Parents often wonder if they should be "honest" with their child about whether or not Santa is "real." In this blog post I share some thoughts on how the discussion about Santa can actually be an introduction to a discussion about faith, belief, and individual differences.
Our son just turned three in November. It is the first year where we have been faced with the question, what do we tell our son about Santa? How do we want to navigate this conversation moving forward?
As parents, honesty is a value that is important to us. We want our son to always know that he can come to us with all of his questions and that he can trust our response. You will often hear me say that if a child is old enough to ask a question, they deserve a developmentally appropriate response. But in reflecting on the great- Santa- debate, we realised that this would be one of the first times that we would talk to our son about belief. The ability to believe in something magical without proof.
After some reflection, we felt that our son believing in Santa or not, wasn't our decision to make... it was his.
When we talk to children about belief we don't need to talk to them in absolute terms. Instead of insisting that "Yes! Santa is real"
we can approach these conversations in ways that encourage our children to reflect on their own thoughts and ideas. To look inward and decide,
"Do I trust that these stories are true?"
"Can I accept what I am being told?"
"Do I trust? Do I believe? Do I have faith?"
I want my son to be able to have faith. Faith in himself, faith in other people, faith that things wilder than his most impossible dreams can come true. I want to nurture his imagination, let him run wild with what he wants to believe in these early years.
As a Psychologist, I am also aware that children revisit conversations in order to make sense of the world around them. The conversations we have with our child about Santa will change and evolve each year as our children do. Each year we will have to navigate new questions, and new ideas. By talking about Santa in ways that holds space for uncertainty, and recognises that we cannot always have all the answers, these conversations can grow with our children.
So one year I expect that when I ask my son, "What do you think about that? What do you believe?" he will approach me with a different answer. Or one day he might approach me with a direct question, demanding "the truth." But when that season comes, he will know that we never told him a lie, we always nurtured his own curiosity. We encouraged his ability to ask questions and seek answers. To form his own opinion on things that matter to him.
The magic of Christmas will be something we created together.
Love, Kimberley x