlier this year when my older daughter lost a tooth and we were putting it under her pillow she turned to me and asked if the Tooth Fairy was real because her friends at school told her that it was all a big red lie that parents don’t want kids to find out about which also included the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.

It’s bound to happen to every parent who has ever introduced their children to the phenomena of Santa Claus or any other of the “guardians”. When that feared day arrives and your child asks "Is Santa Claus Real?" how are you going to react? Here are some pointers.

Is Santa Clause Real? Why do you ask?

Firstly, find out what has provoked their inquiry. Maybe they heard something at school like my daughter did or maybe some part of the whole story seems illogical to them, maybe the logistics of delivering billions of presents in one night or the “but we don’t have a chimney” debacle is just not believable anymore.

If this is the case, applaud them for their critical thinking. This is actually a constructive and progressive step in their mental development. Also, knowing their motives for asking the question will help you respond to the question more dexterously.

Consider their Age

Consider the age and stage of your child. A 10-year-old who still believes unequivocally that there is a real Santa will be at a clear disadvantage on the playground where most of the other kids don’t. A 4-year-old who insists there isn’t a Santa may well become the focus of sandbox hostility (and you the recipient of phone calls from their very annoyed parents). For 3 to 6 year olds, the world of imagination, including Santa’s North Pole, is an important place to visit. For older children, reconciling story and reality is part of growing up. There’s no definite age for the transition. It’s up to us to know our children well enough to sense where they are on that continuum

Are they ready for the Truth?

Next, ask what your child believes because although the child is asking questions, it doesn't necessarily mean that he or she is emotionally ready to believe the truth. Asking, "Well, what do you think?" will give you an idea of where the child is both expressively and cognitively. In other words, you need to know if your child in fact wants the truth or does she want reassurance that it’s okay to keep pretending for a while longer.

One you have assessed where they are emotionally on the issue, the responsible thing to do is to tell the truth, as you see fit depending on your child. He or she may be seeking for you to reassure him/her of Santa Claus' existence, and you may feel that your child needs to believe in something magical and pure. It's up to you when you spill the beans, but if your child is old enough, telling the actual truth may be the way to go.

How to spill the beans

If you feel your child is ready to hear the truth there are different ways you can go around this. Instead of saying he isn't real and leaving it as such explaining who "Santa" really was can help make the transition a lot easier. St. Nicholas was a real human being and while he may not be around anymore most people choose to continue to honor the tradition of leaving presents under the tree/in stockings/in shoes. Explaining who he was as a person (regardless of whether or not you are religious) and how "Santa Claus" came to be as we know him today can not only help to keep the possibility of disappointment down but can also lead to them wanting to reach out and help others as well.

After your discussion it is usually a good idea to explain that every child asks this question at different times and they should be deferential of their classmates’ feelings and not to share their new awareness if it can be helped.

Justifying the Conspiracy

Apologize, if your child feels betrayed by you. Most children will not be angry, but be prepared for this outcome. Explain that until he or she asked the question, you could not reveal the answer. Also explain that you did that because it's a wonderful story that brought you and the child a lot of joy.

Explain that Santa embodies the real spirit of Christmas. Something like this: "Santa Claus is a magical spirit that lives inside of everyone who believes in him. He is real only for as long as you believe he is real and not for one moment longer. When your friends tell you that Santa is not real, they are correct. He isn't real for them anymore. If you believe he is real, like I do, then he is. You can keep Santa alive in your heart for as long as you want to do so. Even when you're as old as I am." Or simply state: "We are all Santa," and discuss the times you do nice things for people throughout the year, expecting nothing in return.

Recruit them to become one of Santa's helpers. Children who ask the magic question, "Is Santa Claus real?", may become Santa's helper if they want to be. Santa's helpers are people who help Santa fill the stockings and arrange the presents under the tree on Christmas Eve while everyone else is sleeping.

Key Points - Is Santa Clause Real?
It can mark the end of a certain kind of innocence for the child and a culmination of a fun chapter of parenting for the adults, but the question is inevitable and when the time is right you have to do have to do your duty.

So what that there isn’t a guy at the North Pole with a platoon of elves manufacturing toys all year and undertaking reconnaissance on all small children to see who deserves to get them on December 25? But there is something important enough about the myth that for hundreds of years adults have been conspiring to make it seem real. If we can get in touch with why we love the story so much, we can soften the revelation that Santa isn’t real with the conviction that what he stands for very much is.

So good luck if you need to tell the truth and if you want to keep the game going for another year, take solace in the fact that there's also no proof that he isn't real!

Happy Holidays!
Tresha Wallace

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