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It’s an all too common parenting connundrum and one that many mums and dads around the world face around this festive time of year – what to say when your child asks if Santa is real?
One parent facing in this Yuletide predicament, wrote to our Facebook community group asking for advice.
“My daughter is 8 and this year I have a feeling she’s going to realise that Santa isn’t real,” she begains. “If she asks me, I want to be prepared with what to say. I don’t want her to think it’s ever ok to lie yet my husband and I have been lying to her every Christmas since she was born. Any advice?”
“My daughter is 8 and this year I have a feeling she’s going to realise that Santa isn’t real…”
The post was flooded with advice and over 200 people were quick to offer wise words of support, with many recalling how they told their own kids the truth about Santa.
“My husband and I have literally had this conversation with our eldest,” writes a mother. “You know when they are ready, our nearly 10 yr old would make comments here and there the last two years but I could tell she was ready by the way she approached me. We told her that 1000 years ago there was a man named St. Nicholas that used to leave a present on the window of all the homes of the poor children, and that when he died all the mums and dads loved the idea they continued on with his legacy.”
Another added: “We told my son when his little sister was three or four, and he was seven or eight, he was asking so we told him. Santa is kind of a club, and those of us who know hes “not real” become santa. The only rule is, you never ruin it for someone who isn’t in the club yet. I took him to pick out a “santa” gift for his sister, and it was her favorite gift that year! He was so excited, and he later told me he was more excited to see her open her gift. It was a fun way to ruin it, without ruining the magic.”
Other Facebook members told sweet stories from their own childhood with the message that the magic of Santa is real.
“Ah… I remember asking my mum why other kids were saying he wasn’t real… I was a whole 11 years old!!! Kids today have the internet and likely don’t make it that far,” recalls a member.
“I remember crying and feeling so heartbroken immediately… but then as I thought on it… I realised my mumma went through all those motions to make sure my Christmas’s were magical. I pondered about how she selflessly gave credit to someone who didn’t exist for years of surprises for being a good girl. Of course one day I’d learn it was all her… I have the fondest of memories of those childhood Christmas’s and forever grateful she let me experience such. So I now do the same for my children. 2 asked me if he was real some years ago, and I explained how the magic they felt is very real, but that Santa is not. I tell them I do it to keep their imaginations wild with dreams and innocent as long as possible because one day soon enough they’ll be have to live with the reality of the real world for the rest of their lives. Now those 2 are beyond thrilled every year to help play Santa for the younger ones.”
Another added that even though she’s grown up, she still believes in the big man in red.
“When I was a kid I was told when you stop believing in Santa that’s when he stops coming. Consequently I am now 45 and still believe in Santa! I love the magic of it. I love keeping the magic alive for kids.”
Another added this simple yet beautiful piece of advice: “Santa lives in each of us. When I gift to others I am acting as Santa. Santa comes in many forms, representing love and generosity.”
Echoing the above comments, a user suggested that all of us are “Santa to someone”.
“Just tell her that Santa is real in the sense that anyone can be Santa to someone. Anyone who buys someone a gift, anyone who tries to make any moment magical and special, anyone who decorates, cooks Christmas dinner, wraps presents, stuffs stocking. We are all Santa to someone. That way she will want to keep up the magic of the season.”
“Santa comes in many forms, representing love and generosity.”
The original poster was also concerned about lying to her daughter but according to research, many children take finding out the truth about Santa in a positive way.
Kristen Dunfield Assistant Professor of Psychology at Concordia University says in a study examining children’s reaction to discovering the truth about Santa, parents generally took the transition much harder than their children, who actually felt quite positive about the discovery.
“And why wouldn’t they? Santa is one of countless things children learn through the testimony of others,” explains Kristen.
“Because we rely on others for so much of what we know, humans are surprisingly well-equipped for the task. They evaluate both the source and content of the information they have received in light of their existing knowledge and their memory of past interactions with the source.
“This means that, when compared to all of the reliable information that parents share with their children over their lives, it is highly unlikely a single lie will cause irreparable damage.”