Gospel-Centered mom introduces the post like this:
I believed in Santa.
My husband believed in Santa.
We turned out okay. We didn’t walk away from the Lord or resent our parents. Before we had kids we figured we would do the whole Santa thing. We wanted Christmas to be as special for them as it was for us. But then we actually had kids and we had a big problem.
Santa wasn’t going to work.
First let me say I’m a huge proponent of fostering imagination in kids. My kids’ all time favorite activity is pretending. All day long I have pirates, super heroes, and exotic animals flying through my house. I love it.
I also want to point out that when I talk about Santa in this post I am specifically referring to believing in Santa, not whether or not he should be banished altogether. My husband wears a Santa hat while we bake cookies. My kids sing along to Christmas songs on the radio and they don’t skip over Santa’s name like a cuss word.
But we have decided not to tell our kids Santa is real. More specifically, we purposely tell them he is not.
If you’ve been reading this blog for long you know that the whole point is to direct us moms and our kids into living out the gospel. I tried and tried to fit Santa into that plan, but it didn’t work. It was like trying to stuff a giant man down a chimney…
She has four problems with the Santa myth:
- Santa promotes works righteousness.
- Santa blurs the lines between fact and fantasy.
- Santa is a type of god.
- It’s hard to compete with Santa.
There are some new ones I had not thought of in this list, because I don’t have the experience with a family or kids to come up with these on my own (which is why I read the experts).
This one is completely new to me (#4):
Who cares about a baby in a manger when there’s a huge man in a shiny red coat throwing presents and candy around like it’s going out of style? Kids spend the entire Christmas season looking for signs of Santa. They write him letters. They bake him cookies. And that’s just the kids. Playing make-believe takes a lot of work for us grown-ups. We are on the other end of it trying to hide the evidence and figure out how to field all of their questions. All the time and energy we put into keeping up the Santa myth could be spent focusing on Christ’s birth.
Some parents call the Santa myth a lie while others call it pretending. I’m going to call it a huge distraction. My five-year-old asks me questions about God all the time: What does it mean to be a spirit? If God doesn’t have a heart how can He love people? If there is only one God why do we call Jesus God? Whew! Talk about tough questions. If I told my son Santa was real I would get all the same kinds of questions. Hundreds of them. Do I really want to take the time to thoughtfully answer my son’s genuine curiosity with answers that aren’t even true? Do I want Santa to become the focal point of every conversation?
My number one reason not to do it is her #2. But she says it a different way than I do:
So precious are the moments when the kids climb onto our laps for a Bible story. We talk about Jesus and how He lived a perfect life and died for our sins. We talk about the mighty power of God who created the world, parted the Red Sea, and closed the mouths of lions. They listen intently.
And they believe me.
Sometimes my heart aches when I look into their wide eyes and innocent faces and think, “They trust me implicitly. I want so dearly to lead them in the truth.” If my husband and I throw Santa into the mix of “true” stories, what will they think later when they find out Santa is not real? How about Noah’s ark? How about the ten plagues? How about that Jesus guy who was kind of like a religious magician? We want the categories of true and fantasy to be clearly divided. Characters don’t get to jump back and forth from one category to the other.
This one resonates with me because I am very curious about why Christian-raised kids fall away when they get to university. I’ve talked to men and women who went from pristine Sunday-school teaching Christians to binge drinking, having sex, cohabitating with atheists and yes, having abortions. And they tell me the reasons why they do that.
Obviously, the first reason is that they are not raised to see what is wrong with other worldviews and cultural practices like drinking and sex. Parents typically take the Santa view of morality with those issues – don’t embarrass me or else no goodies for you. No evidence is presented beyond “because I don’t want you to embarrass me”. And when the kids get to university and the incentives change, it’s over.
But the other reason is just the overwhelming sense that kids gets when they get to university and look at what they hear from the professors and think “I was lied to”. They think that because Christian parents and pastors have not talked about apologetics or anything else interesting (biology, economics, etc) that is related to Christianity. The kids have a childish trust in God and it is mowed over by atheist professors and their “arguments” about how micro-evolution explains the origin of DNA and animal phyla, how the multiverse explains fine-tuning and how the eternal universe making a Creator unnecessary. It’s nonsense, but if all they heard as a kid is even sillier Santa Claus nonsense, then it works.
Treat your kids respectfully, and they’ll respect you and your beliefs.