When Your Child Asks If Santa Is Real, You Need To Tell Them The Truth
I always told myself that once my kids were old enough to form the question and verbalize their doubts about Santa, that I would come clean. I really don’t like lying to my kids even if it is “for a good cause” so I figured that while they were little enough to buy into the magic without much embellishment from me, I would let them believe. I decided that once they started asking in an intelligent and thoughtful way whether or not Santa was real, that I would be honest. Well, that day is here- and I have not had the guts to say it. Trust me, no one is more surprised about this than I am, but I know what I have to do.
My 7-year old daughter has started asking very pointed questions about Santa over the last several weeks. In the last year, I have already explained to her after similar inquiries that mall Santas and Elf on the Shelf are not real while letting her continue to think that there is a Santa at the North Pole. Now, she is asking me every few days whether or not Santa is real. She has gone as far as questioning the logistics of the entire situation- how it happens in only one night, why things “Santa” brought her can be found at Target and the fact that elves probably don’t know how to make the Nintendo 3DS on her little brother’s Christmas list. All valid points and I am proud of her critical thinking skills but it is hurting my heart to admit the truth.
For weeks now, I have told myself the many reasons why it is perfectly fine that I continue to lie to her. Firstly, I do not go overboard- when she asks the questions, I try to put it back on her and say “well, what do you think?” I am not terribly insistent when I tell her he is real. It’s as though I feel better if I don’t lie too hard, if that makes any sense. I have been thinking all along that this was acceptable and made sense. After all, she has a 5-year old brother who is still very much a fan of the big guy in the red coat and though she is an angelic, gem of a big sister and would never purposely spoil things for him, I can’t depend on a second grader to always be on guard. I’m sure she would slip at some point and then, I would have no little ones in my house that believe in Santa anymore.
I was content to keep lying until this morning. She asked me again, rather emphatically, whether Santa was “really real.” In my gut, I was dying to spill as I had always promised myself that I would but again, I perpetuated the lie. Out of sentimentality, out of sadness for the end of a very precious time and out of plain selfishness. And that was when I saw it- the flicker of disappointment and knowing in her eyes. In that moment, I realized- she knows. In her heart of hearts, she knows. And by lying to her, I am not holding up my end of the bargain as her parent. She is looking to me to clarify something in her world that she has rather handily figured out on her own. If she is smart enough to formulate the question and even back it up with careful thought, then I owe her the respect of telling her the truth.
I have decided that the very next time she brings it up, I am going to tell her. If she does not bring it up again for several weeks, then I will let this be the last Christmas she believes. It hurts to see her move on from this phase but I know it is the right thing to do. I want her to know she can trust me, even if it’s breaking my heart in the process.