Should You Tell Your Kids Santa Isn't Real?
There is an argument that Christian parents should not promote belief in Santa with their children for fear that when the child does come to realize there is not a Santa Claus they will also question their belief in God. Even worse, some fear their children will stop believing in God. A logical digression of this argument is that Christian parents who choose to “play Santa” with their children are sinning against their children and against God for propagating false belief. So what are Christians to do about Santa?
1. Ultimately we must observe the Biblical principles of Christian liberty and conscience. Life is full of cultural grays, for many Christian parents Santa may be one of them. In my observation, legalism has caused many more children to rebel against Christ than Santa. At the same time, if a family holds a sense of Spirit led conviction that Santa is not for their home, I support that conviction. The Christian community should be one that fosters a sense of love, balance, and respect for one another’s beliefs. Let the Holy Spirit guide.
2. If parents practice a nominal form of faith that resembles a fantasy type faith in Santa, then yes, I would think believing in Santa could potentially be a problem. Personally, we have fun with Santa at our home, but his story moves in and out of our lives seasonally. Jesus is someone we share with our children daily. Children do not primarily read a sense of belief, they read devotion. Who are the parents really committed to? If devotion to God is on par with devotion to Santa, your kids may indeed have trouble separating the two.
3. Some parents may fear that while Santa may not lead to disbelief, at the very least he will lead to doubt. My question here is simple, do you ever doubt? Does it have anything to do with Santa? Everyone has doubts. Part of belief is testing validity. Part of the Christian life is a constant examination of self to see whether or not we are truly of Christ. The first article I ever posted on this blog dealt with the doubts of my then first grade daughter. Those doubts had nothing to do with Santa. Your kids will have doubts and so will you. Yet I have faith enough in the Word of God to believe that the gospel and the triune God are powerful enough to conquer doubt. I would contend that many people allow doubt to become disbelief because they do not compare their doubts to the evidences for faith given to us in Scripture. When you and your children have doubts, kicking Santa out of the house will not be enough to overcome them, go to the Bible.
4. When your kids ask about Santa, tell them the truth. Before we had children Shannon and I talked about the Santa idea and how we would relate as parents. From those conversations, the Branam policy became, if they asked, we would tell them the truth. For her first 7 years, we had an interesting experience with our oldest daughter. Every summer she had to learn how to swim again; and almost every Christmas she believed in Santa even though the previous year she had asked and we had told her that he wasn’t real. She seemed to have a selective, seasonal memory. Kids are kids. Answer their questions. They will probably ask them again.
So whether or not you choose to allow Santa down your chimney, what are the positive principles for Christian parents here? Be devoted to Christ. For parents who play Santa, your kids should see a distinct difference between your devotion to Christ and Santa. In our house, there is no comparison. For parents who choose to close the door to Santa, they too should be more devoted to Christ than they are to Santa (or in this case conquering the story of Santa). My wife says that some people can “find the devil in a dollar.” What she is describing are people who live constantly in fear thinking every component of culture is a conspiracy of the devil to shipwreck faith. While I do believe Satan is very much alive and active, I don’t lead my family to find him. Families should concentrate on Christ, not the devil.
Whatever you choose to do with Santa this year, make it your aim that in all things Christ be preeminent (Col 1:18).