The day Santa died

Today, just as we prepare for an Easter break, I heard my youngest daughter arguing with her older sister, and then the younger came running to me.

Dad, does the Easter Bunny and Santa exist?

As a parent, or anyone speaking to a child, you don't want to take away their dreams or hopes. At the same time, it's a rough world, so you see it as your responsibility to teach them as much as possible about how the world works so they both know more but also, to be honest, avoid the risk of them being ridiculed for not knowing something.

So should I leave it be and then she'll eventually find out? Or should I tell her the truth, with the risk of making her sad? I do believe in honesty but at the same time I don't want to be cynical.

I thought a bit about it, what to say and how to approach the situation. After some thinking, I decided to ask her what she thought:

What do you think? Do you believe they exist?

Yes. Or… I think so.

Have you ever seen any of them in real life?

Well… We had a bunny at the kindergarten once. Who wore shoes. And then you were Santa once, daddy.

Right. So do you believe they exist?

Hmm… No, not really, I guess.
sounding more like she wished they existed, than actually thinking they do

And then she bounced off, having learned another lesson abut life.

Posted in Personal/life |

10 Comments

  • What a great way to approach this. While reading I was thinking of what I would do when my 2 mth old eventually asks me the same thing. I will have to remember to just keep it simple and let them decide.

    Now, what if she said that she still did believe? What was your plan of action then?

    • Robert Nyman says:

      Thanks Nathan! And yes, as much as I can, I try to make them think about it, go through their thoughts and hopefully come to a conclusion on their own. Instead of just telling them what to do and think all the time.

      If she would’ve said that she still believes, I *guess* I might have been the boring person talking about logic and logistics. Like, Santa, covering the entire world in one night, how many gifts on a sleigh etc…

      I don’t even know where to start with the Easter Bunny. :-)

  • Bob says:

    Santa and the Easter Bunny aren’t even religious symbols. They were invented to try and make the holidays more accessible to kids, but I think they just end up giving children a fantasy to believe in that will eventually have to be crushed.

    Kids will eventually understand the reason for the season as they grow up. Or they’ll choose not to believe the actual reason. Either way, I personally think it’s not helpful to add fictional characters that are unnecessary into the mix.

    • Robert Nyman says:

      Yeah, I think we spoke a bit later about traditions as well. It doesn’t have to be a true character in that sense, but just a way of celebrating together.

  • Pete says:

    When my first child was born, I said to myself, I will tell my kids the truth on whatevery they ask. But whenever this question comes up, I will lie.

    Never regretted this. Kids want to live with phantasy as long as they can.

    • Robert Nyman says:

      I think it’s a delicate balance. I understand what your saying and letting them keep their fantasies, but also about informing them about what’s real in the world.

  • Steve Fink says:

    My kids have been bumping up against this for a year or two now. I will not tell them that they (Santa and the Tooth Fairy, in our case) do not exist, but the kids come up with reasons why they don’t seem to entirely make sense and I agree with those reasons. But we go one step farther — I ask them “Do you want to believe? Is it more fun to believe in them even when you’re not sure they’re even possible?” The younger one is very clear — he wants to believe, and he agrees with but doesn’t care about the rational reasons why they don’t make sense. The older one is more bothered by the logical problems, but still makes the conscious decision not to kill them off entirely.

    I think it’s good to be aware that many of the things we believe in about the world around us aren’t completely true, or are mutually inconsistent. If I am honest with myself and investigate my own beliefs, opinions, and attitudes, I find contradictions everywhere. And I’m ok with that. I find people who insist on being 100% sure of everything dull and insufferable. My brain is not a logic processor, and I prefer it that way. Keeping contradictory ideas alive at the same time is a skill, not a weakness.

    • Robert Nyman says:

      Yep, I agree. I think it’s important – for children and grown-ups alike – to think about things, how they work, what we feel about them and what role they play in our lives. A lot is also mindset, how much of our attention we let things deserve, and how to pick the things that will make us feel better.

  • Alex says:

    Had similar conversations with my 6 year old but about religion, which is kind of shoved down her throat at school. I’m very much an atheist myself but I don’t want to make those kinds of decisions for her, so didn’t want to say outright ‘no god doesn’t exist’. Instead I asked what she believed, and then briefly summarised my own position.
    I’m also keen to prolong her belief in fairies and father xmas because once they are gone that’s it, and there is something magical about a childs fantasy world when they are little. But you are right, this shouldn’t stretch to the extent of outright lying to them! So I think your solution was a very good one.

    • Robert Nyman says:

      Thanks! And yep, we’ve had very similar discussions around religion too, where I’ve tried to make them think about. To me, the important thing has also been to stress that people have different beliefs, and that’s just fine.

      Agree about the world being magical, and don’t want to take that away from them. Hell, I don’t want to take that away from me either. :-)

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