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Last year my daughter who was 4 at the time, started asking questions about Santa. I did not go into too much detail, my answers were short and not too detailed. Santa brings gifts to children, how does he know which gift? children write letters and so fourth, I wanted it to seem magical, waking up Christmas morning, finding something in the stocking and under the tree.
My daughter is now asking if Santa has keys to our apartment and whether we have told him the code to deactivate the alarm in the apartment. I am truly stunned, but she seems genuinely concerned, almost frightened about Santa coming into our home. I do not want to lie to her, but at the same time I would like that the notion of Santa remains at least for another year or so. Any suggestions would be really welcome.!

asked 08 Oct '09, 20:41

Emi's gravatar image

Emi
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edited 20 Dec '09, 02:40

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We've always been up-front and honest with our kids with regards to Santa, the Tooth Fairy, etc. We've said it is make believe, but it is fun and to enjoy it.

I remember the first December when my daughter was really old enough to understand "make believe" and we were at a park where a Santa turned up on a fire-truck. She sort of looked at us longingly as if to say, "is this real or not?" We just smiled and said, "Go on, have fun!" She went and had fun, but she also knew it was just make believe.

The decision to go this way mainly stems from my own memory of discovering Santa was not real and how it really shook my trust in my parents. Funny how some kids have that and some don't, but I really wanted my kids to be able to trust me to tell them things straight, so this is what we've done.

An interesting side-effect was my getting in trouble with an irate parent because my kid told his kid that Santa wasn't real. The parent was really ticked, particularly when I said, "If you want to teach your kids lies, go ahead, but my kids know they can trust me." Sort of left him without an argument. However I did have a conversation with my kid about the fact that some kids think it is real, and it's okay for them to believe that - so don't stress about it, enjoy the whole Santa thing and don't worry if other kids don't understand it isn't real.

Another interesting side-effect was when it came to Christmas presents. My wife's family had the habit of signing their presents, "From Santa". However we always signed our presents with who they are from. The reasoning being I want my kids, nieces, nephews, etc to know who they got the present from, because giving gifts is an expression of love and appreciation, and I want them to experience it that way, and not just as "getting stuff!" After a couple of years the rest of the family started doing the same, and I think they now really treasure memories of a kid opening a present, being really excited, and coming over with a big hug and a, "thank-you Grandpa!".

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answered 09 Oct '09, 00:51

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I just wanted to add another perspective, because I believe there is no right answer. You should ultimately do what you feel is best for your daughter given what you know about her.

My daughter is not old enough to even have any ideas about Santa Claus; however, I remember my own experience as a child. My parents "lied" with the best of them. They told me that Santa was magic and he found a way in, that the Santas at the mall were just helpers and that's why they looked different and how he could be in many places at the same time. At one point my grandfather said that Santa and he were buddies and that he would just wait up and let him in. When I was a little older (probably around 6?) and I outright asked if Santa was real, my mother just said, "what do you think?". Then we talked about the spirit of Santa and giving. Even after learning the truth I never felt deceived or was angry at my parents for letting the magic continue. It was the same with the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy. I also grew up with a healthy understanding of the difference between real and make-believe.

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answered 08 Oct '09, 23:56

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edited 09 Oct '09, 01:45

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That's how my mom told me to..."What do you think?" When I found out I was disappointed, but didn't feel deceived or angry either.

(09 Oct '09, 06:35) Sabrina

+1 Magic. They can decide on their own.

(22 Nov '09, 20:02) MrChrister
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I love this answer, it's how my parents did it with us, and how I do it with my two.

(07 Jan '10, 05:18) YMCbuzz
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It actually did end up like you said, and a combination of Evans answer Tammy... Great answer :) and one that I will be referring other confused friends too. "What do you think" is the most commonly used phrase/question in our household these days..

(08 Mar '10, 11:02) Emi

@Emi I'm glad to hear that my response was helpful.

(08 Mar '10, 19:21) Tammy ♦♦

If your kid is asking you straightforward, honest questions, I think she deserves straightforward, honest answers. It seems like she has started questioning the plausibility of Santa. Maybe it's time to give in and admit that he's not real. Try adding a wink at the end, saying "Shh... But between us, we'll still pretend he's real -- just for the gifts." Don't kids love make-believe anyway?

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answered 08 Oct '09, 20:50

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Thats certainly an interesting way of approaching the matter :)

(08 Oct '09, 21:11) Emi
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oh so sad to give it away to a 5 year old...is that when it all starts to disappear? Already?!

(09 Oct '09, 06:30) Sabrina

Another option my wife's family introduced me to, and we've adopted, is to allow the children to believe in Santa (they will be taught it through our culture, even if we don't teach it directly) as they please.

When they eventually ask whether Santa is real or not, we respond with, "What do you think?" and talk with them about it. During the conversation we let them know that "Santa" won't bring them gifts if they don't "believe" or "make believe" - their choice. Of course they still receive the same 'amount' of gifts whether they believe in santa or not, but they aren't marked with "From Santa." Regardless of their choice, they are expected to respect other people's choice, and not argue with other children about the existence of Santa.

This does a few things for us:

  • No conflicts with other children - Arguments at 4 years old sometimes turn into scuffles that are unproductive.
  • They get to be part of the conspiracy/secret as they grow, and we consult older siblings with a wink as to what Santa should get their younger siblings. It lets them play on the other side of the fairy tale, and they often have very good ideas that I wouldn't otherwise consider.
  • They still get to feel the wonder and awe of a fairy tale as a young child. I enjoyed believing in santa a great deal, and a lost a lot of that joy when older siblings and friends insisted that I shouldn't believe. I want my children to have that wonder that seems to bring an extra 10% of interesting-ness to the overall holiday.
  • We have a large family. The first thing an older sibling does with new amazing information? Pass it along! This method allows the younger children to enjoy the fairy tale without the older brother bothering them. Reduces friction this time of year.
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answered 20 Nov '09, 03:41

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+1 Very good answer in my opinion :)

(20 Nov '09, 09:37) Emi

Santa is magical. He knows everything. If you tell her that he is very nice and your friend it might help. Lying about Santa Claus isn't bad.... one day you'll tell her the truth

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answered 08 Oct '09, 20:46

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Mommy trial and error
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I'm not religious, so this would never come up in my house with Santa Claus per se. But my three year old is like this -- has a great imagination, loves the idea of magical things, but wants to know all the details and will immediately latch onto any inconsistencies in the stories and uncover lies. (Let's not mince words, Santa is a lie, well-intentioned or not.) He loves to hear stories about super heroes, werewolves, ghosts, queens with magic mirrors, etc. He asks if these things are real. I always tell him the absolute truth. That does not in any way diminish the joy of his imaginative play regarding these make-believe entities and reveling in the stories. Furthermore, the discussions with him about what's real and what's make-believe (and how to tell the difference) are hugely fascinating to both of us and I think greatly diminish his fear of other bump-in-the-night things that other kids worry about.

I have no doubt that your child, at almost five, is equally ready to have these discussions with you. Furthermore, your child will at some point run into another kid like mine, who knows the truth, and they will discuss the matter. Once the kids are aware enough to start asking you about the truth, I'm not sure how productive it is to set them up for a conflict with other kids, or with you when they come to fully grasp that you were lying. It's fine to play make-believe with the kids, but if they ask you straight out, I don't think it's productive to continue the charade, nor is it particularly kind to withhold the truth if the story is actually causing them anxiety about a fat stranger in a weird suit breaking into your house.

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answered 08 Oct '09, 23:47

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I know it is entirely a side issue, but I've always thought Santa Clause and religion are entirely orthogonal - one has no bearing whatsoever on the other. (At least the commercial, red suit and white beard Santa that kids are concerned with - St. Nicholas and such may be different perhaps.)

(09 Oct '09, 00:55) Evan

I'm not religious either, just love the idea of the magic of Santa.

(09 Oct '09, 17:23) Michelle
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Same - a proud Atheist, in fact. But we play along with fiction, for the fun of it, while the kids are kids. Christmas at our house means family, giving and Santa. Not Jesus, Mary and God.

(07 Jan '10, 05:21) YMCbuzz

Emi, this is probably way to late, but I've always felt that whether or not Santa was "real" or not wasn't precisely the point. What is important is whether or not Santa is "true". Whether the things that Santa stands for - unconditional love, unstinting generousity, nobleness of spirit, faith in our best selves - whether those things exist in the world, even though they arn't "things" that we can quantify and measure. (Which is why none of the kids in our family are ever threatened with "Be good, or Santa won't come!)

When my boys asked me if Santa was real, I told them that, no, there wasn't an old man in a red suit who lived at the North Pole. That Santa was a symbol, and that sometimes people really need symbols, of all those things I've mentioned, so that while he may not be "real", he was "true". That if they looked in their hearts, they would know that those things existed as surely as they did. (My kids were 7 and 8 when they actually came and asked me, so maybe a little more able to understand that line of thought.)

As to the religious aspects of all this, they also know that while I'm a Christian, I don't believe that the Bible is a literal record of facts. I believe it is a repository of divine "truths". I don't have to believe that the world was created in 7 days to believe that "The spirit of God moved upon the waters...". Nor do I have to believe that Noah loaded 2 of every kind of animal onto an ark to find the message of steadfast faith in his story to strenghten my faith when it falters. The Bible is full of symbolism, allagory, metaphores, and divine mystery, and I believe taking it literally kinda misses the point of growing in your faith and understanding.

Just like taking Santa literally does.

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answered 06 Mar '10, 06:57

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edited 06 Mar '10, 15:56

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In reference to Igritz's answer, I AM 'religious', and it has the precise opposite effect as far as Santa Claus (or Father Christmas) is concerned.

I can't see how I can spend years teaching my child that Santa is real, and God is real, then one day turn round and say, "Oh, by the way, Santa is just make-believe". What kind of credibility does that leave for anything I've said about God?

I guess any atheists reading would probably say, "precisely!", but I hope you understand what I'm trying to say.

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answered 07 Jan '10, 14:52

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+1 my votes are almost used up for today!! and yes I do understand.

(07 Jan '10, 15:29) Emi
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Asked: 08 Oct '09, 20:41

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Last updated: 06 Mar '10, 15:56