Any Moms Out There Skip the Santa Myth with Your Kids?

Updated on May 08, 2017
R.H. asks from East Bridgewater, MA
19 answers

My spouse and I are not big fans of the Santa myth, and we are not planning to do the whole Santa thing or to perpetuate the myth. Anyone else out there decide not to do Santa?

I'm hoping to explain that Santa is a nice story that embodies the Christmas season, rather than a literal person, and also hoping he doesn't "ruin it" for kids whose parents want them to believe. If you've got experience in this area, I'd love to read about it, thanks!

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So What Happened?

I appreciate those who wrote in with thoughtful answers about their experiences without Santa.

It sounds as though teaching the facts about the historical basis for the Santa myth- St Nicholas- along with other customs from other cultures, and the multitude of holidays that take place in December is the most sensitive way to approach this issue. I want my son to respect the beliefs and traditions of other people, and this seems like a logical approach to help achieve that.

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answers from New York on

Santa myth? You must be kidding. Read Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus! At 67, I believe now and always will as do my children and grandchildren.

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answers from Norfolk on

Interesting, but no, we actually love Santa.
As a side note, there's a Discworld book by Terry Pratchett called "Hogfather" - which is about Santa (on Discworld he's the Hogfather), and belief.
You might enjoy reading it.

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answers from Honolulu on

When our first child was little, we made the decision to split up Santa and Christmas. We thought, what if Santa and all the associated hoopla was, say, a holiday in August? It would be fun. For us, as a family, the problem was that Santa eclipsed Christmas, and Christmas had significant religious meanings for us. And we wanted to limit the power of Santa (being extra good, the frenzy of waiting for him, the threats about "Santa won't bring you anything if you don't stop crying", etc).

So we looked up St Nicholas, and much of the lore and history we read said that he was the Bishop of Myra (now located in a part of Turkey) and he was very wealthy. The people of Myra were suffering from a prolonged famine, and the resulting severe poverty. St. Nicholas used his wealth to alleviate the suffering as much as possible, by sending caravans of camels to obtain food to bring home to Myra. He used his wealth generously and provided all he could for his people.

December 6 is regarded as St. Nicholas' feast day in Europe, and in the Catholic church. So we chose that day to observe St Nicholas. Prior to that we found a family or charity to support. Some years it was a well-known local need, like a family that had lost everything in a fire. Some years we asked a pastor if he or she knew a family in need to whom we could donate anonymously. Sometimes it was Toys for Tots or the Salvation Army Angel tree.

On December 6, we went all out for Santa. Decorations, candies, a special meal (not our traditional Christmas meal, but something a little special). We went to the mall and talked about all the Santas around town, and how they were a reminder to be kind and share what we were blessed with. Our kids knew this wasn't actually Santa, but a symbol that represented something important (sharing, gratitude, joy). We then shopped for the family or charity of our choice, and our kids had to pitch in appropriately (pennies when they were little, a percentage of their allowance later on). We came home and wrapped our gifts, and said a prayer for whomever would receive them. Then our kids got to go on a hunt for a toy "Santa" had left them while we were out. The toy was always something fun (not pajamas, but something like a Lego or Hot Wheels garage etc). We ended the day re-telling the story of St Nicholas.

The next day, Santa was done, packed up, put away. The Christmas tree was lit, and we could concentrate on Christmas ( decorating, church preparations, program rehearsals, school activities, buying gifts for family and friends, making gifts, planning the meal, reading the Bible and classic Christmas stories).

It worked for us. Santa and St Nicholas had their day, and Christmas remained special.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

We didn't deal with this, but for a different reason: we're Jewish. So there are TONS of families whose kids don't get visited by Santa. We didn't want our child to be the one to burst the bubble for other kids though (whether it's in the preschool or in front of neighbors or relatives who do observe this tradition), and telling a child a "secret" and telling him to keep it quiet is a sure recipe for failure. They WILL tell, because they don't really comprehend the reason not to. Same as telling people that Mommy & Daddy had a big fight or Grandma passed gas at the dinner table or that Mommy's debit card was declined! No filters!

Our choice was to say that, as Jews, we don't ask Santa to come to our house. We said it was someone else's tradition. It wasn't always easy.

Do you do other Christmas traditions? Do you have a tree, exchange presents, have stockings? Do you go to church, sing carols, put up a nativity scene? Make those your traditions and emphasize what you have, not what you don't have.

Whatever your decision, what I do think you (and everyone in the world!) should avoid is the part of the myth that Santa only comes to the homes of good little boys and girls. That's just a nasty part of it that takes away the charity aspect and the fun aspect, and turns the story into a year-long parental referendum on children's behavior. I wish everyone would stop this, because it sends the wrong message to poor children and those with ill parents.

But do choose your position now, play out the options, and stick to it.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

On this beautiful day in early May, you're thinking about telling your child that Santa does not exist...?

Enjoy each season as it happens - Spring will turn to Fall soon enough!!

And, you know, be good for goodness sake.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Our ten year old loves Santa Claus.

And yeah, I am sure he knows the reality of 'santa' vs. Santa Claus. We've explained it before. He makes a conscious choice to continue with the fun. We all have fun and don't worry too much about it. He's asked several times if Santa is real...I've given him ample information for him to decide for himself. For what it's worth, he doesn't get more presents or anything like that because of Santa...everyone has to do what feels right for their family. The only thing I would say is please don't demean those who do enjoy it. I hear some holier-than-thou comments on occasion about "lying" to the kids. (rolls eyes).... my kid is more fixated on truths like whether or not he's going to get a shot at the doctor's office, not on whether a magical creature who gives him a couple things once a year is real or fiction. Keep it in perspective. :)

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answers from Santa Fe on

We believe in St. Nicholas and in the spirit of giving. We do a lot of donating and giving that time of year and we involve the kids in this. We do Santa on Christmas morning, but my husband's sister and her husband do not do Santa. This led to very tricky Christmas get togethers every single year with all the kids. We all would meet up at the grandparent's house for Christmas. The first year we all got together we didn't know that they do not do Santa. No one told us. I asked her what she was going to do for gifts and she just said do what you normally do. She didn't say she did zero gifts! Not even one from herself to her boys. It ended up being very embarrassing. I don't do tons of Santa gifts...but some: a book, a clothing, a toy or two. My SIL's boys were super upset because our kids had presents from Santa under the tree and they did not. From then on every single Christmas was a bit of a strain. We had to leave our Santa gifts at home for our kids to open a week or two later which kind of defeats the purpose if you ask me. Then my husband's brother had kids and so we had 2 families who celebrate Santa and one family who did not. It was at this point that my MIL would buy one gift for her daughter's boys from Santa just so each kid could get one Santa gift. The annoying thing was the rest of the kids really believed in the magic yet my SIL's boys would tell them Santa is not real any time no grown ups were around. Honestly, it took away some joy and I just wanted to stay home. My son is 13 now, but when he was about 7 or 8 he told me he knew the truth, but he still liked pretending in the magic. He still gets a big smile every Christmas morning and enjoys his little sister's excitement. Just wanted to share my story with you. PS - We do not do the Elf on the Shelf and my 7 year daughter is super upset every year that ALL her friend's families do this and we do not. She asks every single year why we do not have an elf. She is always very sad about it. She wants to know where our elf is. I can't do everything!!

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answers from Houston on

Sorry Santa is not a myth.

We believe. I have such wonderful memories of my childhood Christmases and those of our children. Christmas is such a wonderful holiday in our family. Going to church, having friends over Christmas Eve, putting boots in the soot of the fireplace to show where Santa came in.

My kids came home and asked one time about Santa. My answer was "do you believe in Santa" As long as you do, he is real". I think we make kids grow up so fast these days. I wanted my kids to enjoy their childhood for as long as possible.

I think you have every right to decide how to raise your kids. Your kids your choice. We did explain to ours that some didn't believe and that was okay. But you also must make the effort to explain to your kids that a large majority of kids DO believe. That is their parents choice in raising their kids.

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answers from Washington DC on

There's NO MYTH!!

I believe in Santa and I'm 51 years old....

do what you need to do. However, keep in mind - your kids will tell other kids "Santa's not real" and cause a mess for other families that DO believe....

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answers from Boston on

Oldest daughter's best friend's mom told him from the get go that there was no Santa under the guise that she didn't want to tell a lie. No she just wasn't a fun person and didn't want to bother with any of it. Just like her mom did with her. Of course he decided to tell my kids that there wasn't a Santa. That's just how kids are. Mine decided that there was and he was wrong.

So if you are looking for a way to get this info across to your child please do it in a way that makes him part of the holiday magic where he is Santa. Get him involved in Toys for Tots or if your community has a giving tree let him pick a tag or two and be Santa. As each of my children got older and stopped believing they became helper elves that gave the magic to their younger siblings. Now I'd dealing with grandchildren and the older ones bring the magic to the younger ones for Easter and Christmas.

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answers from Columbus on

It's completely your choice. But you need to understand that regardless of how much you tell him not to, he will at some point most likely tell another child that Santa's not real. My son came home from preschool when he was 4 and told us that his classmate told him santa isn't real and it's the parents who bring gifts. My son chose to believe me, but he still remembers that moment almost 2 years later. I'll admit that I was a bit miffed at first. But I also understand it was their choice as parents.

I do agree that Santa stuff can be a bit overwhelming and we try to emphasize other aspects of the season as much as possible.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

We believe at my house. However, my kids have friends who are non-Christian religions whose families do not "do" Santa. From my perspective, there is no "ruining" issue. I've talked several times with my kids about how not everyone believes in Santa, and that's ok. If someone doesn't believe in Santa, he doesn't go to their house. We believe, so he comes to our house.

I know this doesn't answer your question exactly. I just wanted to chime in that yes, you should talk with your child to explain that some kids do believe, they have the right to believe what they want, and it's not polite to try to convince believers that Santa's not real. But don't let this possibility weigh on you overly much. My perspective is that those of us who do believe have the responsibility of explaining to our kids that not everyone believes the same thing and that's ok.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

My brother and wife didn't do Santa. Their choice. They also didn't let their kids watch TV.

It made it hard when they visited at Christmas. The rest of us celebrated the tradition.

They had a very low key Christmas and they travelled - that was more their thing.

As long as there are traditions - kids love those - then I think you just explain as others did below.

Added: Just want to add what others have mentioned - our kids loved the magical aspect to the tradition - as did I as a child. When they found out the truth, they weren't upset that it was a 'story' - they were upset to lose the magic.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

It's not a big deal but do be prepared for your child feeling left out and slighted because everyone at school is talking about Santa coming to see them and your child realizing they were left out.

It's still not a big deal but you do need to tell your child to keep quiet and not spoil the holiday for everyone else.

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answers from Anchorage on

My kids understand that Santa is not a real person per say, but that he is a representation of the magic of the season. It is not like yours will be the only kids that don't believe in Santa, there are many religions and people that celebrate different holidays during that time of year that Santa is not part of, so don't worry and over think it, just do what feels right for your family.

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answers from Seattle on

I have three kids, 14, 11, and 6.
I do not do "santa" although he was brought into my house by the television.
Years ago, when my oldest was about 6 he wanted a Wii. It wasn't going to happen. We didn't have the money for it and I told my son that. He said, "That's ok! Santa will get it for me!"
Ummm...who? Nope. Had a sit down conversation with him about mom and dad being "santa" and buying the presents. How santa is a lovely story.
My daughter, 6, saw a lot of shows with santa in them. I never confirmed that reality. This year she figured it out.
My husband wishes that we had done santa, thinks I am the destroyer of childhood fantasy....I never believed in him as a child and wasn't able to keep up that "lie" for long with my own kids.

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answers from Washington DC on

My son was devastated when he found out there was no Santa. And I mean devastated like he had lost his best friend. I felt so badly for him and asked him more than once if he would have rather known the truth from the get go. He said absolutely not. He loved having that story as part of his childhood memories.

And yes, you are the parent and get to make these decisions for your children but this subject will come up time after time in your children's lives. You can have the best, most lovely child in the world and it will still be difficult to keep this secret from other children. Children have no filters and it will probably just pop out some day.

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answers from Santa Barbara on

I think it is fine. There are so many different religions in my kids' school and that still has not stop the kids from believing if they want to believe. Many older kids choose to believe (but know the truth) because they want the magic of Christmas with a surprise gift.

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