Eventually, the time comes for every parent when their kids start questioning the existence of Santa Claus. It marks the end of a huge era for a lot of families, which is inevitable, but always sad regardless. As a parent, how do you deal with the disappointment of your kids as they start to figure out the truth? My kids are older and mostly non-believers now, though some will never admit it. Having gone through it six times with each of my children, I’ve learned a few things over the years about dealing with the sadness over Santa Claus.
Talk about it at the right time.
The timing of talking about the existence of Santa is paramount for some kids. I had that child. He’s on the autism spectrum and takes things literally. To his mind – mom says there’s a Santa, there IS a Santa. He got to the age where his peers no longer believed and I was horrified at the thought of him trying to convince them otherwise at recess. So, I sat him down and told him the truth. His response was “what else are you lying to me about?” Ouch, it hurt, but it was a fair question. Timing is so important with this and if you must ruin Christmas for a child, as I did – do it off season! I highly suggest making it a June conversation and not a December one. That way, by the time Christmas rolls around, your child will have had enough time to digest and process the news so it won’t completely ruin their holiday season.
Make your kid an ally.
Because I have so many kids, I didn’t want the biggie kids exposing an early truth to the little ones and I wanted to find a way for them to still be in on the fun. I found the best way to prevent that from happening was to turn my kid into an ally. By giving the big kids some Santa responsibilities, I made them feel like they were a part of the Christmas magic. I put them in charge of the Elf on the Shelf (which was perfect because I ALWAYS forget to move the guy, anyways), I had them wrap presents, help shop, stuff stockings, and basically take on the role of Santa’s “hype man”.
Look on the bright side.
Watching our kids grow up more every Christmas is fun and heart-breaking all at once. We eventually shift from telling them they can’t wake us up before 7 AM on Christmas morning, to forcing them out of bed at 11 AM. Things change so much, but ultimately each age is a gift that’s better than any Christmas present. Enjoy the magic while it’s there, but try and enjoy the non-believing years, too! They’re special for their own reasons.
Admittedly, I find Christmas pretty easy now that I don’t have a bunch of believers. I don’t have to use different wrapping paper for “Santa” gifts and “parent” gifts and besides, trying to change my handwriting on gift labels was never my strong suit. Ultimately, the realization of the Santa myth is the time when kids really get to learn that Christmas is about more than presents. This new phase is the door opening for different kinds of traditions and valuable lessons, and that in itself is a beautiful thing.