question | Parenting

The Santa Claus Issue

BY Amanda de Cadenet

The holidays are quickly approaching, and Santa Claus is on a lot of peoples’ minds.  Lately I have started feeling dishonest telling my children that Santa Claus exists. So, I’m curious to know your thoughts.

How do you handle the Santa Claus issue? At what age do you think it’s “right” to tell kids that Santa doesn’t exist?

Answer via Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #ClausConvo

longer answer? Comment here.

Past Conversation Starters view all


  • Amanda, congratulations on having this interesting awakening about this lie! While your child’s mind made me think more about the intrusive, Big Brother, voyeuristic state this world has become, my reasons for ceasing or altering the lie are for completely different and spiritual reasons.

    I’m going to share something I don’t normal tell people, because there is rarely a reason to share this and I hate the follow-up questions.

    When I was a little girl, I learned the truth about Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and Leprechauns (the jury’s still out on that last one). I decided they all had one thing in common . . . you can never physically SEE them but the evidence of their existence was tangible. Since Santa and Easter Bunny were a part of religious ceremony, I decided that God was also a lie because not only could I not SEE God . . . there was absolutely no evidence of this Supreme Being doing anything to protect me from harm.

    I was questioning the existence of God at 7 years of age! I also learned to not believe or trust anything adults tell me . . . especially if it was something good, because if it is something good then it must be a lie.

    The beginning of my sophomore year of college, I moved out on my own. Then I started seeking what church resonated with who I am and how I believed in God. The entire Father-Son-Holy Ghost / Spirit sounded too much like a fairytale for me. Long story short, I found myself attending a Synagogue and converted to Judaism in Spring of ’04 (just before I graduated with my first B.A. and turning 23 that Summer).

    During the time of my soul-searching and conversion process, my mother’s younger half-sisters either told their children that THEY bought the presents and it was Santa’s job to wrap them and place them under the tree on Christmas eve. OR . . . mom & dad gave them the cool stuff and Santa brought them underwear and other clothes, batteries & boring stuff.

    Now that I have earned a second Bachelor’s degree in Church Ministry and am currently working on my Masters and Ph.D. in Theology, I still believe “Adonoy echad” (God is One) but on an entirely different level that is more in line with Kabbalah and Pantheism (God is One, we are all One, collectively we are all God).

    I am sharing this, because I want people who hold strongly to their religious/spiritual beliefs to evaluate the lies we tell children to make the holy holidays more exciting. Do you want them consumed by consumerism? Or is it more important to you that you focus on the REASON of the season, which is to be kinder to ALL people?

  • Hana

    I have never believed in Santa Claus. From day one my mum told me that Santa did not exist. I was told that coca-cola helped shape the image of Santa and how the media basically invented him, which I still remember to this day. It was never forced upon me, it was only a passing comment made one day but I have always believed it. She never intended it to be a negative but instead a positive. It altered all of my opinions as a child, it taught me not to be gullible and question most things. Besides constantly being sent home every year from primary school for making all of the other children cry when I told them that Santa didn’t exist, – it didn’t bother me.

    But now at 20, looking back I feel as if I didn’t have a ‘real childhood’. I matured extremely fast and now feel the need to recreate my childhood as an adult, basking in holiday tradition as much as I can because I didn’t as a child. I’m finding it hard to share a single opinion the subject because though I never believed him, if I ever had a child I will be more than happy to let them believe in Santa until they outgrow the notion.

    I’m interested in how you treated the matter with your older daughter?

  • anonymous

    Hi Amanda,

    Thanks so much for doing the Conversation. It has been an amazing, eye opening resource for me.

    My parents never played up Santa Claus at Christmas, It was always more of a legend or story so I never believed in Santa Claus. I never got my “big gift” from Santa Claus. It was always from my parents, I never really cared about Santa. Christmas was always about family. It also did not effect my belief in God. Somehow the two were always separate. I saw Santa as a legend along with things like Greek mythology, King Arthur etc. God was a seperate idea based in faith to me not legend.

    Now that I’m in my 20’s, I appreciate that I did not believe in Santa because a lot of my friends say that the “magic” left Christmas when they stopped believing in Santa Claus, where as I still feel like Christmas has “magic” because the magic is in sharing it with my family not a legend.

  • Kylie Turton

    I don’t have kids of my own but I know as a kid I came to the realisation myself and realistically I was probably already questioning for at least a year before I approached my Mum about it but I remember quite clearly CHOOSING to keep believing. When I was ready I spoke to my Mum, I was 10 or 11 and I remember saying to her “Santa isn’t real is he?” her response to me was “what do you think?” her way of testing the waters with me, when I told her I didn’t think he was she confirmed it for me and that was that apart from her making me promise not to say anything to my little sister.

    It wasn’t an issue. That was it. Not once then or since has there been any OMG my parents lied to me for 11 years moment, no sense of betrayal or disappointment. It was fun, I liked that I had believed in Santa. The magic of Christmas wasn’t ruined, I find it as magical now as I ever did.

    I think a large part of how the truth is accepted is in how you reveal. Do you decide your children are too old to still believe or do you let them come to the realisation organically, For me, being allowed to come to the decision myself was key, I think that if my parents had decided that I was far too old to believe and had sat me down I may have taken things differently. But then again, I can’t be sure of that because that was not the experience I had.

  • Carolina Lafuente

    Hi, first of all, thanks a lot Amanda, for the Conversation.

    About Santa Claus, I also feel bad for not being honest with my daughter, but on the other hand, wen I was a child I loved Christmas because of the “magic”. My mom told me the truth when I ask her – and as a good psychologist – she explained to me the importance of a child innocence, and the need for having some kind of “magic” in our lives before growing up. Even when I knew the truth, and also my sisters, “Santa” kept leaving us a present as long as we lived at my parents home. And until now, if I go to my parents house on Christmas, (we live in different continents) I know that the 25th I will have an “extra” present. And that reminds me that I will always be their little daughter.

  • Ana

    This issue is dealt with very simply in Southern Italy where I live. If children believe in Father Christmas or ‘Babbo Natale’ as he is known here, then they are told that he will leave presents. If they don’t believe in him, the children are reassured that their parents will buy presents for them instead. That explaination has certainly never failed when children have asked me if he is real. When they start to question the issue, it seems to give them a gentle opening to the truth without letting go of the magic; a sort of half way house. The guilt about not being entirely honest with children about Father Christmas is something which I have never come across here.

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