Should I Encourage my Children to Believe in Santa Claus?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Santa Claus sparks a lot of controversy when families who celebrate Christmas must decide whether to encourage their children to believe in him. Some people are rigidly against having children believe in Santa, while others feel it wouldn’t be the same without children thinking that he will visit them on Christmas Eve. Many parents try to walk a middle line between belief in the possibility and the consideration of reality.

Some parents say that allowing their children to believe in Santa is part of the magic of Christmas.
Some parents say that allowing their children to believe in Santa is part of the magic of Christmas.

People who do want their children to believe in Santa generally cite two reasons. Some may not want this Christian holiday dominated by belief in a pagan symbol. They often emphasize that he can divert attention from celebration of the birth of Christ, and take away from the true meaning of Christmas.

One activity to encourage a belief in Santa is to have children write him latters.
One activity to encourage a belief in Santa is to have children write him latters.

Other families are opposed to encouraging kids to believe in Santa Claus because they feel that this is an outright lie to children. They feel they break their children’s trust by telling them a lie that sooner or later will be discovered. These adults may remember the disappointment of finding out that Santa didn’t exist when they were kids and do not wish to inflict the same disappointment on their own children.

Parents often have to approach the subject of Santa carefully when talking to children.
Parents often have to approach the subject of Santa carefully when talking to children.

Some parents, on the other hand, argue that not believing in Santa steals away some of the magic of Christmas. From a Christian perspective, they may argue that he is symbolic of the giving spirit of Christmas, and is, therefore, related to Christ. They find no harm in telling children this, and encouraging belief, because childhood may be the only place where such belief can occur.

Parents who encourage the belief in Santa Claus may have a specific ritual for telling children about Christmas, or they may leave it up to children to find out on their own. When children do find out, however, parents should be aware that this could be a cause for grief in children. They may want to tell kids themselves, and make them part of the Christmas spirit by having them help put out gifts.

Families may walk a middle line between belief and nonbelief. They may teach that Santa Claus is a symbol of giving, and that believing in that symbol is a good thing. Christian parents may also emphasize that he is just a symbol while Christ is a reality. Thinking about Santa may then take on a quality of all the family pretending and imagining together.

When children give gifts, they are playing Santa in the middle road approach. A parent can, therefore, encourage children to be part of the symbol of generosity and miracles. Children tend to work out how presents arrive in a few years anyway, but belief in the symbol, some parents feel, can last a lifetime.

There is no one right way to answer whether parents should encourage belief in Santa Claus. Parents should judge by what they think is right for their families. If they do decide to go the non-belief route, or when they disillusion children about the reality of Santa, it’s important for children to realize that not everyone believes the same way. In fact, it can be somewhat mean for children to tell other kids that Santa doesn’t exist. So children who don’t believe should be encouraged not to spoil it for those that do.

Children may embrace Santa and Christmas by being involved in different craft projects.
Children may embrace Santa and Christmas by being involved in different craft projects.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


I don't have kids; however, Christmas is just a stupid holiday that humans invented. The only reason I would ever feel compelled to tell my child about Santa is because my child might feel different from everyone else who does believe in it. I'd rather tell my kid there is no such thing so he/she can develop critical thinking skills at an early age. Then again, telling them that there is one and letting them figure it out over time might help with that more. I dunno.


My grandma used to tell me all the time that Santa was real. I believed her and continued the tradition with my kids. It never hurt them any. In fact, there were times it actually helped throughout the year, because they would act out and I told them if they were not good that I would tell Santa on them and their stockings would have coal in them. They would stop acting out over half the time, just so they didn't get coal for Christmas.


@fBoyle-- Oh come on! Who's going to hate their parents for letting them believe in Santa Claus? They might be disappointed at first but it will pass. We all went through that stage.

I'm very happy that my parents encouraged me to believe in Santa Claus. I see absolutely nothing wrong with it.


@anon136897-- I agree with you.

What's wrong with having kids believe that their parents buy them gifts at Christmas time? Why do we have to tell them that an imaginary person is bringing it?

I just don't see the point of encouraging the belief in a character that my kids will never really see or interact with. I hate it when people take their kids to the mall and tell them that the guy posing with a fake beard is Santa Claus. Just tell them the truth! Otherwise, when they find out the truth, they're going to hate you for deceiving them for all those years!


I personally believe that the middle-ground the article talked about is the best when it comes to Santa Claus and children.

When I was little, my parents taught me about Santa Claus from a historical perspective. They told me that such a person existed and that we now continue this tradition. Even though I always knew that I wasn't getting gifts from Santa Claus but rather my family, I still pretended that Santa Claus would visit and I would leave cookies out for him. I sent him a letter every year asking for gifts too.

I think imagination is a very positive thing for children. You don't have to lie to them about Santa Claus but you don't have to forbid them from believing in him either. That's what I intend to do with my kids as well.


The only reason that christmas is big for everyone is because hallmark says so!!

santa claus a.k.a. saint nicholas, was a real person, and he really did give gifts because he believed it was what god wanted him to do.

Christmas was originally a pagan holiday but the roman catholic church didn't like pagan holidays, therefore jesus probably wasn't born on december 25 and he probably died some other day besides black friday. Straight up truth.


Absolutely, children have the right to believe, to believe in the magic and feel the suspense of Santa Claus for as long as possible!


I don't recommend lying to anyone at all. Tell kids the true meaning of Christmas instead of lying to them about Santa Claus.


My husband and I will encourage our children to believe in Santa for as long as we can. Jesus believed in us and gave to us, asking nothing in return. Santa is that symbol we want for them to keep alive and enjoy.

We feel those feelings will truly help them understand the true meaning of believing. Friends tell them Santa doesn't exist. Our answer to them: It's OK for their friends to say that because it's what they want to believe.

We make up our own minds, and we are all different. Jesus loves us no matter who we are or what we believe. It's innocence. We only have one childhood, and we want them to enjoy it.


I didn't realize how important it was for my 4-year-old son to believe in Santa until he told me a boy at school said he wasn't real. Our situation is unique in that my son attends a Jewish preschool!

I couldn't ask for a better start to his learning career both academically and religiously, but my knee jerk reaction was to pull him from the school. I need him to have that magic because I need the magic to come back for me. But mostly, I just want him to get into the spirit of Christmas.

I will discuss this with his teachers and use this opportunity to teach about different beliefs. It just sort of snuck up on me, but I also didn't think a 4-year-old would be saying such a thing. I guess it makes sense though if you don't celebrate Christmas. Oy!


I want to find that out too. :/


I would love to know the statistics concerning households who lead their children to believe in Santa vs. those who do not. Does anyone know where to find valid or solid research of the type?

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