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daviesjv

I want to tell my kids the truth about Santa. How do I do it?

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daviesjv

Firstly - Happy New year, everyone!!! I hope that it’s a wonderful year filled with happy experiences for all of you. :)

 

Now, firstly my apologies that this is a very similar topic to Kylie Orr’s column last month. I wrote this before I read that and - well - in a way this is the flip side of the coin so I thought I would go ahead and publish it anyway. Besides, it's a dilemma that I’m facing right now and I need an answer: I want to fess up about Santa – how should I go about it?

 

My oldest daughter (currently 7, going in to Grade 2 this year) is asking questions, with the subject matter most recently (of course) being Santa. The conversation at the kitchen bench a week out from Christmas went something like this:

 

Thea: “Mum – is Santa really real in true life?”

Me: “Of course he is, why would you ask that?”

Thea: “Well, Julie (classmate) said that there’s no Santa, that it’s just Mum and Dad. She crossed her heart and hoped to die, so she must really believe it.”

Me: “Well, sweetie, that’s a shame. I wonder why she thinks that.”

Thea: “So are you sure that Santa’s real in true life?”

Me: “Yes, of course.”

 

Now – I hate lying to my kids. It feels so incredibly wrong. But she’s only seven. Surely the excitement of believing should last a bit longer than that? Or am I being naive? On Christmas Day she coolly noted that Santa had wrapped a couple of his presents in one of the same wrapping papers that we had used (damn my lack of organisation in not having a spare roll). I know that, despite my protestations to the contrary, the seed of doubt is alive.

 

It’s not just Santa either – the Tooth Fairy is also being viewed with suspicion. The last two teeth that she has lost have been met with the question: “Mum, is the Tooth Fairy really real in true life or is it just you??” And she’s only lost four teeth! I want the magic to last longer!

 

Now that Christmas is out of the way, of course, I’m waiting for the inevitable questions about the Easter Bunny. And – I want to fess up. It doesn’t seem fair to her to lie when she is asking a valid question - it's not respectful. What I really want to know though is: what is the best way to break the news?

 

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Barefoot

Is her birthday between now and Easter? Could you sit her down, "woman to woman" and say you are growing up now, I want to tell you some grown up secrets.

Make it special for her to be growing up and part of growing up is knowing that we make believe fairy tales and some of those are santa?

Make sure to tell her that she cant tell littler kids as they still believe.

 

Good Luck.

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namie

Next time she asks, don't lie! Ask her what she believes. If she says that she believes (insert appropriate magical person) exists then say that he/she must do. As long as she believes.

 

If she says she doesn't believe, ask why and then follow her reasoning. Or just agree with her that they aren't real but that you like to believe in the magic of the story for younger children.

You could even tell her that you wish she wasn't growing up so fast because you love the magic of it all so much! It might lessen the sadness of it, if she's feeling sad about the discovery.

 

Does she have younger siblings? Would she be interested in helping you keep the excitement alive for them? Some of the funnest times I had as an older child was helping Mum fill my younger brother's and sister's Santa stockings and Easter baskets, and helping my Gran hide Easter eggs around the garden for all my younger cousins.

 

I think it sounds like she already doesn't believe but needs you to confirm. Outright lying could add to the negative feelings she has. So creating some new fun with it all might help.

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BetteBoop
On Christmas Day she coolly noted that Santa had wrapped a couple of his presents in one of the same wrapping papers that we had used (damn my lack of organisation in not having a spare roll). I know that, despite my protestations to the contrary, the seed of doubt is alive.

 

She's a regular little detective isn't she? Your DDs behaviour makes me think she is ready to know the truth because she's trying to find out for herself and didn't accept, on some level, what you told her.

 

I wouldn't make a big deal about it personally. I wouldn't sit her down and make a big announcement full of guilt. The next time something comes up about one of these mythical things I would say "it's a fun game to play pretending x is real, isn't it?" and let her take the conversation from there.

 

If she outright asks if something is real, I would probably say "well I don't think so but some people do. What do you think?"

 

When it comes to losing the magic of these special times, I think you will be surprised at how much magic there is for kids anyway. Playing make believe games is still magical.

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JannyLiz

I don't think you need to wait until birthday or Easter, in fact now that you've had the conversation you describe it might be a good idea to follow it up while it's still fresh in her mind. I agree that where you left it does not seem respectful, it has crossed the line from letting her believe something that is 'out there' in our culture to actively reinforcing a belief that you don't share yourself. To me this needs fixing sooner rather than later as it is essentially a breach of trust.

 

You're the one who knows your kid, so I'm not saying this is necessarily how you should do it but if it was my child I would just be totally honest about my own feelings and motivations, eg:

 

"You know how we were talking the other day about whether Santa is real, well I've been thinking about what I said and I'd like to talk to you about it some more because I don't feel like I answered you properly...' and take it from there. I would start with letting her know the actual deal with Santa ('real' in some senses of being the spirit of Christmas or whatever - however you actually feel about it - but not 'really true in real life' as she put it), then say you are sorry that you told her something different the other day, you were taken by surprise but you are now ready to answer anything she asks about it. You can explain that you felt uncertain how to answer her question at first, because you wanted her to have the enjoyment of believing for longer, but now you think that was a mistake if it meant telling her something that wasn't true because you want her to know she can rely on you for accurate information. The conversation will probably end up drifting to other seasonal myths, possibly also to religious questions, so be prepared for that too!

 

I think it's very much OK for your kid at that age to know that these decisions are hard for a mum to make on her child's behalf and that you can make a mistake or have a change of heart about how to handle her questions without having any bad intentions. It's a positive message of trust and respect that you cared enough about her question to think about it beyond just the one conversation and persist in discussing it until you have reached a mutual understanding of each other's view - whether or not you ultimately agree with each other (for example she might want to continue believing in something you don't think is true - this is fine as long as you are not misleading her about where you stand).

 

If she is nearly 7 she is getting to the traditional 'age of reason' and not so far from having to deal with some other very tricky issues around friendships, puberty etc - that's assuming your kids have not already had to encounter other heavy topics such as deaths of loved ones, divorce, house being robbed etc etc, which in our case led to challenging some childhood illusions earlier than we might have liked. By modeling your willingness to keep trying to communicate about a topic that is important to her even if it is complex or difficult in some way, you are establishing a good precedent for dealing with other topics into the next 7 years of her life and beyond. In other words, not everything has to be settled in one go, both you and she can keep returning to an issue until you feel you've explored all aspects, you are allowed to let the other person's point of view change your own perspective without feeling ashamed etc.

 

Good luck :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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JannyLiz

Just read a few other posts that went up while I was composing mine, all seem very reasonable and the variety of approaches just reinforce my initial comment that how you handle it (eg making a full confession or not, waiting until later or raising it now) depends a lot on your own child's personality and your existing relationship - something only you can judge.

 

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Obesa cantavit

Well you probably shouldtn have lied in when she asked. Now it will be harder for you and her to tell the truth. My kids (7, 5 and 19 mths) havent asked but when they do I will tell them the truth. that santa will always be real if you believe but the man in a red suit is make believe and based on yada yada yada .....which continues to make lots of people very happy. Something along those lines anyway.

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kay11

I wouldn't spoonfeed her the info or have a heart to heart. I'd be encouraging her natural scepticism and scientific thinking and not lie to her again. I like what Obesa Cantavit said above. Ask her what she thinks and talk her through it a bit even if you want to encourage the conversation. Let her come to her conclusions. Analysing the evidence and talking through a conclusion is an important lesson to learn.

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daviesjv
She's a regular little detective isn't she? Your DDs behaviour makes me think she is ready to know the truth because she's trying to find out for herself and didn't accept, on some level, what you told her.

 

I think you're very right, BetteBoop. Probably partly because I'm a hopeless liar and she is a surprisingly good reader of body language.

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BadgerBasher

What they said :p

But make it seem like one big grownup secret- don't let her take Father Christmas and the like from still-believers!

 

 

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daviesjv

"I don't think you need to wait until birthday or Easter, in fact now that you've had the conversation you describe it might be a good idea to follow it up while it's still fresh in her mind. I agree that where you left it does not seem respectful, it has crossed the line from letting her believe something that is 'out there' in our culture to actively reinforcing a belief that you don't share yourself. To me this needs fixing sooner rather than later as it is essentially a breach of trust."

 

I think ypu're right, JannyLiz! :)

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daviesjv
I wouldn't spoonfeed her the info or have a heart to heart. I'd be encouraging her natural scepticism and scientific thinking and not lie to her again. I like what Obesa Cantavit said above. Ask her what she thinks and talk her through it a bit even if you want to encourage the conversation. Let her come to her conclusions. Analysing the evidence and talking through a conclusion is an important lesson to learn.

 

Good advice! Thanks!

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IrinkaB

My little one isn't old enough for this yet, but I remember my father told me there is no santa when I was about 5 years old. I dont know why he did that. I was SO disappointed. I would leave the kid thinking it doesnt exist as long as possible. Why do you need to tell it anything anyway? It will eventually find out from other kids at school, etc.

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catmeow82

I'd wait til close to next christmas when she asks again. Then say... actually no... he isn't real.

 

we don't ever plan on telling dd santa is real. the only presents he brings are the ones she gets at preschool etc. the rest are from us!

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Guest Iwishicouldtype

Shortly after christmas the year my oldest daughter turned 7 we had a conversation that went basically went along these lines

 

DD: mum is Santa real?

Me: what do you believe?

DD: I think it's you and dad who buy the presents

Me(thinking) Ok how do I handle this... Is now the time to fess up? Oh sh*t oh sh*t oh sh*t....

Me: how do you feel about that?

DD: it's cool. I'm not sad if he isn't real.

Me: well that's good because he isn't!

 

Turns out she had been sleuthing things out like your DD had... So I figured that by the time she had worked up the courage to ask me the she already knew the answer.

 

Also in the conversation I made pains to reassure her that even though she didn't believe any more, Santa would still visit her.... After all we had to keep up the secret for the younger kids ;) in fact I took the time to explain that in some ways it's even more fun being on the ''other side" because you get all the fun of orchestrating the Santa myth' as well as still enjoying all the anticipation of will I get what I asked 'Santa' to bring me, not to mention getting all the presents on christmas day.

 

 

Dd1 is about to turn 11, so there have been 3 Christmases where she has been aware that santa is not real and far from being an awful tattle to her younger sobs she has actually been a great asset when it comes to distracting them at shops, or getting secret santa lists out of them etc etc :8

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macysmum

When we were asking questions like that when we were kids I can remember my mum saying "Santa is real as long as people believe in him, once you stop believing he disappears from you life" Which i think is a clever way of keeping the magic because children want to believe and this way its not really lying because he does disappear when you stop believing :)

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meteor
When we were asking questions like that when we were kids I can remember my mum saying "Santa is real as long as people believe in him, once you stop believing he disappears from you life" Which i think is a clever way of keeping the magic because children want to believe and this way its not really lying because he does disappear when you stop believing
I must admit I really don't like this approach. I think what it does is make your kids just pretend to you that they believe in something when they know it isn't true and they just do it to get the presents - it doesn't keep the magic alive for the kids - only the parents!

 

I know parents who try to perpetuate the myth to their kids are 11 going on 12 - even when they have asked or told their parents they know it is mum and dad - they continue to deny it. The kids seemed a bit sad really, as if they had to play this stupid game to keep mum happy. I asked them if Santa had brought nice presents and they just looked at the floor. I vowed then and there to never do this to my kids.

 

I was getting a toy wrapped up for gift giving to needy families at the church and my 5 yr old was firing questions at me, why etc and I explained to him that some kids whose parents didn't have much money didn't get any pressies, so we were giving them one so that they could still experience the joy of Christmas. He asked why Santa didn't give them toys. I had been getting myself twisted in knots for at least a year trying to make up more stuff to "explain" Santa, and was really wanting them to know the truth - so I asked him if he knew who Santa really was - and he said "You?" and I said "yes"!! He didn't seem too upset about it. I explained it was make-believe and it was a fun game adults like to play and that lots of kids at his kindy would believe he was real and they would be devestated if he told them it was their parents. The 3 yr old believed this until he saw a santa drive past in the street and he said "but you are not Santa because you were holding my hand when Santa went past us!". So, even if you tell them it isn't true they will believe if they want to!! And the 5yr old made up his version of it - he said that Santa gave the presents to Mum and Dad!! So they sort of believe still, that is OK. Santa still came and gave them pressies in the santa sack and they enjoyed that. At least now I don't feel stressed about making up more and more lies when I have been trying to teach the kids not to make up stories!!

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Lightning_bug

My parents told me the story of ST Nicholas. *I've still got the book they used and intend using it with my son.

 

They told me how he was once a real man and that parents want to teach their children how important it is to be generous. So, they act in St Nicholas's place until children are old enough to understand that it's a feeling not a man which is the magic of Christmas.

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mel43
My parents told me the story of ST Nicholas. *I've still got the book they used and intend using it with my son.

 

They told me how he was once a real man and that parents want to teach their children how important it is to be generous. So, they act in St Nicholas's place until children are old enough to understand that it's a feeling not a man which is the magic of Christmas.

 

i love this idea :)

 

i asked my mum if santa was real for the millionth time and she replied, as always "what do you think?" and i said "i don't think so" this time. so she told me the truth :o i was devastated. i felt betrayed and christmas was never the same.

 

with my kids i have told them that if you don't believe, then you don't get presents from santa. what i have not told them is that we will continue buying them presents, even if they don't believe.

i realise that its not the best approach.. actually now that they're 10 and 12, i'm dying to know if they believe or not (i'm almost certain they don't) but they'll 'believe' until they're earning good money, because they like "stuff" :laugh:

 

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barbara1taylor

I think that you have to be honest with them, they will feel a little bit grown up

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tokendoula

I toldmy kids from very young ages (like 4 or 5) that Daddy and Mummy are helpers for Santa. Santa can't be everywhere and certainly doesn't have the resources to store and wrap tonnes of presents. So we help Santa by buying some of the presents and wrapping them. Mind you we only gave one Santa gift and gave the rest ourselves. Why should that fake take all the credit??

 

After a couple of years or so we waited for that question. Is Santa real? And this is was our opening to fess up. We were very honest and reassured them that the magic of Christmas and Santa is still there. That Santa Claus is still a wonderful symbol of Christmas and that we would still visit the "real Santas" in the shoppng centers and watch Santa films.

 

It really wasn't a big deal with any of my kids. They always suspected it. I just made sure I never lied to them when tey finally asked so they'd never feel ripped off.

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