We’ve all heard the concern: “Kids at school are telling my child Santa isn’t real, what do I do?”
Every December, parents hold their breath hoping this story is able to seem plausible to their children for One. More. Year.
America revolves around Christmas for the entire month of December. Even Google has a mechanism to help make sure the truth about Santa isn’t discoverable for young kids. So of course it’s hard to understand why this ONE kid in your child’s class won’t hush up about knowing the truth! Everyone else is playing along, why won’t they? And what should you say when your child inevitably asks you about it?
As a parent who isn’t doing the Santa aspect of Christmas, and someone who grew up knowing my parents filled my stockings, I offer you my humble insight and support.
“Those who don’t believe don’t receive” is untrue and can be hurtful.
Plenty of kids who know the truth about where their presents come from still get said presents. This rhyme comes off as a measure of morality. “Santa is skipping those kids for not believing in him. You deserve gifts for believing.” It’s very similar to things I heard Christian kids say to me about God when I was in school (no surprise there is overlap here).
Other children cannot be the gatekeepers of your kid believing in Santa.
It isn’t developmentally appropriate. In fact, the kids who exclaim “Santa isn’t real!” when they find out the truth are doing what is completely normal and healthy. They aren’t ruining your fun or being malicious. They are being kids. A healthy part of childhood is having these debates amongst each other and discussing things parents might not want them to. Whether a child believes or not, you can rest assured they will be questioning Santa’s existence and discussing it together.
Families who don’t celebrate Christmas exist!
I know. Hard to remember in December, but it’s true. Everything you say about that one loud mouthed non-Santa-believer in your kid’s class is then applied to the Jewish kid in the class. Being taught all the winter holidays better prepares children to be respectful and understanding of everyone’s traditions and stories.
Note —Please do not compare a child telling your kid Santa isn’t real to someone telling a Jewish child anything negative about Hanukkah. Christian Americans who celebrate Christmas are in the loud majority here. Santa is not a religious belief, especially not a minority religious belief like Judaism is.
Here are some inclusive answers to give your kids about Santa, whether they believe or not.
“In our family, Santa is a part of how we celebrate Christmas. Not everyone celebrates Christmas the same way, and some people celebrate completely different holidays. How cool is that?”
“In our family, Santa is just a story, but other families believe different things about him. Not everyone celebrates Christmas the same way, and some people celebrate completely different holidays. How cool is that?”
Whether he’s a beloved character, like Olaf, or an actual magical man who brings you presents, Santa is a fun part of Christmas. All holidays and their variations bring magic to our children’s lives. Let’s be proactive and thoughtful about how we talk about other people’s stories, traditions, and beliefs.
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