I Had Santa Tell My Daughter She Was on His 'Naughty List' & Boy Do I Regret It

Mom Moment 118

dear santaAlright, how many times have you threatened your kid with Santa already this holiday season? Five? Twenty-five? More than you will ever admit? Moms, Dads, I've been there. Last year, I put my kid on Santa's naughty list.

It was not one of my finest moments as a parent. But I'm willing to bear the brunt of the trolls if you'll listen for just a moment, if you will let me spare you the pain of what came after.

Last year was a rough one in our house. First grade had taken my sweet, happy little girl and turned her into someone I didn't know. Someone who used words we don't utter in our house. Someone who talked back.

We're not spankers in our house, but we do believe in discipline. Only nothing was working. We missed visiting Santa in town not once but twice because of behavior issues. It didn't even faze her!

So I decided to pull out the big guns. I went online to one of those sites that will send your child a video message from the big guy at the North Pole for free. We've done one a year for the past few years, and she's been enthralled. Only this year, when I keyed in her information, I made one big change. Instead of "nice," I let it be known that my 6-year-old had been awfully naughty this year.

I don't know what I hoped to achieve. No, scratch that. I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted my little girl back. My child who had spunk but was more or less a kind child.

I was hoping Santa would scare my kid straight.

In case you haven't guessed yet, that wasn't what happened.

The email arrived, and like years past, she came rushing to the computer screen, hopping up and down in anticipation. She oohed, and aahed over the guy in the great red coat and the long, white beard. She was grinning at me.

Until he dropped his bomb. She was on his naughty list. Santa was disappointed.

I can't explain what happened to her face aside from saying that it crumpled. Her eyes flooded with tears, her nose scrunched up, her mouth was all over the place, lips up and down and struggling to come together. Before I could say anything, she was running out of the room and up the stairs, slamming the door behind her.

I followed her up into her room only to find her on the floor beside her bed, her face burrowed into a pile of stuffed animals. I scooped her up and tried to cuddle her, but she wrapped up like a little pillbug.

Sitting there, trying to soothe my heartbroken child, I felt like I'd destroyed something. I'd taken the magic of Santa and made him cruel, broken off a piece of the sugar-coating that covers the heart in childhood.

We had guests that night, and even after a long talk, just me and her, for over half an hour, she was still hiding when the doorbell rang. She stayed up there for another hour, and this is saying a lot for my daughter. She is a people person, and our guests were my friend and his partner, who are among my daughter's favorite visitors.

This was no passing temper tantrum. This hurt my little girl down deep.

Here were are; it's a year later, and her behavior has done a 180. My spunky little girl is back. She has her normal naughty kid moments, but we're really enjoying her again.

But even if she wasn't, I wouldn't put her on the naughty list again. I lost too much that day.

I still wish I could take it back.

Have you put your child on the naughty list? What happened?


Image via katerha/Flickr



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fave82 fave82

I got coal in my stocking when i was probably 6. It was after throwing a massive tantrum the night before Bout my outfit for mass. Its one of those stories we laugh about now, i was so embarrassed lol

nonmember avatar Angelica

Well sometimes in parenting we have to do things that we're not too proud of afterwards, but we do them for the right reasons. I have never heard about the videos, but I have had letters sent that I made. I would do the naughty video for both my girls this year. We're having the same problems with behavior since school started with my oldest in 2010. We also don't spank our children either. But based on her description of her daughter's reaction, I would almost break down with them.

JannaM8 JannaM8

Your reaction to bad behavior is to lie to your child and make Santa the bad guy? Wow. Just wow.

britn... britneykaren

My daughter is still a baby but I remember when I was little, my mom never let me believe in the naughty/nice thing since she didn't always have the money for the things we wanted, I think I will try to do the same

Michelle Cherie

Thank you for your honesty! Great post. You think sometimes things will work but instead doing the opposite, thank you for passing along some mom knowledge!

Beth McCormack Bernitt

NOOOOOO you didn't ...? wow so glad that little dear made the nice list this year...but as for you young lady!!!!

nonmember avatar shelly

What a jerk. Here, I thought the parent was supposed to teach a child, not a mythical child hero. Geez, parent your dang kid YOURSELF. What did you think you would happen, parent of the year?

nonmember avatar gina

Dude, I say good idea. We dont celebrate christmas here, but if we did, I would so use that.

Roxygurl Roxygurl

This is why I never use Santa as punishment or to entice good behavior.

The only thing you'll hear me say about Santa is 'well put that on your list and maybe Santa will bring it for you'

I expect and demand good behavior all year long, not just at Christmas so when an issue arises I take care of it just like I would in July or March. I don't threaten with Santa ever.

kelti... kelticmom

That was just awful. One of the best things about those precious first 8 years or so of life, is how innocent and trusting and hopeful children are. And you dashed your daughter's dreams of the magical world of make believe in an attempt to use a fictional character to make up for your parenting fails. I tell my son about Santa, but I don't use him as a threat. That is not what Christmas is about. Whether or not you believe in the birth if Christ, this season is supposed to be about giving, love, peace, family, joy, etc. It's a magical time for children - soon enough they will be disenchanted like the rest of us. Let them believe and be kids for as long as you can.

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