Five Reasons We Don’t Do Santa

I know, I know. It’s a rite of passage in a child’s life. It’s magical. Their faces light up and there is an innocence in their belief. I am depriving my children of the joy that comes with believing in Santa, and I’m going against a rather American norm. I get that, and I have to say #sorrynotsorry. teaching kids about santa

My children are loved, cared for, and we celebrate the heck out of Christmas! We decorate the tree, make hot chocolate, read Christmas stories, watch Christmas movies, exchange gifts and even get pictures with Santa. The only thing we don’t do is tell our kids that Santa brings presents to all the boys and girls of the world. Here’s why:

It is a lie. Spin it however you like, at the end of the day, it isn’t true. Does this mean I never tell white lies to my children? No. It means I do my very best to be honest with my children about life. When they ask me questions, I want them to know they can count on me to be honest. I am sure that most children grow up fine believing in Santa, but I would rather not have my child question my integrity once they find out Santa isn’t real.

It is impossible. I’m not sure about your kids, but mine have asked for some pretty outrageous things. My son wants to be able to fly, my daughter wants magical powers, and my youngest wants to have One Direction perform a concert in our living room. Yes, seriously. Beyond that, they have asked for things we simply cannot afford ($400 scooter, not happening). How do I explain that Santa did not bring them what they wanted, when the entire premise of Santa is that he brings you what you want?

Christmas is not dependent on good works. Another thing taught in the Santa mantra, the “nice” and “naughty” list. How – how do we get passed this? I’m pretty sure at one time or another, our kids have been “naughty,” and some years, I can confidently say my children were likely more naughty than nice. What do I do? Give them coal? Or am I teaching them that no matter what I say and how they act, they will still get their presents. To me, their gifts are not contingent upon their behavior. I cannot reconcile that with what we teach our children about Santa.

It is unfair. Let’s assume we could get our children every single thing on their list, it still would not solve the issue of other children in their life not getting everything they want. Undoubtedly, children will talk at school. How can we answer the question “Why didn’t Susie get any presents from Santa?” without discussing income inequality and unrealistic expectations.

It is heartbreaking. At least, it was for me. Let me take you back to Christmas Eve, 1985. For my entire life, “Santa” was not only real, but I knew him! He would show up to my step-grandmother’s house to hand out presents. On that fateful Christmas Eve, when I was five-and-a-half years old, my brother callously informed me that the man I thought was Santa was only a relative dressed up and that Santa did not exist. Crushed, I turned to my dad to expose my brother’s lies, but he confirmed them. Of all my Christmas memories, this one is the most vivid. When I think back on my childhood Christmas, this is what I remember. I have no magical memories of Santa which aren’t tainted with the devastation I felt when I learned the truth. Of course, I’m fine now, and I don’t fault my parents or anyone over this (well, maybe my brother a little bit). That moment was a big and painful moment for me, one that I would rather not have my children endure.

So, what DO we do?

We teach our children about Saint Nicholas. We tell them how he lived long ago and because of his faith, he devoted his life to helping others. We explain in age appropriate terms how his life was such an inspiration that his work is still celebrated at Christmas in the form of Santa Claus. We tell our children that although Santa is not a real person who lives at the North Pole and “Sees you when you’re sleeping,” that it is still okay to celebrate Santa knowing who he is based upon.

We have done our best telling our children that some other people believe in Santa, and they have been instructed not to say anything about him not being real. So far, they have not ruined the magic for any other children. The closest they came was when my niece freaked out because my daughter touched the “Elf on the Shelf.” Yeah, we don’t do that either. Except for our own entertainment.

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Myndee is a 35ish year old New Orleans area native. She's an author, speaker and self-love advocate. As an introverted extrovert, Myndee loves being part of the generation where most of her friends live in her computer. She and her husband, Luis, live just outside the city with their three kids.

33 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you. I have never done Santa or the tooth fairy or the Easter bunny. My kids know that cartoon characters aren’t real and actors portray people in live action shows. And yes I’ve also always been very up front with them about sex as well. I don’t lie to my children. I don’t see it as magic. And I do not have a traumatic Santa story either.

    Every Christmas my kids are so excited. They love everything about Christmas. They love playing Santa in fact for others. They also were still in awe at Disney knowing none of the characters are real. And they still get Easter baskets and put their teeth under the pillow and get a picture with Santa at the mall. The awe and excitement isn’t any less than any other child I know or see.

    However, it seems you, like me, get attacked for the way you’ve chosen to do things. As if you are depriving your child of some basic right. I respect others traditions and always tell my kids how important it is to NEVER spoil it for others. We teach tolerance and respect in this house of religions and traditions and of people. I think that’s much more important than whether we do Santa or not.

  2. Just going through this with my daughter I wish I would have thought to do this. I’m pretty matter of fact with her but I guess the thought to not do Santa didn’t even cross my mind. She cried a couple tears down her face as if her heart was broken. Really broken. I think at that moment she questioned everything. I cried. I will remember this for grandchildren and friends It is OK to celebrate Christmas without Ssnta. Tell the old story of him to explain the reason of the holiday . I enjoyed this story very much.

    • Oh Brandy, I’m sorry about that experience. I can assure you, your sweet girl will be fine- while the fact that I was heartbroken over the Santa thing as a child, and it was a factor in us deciding not to do Santa with our own children, I had no long lasting trauma. 😉

  3. How do you prevent your kids from spoiling it for other kids? My ex was very anti-santa and my son ruined it for the other kids at daycare telling them santa was all a lie. Needless to say, other parents were unhappy. Seems one thing for yourself, but shouldn’t take that right from others.

    • Hi Melissa,
      That’s a valid question. First, we never say things like “Santa isn’t real.” or “Santa is a lie.” Our home isn’t anti-Santa at all, as evidenced by the yearly mall photos, haha.

  4. While all of those reasons may be technically true, not everyone has that heartbreaking experience, and it sounds like that still really resonates with the author. I didn’t have an issue with any of these as a child, nor did my siblings, and my child seems fine too. It may be a lie, but just like our family makes a distinction between secrets and surprises, I think we can distinguish between a flat out lie and a feeling of magic. I think it’s every parent’s choice to include Santa in their kids’ lives or not, but why are we taking the time to sell one another on it being necessary or not? No justification needed if you don’t want to make believe about Santa.

  5. I never will understand people like you. Would you sit next to your child at a magic show debunking each trick after it was performed too? Playing Santa has been one of the greatest joys of my life. There’s a reason people say the magic of the season. Parents are so afraid to disappoint their children later when the kids find out the truth that instead……you’ve already disappointed them. You just won’t realize it until later, probably when you have Grandkids and you see them follow your lead and ruin the magic for their kids too. Seems honesty is so important to parents today… I often wonder how honest they will be when it’s time to explain why they can’t afford to pay for college. Will it be because mommy needed to many fancy pairs of shoes, or a new car to impress the neighbors every 3 to 5 years or will we decide to be more prudent about sharing truthful information at this point. Sounds like a lot of excuses to make yourself feel better about a decision tha maybe suits you better than your child. And when your child sings poorly, tap dances to roughly, can’t shoot hoops to save their life………will you be honest and let them know that they lack talent and should try something else. I have a feeling this honesty thing is used when it suits you. I don’t care what you choose to do……it’s just sad that the world has to hear about it.

  6. My husband and I decided to not do Santa or Tooth fairy or Easter Bunny as well. For many of the same reasons listed and a few others. I personally dont remember believing in santa. I remember finding my “santa” gifts at a very early age and my dad trying to pass it off as santa dropping them off early but i didnt buy it. How do you deal with other parents judgements? My father got married to a young woman and they have a little girl my sons age (2) and he tells me how much I am taking away from our son and that we are going to ruin Christmas as he gets older. Its very hard for me, and I always tell him that I dont judge his parenting so he shouldnt judge mine. And other than “because everyone else does it” I dont see much reason for santa because I dont remember experiencing the “magic” of it.

  7. I love this. We don’t do Santa in our house either. My husband thought I was so mean at first until I found articles like this one and others that were able to accurately put into words what I couldn’t explain, but definitely felt in my heart.

  8. We didnt “push” Santa on our kids. We did do stockings and gifts, we celebrated baby Jesus more though. His birthday. His day. We did talk about Santa, how can you not? He is everywhere during the season. We just didnt put the main emphasis on Santa. We didnt “not” do Santa. Just didnt make a big deal of it. We pointed out that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday and that is why we give and get gifts because He was given gifts. We even had a birthday cake with candles for Him on Christmas Eve, a less busy day for us. We would sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and all blow out the candle. We read the Christmas story in Luke all together in our bedroom and pray before we go to the living room to open gifts. My kids are all grown now, but they have great memories of these traditions.

  9. I think the either/or is the mistake many make – “either we lie out of our teeth to tell our kids there is a Santa” OR “we make SURE they know there isn’t.” We just did Santa like any other pretend thing with the kids. We just had fun with it. Little kids love pretend games. It’s adults who have to be all complicated about whether “he is real or not”. Pretending Santa was no different than pretending we had superpowers or that a big box was a train or a house. If you asked our kids, seriously, “is there a Santa”, they’d have said “no”, just like if you seriously asked them if they had superpowers. It was lots of fun, but no trauma or deception needed. And no need for transition any more than any other pretend. We still do it, with our kids now 27-33.

    When your son pretended to fly around the house, did you feel you had to inform him that flying was not possible and ensure that he didn’t pretend to fly? Did you fee like it “was a lie” to allow him to pretend it? Why does Santa have to be different? But, yes, to respect those who did make a big deal of it, we did have to tell our kids that some kids didn’t realize it was pretend, so we really couldn’t talk much about it. They never really understood why!

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