About a week ago, my 5-year-old son turned to me and said very calmly that Santa Claus isn’t real; he’s a “magical myth.”
I thought we were at least a year away from addressing the truth behind the big man in red, and he made his declaration right in front of his 2-year-old brother. So I took the very mature, thoughtful approach of essentially shaming him into submission. What do you mean Santa Claus isn’t real? Of course he is. Stop talking right now. You know, really ace parenting stuff.
But even with some time to think on it, I’m ambivalent about how to handle this with my kiddo. Part of me believes that he isn’t actually ready to give up on the fantasy. Another part of me really doesn’t want him to be the kid who seeds skepticism among his fellow friends at nursery. But he’s also a curious, critical thinker and I’m not that thrilled by the prospect of actively trying to fake him out.
So I put a call to the HuffPost Parents community, who shared their wisdom about how they’ve handled the whole thing. Here’s some of their best advice.
Emphasise the spirit of Santa
If there was one theme that rose above all others in the responses from HuffPost Parents readers, it was the importance of shifting the focus to the underlying spirit of Santa ― i.e., his love and generosity ― and the broader magic of the season.
Like reader Amanda, whose 4-year-old has been asking some tough questions and recently told her mum that magic is not real.
“It near broke my heart, so I told her that I very fully believe in magic. … I’ve been reminding her often since then of the everyday magic that’s all around us.” Motherhood, for instance, is magic, Amanda said. “How our kitty cat snuggles and purrs is magic and how flowers grow. I told her that the feeling of Christmas is magic and that’s very real.”
Go the ‘Santa is only real for those who believe’ route
Several parents said they’ve told questioning kids that Santa is real for those who believe in him. And many make it clear that Santa only brings gifts to kids who believe in him….