Since when can’t Christians let their kids believe in Santa? When did this become a thing? I don’t get it. I really don’t. Why isn’t it possible to teach our kids the true meaning of Christmas while letting them share in the fun and magical tradition of Santa Claus like we were able to do when we were kids? 

I still have very vivid memories as a little girl lying in bed, smiling and giggling, waiting and wondering, hoping and anticipating. I tried so many times to force my eyes to stay open long enough to hear the sleigh bells, or to see the reindeer on the roof, or to find Santa himself eating the cookies we had left! But every time, I would fall asleep only to jolt awake at dark-o’clock, rush out into the family room, and stand in awe at the stuffed stockings and pile of presents under the tree. 

I want my kids to experience that same joy. I want them to experience this time of childlike innocence and believe in flying reindeer and a kind, generous man who gives toys to kids all around the world in just one night. Is that so wrong? Does that make me a bad, non-Christian parent?

I don’t think so. I’ve heard many of the arguments against letting kids believe in Santa and I still feel great about including him in our Christmas traditions…

But you’re lying to your kids…

Well, let me tell you. When I was 8 and found out that Santa wasn’t real, I cried. Not because my parents lied to me, but because I just wanted to keep believing. I didn’t turn to my parents and say “How could you lie to me?”  I didn’t lose trust in my parents either and think “Well, if they lied about Santa, what else are they lying about?”  In fact, I wished that no one had ever told me!! Sure, my kids ask questions about Santa, but I just smile and let them wonder. I just let their imaginations go crazy trying to make sense out of it all. 

Yes, we leave him milk and cookies (that I enjoy greatly thank you very much!). We even leave him a thank-you note in advance for the gifts. And my favorite tradition is that each of my three kids buys and wraps a special gift to leave for Santa to take to children around the world who don’t have parents to give them gifts.

But they won’t understand the true meaning of Christmas…

Yes they will – if you teach it to them. My kids know and truly understand the meaning of Christmas. They understand that we decorate and give gifts because it’s a big birthday party for Jesus. They understand that He doesn’t want us to give Him gifts. He already gave the gift of Himself to us and wants us to celebrate Him by giving gifts to each other. My kids understand. 

But they will think that their gifts are earned based on their behavior…

No way. Not unless you tell them that! In our home, everyone gives and gets gifts simply to celebrate Jesus’ birthday. There’s no naughty or nice list. There’s no earning gifts for being good or taking away gifts for being bad. God doesn’t work like that and neither do I and neither does Santa—at least not the Santa I know.

But their relationship with Jesus will suffer if they believe in Santa…

Aren’t we all giving Santa way too much power on this one and not having enough faith in the power of God to tirelessly pursue our kids night and day for the rest of their lives no matter what? If I do my job as a parent and be His light to my kids, then they will see Him every day in me. They will believe in Him because He’s not just around on Christmas…He lives in my heart and their hearts every day. 

I am a Christian, and Santa is going to stay in our Christmas celebration as long as possible, and I’m not going to feel badly about it. But I will make you one promise – I will stand corrected on this whole Santa thing if any of my kids come to me one day as adults and say, “Mom, my life would be so much better now…if only you hadn’t let me believe in Santa.”   


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Christine Leeb

Christine Leeb--Speaker and Christian Family Coach specializing in Parenting and Child Discipline.  Founder of Real Life Families--a non-profit organization building better families through free classes and resources.  Mother to three awesome (and exhausting) children from whom she shamefully hides brownies.  Wife to one patient (and polar-opposite) husband with whom she constantly quotes "Friends". 

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