What to Say When Your Kids Ask Is Santa Real
Is Santa real? Let’s talk about it.
One of the many traditions that make Christmas so exciting for kids is waking up early that morning and finding presents of all shapes and sizes under the tree. Seeing the joyous smile on their faces as they unwrap a doll, favorite toy or game fill every parent’s heart.
Throughout December—and maybe even sooner—so many children eagerly await the arrival of Santa Claus on Christmas Day. They write out their lists, see Santa at the mall and leave cookies and milk out for him on Christmas Eve (and maybe some reindeer snacks for his supporting staff, too). It’s an exciting and heartwarming time for everyone in the family, that’s for sure.
But of course, as a parent, you know there will inevitably be a time when your little ones start to question the whimsical nature of Santa and all that he is. They might even flat out ask you: Is Santa real?
How would you answer? Well for starters, the answer is yes, he is real. He is real in different ways to different people. If you recall, New York Sun newspaper writer, Francis Church, reported it in 1897 after receiving a letter from 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon asking if there is a Santa Claus.
Church wrote: “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” If you read the column, or saw the 2009 animated short fim, Yes, Virgina, you’d know that he wasn’t lying to the curious little girl.
So as a parent, what should you say if your child asks you is Santa real? As all moms and dads probably already know, the best thing to do is to just answer from your heart. But if you need a bit of help, we spoke to a professional..
As we continue to embrace the holiday season this month, we put together some jolly advice from Nicholette Leanza, LPCC-S, LifeStance Health, a therapist who shared tips for parents on how to have the Santa talk with your kids. We also spoke to some NYC moms and got the scoop on how they handled the question when their little ones asked about the big guy himself.
Is Santa Real? Prepare for the Santa Talk
Wondering how to have the Santa talk? Here are some handy tips from Leanza to have in your back pocket, so you’re not caught completely off guard if your kiddo asks if there’s a Santa Claus:
- When it’s time to have Santa talk, parents can start this delicate conversation by asking their child to share their thoughts about Santa first. This gives the child the chance to unpack their own feelings and perspective about Santa, and parents can then gauge their own response to their child’s perspective.
- It’s healthy for a child to have doubts and curiosity about Santa, so it’s important that parents acknowledge and validate this curiosity. Validating their feelings will help nurture a safe space for the child to continue to want to ask questions and share their perspectives with their parents as they continue to navigate other things in their lives.
- Parents may wish to share that Santa represents the spirit of Christmas and is the symbol for giving rather than a literal person. This can help the child to understand the broader meaning behind the Santa tradition. Or, parents can share that Santa was based on a real historical figure, Saint Nicholas, who was a 4th century Christian bishop, and that the modern Santa Claus grew out of European traditions about Saint Nicholas.
- Focusing on the importance of family traditions and togetherness can help maintain the warmth and joy associated with the holidays even if the child’s view of Santa changes. Emphasizing meaningful traditions and memories can help sustain that special holiday spirit for children.
Here’s what some local moms had to say when their kids ask is Santa real:
“I told my son the truth. The story of Santa is fun for the sake of the Christmas holiday. But when he asked if Santa would bring him presents, I asked him, ‘Who does he get his toys from?’ He said, ‘Mommy and daddy. And I replied, ‘So we are the real Santa.’”
“Keep the magic going as long as you can. If they ask when they are older, tell the truth.”
“I tell my kid Santa is pretend.”
“My dad always said, ‘If you stop believing, he stops coming.’ I still believe.”
“I told my kids the truth and plan to tell the youngest as well. Imagine being a single mom struggling and can only do bare minimum for a fantasy to take credit for all the hard work you did.”
“There were three kids in my family, we all believed in Santa with absolute happiness and wonder and were not mad in any way whatsoever when we learned later. The sense of wonder and surprise wasn’t lessened by finding out all my parents had done to make the holiday special for us, it was strengthened. We were grateful for that. I still am.”
“I think it depends on the age of the child and why they ask. If they are asking because someone told them Santa wasn’t real but you can tell they believe and they want you to assure them, then assure them. Children only have a short window to be children, especially now.”
“Santa is a fictional character that people like to pretend is real. We don’t lie to our kids.”
“My 4-year-old asked me this past weekend, and I replied ‘Santa is magic.’ That satisfied her, and we moved on.”
“Come see all the amazing people, from infants to elderly, that come to see Santa every year at Macy’s Santaland. They all leave starry eyed after meeting Santa.”