To Believe or Not to Believe: Teaching Our Children About Christmas

For the past couple of days, I have been thinking on the Santa Claus situation we face every year. I know that people think, oh it's innocent fun. But is it? Why do we celebrate Christmas? If we stop and think, Christmas is about our Saviour's birth, not about us receiving presents. It's the day set aside for all to celebrate Jesus' birthday.




There have been many questions that have run through my mind about this whole way of celebrating and here are a few:
For Christians, Jesus is the most important gift we have ever received. Why would we not want to base our Christmas season around Him and Him only, it is His birthday? Do we want to share our birthday with someone else? Don't we have that little bit of selfishness come out and want that day to be about ourselves and to be special? Don't you think that Jesus wants to be the center of attention at Christmas, it is His birthday after all.
For those that do not believe in Jesus, they celebrate the Christmas season as a time for sharing and receiving. Jesus is not the center of the season for them. Then there are those that don't celebrate Christmas at all. Both situations are sad for me to think about. I love having a reason to celebrate Christmas!
What about those who celebrate using Santa and then teach their children about Jesus' birthday? Why do both? Why not choose one and leave the other out? Does Jesus have the same amount of "exposure" as Santa? How can you teach about Christmas being all about Jesus' birthday when there is another figure being brought in on the scene?
I posted a question on two forums and on Facebook, hoping to get good comments from people and I did. I wish I would have received more. The whole Santa thing is a touchy subject and most people don't want others to know how they truly feel about it. There are those, who can become defensive because they want others to agree with them for their reasoning. And there are those, who point fingers at others for what they believe to be okay.
The question I asked is: Are we teaching our children it is okay to lie when we teach them to believe in Santa? Now mind you, a child has to be taught Santa is real for them to know who he is. The teaching has to continue for them to believe in him. Just like when we teach our little toddlers that an oven is hot and to not touch it. If we don't keep reminding them of this, they will touch it and be burned. How are our children being taught about Santa if we are not the ones that keep him in front of them and telling them, "Santa is watching!"
People, why teach them that some old white-haired man is watching them? Why not teach them that God (the one who created them, the one who gives them eternal life) is watching them, because He is.

TO BELIEVE OR NOT BELIEVE

So if we introduce Santa to our children and tell them he is watching to see if they are behaving and that he brings them toys on Christmas Eve, aren't we lying to them? But yet, we are teaching our children it is wrong to lie. Isn't that a double a standard?
My husband and I have discussed this in the past and just last night. I hope I can explain this as clearly as he did.
If we teach our children that there is a Santa (someone they see at the mall) and later on tell them the truth, how can we expect our children to trust us in everything we tell them?
I personally do not want to disappoint my child. I would never want to do anything to hinder our trusting relationship.
How are our children to want to grow their faith in Jesus (whom they cannot see) when they are being taught about His great love and all the wonderful things He has done and will do for them?
What will keep them from putting Jesus in the same "make believe" category?
One comment made stated their children know about Jesus and His wonderful works and they have a relationship with Him. I'm thankful children have a relationship with Jesus, but what happens in 10 -15 years down the road and things fall apart and a young person doubts their faith? Is a "little" lie going to be a stumbling block and cause someone to turn away from the Lord? I'm not saying it is, but it could be.
I heard several comments about a stumbling block, several believed the belief in Santa would not cause any problem but I had more to comment on how it would be a stumbling block. Will this cause a problem with children accepting Jesus as their Saviour? Honestly, I don't know.
But what about having your children trust you? I had several say they grew up believing in Santa and they did not have a problem with their parents encouraging the belief in Santa, it was all in innocent fun. Then there are those who were more hurt over being lied to by their parents, than the whole Santa deal.
I have a ten-year-old. We have never taught him to believe in Santa. He was taught early on this was a made up thing and Christmas was about Jesus and His birth. We have also taught him that God provided a job for his Dad and with the salary, we can buy gifts he would like to have.
My son knows the story of St. Nicholas and how over time, the history of Nicholas turned into the Santa Claus thing. I asked him how he felt about Santa. He told me, he felt sad to know there are other children being taught to believe in a man who is not real. He was glad we never led him to believe in Santa then told, later on, he was not real. When he looked up in my eyes and said, "Mom, you would have told me a lie and it's a sin to lie, no matter what". After hearing his words and seeing he face, I was relieved we never led him to believe in something that is not real.
We all have our opinions on things and that makes our lives interesting.
Answering my question, are we teaching our children it's okay to lie when we teach them to believe in Santa? Yes. I know others will disagree, that's fine. We are supposed to be living a godly life in front of our children. We are to be setting examples for the little eyes that are watching us. Think back to your childhood... Is there something that your parents did or said that you have made a point to not do? Those who are honest with themselves will say, YES, myself included.
If we are leading our children into a make-believe thing, a lie, then we are teaching them it is okay to tell a lie. No matter how you cut it, it's a lie. We're showing our children there are times when it is okay to lie.
This post has been a really hard one for me to write. At first, I wanted to lay it all out on the line and use Bible verses that talk about how God hates lying. But I couldn't because there are so many who feel that teaching their children to believe in Santa is not a lie. After deleting this post 2 times, I wrote out the questions that keep coming to mind. This was not just a quick process because I prayed the whole time someone will read this and see we are teaching something that is not all that innocent.
Teaching to believe in Santa is an individual home decision. It is something that both parents need to be on the same page about, something that needs to be prayed about. But don't be surprised when feelings are hurt because a child is more hurt over being lied to than the subject of Santa Claus.
As I said earlier, we all have our own opinions, and this post is mine. If I stepped on a toe or two, then maybe praying about what is being taught in a home is something that needs to be done.
Do you allow your children to believe in Santa?

11 comments

  1. Great Post !!!

    I know for me, even before I became a Christian, I knew I wouldnt do Santa.
    I remember getting the talk as a child and being told that my parents really were santa... I was devistated. I had such guilt for all the years that I had tossed this toy aside or that toy because I didnt like it... not knowing that my parents had spent their hard earned money and put their thoughts into them.. THEN, I felt obligated to corral all the previously unwanted toys that I still possessed and started to play with ONLY them to prove to my parents how much I appreciated what they had done.. They never knew the guilt I carried as a small child.. but, I am sure they would have felt badly if they did...

    Now that I am a Christian and husband and I are raising up our children ... we wouldnt do santa for the reasons you mentioned... (or easter bunny or tooth fairy)... we cant tell them that there is an all knowing every where present person, who resembles our Lord and Saviour ... and then tell them later "Just kidding there is no such person" how on EARTH are they going to believe that Christ is real? Will they always be wondering when we are going to pull the rug out on that one too? Are there children who grow up believing in santa and yet, grow up and Love the Lord still.. YES.. I am one of them *tho not raised in a Christian home*.. However.. is it worth it to me, to lie to my children and take the chance that it could mess with their faith later on?? NO WAY!~

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  2. Well put, Mrs. Lori! I've already left my comment on fb so I'll spare it here.

    The presentation of your post on this subject is both lovingly presented and well respected.

    And just so you'll know, I am LOVING my little thingies you sent me. I won't dare post what they are in case you're giving them as gifts. But I really do love them!

    :D

    Love you and Merry Christmas!!
    ~Kristi

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  3. Kristi ~ Thanks for your support and for your comment on Facebook. I'm glad you are enjoying those little thingies. Merry Christmas!

    Kristy ~ Thank you for your comment it was a blessing to read. Merry Christmas!

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  4. I agree, well said. Because I was not a Saved Christian for a long time, I lied to my oldest, she was devistated when she was told the truth. After that we then made the decision to stop lying to all our children - they were so relieved! We still go do a picture with the mall Santa, but it's just a picture for the sake of a picture and someday we will probably stop doing that too-

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  5. Kimberly, Thanks for your comment. I had a couple of people tell me that their kids did show any kid of emotion when they were told the truth. To me that is hard to believe. I have kid and when he finds out that something is either not what he thought or whatever the situation is about, he shows some emotion.

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  6. Lori, we don't teach our kids that Santa is real either, and for the very reasons that you've mentioned. In the past, I've just not said anything about Santa and it's been a non-issue. This year though, I've had to explain to Samuel the concept of Santa and how he's not real. It just amazes me how many people have asked him about Santa this year! Just yesterday a lady in Walmart asked him what he was hoping Santa was bringing him, and he just stared at her. Unfortunately, that's when I've had to explain. "Mommy, what is Santa?" He understands that some people believe in him, but that it's not really real. I wish we didn't have to even explain that much to our little guy.

    Anyway, we've been having that very discussion around here lately.

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  7. Melody, I remember having to tell Jamie about Santa. Boy, you should have seen the faces of family members when he told them that he does not believe in him. They acted as if I stole their best friend from them.

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  8. We have never done the Santa thing. Look at Santa's characteristics: "he sees you when your sleeping, he knows when your awake." That is omnipresence - seeing all children even when he's not there. "He knows when you've been bad or good." This would make him omniscient and your judge. Then, he exercises judgment for good and bad deeds, receiving presents or not. He flies all around the world and delivers gifts to every child, if this is not another example of omnipresence, it is definitely one of omnipotence. There are bunches of other examples of how Santa has the likeness of Christ.

    You mentioned lying. One of my teenagers was telling me just this week her reaction when she came to know Santa wasn't real. She had made Mrs. Clause a necklace. Later on, she found the necklace in her mom's pocket. She took it out and asked her mom about it. The mom had to come clean. My teenager, seven at the time, was totally devastated. She told her mom that exact thing, "You've been lying about Santa this long? It's all a lie?"

    For us, we didn't our children to think that there is a man who has these Christlike characteristics and then find out that he's not real. When you describe Santa you describe Christ in many respects...and Christ is real!

    We do, however, give gifts. Christ was our free gift, celebrated at Christmas. Each of our children also pick out gifts for each other. "Freely ye have received, freely give." "It is more blessed to give than to receive." We take the time to read the Bible's account of Jesus' birth before we do anything else. We try to make much of Jesus at Christmas and to celebrate Him.

    The first time I met someone who wasn't raised with Santa, I asked, "Did you feel like you missed out?" I was about 18 and the other girl was about 20. She replied, "Well, you don't miss what you've never known." With my children, they are always ecstatic about Christmas. They know that Mom and Dad, out of love, got them a few things they needed and some they just wanted. They still flip out on Christmas morning when they get the exact toy they had been hoping for. Christmas without Santa is still lots of FUN!

    This was a super great post!

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  9. Elizabeth, Thank you! You pointed out some things that I did not mention. You are so true about this characteristic being so close to God's. There is a website that has these characteristics and all listed. I wanted to link it over, but since I do not know anything about the website's owner I was afraid to. They have some really good things on there, I just don't want to link to someone, that I don't know.

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  10. You know, it is just so EASY to tell the truth! Why bother trying to answer all those questions about how Santa gets in the house, down the chimney, all over the world in one night???? One lie leads to another. I used to think that I shouldn't say anything because I didn't want to offend anyone, but Christ is the reason for Christmas and we should always be able to state the truth. If someone gets mad over a lie that they insist on telling their children, then they need to take a look at their relationship with Christ. Both my husband and I were raised in lost homes and didn't get saved until after we were married. I never thought about Santa until a Christian told me and I was glad to have my eyes opened. We don't need to be hateful about it, but simply tell others the truth. I am very thankful that someone told us.

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  11. Sandra, Thank you for posting your comment. I am one that does not like confrontation, so I try to stay out of most discussions. This year the whole Santa deal has really bothered me. It has in the past, but not like now. It is easier to just be truthful up front and not have to continue telling lies to cover up the last one.

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