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Think Out Loud

Telling the Truth About Santa

Pete Springer/OPB

Spoiler alert: If you’re a Santa believer, you might want to stop reading right now.

Every year around this time, parents ponder the best approach to the Santa questions: how does he deliver so many presents in just one night? How come we see him at the mall? How does he deliver presents to houses without chimneys? And the big one: is Santa/St. Nick/Father Christmas really real? Parents have a variety of options when it comes to negotiating these delicate questions. Some choose to perpetuate the belief as long as possible, fabricating little stories to support the larger myth. In other families, if a kid is old enough to ask, they’re old enough to hear the truth (as long as they don’t tell the other kids). And then there are the parents who choose to raise their kids with the knowledge that Santa is pretend because they see the alternative as a harmful lie that could undermine the trust their children put in them.

Parents who encourage a belief in Santa Claus have help from NORAD and from the author of the now famous “Yes, Virginia” letter. But they also face the uphill battle of explaining contradictory information their children may get at school, on the Internet, from their favorite celebrities or even their local public radio station.

If you’re a parent, what do you tell your kids about Santa Claus? How does your approach to this question reflect your personal values?

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