December 7, 2011

Don't Tell Your Kids Santa is Real

When I asked my parents if Santa was real, they flat out told me he was.  I’m sure that to them they were just dutifully protecting the fun secret of Christmas, but I wanted the honest truth.  Santa seemed fake and I wanted the real answer.  Instead I got a stone cold lie. 

Now, the next time around my parents ‘fessed up and told me the truth and the Santa myth didn’t devastate my future.  Nonetheless, the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth.  Kids should be able to trust their parents.  My parents are honest people but this thing with Santa seemed jarringly inconsistent with that.      

I want to offer a suggestion to new and future parents.  For you parents who have already fooled your kids about Santa, my purpose isn’t to make you feel bad or to condemn you as bad parents.  I’m also not trying to make the case that Santa is Satan—even though their names have the same letters, they both wear red suits and distract people from baby Jesus on His birthday...  No, my only purpose is to give this challenge to new or future parents: Don’t tell your kids that Santa is real.

Let me give you three reasons:

Christmas is about Jesus, not Santa.

You have to admit that Santa distracts kids from the real meaning of Christmas. Christmas is about Jesus; that’s why we call it Christmas and not Santamas. Regardless of when Jesus was actually born, Christmas is when we celebrate the Messiah coming into the world. God became man so that Jesus, the God-man, could live a perfect life on our behalf and die the death we deserved to die. Salvation depends on what we celebrate on Christmas. 

Yet, even in Christian homes this can get swallowed up. Secular Christmas has completely lost the real meaning of the holiday, but even in Christian homes it’s an uphill battle. We have four young kids. We do a lot to teach them about Jesus, and they know that Santa is pretend, but it is still hard enough to keep their eyes on the right things. There are still presents under the tree. There are still commercials, and Christmas specials, and school Christmas parties, and decorations, and Christmas songs that have nothing to do with Jesus. It’s hard enough to keep the spotlight on Jesus even without making Santa the star of the show.

Kids should be able to trust their parents.

Kids trust their parents. Parents should do everything they can to honor that trust. Kidding around is one thing, but intentionally fooling your kids for years is another thing.  Your kids are going to need your guidance to get them through this world. Don’t do anything that could damage that trust. 

As parents, you will need to tell your kids many things that they will find hard to believe. You will need to tell them that many of their desires are dangers and mirages. They need to believe you. Most important, you need to teach your kids about the truth of God. But if they grow up being assured that both Santa and Jesus are real, what are they going to think one day when both of them seem far-fetched? If Santa was just a pleasant myth, why is Jesus any different?

Your kids will still love Christmas.

I have four kids who don’t think that Santa is real. Guess what? They still love Christmas. They love it a lot! I have pictures and video to prove it. Maybe they love it more, since it is more impressive to think about God coming down to earth to give salvation than for a fat guy to come down a chimney—if we had one—to give plastic.

The “magic” isn’t gone. We haven’t killed their imaginations. We still put up decorations. We still have a tree. They still get gifts. And speaking of the gifts, this is another advantage: They know that the gifts are from people who love them, not an anonymous fat stranger.

Why give Santa credit for the gifts you give your kids?  I have a very clear childhood memory of one Christmas gift I opened under the tree. It was some sort of puzzle that looked like a dog. The gift itself wasn’t my favorite thing, but what I remember is that while all the other gifts said they were from “Santa” this one—for whatever reason—said it was from “Dad.” My Dad gave me this gift! Sure, now I know that all of the gifts were from my parents, but I didn’t know that then. The gifts from Santa were nice, but the gift from my Dad was special.

Let Jesus be the number one hero of Christmas. Let Mom and Dad be next. Santa can stay out in the cold. 


  1. In case you’re wondering, our kids still KNOW about Santa. They just know that he is make-believe. We don’t make a big deal out of it either way. I’m not saying, “Don’t tell your kids about Santa.” That's almost impossible. I’m merely saying, “Don’t tell your kids that Santa is real.”

    Also, our kids don’t feel cheated at all. Actually, I think they feel a bit special about being “in” on their secret that Santa isn’t real.

  2. Thank you for this blog article. It confirms my desire not to keep up the whole Santa facade when my child is born and becomes of age. I want my children to know that Christmas is about Jesus our Christ, not Santa bringing them gifts. And plus I want to teach them that good behavior should come from having a moral conscience, an authentic desire to be a good Christian, and simply desiring to do what is right... not out of material bribery, that "if you're good, Santa will bring you lots of presents."

  3. Thanks Deeds. I'm curious to hear what more of you think?

  4. Hey, Nate! Hope shared your post. I agree with everything that you have said- but from a different background. My parents did what you are doing- they never told us that Santa was real. And Christmas was always magical and my favorite time of year!!!
    I think the key is to make it MORE of a celebration. To emphasize Christ- to build the excitement of celebrating Him! Christmas should be a bigger celebation in a home that believes in Christ than anywhere else!!!

  5. Another option is to tell the kids about the man whom the legends are all about. Saint Nicholas was a man who had a heart for the poor. He was a Bishop in Myra, Lycia (Turkey). There are many legends about him that culminated into the stories we know today.
    It's said that there was a shop owner so poor that he was going to sell his 3 daughters into prostitution, but before he could go through with it St. Nicholas, by night, secretly tossed 3 bags of gold through his window saving them from that terrible life. This is where we get the idea of his visiting homes at night.
    Another story states that through his prayers to God he raised 3 children from the dead, which is why he's also associated with a love for children.
    On another occasion he convinced some thieves to return the goods which they had taken. An act promoting honesty.
    There are reasons we think of Santa Clause the way we do, and it's pretty fascinating stuff! This is the figure that my future kids will come to know. :)

  6. I wonder why more people are simply not aware of what Anonymous above me said

  7. Uh, do you not realize that if the parents tell their children of the "legend of Saint Nicholas," they might then ask if God is just based on a legend too? This whole thing is about not wanting to run parallels between God and made up stories, because people will begin to question God's legitimacy. That's why you simply don't tell them about Santa, and only tell them about God. Then they'll never question God's authenticity, and all is well.

    So they're aware of what Anon said, they just have looked past it because of the lack of in depth analysis of the plan. The objective is to secure belief in God, so you need to minimize the chance your children ever discover that God's existence can be questioned. Thus, don't draw parallels between him and anything that is capable of being proven to not be provable, nor dis-proven.

  8. xmas is a pagan holiday, so Jesus/God are no part of it...


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