When people ask my three year old son what Santa is bringing him for Christmas, he says, “It’s not about Santa, it’s about Jesus.” Some people laugh or say, “All right!” But others aren’t so enthusiastic. They look at me puzzled and I let them know that we don’t teach our son about Santa. I’m usually met with an incredulous look as if I’m the worst parent ever. They either look back at him and ask, “You don’t believe in Santa” or at me and ask, “How can you not teach him about Santa? Don’t you think you’re robbing him of childhood joy?” I simply say, “No.” Then the question of why comes up and I explain.
Before my wife and I got married, we discussed whether or not we would teach our kids about Santa. We both agreed that we would not. The first reason is that we both knew people who remembered the day they found out that Santa wasn’t real. They still remember the disappointment that their parents lied to them. The way I look at it is if I lie to my children about a man they’ll never see and can travel to every house in one night bringing presents, how will he believe me when I tell him about God and the gift of salvation?
If I plant seeds of doubt that things I tell him aren’t real, they can grow up to produce fruit that makes him doubt his faith. I measure success as a parent as whether or not I’m able to pass down the Christian heritage that was passed down to me. Everything I do should build that foundation, not put cracks in it. I believe that lying to my children would be detrimental to what I’m trying to do as a parent. I’m more concerned with his eternity than I am his childhood joy.
The next reason I don’t teach him about Santa is that I want to teach him the value of hard work. His mom and I work long hours and make sacrifices to be able to provide for our family. I want him to know that we are the ones giving him the gift because we were able to work hard and to save money up. I don’t want him to think he gets anything for free in this life. We were both taught that if you want something, find a way to make money, pay your tithe, save the rest and then go get it. I want to build that same work ethic into him.
The last reason we don’t is that I don’t want to use presents as a means to behavior modification. I don’t want to constantly tell him, “You better be good or Santa won’t bring you anything!” At the end of the day, no matter how good or bad kids are, parents get their kids a present at Christmas. So they really aren’t using positive reinforcement as they think. Their lie to the child is a temporary fix to a long term problem. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way they should go and when they are old, they won’t depart from it.” We believe in being consistent with our discipline throughout the year.
I don’t think that parents who teach their kids about Santa are bad or wrong. I understand why they do it. These are our personal choices. With this post, I simply wanted those who do teach their kids about Santa to understand why we don’t and to hopefully spark some thought. We even celebrate on Christmas Eve so there’s nothing under the tree on Christmas morning. We choose to make Christmas about Jesus and His birth. We believe He is the real reason for the season and want to start early in teaching our kids. I hope this helps explain why we don’t teach them about Santa.