Should my child believe in Santa?

Renae - posted on 12/08/2010 ( 26 moms have responded )

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I was raised in a strict religious household (daily bible study, church 3 times per week, etc) and did not grow up celebrating Christmas, or any other recognised holiday or event (like birthdays, easter, mothers day or fathers day). - All of that is another long story!

I started celebrating Christmas and other events when I was about 20 years old. So I have no personal experience about what it's like to grow up believing in Santa, experiencing Christmas and opening presents as a child.

So my question is, should I tell my now 20 month old about Santa? Do your kids believe in Santa? Is there any adverse effect when they find out he is not real? Why do we tell kids about Santa, I dont quite understand why someone made up this mystical character that we tell kids is real - its just all a bit foreign to me.

Thanks mums!

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Abbie - posted on 12/09/2010

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I grew up believing in Santa, and have taught my son the same. Its fun to think there is a Jolly Fat man giving gifts. What we do is hang the stockings when the tree goes up ( usually after thanksgiving), gifts can go under the tree wrapped. With To: and From: Now the stockings don't get anything in them til after the kids go to bed Christmas eve, so that they find them Christmas day. Now here is where I find things vary, my sister wraps the gifts from Santa in special paper ( this is never to be found or seen by the kids as it will give it away) I personally don't wrap gifts that come from Santa, I just keep them hidden then before I go to bed I put out santas gifts for him to find the next day.

I don't think you are hurting your child in the least for letting them believe there is something magical out there, its no different then thinking Disney world or anything like that is fun and real. At some point they will find out that santa isn't real, and I don't thing they will be put in thereapy over that.

Jodi - posted on 12/10/2010

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My kids always grew up having Santa. Our oldest kids don't believe any more, and aren't in therapy over it. In fact, the older ones quite enjoy keeping it secret, and maintaining the magic for our youngest.

My kids do all still know that story of Jesus as well. We celebrate this by going to Mass. But I can't see why celebrating the religious aspects should mean you can't celebrate the non-religious.

Firebird - posted on 12/09/2010

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Most kids aren't bothered by it when they find out that Santa isn't real. Most of them figure it out for themselves, and if they are bothered, you can simply tell them the story of Saint Nick and that we continue on the tradition in his name. No biggie. I usually have about 3-4 gifts from Santa, and the rest are from me and the pets. My mom also does a few from Santa, so it's double the fun for my daughter when we go to grandma's on xmas.

[deleted account]

Every kid, family, situation is different. No one but you can decide what is right for your family.

We don't do Santa even though most of the people I know do/did. My friend even wrote a book called 'Santa Celebrates Jesus's Birthday'. Doing Santa wasn't something I was comfortable w/ and it hasn't 'destroyed' my children at all.

Sarah - posted on 12/08/2010

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I remember being a kid and being SO excited for Christmas. I would look for Santa everywhere! I would be extra good, just so he would come visit! lol I don't even really remeber when I found out he's not real. It's funny because I believe in him again! I believe Santa gives my kids some imagination, excitement and magic :)
PS... I am a religous Baptist. We go to church every Sunday. Our congregation keeps asking our kids if they are excited for Santa. They seem to think it's ok to :D

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26 Comments

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Paris - posted on 12/12/2010

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Of course let your baby believe in Santa, I don't think you are hurting your child in the least for letting them believe there is a Santa,

Sherri - posted on 12/11/2010

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Not always Sarah my kids were never told and they didn't find out till they were in sixth grade when their dad and I finally told them.

Sarah - posted on 12/11/2010

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no , at 20 months let the child believe , when there old enough then tell them the truth. there feelings wont be hurt, other kids will tell them before u get the chance anyway, but its your choice . good luck

Jodi - posted on 12/10/2010

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My son also believed until I told him when he was 11. My stepson believed until my husband talked to him this year, he is 11. I have a feeling my daughter will have it figured out well before she is that age - that girl has the world figured out.......



But neither of the boys were upset by it. They asked questions, but have really enjoyed keeping the secret for their sister. I have involved them in helping me with "secret santa stuff" on occasion, and it makes them feel very grown up.



My brothers and I all had Santa for Christmas. I found out from someone at school when I was about 8, but I actually wasn't overly upset. I did go home and ask my mum, and she was honest with me, and I just moved on. It all made sense. I certainly never felt lied to or devastated by it. None of my brothers were upset by it either, and all of their children have had Santa (some of the older ones now know the truth). I can honestly say in all my 41 years I have never known a single person who was *damaged* by finding out the truth about Santa.



Having said that, I think you are right, it is probably the way you told the kids that really upset them. It could also be the age they found out - perhaps they weren't ready to really make sense of it, and connect the dots between the make believe and the real.

Sherri - posted on 12/10/2010

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Rene my children believed 100% till we finally broke it to them when they were 12yrs old and yes I said 12. They were in 7th Grade when we finally told him he wasn't real. Now they are my helpers to try and keep the spirit alive for their 4yr old brother.

Christi - posted on 12/10/2010

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St. Nicholas was a real person so we always celebrated Santa. I loved believing in him, even when I was older and knew it was my parents, lol. We would always write letter to Santa and tell him what we really really wanted for Christmas. My mom always told us no more than 5 things, since we usually asked for really expensive or popular gifts. Santa brought me my first bike, easy bake oven and even when I was 16 and we were doing Santa for my sister, he brought me my first cell phone, lol! We always opened presents on Christmas Eve from the family and then Santa would bring stuff overnight and we would open those Christmas Day. Most of the time they weren't wrapped. Mom said he didn't have alot of time to wrap them up, lol. My son's birthday is Christmas Eve so I always bake him extra cookies since Santa gets cookies too.

Renae - posted on 12/10/2010

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I just counted that I have bought 31 Christmas presents for my boy! And that does not include the ones he will recieve from family on Christmas day or the outdoor play equipment that is being delivered soon. I do get rather excited about Christmas now, perhaps a bit overboard!

Renae - posted on 12/10/2010

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I am thinking that I should start another thread with a formal apology to anyone whose childhood dreams I ruined! I was the horrible child who from Kindergarten told all of the other children that Santa was made up and was not real. I honestly did not understand that children believed in him or why their parents were lying to them. Obviously I understand now... but I was too young to understand then and my mother is not respectful enough of what other people choose to do to explain to me not to say anything. I eventually stopped telling other kids in early primary school when a little girl cried. So I guess that experience might be what made me wonder whether it effects children to find out the truth, but I think it was probably what I said and the harsh way I told her that made her cry. There have been some very good suggestions on how to explain it to children here, thank you mums, I am no longer concerned about that.

Jodi - posted on 12/10/2010

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Renae, on the stocking thing, we filled it with little toys, things like pens, pencils, colouring books and also candy and treats :)

Carolyn - posted on 12/10/2010

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To Eileen, I do like your way of handling the situation. It did not take long for my girls to catch on. And of course, my youngest had to discuss everything with her friends, who in turn went running to their moms with my fabrications. I think it best when children are that young there should be some fantasy in their lives, and at least the hope that there are still miracles waiting to happen. When my girls did begin to question me the truth did come out. My oldest daughter is now the mother of 2 year old boy. she has memories of the holidays when she was a little girl and the fun and excitement she and her sister experienced during the holiday season. They not only learned about our own holidays, but learned about our friends and neighbors beliefs and traditions. Her little boy will be blessed with the knowledge that we all may pray a little differently, but we are all brothers and sisters when we stand side by side, and extend our hands to those who need our help.

Sherri - posted on 12/10/2010

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Santa brings our children each 1 gift each. Usually the 1 big gift they have asked for. The rest come from mommy & daddy. Their stockings are usually filled with new toothbrushes, toothpaste, a movie, and novelty items.

Eileen - posted on 12/10/2010

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My parents told me Santa was not real. I always thought it was kind of crazy that other parents lied to their children about him. We had fun with Santa....like the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc, but knew truth from fiction. We raised our children the same way. We never told them there was a real Santa (since it's not true - it was just never a big issue), therefore, we never had that horrible "day" when they discovered they were lied to all those years. We also figured WE were going to get the credit for the gifts they got. lol Afterall, there's a lot of things we'll get blamed for as they grow older, we should build up points now - lol. Also, we told them about God sending His Son, born of a virgin, who grew up to die for our sins. Besides....that's the truth and that's what's going to get them through life....and eternity.



I might add that my mom also told me to keep the fact that Santa was not real to myself - not to tell other kids the truth, because she respected what other parents wanted to tell their children. We taught our kids the same thing.

Carolyn - posted on 12/10/2010

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I have two daughter both born in the 70's. My husband, now deceased, are both Jewish. We loved in a fairly mixed neighborhood as the girls were growing up and they were full of questions about Santa. Even thou we were not overly religious, we were proud of our heritage. I told my girls that there was at one time a benevolent man who loved children. Because the town they lived in was poor he took it upon himself to make toys for the children and distribute them. Being Jewish I had to be a little creative. I told my girls we had a Channukah
fairy. The gifts they received on days 2,3,4,5,6, and 7 were usually personal items, or supplies they needed for school. The first and last were gifts they had expressed a desire for. The holiday itself is a rather sweet remembrance of a miracle. When my oldest daughter realized we had no chimney, and felt Santa and/or the C Fairy would not be able to make a visit, I promised her I would leave the door unlocked and stay awake to make sure no robbers entered our home. Little by little as the girls grew, they had no problem accepting the fact that fantasies do have some truth, and sometimes Daddies and Mommies make the best Santas and C Fairies a child could ask for. Have and great holiday and remember A HUG AND WARM KISS IS SOMETIMES THE BEST GIFT A CHILD CAN RECEIVE. THROW IN AN I LOVE YOU FOR GOOD MEASURE.

Krista - posted on 12/10/2010

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That's the nice thing about Santa -- every family can adapt the custom to suit themselves.

In my family, we were taught that Santa was the very spirit of Christmas: kind and generous and giving and cheerful, and that he appeared as a jolly, round man with a white beard, dressed in a red suit. This way, we weren't really taught that he was a REAL person, like you and me, but still got to believe in some of the magic and fun. Usually we'd get a couple of gifts from Santa (always in different paper than my parents' gifts, and NEVER anything boring and practical like clothes! LOL!) Our stockings usually contained small treats, hair clips, chocolates, things like that.

Have fun with it!

Laura - posted on 12/10/2010

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Renea, it sounds like you have the beginnings of a beautiful Christmas tradition--with or without Santa! The holidays, whether it's Yule, Christmas or Hannakah, is about FAMILY at it's core. Each family creates their own rituals and traditions that suit their needs. Some families choose to include Santa in their celebrations and others choose not to include him; there is no right or wrong here! Again, the "magic" of Christmas really lies in being together with family in a spirit of love and giving.

With all of that said; I am Santa! We do Santa at our house, even though my daughter understands that her dad and I are really the Jolly Old Elf. Santa has many qualities and charateristics that are worth emulating such as generosity, compassion, and love, especially for children. We wish for our kids to learn these virtues and Santa is one way to teach them. The spirit of Santa is very real to me and that is what I told my daughter when she finally asked the dreaded question: "Is Santa real?" I told her "yes and no": No, Santa isn't an actual person but Yes his spirit is very real and anyone who acts on his behalf brings Santa to "life", becoming Santa as it were. She understood this and our family continues to "believe".

There are many different myths and legends regarding Santa, including the factual story about the Turkish priest, St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas was known to give coins to orphaned and poor children. Now that my daughter is older, we are exploring Santa from different cultures, namely from my Dutch and northern European heritage. She would like to start celebrating St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 6) in the Dutch tradition by leaving carrots and hay in our wooden shoes for Sinterklaas's horse in hopes of receiving a small gift. I suspect she is looking for a new opportunity to receive presents! She still puts out cookies and milk on Christmas Eve--last year she even put out goat's milk for Santa as she looked right at me (I'm the only one in the family that drinks it!). It's all part of the fun and ritual of celebration for us.

Santa comes and leaves one gift that is a "wish or a want". This main gift is unwrapped. There are usually a few "accessories" to that gift from Santa under the tree. All of the rest come from parents and pets. Yes, even our pets give and receive gifts! : ) Stockings are filled by Santa and generally include small toys and treats--lollies would be perfect. One year when I was in college, however, my sister and I recieved small ladders in our stocking! Of course they weren't actually "in" the stocking, but our stockings were attached to the corner of these little ladders. We all laughed about our unique "stocking stuffer"! So you see, be creative and have fun! Hope this helps and have a Merry Christmas!

As for telling your child about Santa, that is entirely up to you and your family. Maybe not this year, but next year your child will be old enough to start understanding who Santa is and what he does. As mentioned in previous posts, there is nothing like seeing your child's face Chrismas morning when receiving a gift from Santa!

Renae - posted on 12/10/2010

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Oh I didn't clarify in my original post that I am no longer religious in any way - in case anyone was wondering, I just jumped on the band wagon of christmas because my husband's family make a big deal out of it and the entire family gets together (they even fly in from other states and countries), it is lots of fun and I can see the value of my child growing up with a big family around him who get together every year. We make heaps of food and play this chris cringle game were everyone gets a random present and all the kids get presents, its just such a nice day.

I think we will tell my baby about Santa when he can understand, probably next year. It just dawned on me he doesn't have a stocking. What usually goes in there, lollies, I assume? I will have to get him one!

Renae - posted on 12/08/2010

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Thank you ladies. It does sound like kids find it very exciting so I am seeing how it would be very magical for a child.

So do all the presents come from Santa, or just one, or half, or is it different in every family?

Stifler's - posted on 12/08/2010

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If you don't want to don't, I'm the same as you grew up not believing in Santa. I still get excited about Christmas! It's a ridiculous notion that not having Santa ruins "the magic of Christmas" IMHO.

[deleted account]

I don't know the ins and outs of Santa as such, but he is based on a real person called Saint Nicholas (the patron Saint of children). I grew up believing in Santa. It was great fun, getting a gift from Santa is so exciting for a child. Finding out it wasn't "for real" didn't impact on me at all. In fact I don't even remember how or when I found out. I do it for my children, they are still little. It won't be too long before my daughter starts to question it, then I will explain about the magic and tradition of Santa.

JuLeah - posted on 12/08/2010

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It's magic!! It's amazing. Wait until your son is a bit older, old enough to really understand Santa and then wacth that look on his little face as he waits, hopes, dreams, believes ..... it is so worth it

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