The Biggest Parenting Lie: Santa Claus


Christmas is causing serious problems in my house. That Jolly Ole Fat man, in particular. Included in the Santa-induced trouble is the damage he is doing to my psyche as every day I lie my way deeper into a hole. 

I have no problem conning my kids into believing in Santa. Sure it’s complete deception, but my childhood recollections of Christmas, when I believed, are up there on the list of greatest memories ever. I want my kids to experience the same thing. But they aren’t. They are a tad confused, as well as worried about their friends.

The root of the commotion is the fact that my kids aren’t being raised in the same kind of Catholic, homogeneous suburban environment that made it so easy for my parents to dupe my siblings and me, qualm-free.

My kids are growing up in Brooklyn. On any other day, I’m deliriously grateful for the fantastic diversity they are constantly exposed to. It just gets a little tricky on December 25.

Take, for instance, my 4-year-old. Her new BFF’s family doesn’t celebrate Christmas. This is unfathomable to my daughter, and she worries incessantly that it’s not fair to her friend. When I explained to my girl that her friend’s family is Jewish, she insisted that shouldn’t matter, “I’m Jewish, too, Mommy, but Santa comes to me!” Since my husband is Jewish, we’ve been dipping into Hanukkah fun as well, giving our kids presents on the first and last night. Additionally, last week we went to the new BFF’s house to light the menorah, and we’ve attended more than one latke-fest this year. Now my little girl has a few ideas on including her friend in Christmas “since her mommy won’t let Santa come to their house.” Oy vey. How do I explain my way out of this one?

It’s not like I can fall back on religion. You could say that the Christ in Christmas is the most underplayed element for us.

As if the web of lies I’m weaving for my 4-year-old isn’t enough, I’ve got my more analytical and skeptical 6-year-old interrogating me on a regular basis. “Why doesn’t Sid's family put up a tree, just so that Santa knows he wants presents? That’s what you do, right? I think Santa should be more fair. If a kid wants presents, he should just bring them. You said he was magic, Mom.” Right ...

Lately, I’ve been toying with the idea of coming clean. And yet, I don’t want to ...

Santa, help me!

Image via seantoyer /Flickr

elementary school, friends, holiday


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poshkat poshkat

i wish i had advice for you because i am not looking forward to this in a few years at all. im jewish and hubbs is catholic and our son is only 3 going on 4 now and hes well into santa and all that good stuff. i think i figured out a way out of this questioning thing thou. thanks to SNL and FRIENDS, we have hanukkah harry and the holiday armadillo to help us out. you could just tell them that hanukkah harry is bringing their friends their hanukkah presents or the holiday armadillo doing the same thing. that way your kids don't have to worry their friends are getting jipped

lovin... lovinangels

You say this... Everyone celebrates Christmas differently. Santa respects everyone's religion, and the kind of church they go to, and what makes them comfortable.


PonyC... PonyChaser

I second Lovinangels approach.  That makes the most sense, even to the analytical brain (and I mean that with absolutely no sarcasm.. I deal with it daily!) of a 6 year old.

Santa's magic allows him to know that kind of stuff, and he has an army of Elves out and about, among the population, who can gather further details on that kind of information.


Eh I grew up without Santa (my parents were  VERY religious and felt he took away from the true meaning of Christmas) I am now completely unreligious and my husband is Jewish so I am very relived to NOT have to do Santa. I still do christmas tho. I really don't understand santa or the "magic" of it. All I am saying is if you want to do santa cool, if not your kids aren't going to grow up "deprived". My sisters did not want to do Santa but their husbands wanted them to. They felt that it was much more of a hassle then it was worth.....

Kelly Broderick Moss

The Advice you need is in a little book called The Santa Club. Thirteen Years ago, I also ran into the same problem and my mother in law came to my rescue. Her answer is now the true story of Santa and it changed our lives. Go to and check it out.

Kelly Broderick Moss

Oh, and The Book does help in addressing the desire kids all have for gifts at Christmas to The Gift of Giving and it shouldn't interfere with anyone who shares both the Christian faith and Jewish Faith.  As a matter of fact my best friend Toby, who is Jewish, loves the book for us non Jewish folks.  

Binny89 Binny89

We do "Christmas Countries" in our house. We choose a country then spend the year learning about it and then we celebrate their Christmas. Our kids have been exposed to Father Christmas, Santa Pierre Noelle and many others. Its been a very eye opning experience for all of us to learn how others celebrate their Holidays. That gives a lot of leeway when it comes to Santa. We used the "just like other countries believe different things about Christmas, other people believe different things about Santa. What do YOU choose to believe?"

Mommy... Mommy22boys

My oldest son is 8 and my youngest is 5.  I've always taught them Santa is what you believe him to be.  I've stressed the legend of St. Nicholas and how our version of Santa Claus originates with him.  We celebrate St. Nicholas Day on December 6 by leaving our letters to Santa the night before and they wake up to a small gift.  We're not a religious family but I've taught my boys that people have different beliefs and we need to respect all of them.  I've told them some people do not believe in Santa and they celebrate Christmas by celebrating the birth of Jesus.  That openned up another conversation, one that we've had before and we'll likely have it again.  Just stress you're beliefs and enjoy the magic of the season.  I tell my kids it doesn't really matter if Santa's real or not, what matters is the idea of him and the meaning he gives to the holiday.

iHeather iHeather

I was just discussing this today with my mother-in-law.  We have a three year old and a one year old, and we've told everyone in our family that we are not doing the Santa thing with our girls.  Our oldest tends to figure things out very quickly and does NOT like it when people try to dupe her. Instead, we're teaching her the story of St. Nicholas that Santa is based on.  We plan on doing the same with her sister.


Our kids believe in Santa. Unfortunately in our 3rd graders class a lot of kids dont believe in him anymore. We told our daughter & son that Santa is real as long as you believe in him. I love doing Santa. I believed in him until I was 10 & pretended to until I moved out (I had siblings 10 years younger than me). Our kids know the true meaning of Christmas is to GIVE not RECIEVE & they are true to that! They take one gift every year they get from Santa & donate it to the local hospital children's ward.  We are religious but not overly. I don't know if that makes a difference or not. But both my husband & I grew up with Santa. None of us go over board for Christmas with our kids they get a few things (I had 3 other siblings my parents bought for & my hubby's family was poor) So we have always been taught that Christmas is NOT about presents but being with family & giving to others!

Our daughter is 8 & our son is 3 (we have another boy on the way due 1-17-11) so I am looking forward to being Santa for a long time still!

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