Monday, December 1, 2014

Should I encourage my child's belief in Santa Claus?

Here is a confession from a grown man, husband, and father of two boys. Are you ready for it? I believe in Santa Claus. There I said it. It feels good to get that off my chest. Want to know why? There are two reasons really. First, we have a saying in my family that has been passed down from my parents (primarily my mom) and that will be passed down to my boys when they are old enough to understand. The saying is "If you don't believe in Santa there won't be any presents at my house on Christmas morning." So when my boys ask me if I believe in Santa, I am quick to tell them of my belief in the jolly old elf. Call me greedy, childish, materialistic, immature, or what have you, but if you ask me if I believe in Santa I'll tell you I believe. Do I think my parents would leave me out of the gift giving if I said I didn't believe? Probably not. But if I ruined the magic of Santa for their grandkids they might! The second reason is because I don't believe there is any harm in it.

Now understand my second reason to be coming from experience rather than education. My training is in business and theology, not in psychology. That being said, I know some people who from their child's earliest years have never encouraged belief in Santa for their own personal reasons. But like most people, I grew up in a house that celebrated Christmas with cookies and milk left for this guy that would come and leave presents in our living room. And like those that grew up in homes where Santa was allowed, I grew up to be a relatively well adjusted adult (no comments please). So what harm is done to us by allowing us to believe in the fanciful? What harm is there to be on the blind side of belief in a man giving gifts, giant rabbits leaving candy, or a fairy that trades money for molars? In this man's opinion absolutely nothing. Psychologically speaking I don't think there is. When was the last time you met someone with real life issues because they believed in Santa as a kid. Theologically speaking I think it can be helpful.

If nothing else I want my boys to grow up and allow their belief in Santa to help them frame their view of their faith in God. I know that is a stretch for some but hear me out. When my boys are older I want them to have as comprehensive a view as possible of their faith in God. I want them to fully realize this idea that God gave us the greatest gift ever on that first Christmas morning, not because He had to, but because He wanted to. There were no strings attached. There was no reason that He had to give us Christ, but He willingly gave Christ to us at His own personal cost. I believe encouraging belief in Santa (a benevolent man, who gives gifts at his own expense, and with no strings attached) will only help my kids more fully understand the true meaning of Christmas and God's gift of salvation through Christ. Call it simple minded. Call it what you will. But that's just the thought of a man who believes in Santa and hopes his kids will always believe as well.

*This post was originally written in December 2014. Since then our sons have come to fully understand our family tradition of "If you don't believe in Santa there won't be any presents at my house on Christmas morning." In fact our boys have fully embraced it! Looks like they will be believing in Santa for years to come!

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