The holidays are in full swing, right? Our homes are filling with the smells of cookies baking, cinnamon, mandarins, and beautiful decorations. This time of year is perfect for bonding and spending quality time together as a family. Personally, I love this time of year! It feels so magical, so delightful, and so exciting!
Last week though, my husband came home from work and he said to me, “I have a major problem with the holidays.”
“Oh?” I said.
“I can’t lie to our children.”
His words hit me hard, but I knew exactly what he meant. It was something I have been reflecting a lot about. Now that Yvann is 5 years old, he is so aware of the holidays, the myths, and the traditions surrounding the holiday seasons.
What my husband meant was if we as parents spend the year focusing on building a trusting relationship with our children, how can we spend the holiday season building up the myth surrounding Santa Claus (Sinterklaas here in the Netherlands) as being true?
From the beginning of our parenting journey, our philosophy has been to be open and honest with our children. One of our main goals is to build a trusting relationship with our children. We work hard to do this.
When our son asks us directly, “Will Santa come to our house?” “Will the elves make gifts for us?” “Do reindeer really fly?” These questions put us on the spot. What is a parent to do?
If our son asks us, “Will Santa come to our house?”, my husband and I know he will not. For us, we have decided not to be dishonest. We will be telling our children the truth. Here’s the thing…
Why we are telling our children about Santa Claus
I want my children to trust me. Fully. My husband and I are devoted to building a trusting relationship with our children. While one can say that the myth is part of the tradition, the spirit of the holidays, my priority when raising my children is to make sure that they trust me in the big picture.
For me, a child’s trust is one of the most precious gifts I have ever been given. I take that responsibility very seriously. If my son asks me a direct question, I struggle to morally tell him “Yes! Of course, Santa will come to our house” when I know, in fact, Santa Claus will not come to our house.
Eventually, children will learn that Santa is not real, that he does not come to our homes, that reindeer do not fly. What impact will this have on our children then?
We say to our children, we must be honest and we should not tell lies, except for this one thing… Santa, the tooth fairy, etc. Think about the conflicting message this can give to a child. We can argue that as parents, we do this out of love and to keep the spirit and fun of the holiday season going for our children.
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But what would happen if our children realize this? They understand that Mommy and Daddy did not tell the truth because they were trying to keep me happy. But can this also give the impression that it is okay for our children to be dishonest or intentionally omit information from us in order to protect us? For example, say a bad grade? Maybe they will think that it is okay not to tell Mom and Dad because they do not want to make us unhappy. My husband and I think so. Think about it.
When it comes to parenting, my husband and I try our hardest to make sure we lead by example. If we want our children to eat vegetables, we eat vegetables. If we want them to clean up after themselves, we clean up after ourselves. These lessons by modelling behaviour are extremely powerful tools in our parenting arsenal.
When it comes to the holidays, we have decided to model the behaviour we want from our children – we are answering questions honestly. Because we want our children to trust us. Because we want them to be honest with us.
This is a very difficult choice to make and I respect that different households will have different traditions that work for them. This is what we have decided is best for our family.
Alternatives way to inspire the feeling of “magic”
While many will argue that the myth of Santa Claus is one of the things that makes the holidays so special, there are other ways to encourage the magical feeling of this season. The holidays for us are about spending time together, bonding, and connecting. Creating “magical” traditions is really possible even without the myth of it all. Instead, consider some of these other ways to create meaningful memories with your children.
Discuss the real history of it
First, really spend some time talking about the real history of it. Explain who St Nicholas was. Explain the religious history of it. This itself can really be one of the most special parts of Christmas.
Spend time giving to others
Create a tradition for your own family to bring joy and help others in need. Donate some toys, go to a food kitchen, volunteer together. Creating unique traditions outside of the materialism that can become associated with the holiday time of year. Instead, focus on Santa will really stick with your child.
Spend quality time together
Cook, bake, play board games, whatever, but focus on spending time together. Instead of talking about gifts, Santa, etc, focus on special moments together. One of my favourite traditions is that for Christmas, we get the kids a new book, some pjs, and cuddle up while we read it! (We exchange bigger gifts on Sinterklaas and New Year because of our Dutch and Russian traditions). Our holiday celebrations are really memory driven.
Related Article You Will Love
Angela from MOMtessori Life wrote a very insightful article about sitting on Santa’s lap. I really recommend this read!
Grab your own free printable poster
Need a reminder? Print this our free Christmas Ideas that Connect poster, frame it, and or check off the activities you do together with your family!
Some Awesome Christmas Activities
I hope you have a fabulous day!