Should I Let My Kids Believe in Santa?
Toward the end of every year, Christian parents of small children begin to wonder, Should I let my kid believe in Santa? Is telling my kid Santa is real feeding them a lie? But what if they ruin Christmas for someone else? I can't make your decision for you, but here are four things I think are important to consider as you debate what to do about St. Nick.
There is a beautiful letter floating around the internet that helps parents explain the truth about Santa Claus to inquiring children, and as I read it to my oldest her eyes welled up and over their banks.
We believe in a God we cannot see or fully understand. He doesn’t talk audibly to us or tell us exactly how our lives will turn out. There are many attributes of Santa, and the life of St. Nicholas in which his generosity is rooted, that point back to Christ. The purpose of this piece is not to convict parents one way or another, but to encourage all to personally seek Christ in all things, including Santa.
Here are four things to consider when debating if children should believe in Santa Claus. Above all else, keep the reason for the season, Jesus Christ, the reason for the season.
1. Know Who the Real St. Nicholas Was
Little can be historically traced about who St. Nicholas was, but his giving nature has held on throughout history, eventually becoming synonymous with Santa Claus. St. Nicholas had no way of knowing how poignant an impact his generosity would make long after his life on earth. As we look back over the centuries, we can see great works of God in many lives. St. Nicholas’ life was meant to glorify and honor God just like ours, presently. There is an important lesson to be gleaned from the good in every life.
Santa’s generosity gives parents an opportunity to talk about our most generous Father in heaven, and the greatest act of love of all time through the greatest gift of all time… Jesus Christ, born on Christmas. The true reason for the season. Santa’s gift-giving reminds us of the greatest Gift, and should never overshadow Him. The part of his St. Nicholas’ life we remember and focus on to this day is his generosity! We want to live so that long after we are gone our legacy of loving others still points to Jesus Christ. Every good thing we do is because of the greatest good Christ did for us. He gave, so we give. He loves, so we love. He is the driving force behind every good thing.
2. You Can Use Santa to Teach Your Children about Generosity
Every time we get the opportunity to talk about Christmas, we get to point to Jesus, who is the ultimate Gift. Christ taught it is better to give than to receive, and to love because we are loved. Rarely do we see Santa opening gifts or writing down his wishlist. His joy is in providing a blessing for others, and that legacy of generosity is rooted in Jesus, and our generous Heavenly Father.
Our children can learn the full feeling of giving, too, by following Christ’s example. Teaching children to give gifts, and to lend their time to help others in need, allows them to feel the joy of being a vessel of God’s great love on this earth. The urge to do good and give to others comes from Him. Santa can be a joyful reminder of the opportunity to serve others as an important part of God’s kingdom.
3. Santa Can Give Us a Way to Explain Faith without Sight
Our Christian faith requires us to stretch beyond what we can see and understand. Though children have little tangible proof of Santa Claus, and questions galore, many of them naturally want to believe. This is God at work in us, that we all seek and are drawn to a love, generosity and joy we cannot see or fully explain. Our faith is based on God’s Word, through which fulfilled prophesies of and personal experiences with Jesus blend together as the greatest story… the human story.
God, our Creator and Author, sent His one and only Son to ensure He could have a personal relationship with each of us. Children write letters to Santa, knowing they are somewhere on his list. They hope they have been good enough to receive a gift. Christian parents have the grand privilege of telling children they don’t have to worry about earning God’s gift, Jesus Christ. God’s love doesn’t wax and wane with a child’s behavior, and the contrast between Christ and the lore of Santa’s list is an important one to decipher. Being deserving of Santa’s gifts should never be something a child should have to worry about. The gift of Jesus Christ is for everyone.
4. The Tradition of Believing Joyful Good News
Many of us can’t wait to share the joy of Santa with our children, remembering the magic of our own childhoods, or perhaps wanting to bless our children in ways we did not experience in our youth. Hearts following Jesus will know when it is time to let the particular children He’s entrusted to them in on the larger truths of life. Every family, person, and child is different. Only God knows the depths of every heart. When older children start to ask direct questions, they require honest answers. The whimsical imaginations of our youth eventually need to be rebuffed and expanded to fit the destiny we are growing into. But the generosity of Santa Claus can become a legacy they are now a part of.
Parents, we can still bless our children beyond what they can imagine. This is what God does for us, and I believe when we seek Him first He loves our children in this manner through us. St. Nicholas’ life provided an example of how to follow Christ’s generosity, love and acceptance. To look out for those who cannot help themselves, let alone provide the blessing of gifts and toys. However, Santa, nor any person, should ever compete with or replace Christ. Without Jesus, there is no Christmas.
How to Decide What to Do about Santa
The truth is, we’re all called to give extravagantly. St. Nicholas set a remarkable example of caring and blessing those around him. When our children know what it is to be blessed beyond their understanding, they have a lifetime to discover the ways God has specifically created and purposed them to do so. Everything and everyone points back to our Creator. God is faithful to give us many opportunities to know Him, and guide our children to His feet.
Prayerfully consider God’s directives when children are inquisitive. Santa models an important lesson in joy and generosity, and in paying attention to the people around us. But the real Gift is Jesus, who gave His very life so we would be free from sin. He died so we would live life to the full in faithfully following Him. Every good thing, including Santa, comes from His Father in Heaven.
Meg Bucher writes about everyday life within the love of Christ. An author, freelance writer and blogger at Sunny&80, she earned a Marketing/PR degree from Ashland University. Her first book, “Friends with Everyone,” is available on amazon.com. Meg leads/teaches Bible Study in Women’s and Youth Ministry. Living in Northern Ohio, she’s been wife to Jim for a decade and counting, is mom to two tween daughters, a distance runner, photographer, and avid Cleveland Browns fan.
Meg writes about everyday life within the love of Christ as an author, freelance writer, and blogger at Sunny&80. Her first book, “Friends with Everyone,” is available on amazon.com. She earned a Marketing/PR degree from Ashland University but stepped out of the business world to stay at home and raise her two daughters. Besides writing, she leads a Bible Study for Women and serves as a Youth Ministry leader in her community. She lives in Northern Ohio with her husband, Jim, and two daughters.