I don’t know about you, but there is talk around these parts that Santa isn’t real….
– Santa isn’t real
– What do you mean NOT REAL?! Who brings me presents every year?
– It’s your parents – they are Santa. There is no way Santa can bring everyone presents; it’s not possible.
– But he is magical and can go really fast
– Only babies believe in Santa….
WHAT? How can this BE? IS Santa real or NOT? —— MOM, DAD, “IS SANTA REAL?!”
If you are a parent of an elementary aged child, your child might be going though this current turmoil right now and coming to you for the answers.
Finding out about Santa is often a traumatic experience for many people. I know it was for me. It was full of grief, sadness, anxiety, fear, and anger. I have also learned about how many other people found out about Santa via my therapy sessions and have learned quite a lot about people by hearing about this horrible day.
I figured I would offer some suggestions to parents who have this day looming in the future when your child asks you if Santa is real….. Because your child will likely remember this day for the rest of time, it is important to put some thought into how you want to handle it! So here are my thoughts from a therapist’s point of view!
- It’s OK that your kid is mad at you. “YOU LIED TO ME.” (Yes you did lie, don’t try to cover up the fact that you didn’t lie.) You brought your child to see Santa, you mailed letters to Santa.. (and I hear Santa has a phone number these days…) So apologize for lying. Your kid wants you to acknowledge this. Kids obviously know right from wrong and they know lying is wrong. Now is not a good time to explain why you did it. Wait until he or she is calm and less emotional. Apologize.
- Allow your child to express his/her feelings. A lot of emotions are going on and they are STRONG emotions and your kid is basically facing a major existential crisis so allow him or her to cry and be angry and upset. Your child is sad, devastated, angry, and furious. Many children also realize if Santa isn’t real, neither is the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and so forth. So let them process this new information and the onslaught of related emotions that come with it.
- Validate your child’s feelings. Hear their sadness and their anger. DO NOT SHAME THEM FOR HAVING THESE EMOTIONS. Now is not the time to say, “well you’re old enough now” but rather “I understand this hurts…” The adult talk can come a little later.
- Allow space for grieving. As you notice in my title I write “the day Santa died.” That might sound extreme right? Well, because it is extreme. That is likely how your kid feels. So treat it like grandma or grandpa just died, because this is a huge loss for your child and the magic of Christmas as been changed for the rest of their lives. Yes, new magic will come as they grow, but allow your kid to grieve the loss.
- Once your child is calm and has worked through the loss and moving beyond their existential crisis, now is a good time to bring them to the “Adult side.” That might be keeping Santa real for a younger sibling or cousin, or maybe starting a new tradition of sorts, doing something special for your little one the year that they found out the truth, or focusing more on the non-commercialism of Christmas – like giving back to the poor and helping others. Making a new positive focus can be helpful for your child – just allow the grieving to happen first 🙂
If you have any other suggestions feel free to add them to the comments below!
Good Luck Parents!