“Santa Claus is coming so you'd better be good for goodness sake!” This is being told to children all over the world. But it is a good idea?
There are two main camps: Santa believers and Santa deniers. The names speak for themselves, but let's examine the arguments from each side.
Santa believers tell their young children that Santa exists. There are varying degrees, from those who propel the myth of Santa for as long as possible, even creating evidence of his existence by leaving half-eaten cookies on a plate. They take their children to see the big guy at the local mall or department store and find ways to explain how he can ring a bell out in front of the mall, while talking to children inside at the same time. The biggest and best Christmas presents always come from Santa.
The Santa deniers do not tell their children about Santa, or if they do, the focus is on the historical facts about St. Nicholas. There are no stories about the North Pole, no need to leave out milk and cookies for Santa or his reindeer and no trips to the mall to sit on his lap. And of course all the gifts come from the people who actually bought them.
This (maybe) Means War
Both sides will defend their approach – possibly to the death. The believers state that Santa is a great way to keep kids in line, especially during the holiday season. An uttered, “Behave ... Santa's watching!” can lead to some peace and quiet that mom and dad desperately need. Also, meeting Santa is a fascinating experience for a lot of children. And when they find out that Santa gets his reports from mom and dad, some kids make behavior changes that benefit everyone, all year round.
Deniers state that it's unwise and unfair to perpetuate a lie for several years of a child's life and that it's traumatic when the truth is eventually revealed. They think that filling a kid’s head with the myth of Santa is a betrayal because it leads the child to believe that a mythical creature has more control over them than their own parents. And deniers don't believe in letting Santa get credit for all the cool gifts. Ever.
What’s the Answer?
So who's right and who's wrong? Who knows? Children have been being told and not being told about Santa for centuries and yet the world is still spinning. In many ways it depends on the child. Some children are more open to the idea of a magical being who drives a sleigh and visits all the good boys and girls and leaves them gifts. Other children have questions from the start, such as asking how Santa gets in the house if there's no chimney, what the sleigh runs on and how one man and a few elves can make toys for everyone. These kids are also the reason parents have to scramble to explain about Santa being in more than one place at the same time.
Deniers will state they have the upper hand because they will never have the experience of having to confirm that Santa Claus doesn't exist. There is also the question of age. This also depends on the child. Some believers tell their children the truth about Santa at a young age while others decide to wait until the child starts to ask questions.
Whichever side you back, keep these things in mind as you go about your holiday season:
Believers, make sure you get your stories straight – so if your child asks, you can let the answer roll from you like water off a duck's back. Also – be ready for the eventual admission, because your child will definitely come to you to ask about Santa's existence or announce that he's not real.
Deniers, be courteous of the believers. Just because you opt not to teach your child about a mythical being who flies around the world it doesn't mean you can mock those who do. And teach your children to do the same. It’s called respect.
The world is both a big and small place. It's big in the concept that hundreds of millions of people share the same beliefs, but it's small in the concept that only one child who does not believe and has not been taught to respect others can ruin it for many. Whether you choose to tell your children about Santa, or opt to “keep it real,” make sure you instill that respect in your child; it'll make the holidays that much better for everyone.