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a believing child in a non-believing family

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Yep, another santa thread. We've never done Santa, it doesn't feel right to me. DD1 is a very literal child, things either exist or they do not, she never pretended and santa was just was a character to her. DD2 is 5 and the exact opposite off course. We presented Santa the exact same way, that he was a fictional person, and she is convinced he is real. She asks me if he is and I ask her what she thinks, she thinks he is. Then she asks the 50 billion questions about the fireplaces, and presents... I don't go along with it because it feels so wrong to me, I just can not force myself to lie and make up some standard line. Last night she started in on the all the questions again, she looked at me with these big beaming eyes and I told her, "you know Santa isn't real, right?". "Of course he is Mommy!". And that is where it was left. 




post #2 of 16

You can't stop the imagination. 

post #3 of 16
Just keep doing what you are doing. Don't lie. Some little kids do have trouble with fact vs. fiction.... just one of the reasons many folks limit media exposure until their kids are older.
post #4 of 16

Maybe just make an observation "You're having a lot of fun pretending this year!" or something like that. 

post #5 of 16

we have the exact same situation.  we never did santa with ds1 and he was always fine with that (he is now almost 10yrs).  somehow ds2 got caught up with santa at school and started to believe in him around age 5.  he still does (age 8) and has convinced his little brother (6) also.  I'm not sure ds2 truly believes or not because now he asks me all the time trying to "catch" me and telling me "mommy, you realize you just told me santa isn't real".  argh.  It drives me nuts.  The little one TOTALLY believes.  my standard answer to any question on the subject has become, "I'll never tell".   they WANT to believe.  so I'm trying to let them believe without feeding into it myself if that makes sense.  I am guessing they are fast approaching the age where their friends (who convinced them of santa in the first place) will convince them he isn't real.

post #6 of 16

I'm more with Softmama. We read about Santa when the girls were little, "Night Before Christmas", etc. Santa was a big part of DH's and my childhood celebrations, but we absolutely did not ever tell them that Santa was real. We told them that some people believed in Santa and wouldn't it be cool... and sorta left it like that. 


OP, do you do stockings and all that or just have gifts from mom and dad?


Around age 6 or so, dd1 kinda got into Santa, but before that when she was little she adamantly DID NOT believe in Santa. I think the idea of some stranger coming into her house in the middle of the night freaked her out (she's very sensitive). Something switched around 6 or so, though and she was ready to play along. Dd2 was always a little more ready to believe. I think they were both into it because they didn't want the stockings and gifts to stop!! But it is fun to believe. I think deep down they don't really believe, but they suspend their disbelief just for the season. If you catch them in July and ask them (not that I ever have) they would say Santa is just a story, but in December they're much more likely to believe. They love to watch the Christmas specials, etc. 


I just wouldn't worry about it too much and let her have fun with believing as much as she wants to w/o ever lying to her. If you do stockings, etc, then I think it makes it more fun and exciting!


It's kind of like believing in ghosts at Halloween. It makes it exciting to think about — could it be true? Really? Oooooo? Freaky!! Ooooooooo!!! Exciting!!


I just always fell back on that "some people believe..." and "wouldn't it be cool if..." and sometimes we talk about St Nicholas, etc. I don't think you have to burst her bubble just yet. 


If she was hopping around on the floor saying, "ribbit, ribbit", would you say, "you're not a frog, you know?" or would you play along a little bit?

post #7 of 16

DD2 wouldn't allow Santa in our house.  He had to come to the front door.  As far as believing in him.  I'm pretty sure if I told them he wasn't real they'd suggest I was lying.  They want to believe and I think the imagination sometimes out weighs reality.  With so much crap in the world believing in something good isn't terrible.

post #8 of 16

why dont you let her tell you the story of her santa. and leave it at that, instead of trying to offer other suggestions. 


i think you have a child who would love to believe in magic. is she also into magic and fairies and other things?


if she does you just have to accept that.


my next question is why does this affect you so deeply? with most people santa is not that big a deal. it doesnt matter if their child believes in him or not. perhaps that will give you an idea of how to deal with this yourself.


like my dd told me 'mama just because you cant see them doesnt mean they dont exist.'


it is a phase. a kinda child quirkyness. they go thru that stage for a while and then its done.


however i am not exactly sure what kind of help you are asking for.  


do you want some coping skills yourself, with this uneasiness (or however you describe it)?  do you want help with what to tell her (what do YOU want to tell her - stop believing it or how to agree with her). 

post #9 of 16

DSD (8) still whole-heartedly believes. We've told her we don't, and she just thinks it's really sad for us. :) She has never asked if it is just parents... I think she doesn't really want to know the answer, because she knows I will never lie to her. I know none of her friends still believe. I don't think it's a big deal, I still get her gifts from "Santa." Guarantee you MY mom will get me a gift from Santa this year, too, and I haven't believed since I was 5! DSD's reasoning is, "I still believe in God, and we can't see Him." Can't argue with that.

post #10 of 16

I have a hard time with this one.  I'm a huge Santa fan.  You could say it's in my blood.  My uncle is Santa Claus.  LOL   But even if he wasn't I'd still belive.  But it's not about the man it's about the ideal.  Giving gifts to Children and letting them enjoy the majic for as long as they want.  I agree with whoever said if your child was pretending to be a frog would you tell them to stop, you're not a real frog?  Do you insist that fairys and ghosts don't exist if they want to search the forest or shiver with pretend fear at halloween?  (Another good point someone made.)   What is really so wrong about believing that you feel the need to steal that wonder from your child who clearly longs for it?  You've told her the truth and she has chosen her own version of it.  IMO you need to respect that and play along for awhile.  Otherwise you need to suspend all pretend play and wouldn't that be a sad world for anyone, let alone a child, to live in.  No tea partys with food and drinks that are made of the most delisious air.  No Teddy bears having a picnic.  No riding rockets to the moon or mars or the farest stars.  No dancing on stage or playing in a band.  No prince or princess.  No dragons and unicorns lurking somewhere.  What a boring world.  Embrace your child for the wonderful, imaginative person she is, embrace the spirit of Christmas. 




You say there’s no Santa

to come Christmas Eve..

I tell you nay, that just can’t be

Santa is real for those who believe.


Too many adults

scoff at such tales

as reindeer and elves

as they hurry to sales.


They have busy lives

where magic is gone

but in the hearts or our children

the spirit lives on.


Others may laugh

and call me insane.

When I tell them that,

I’m on a Santa campaign.


I know that Santa

is out there somewhere

but he’s so much more…

than a gray beard and hair.


He’s what makes us better

than we thought we could be.

He lifts our souls higher

just look and you’ll see.


There is no fantasy

that brings gifts on that night.

The truth is our children

know what is right.


Open your hearts!

Heed my appeal!

You are being deceived

Santa is real!


Patricia Gibson-Williams

post #11 of 16

OP, you said you've "never done Santa". I'm wondering if your question is of a more practical nature like how to reconcile this younger sibling's seeming desire for Santa to come through the chimney with his sack and your established traditions. How old is your older child? If you can tell us more about your existing traditions/celebration/etc maybe we can offer some more practical answers.


I remember when I was a kid (youngest of 3) a friend down the street had the Easter Bunny come visit her. She used to strew flower petals around her front porch for the Easter Bunny to eat and she got a big Easter basket that the EB left for her. In my family we had never had a huge Easter Bunny tradition in years previous, but I was interested in how all this cool stuff happened at my friend's house and wanted it to happen at my house, too. In my family we always had an egg hunt and I think our parents gave us chocolate bunnies, but I don't really remember a big basket full of loot, and the Easter Bunny wasn't involved in these gifts as best I remember. Anyway, that year that I wanted to be like my friend my mom did go along with it and I think I enjoyed it, but it fell a little flat because it wasn't really a magical tradition we had done every year. I never really BELIEVED in the Easter Bunny and when I was ready to start letting the fantasies of the EB, the tooth fairy, and Santa go, the EB and the tooth fairy were the first to get the curtain pulled back and the great and wonderful parents behind the curtain revealed.


I think in your case I would try to leave it open-ended a little bit and ask your dd2 in that "wouldn't it be cool" and "what do you think might really happen" way what she wants from Christmas and how she sees Santa playing into your traditions. It may not be that she really wants to shake things up that much — maybe she just wants stockings if you don't already do that. Or maybe she just wants you to play along and doesn't really want any of the trappings of your family holiday to change, but just wants to talk about Santa with you. 


I know a Jewish boy who makes a Santa trap every year like kids sometimes make Leprechaun traps for St Patrick's Day. I think there are a lot of different ways to deal with Santa and just because you have one kid who wants to believe doesn't mean you have to change things up greatly. 



Edited by beanma - 12/2/11 at 8:22am
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 

I guess it is more of a practical thing why I am questioning what to do. My oldest child will be 9 in a couple weeks, there are 4 of them, DD2 is the second child. When she says something about Santa her brother is often listening, so it affects more then just her. She asks all the questions, does he come in the front door or down the chimney? Doesn't he get hot? On and on. And for someone who isn't comfortable with santa to begin with what exactly do I say to her, that is where I am struggling. If I don't say anything at all, she presses me, if I make some general comment like what do you think, she presses me. She wants the yes, he goes down the chimney. For me, that feel like lying. She isn't into fairies, or anything else. She does like to pretend but I think she realizes the difference with everything else. 


The reason DH and I did not want to do santa in the beginning was because both us did not take finding out the truth well as children. You know those children that are quite bitter, feel lied to and betrayed when they find out? Yep, that was me. And it did not settle into liking to help my younger sibling experience santa or looking back with fond memories. Now I can, but certainly not when I was a child. We don't do the tooth fairy or easter bunny here either. 

post #13 of 16

Peony, I think when she's asking the questions it's okay to say, "I really don't know. Do you want to see if we can look it up?" and then do a little googling or read the Night Before Christmas and see if she gets any ideas from that. Or you could do the "I've heard some people say thisorthat, but other people say blahblahblah." When my dd1 was going through her not believing/believing phase I just told her some people believe in Santa and some people don't—just like different religions, really. Some people believe he's real and he can use magic to get down the chimney, but some people don't believe in Santa and think something else is going on. If my dd asked me what I believed I probably hedged and said I believed in spirit of Santa or I wasn't sure or Hmmmm or something. I don't think my dd did ask that, though. 


For the specific example you gave about the door vs chimney I would probably say, "well the Night Before Christmas story says he goes down the chimney, but there are some houses that don't have chimneys so that's a tricky question. I heard about a movie once where the people that made the movie had Santa magically make a chimney in houses that didn't have one." (The Santa Clause with Tim Allen). You're still leaving it open and not saying that you believe it.


Maybe you could think about it like explaining about Judaism or Islam. (I'm assuming you celebrate nominally Christian holidays if you're asking this question.) Just because you might explain a little bit about how Jews observe Hannukah doesn't mean that you believe the same things. You might look it up on the internet and find out some of the customs, etc.


Does that help? I think you can let her explore a little bit w/o going all the way down that road with her.

post #14 of 16

peony her questions remind me of the typical religion questions. beanmama stole my words so i have nothing extra to offer. 


my favourite answer to dd has been - i dont know. other's say .... but i have never seen or heard anything. 

post #15 of 16

DD2 told me if you stop believing in Santa, he fades away like fairies.  She also told me that adults can't really see him or hear him thats why they don't believe in him.  This could something she's thinking as well.

post #16 of 16

DD is still young, 3yrs. we don't do santa or xmas or chanukkah. we also don't do easter or passover, ect. she thinks xmas is for the dog's b-day and every one decorates their homes for him. it's cute and i don't know how that idea came about. we don't live near family (who are appalled by our non-practices, and  think how dare we deprive our child). my brother is the only one who lives close by and this year wants to do festivus... um not sure how that's going to work out. we do the yule and have a fire outside to sit around and celebrate the winter solstice. my father and grandmother are the only ones who will say things like "what is santa going to bring to you?" "do you think santa's going to bring you lots of gifts?" and "have you been a good girl so santa will bring you presents?" she just replies with "yeah, sure!" and i don't think she has any idea what their talking about.


if we see some item that has santa on it, DD knows that's what it is, but the whole story/idea has never been told to her. i don't like the whole bribing her to be good, lying, and consumerism of the holiday season, it's unsettling and i hate shopping as it is. when she sees a fake tree in the store all decorated she gets excited about it, maybe because we're a couple of tree huggers here. it's not that i'm a bitter person about the holidays, i just find that without family and holiday nonsense, my stress levels stay the same year round and i'm not worried about going broke trying to please every one else.


i do encourage imagination. when we cross this road, and if we have to, dh and i will let her know we don't believe santa's a real person but it's okay for her to pretend if she wants. we won't do gifts "from santa" ever and we get gifts sent from family that we just let her open when they arrive (she also thinks it's to celebrate the dog's b-day). when it comes to younger siblings they will be much more influenced by the older child and i would just let them pretend/play together about the whole santa thing. it will only last until the end of this month and then you have a whole 11 months before it starts up again.


do you do gifts on xmas day set out the night before? if so, i would maybe opt to have the kids help set out the xmas gifts on xmas eve and wait until the next morning to open them up. as long as she knows you're not trying to betray her into believing in something that isn't real, i don't see any harm in her pretending, but make clear she shouldn't expect any gifts "from santa" on xmas morning so she's not being set up for disappointment.

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