To parents, who encourage their children to believe that Santa is real … listen to what your kids have to say:
In a recent discussion about with about ten 5th and 6th graders about different things that people believe in and why, the students told me that the biggest reason children do or don’t believe in something is because of their parents. They pointed out that little children don’t know better, they just trust their parents. The discussion involved Jesus Christ, Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, an alien from mars, and the Easter bunny.
Note that our class is often an open discussion time, and any opinion can be expressed by the students, so long as it is not rude or disrespectful. Some of the students talked about how they found out that Santa Claus was not real – seeing their parents putting out gifts that were from “Santa”, etc. I did not say whether any of these were real or not – this came entirely from the students themselves.
I asked them how that made them feel – if their parents knew something was not true, but told them it was (or let them believe it was). For instance, as in the example given by some students, if they found out that Santa was not real, and that their parents knew it, but didn’t tell them. These are the words that my students used to describe their reaction:
“really sad”, “mad”, “angry”, “they LIED”, “that would never happen because I trust my mom, and she would never, never lie to me”, “I found out when I was about 5 yrs old that Santa was not real, and I cried and cried”, “I was so sad”.
I was amazed at what strong feelings they had about this.
Parents, is this really the gift you want to give to your children? That you lied to them? To leave them in tears when they discover that it is not true? We all know that they will get over it as they grow up, but isn’t that missing the point?
Trust is earned, and is so very hard to get back when you have lost it. Do you really want to lose even a tiny bit of your child’s trust???