Santa Clause & Kids...Are You Making Magic or Are You Lying?

Handling Made-Up Characters with Your Kids:

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How do you handle the made-up characters of holidays with your kids? Santa Clause, the Easter bunny, the tooth fairy etc. This was a topic that I have given much thought before I even had kids. Growing up, I never celebrated holidays, so I never grew up with my parents telling me these characters were real. But as an adult, I wondered if people who did grow up being told these characters were real, felt as though they were lied to by their parents. I wondered if they remembered the day they found out Santa Clause was not real and how they felt about it. So, I asked around. For some people, it was not very momentous and for other people, they remember specifically finding out and did indeed felt lied to. Have you thought about how to approach this with your own children? Do you tell them these characters are real? Do you feel like it’s lying, or do you feel like you are just creating special and magical moments?

How to Approach Holiday Characters with Kids:

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There are a few approaches I have come across with this topic. It’s about finding an approach that you and your partner feel comfortable with. One approach I have heard, that I felt like was a great middle ground approach, was going about the Santa Clause character as many people do. He is the person who brings all the presents and lives in the north pole. You know the story. Then when the child is old enough (up to the discretion of the parents and is different for every child), maybe around 8 years old, the parent takes the child out on a special date and reveals the truth in a very gentle way. Letting the child know, you are now old enough to be let in on a very special secret. Santa Clause is a special person that brings gifts, joy, and love to others. You are now old enough to play that role. This approach is gentle informing the child Santa is the spirit of Christmas, instead of a real person, and this character is a role of the holiday that is taken on to mature and willing participants. This is one approach that is very forgiving for children and a great way to keep the magic going.

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Another approach is putting the emphasis on the magic and fun of make-believing. This is the approach I have chosen to go with, however, I am very careful with my words, my rebuttals, and my approach with the make-believe characters of holidays. For example, with the elf on the shelf, we are playing along with this fun tradition, but my daughter keeps asking me how it got to its spot each day. I have been answering her question with a question to see her thoughts on it. Then playfully, I will remind her that Christmas magic is so fun! We do a lot of talk about magic and make-believe in our house. Whenever there are made up characters such as mermaids, fairies, or dragons. We talk about how these are just made up characters and part of a story. We talk about how fun stories and make-believe is because using our imagination makes the world so much more interesting. This year, I have asked my daughter if she wanted the chance to be Santa for her brother and some of our other family members. She jumped at the chance. We went to the store and she, as Santa, picked out gifts for people. We brought them home and wrapped them. We signed the card from Santa. This way, she was able to be a part of the role that brings joy and happiness to someone.

When the day comes, and my kids ask me if any of these holiday characters are real or just make believe, I will ask them what they think. I will let them know these are holiday stories and traditions and that it’s fun to make-believe. Personally, we are still trying to fine-tune our approach and I know it will evolve each year and with each holiday. But I am very careful with my approach because I do not want my kids to have one of those moments when they realized they were lied to. With make-believe and holiday magic, I feel there are some wonderful methods, but it involves some forethought and mindfulness in its approach. Talk to your partner and decide together what approach will work best for your family.

How about you? How are you and your family choosing to approach Santa Clause and other made up holiday characters?

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