wondering how to handle santa when we're non-believers.... - Mothering Forums

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Old 11-22-2010, 05:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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looking for some advice and perspective....

 

my son (aged 5) has started talking about santa bringing him presents.  since i'm jewish, i know nothing about santa, and have never encouraged a belief in him, nor has my husband, or anyone in our extended family.  my dh is christian, but in a very non-religious way, so we celebrate jewish holidays, along with christmas - which is a pretty mellow affair (we have a tree and do a special breakfast on xmas morning).  my children receive gifts for both hannukah and christmas.

 

i know i'm probably a buzz kill for all the santa lovers ;), but i don't really like the whole santa thing - plus, it's really culturally foreign to me.  i don't want my kid to think his reward for being "good" is presents - i want him to raise him with a desire to be a good person because it's the right thing to do.

 

also, when i mentioned this to friends of ours, they told me i'd have to "quarantine" him for the holiday season so my ds doesn't "ruin christmas for everyone else."  when i told them that i told my ds that presents come from his family and not santa, they were really shocked.  they said, "don't you have a christmas tree?  it's the same thing!"  personally, i just don't feel that way. 

 

i'm wondering if this is a common way for santa-believing parents to react to us santa-non-believers.  i grew up among kids of all religions, and i don't recall it ever being an issue amongst us kids.  it doesn't sit well for me that people would expect me to instill a belief in my child that i don't believe in, just because it's pervasive, convenient ("you can use santa as leverage for months!"), or other kids are doing it.

 

so i guess my question is two-fold:

how do you handle your child's belief in santa when it's not something that you believe or encourage?

and how do you handle your peers who want you to encourage a belief in santa?

 

thanks!

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Old 11-22-2010, 06:08 PM
 
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I think its OK to let your child to choose to believe whatever he wants.  You don't have to have a huge sit down with him about it, and tell him that the santa thing is a lie or whatever, that's what your freinds fear, that he will "ruin" the santa thing for them and their kids.    I actually know of families that don't believe where the parents agree to "suprise" the kids by stuffing their stocking on Christmas eve-  the rest of the gifts are wrapped with tags from mom and dad.  The kids have been told the stocking will be stuffed by mom and dad, but the kid can pretend its from Santa if they want. 

 

We do santa at our house, but only as a minor thing- stuffed stockings of candy mainly and have never had that big a deal with families that do or don't believe.


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Old 11-22-2010, 06:36 PM
 
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We do Santa, but we always make it pretty clear that it's just make-believe.  DD enjoys make-believe, so it's great fun for her, but she doesn't really believe in Santa.  If she did, that wouldn't bother us, just like it wouldn't bother us if she believed she had an invisible pet T-Rex who lives in the house with us (which she does).  We don't use presents as leverage--YUCK.  As for my peers, I can't imagine any of them caring in the least.  I don't get why they would, and they certainly never have expressed any concern about it one way or the other. 

 

Oh, and when I was a kid I was told the same thing about Santa as I was about god (I was raised atheist):  he is something that some people want to believe in, and you don't want to ruin it for them, so just don't tell them he isn't real.  So yeah, I did fine around other kids and never ruined Christmas (or religion) for anyone. 

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Old 11-22-2010, 06:55 PM
 
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First of all, I have no religion. Santa is not something I "believe" in. It is made up fantasy, and fun and somehow magical. It's also silly and deceptive, so I understand why someone would choose to leave it out of their holiday celebrations. After debating whether or not to do the Santa thing w/ our child, my husband and I just decided to go w/ it & have fun. One day our child will figure it out, and hopefully not be too disappointed.

 

Simultaneously, we emphasize other things about this time of year (ie. sharing time and meals with family, cultivating a generous spirit towards other, celebrating the end of the year, having hopes and dreams, enjoying lights and decorations and cookies, etc...). We don't avoid commercialism, but we do talk about its problems & what really matters in life. We also discuss the ways people of various religions celebrate the holiday.

 

So how would I handle our child's interest/enthusiasm if we didn't do the Santa thing at home? I would just have him elaborate on his beliefs/feelings, listen w/ empathy and interest, and remain nonjudgmental. I would extend it into a more broad discussion about how people celebrate the holiday in different ways.

 

How would I handle peers who wanted to encourage the Santa practice? I would laugh & remind them that you're Jewish, and that it's not something that Jewish people do (& if you're Orthodox, it's probably forbidden). Then I would just let it the topic drop in a spirit of humor and friendliness.

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Old 11-22-2010, 07:55 PM
 
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so i guess my question is two-fold:

how do you handle your child's belief in santa when it's not something that you believe or encourage?

and how do you handle your peers who want you to encourage a belief in santa? 

 

Ok that quote came out weird sorry lol.  We are pagan so don't mind the 'magical' side of the santa myth... but we do not PUSH the santa thing all year by any means.  My 6yr old has figured it out ;)  We were talking about it last week actually and he asked if santa was a real man that brought presents.. I asked what he thought and he said I think YOU do it, with a gryn.  I winked and told him he was right, and asked if it really mattered WHO gave presents and he giggled no way! lol   So we talked about Santa being a representative, or picture, of an idea that people should be good and kind and share what they have with others.  And after that, we cleared out a few toys to take to a charity nearby :)  his idea even!    Before the kids 'figured it out' we just were very nonchalant about the whole thing.. not making a huge deal about it really kept their santa ideas from getting out of hand.  The only thing santa has ever really brought here is stockings ;)   I'm hoping this way the youngest will never really get sucked in to the Santa greed cycle.

 

As for the second part... I don't particularly care WHAt my peers want me to do lol.  If they want to tell their child that santa is real, well then they need to be prepared that at some point someone is going to clue the kid in that santa is NOT real. Your child does not have to be quarantined to avoid 'ruining' anything for other kids!  and that is an absurd suggestion.  The fact that she took is SO seriously is just weird.

 

And santa as leverage really does not work.. because all it either does is makes the child realize that santa can't be real (or he wouldn't have gotten presents because he did x, y and z and was not perfectly goo) so mum had to bring the presents.  Or it makes the kid ruminate for months over every thing they do that they might see as a santa ire drawing infraction. 

 

As someone who grew up believing santa hook, line, and sinker.. I say just do what you do.  It isn't your responsibility to enforce their myth.


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Old 11-22-2010, 08:20 PM
 
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We do Santa, but I don't make a huge deal about him being real or fake. We are Catholic, so we do St. Nicholas Day as well. We teach the kids about St. Nicholas, what he did, and that he is pretty much "Santa" since he was the original inspiration anyway. They get their shoes and stockings filled on St. Nick's eve(Dec. 5th), and in the morning the wake up to their treats. Christmas they get all the presents under the tree. I've never really said anything about Santa being real or not, so to them it could be like Tinkerbell or Disney princesses.


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Old 11-22-2010, 11:43 PM
 
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We celebrate Christmas, but by that I mean we enjoy the cosiness with family and have carried on traditions that have been in our family and we enjoy - like turkey and pumpkin pie, visiting family, and presents under a tree. 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by OTMomma View Post

I think its OK to let your child to choose to believe whatever he wants.  You don't have to have a huge sit down with him about it, and tell him that the santa thing is a lie or whatever, that's what your freinds fear, that he will "ruin" the santa thing for them and their kids.    I actually know of families that don't believe where the parents agree to "suprise" the kids by stuffing their stocking on Christmas eve-  the rest of the gifts are wrapped with tags from mom and dad.  The kids have been told the stocking will be stuffed by mom and dad, but the kid can pretend its from Santa if they want. 

 

We do santa at our house, but only as a minor thing- stuffed stockings of candy mainly and have never had that big a deal with families that do or don't believe.

 

This. I just left Santa up to the kids. Whatever they decide, for however long that will be. We never encourage santa, but if they asked who that fat guy with the red outfit was, we would say santa and leave it at that. A good tip is to answer a question with a question. For example, my 4 yo asked "how can santa deliver presents to us, if we have no chimney?" (We had never discussed santa using a chimney, but either he saw a cartoon or commercial with that, or another kid told him or whatever). My reply was "I don't know. What do you think?" Some kids will say they don't know either, some will say well that santa must be made up then, some will come up with elaborate stories about how santa uses a magical chimney or goes through the basement (this was my sons conclusion). 

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Old 11-25-2010, 01:31 PM
 
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We don't create stories or do things to "convince/" our children that Santa is "real". But we don't actively discourage or "reveal the truth" either - our children are still young & don't want them to be the naysayers to kids who do believe.  But I don't feel comfortable lying to our children either. We answer their questions & give them things to think about re: Santa. I actually just wrote a blog post about it http://www.kellynaturally.com/post/The-Santa-Dilemma.aspx if you're interested... because its that's time of year when Santa is omnipresent!


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Old 11-25-2010, 06:09 PM
 
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I have raised my children (ages 14, 8 and 1 yr) not to believe in a "santa" and it's been fine. They have had NO problems with it whatsoever. I make sure, however, that they don't talk about it to other children who may believe in santa and ruin it for them and they are good about that. But for the most part, my kids still pretend there is a santa and play santa every year and what not. It hasn't affected them negatively in any way.


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Old 11-26-2010, 12:07 PM
 
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We dont' do the whole Santa thing here either.  My kids are young, 4 and 2, but know the presents come from us. THey know WHO Santa is...make believe.  Make believe is fun. we also do St. Nicholas day as Orthodox Christians...and the kids are learning that SAnta is the personification of St. Nick, etc.  We are surrounded by Santa-believers...and I dont' make a big deal of it when they ask my kids "Is Santa coming" ?  For the most part my 4 yr old just smiles and says yes...I think she is still trying to decide !  But we just don't make a big deal about it. And if she goes to school when she is older and tells some kid that Santa isn't real.....well, what can ya do?  I DID believe in Santa when I was a kid and other kids would make fun of me and told me that he wasn't real.....I made it out alive.  

 

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Old 11-26-2010, 06:51 PM
 
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My kids know santa is not real.They know that mom,dad,and grandma buy the presents. They know that some parents pretend that santa is real,and teach their kids that he is real. To us santa is just another thing some do to help get through the blahs of winter.

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Old 11-27-2010, 11:38 AM
 
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We aren't Christian but I view Santa as just being a fun/cultural part of the holidays.  We absolutely DO NOT play the "you need to be good or else you won't get gifts" card- I think that's harsh and we don't normally provide incentives for good behavior, anyway.

 

We're pretty light about Santa- DS knows he's coming, but we focus more on gifts from other family members instead.  We figure if WE don't make a big deal out of Santa, then DS won't either. 


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Old 11-27-2010, 07:11 PM
 
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Just an FYI, Santa really isn't a Christian story.  I mean, St. Nicholas was a Christian, but it isn't like Santa is in the Bible or anything.

 

We currently sort of do Santa - I never say he is real, my DH does say he is pretend, but we play along with the pretend and have fun with it.  Last year on Christmas Eve DH tucked DD (then 3) in and talked about how Santa is pretend and not real.  DD agreed with him, said, Oh yes, I know Daddy.  Santa is pretend  DH went downstairs.  I was still nursing DS.  Once DH left the room DD looks at me with tears in her eyes and says - Mama, I know Santa is pretend, but he'll come to our house tonight, anyway, right?

 

Sweet little thing I reassured her she'd have a full stocking in the morning and went down and told DH to stop being a kill-joy. :)

 

We talk about Santa being a symbol of generosity and the spirit of Christmas (sharing, love...).

 

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Old 11-27-2010, 07:17 PM
 
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I tried to add this to my pp, but it wasn't happening.  Anyway, I wanted to add that it does get sticky with an older child that I mind sometimes.  He 110% believes in Santa and talks about everything as total fact.  I generally deflect with questions, but I do feel odd about how it goes down in front of my kids and like I'm sort of lying in front of them.  But I really don't feel right about ruining the magic for his family or anything.

 

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Old 11-27-2010, 07:24 PM
 
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We do santa and although this will only be kiddo's second christmas so we are still working on traditions, so far santa just does stockings and one nice big gift (last year it was her own little chair, this year it is a tricycle.)

 

Growing up, we'd go see santa and whatnot, but santa presents were more about having something to open and play with while we waited for all of family to arrive (or to have something during the car ride somewhere) than about it being the focus.  Santa was fun and bridged the gap between waking up and when everyone else wanted to start exchanging gifts.

 

I see nothing wrong at all with not doing santa and telling your kids he isn't real (but to not ruin it for other kids who don't know yet, or know but choose to pretend they don't) Personally, I want to do Santa even when I have grandkids because I think it is fun to wake up to surprises and I want to give that to kiddo always (and eventually her kiddos too if she has any :D) but santa, although NOT religious, is like religion.  Not everyone has to participate and everyone is able to do it differently.

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