Santa Claus is often a controversial parenting topic. As is the how, when, and why of telling kids about Santa. But that’s not a surprise because, well, it’s complicated.
The legend and tradition of Santa has been passed on by generations of people to their children all over the world. A piece of history: Santa has been around for centuries and came to America around the 18th century. So, why is Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, or whatever you choose to call him, often the subject of parental controversy?
There are many reasons some parents choose not to uphold the tradition of Santa Claus. Some feel the idea of Santa takes away from the religious significance of Christmas. Others believe perpetuating a falsehood to their child could ultimately damage their child’s trust and hurt the bond between parent and child. Fans of Father Christmas believe he’s a healthy part of a child’s imaginative and fantasy world.
Research shows no harm comes from kids believing in Santa. Said belief generally wanes around age eight, which is consistent with their cognitive development. It’s also believed if kids naturally figure out the myth of Santa, there’s usually no traumatic attached. Experts do caution not to overuse Santa as a disciplinary tool, rather as more of an inspirational figure.
If and when your child’s belief does start to fade, it’s okay to address it. You can set aside time to talk to your child one-on-one and explain why you felt the Santa tradition was one you chose to carry on. Let them know the true “magic” is in the giving.
No matter how you feel about sharing him with your children, the truth is… Santa is real. He’s based on a real person who brought joy to many children in need during his life and time. That legacy has been perpetuated across the globe for hundreds of years to help teach kids the importance of giving, helping those in need and thinking of others.
Whether you choose to use Santa to help impart lessons of giving to your children or not is completely up to you. The spirit of Christmas is not in the who or how we believe, but in showing kindness and love to others around us no matter what they believe.