Telling Your Child The Truth About Santa
The holidays are more fun for everyone when children believe in those magical beings like Santa and the Easter Bunny. Then there are the elves, Rudolph, the Tooth Fairy, Frosty, leprechauns, and more. The whole year seemingly rotates from one magical entity’s special time of year to another’s.
As a child get older, they may start to figure things out on their own. For instance, he may piece together that all of the presents Santa and the Easter Bunny gives him have store packaging on them. Or perhaps your child has noticed that the writing on the gift cards looks an awful lot like Daddy’s handwriting. Maybe Santa even uses the same wrapping paper every year that you use on your own presents.
In addition to your child’s own sleuthing skills, his friends at school are also making connections and sharing their own findings with the other kids. For awhile your child may not buy into the whole concept that these magical beings are really Mom and Dad, but after awhile, the truth slowly sets in. It’s up to you to decide when the time is right to break the news to your child. But when your child comes to you and asks you quite seriously to tell you the truth, it may be time to admit the gig is up.
Breaking The News
If your child has truly been in search of the truth for years and is ready for you to admit what he already knows, the truth may not come as a big surprise. However, while your child may have pieced together the truth about Santa Claus, he may not have put so much thought into the Easter Bunny or the other magical beings. Hearing the truth about all of these beings at one time may be a lot to absorb at one time, so it may be advisable to break the news about just one or two of the beings. If your child isn’t ready to handle the full truth, let him retain some of his childhood innocence a little longer. He will certainly come to the realization on his own in time.
There are a handful of very skilled parents who have carried the secret on for many years. While most kids figure out the truth on their own and through their peers by around age eight to eleven, some kids wholeheartedly believe in these beings well into their teen years. While there is something special, perhaps even magical, in some kids believing in these entities, there is also a time for parents to break the truth to kids. What starts as an innocent white lie that is carried out in good fun year after year eventually turns into a rite of passage as children learn the truth.
Ask any adult when and how they found out, and they most likely will be able to tell you a story about it. If your child hasn’t figured out the truth on his own and is thinking about acne cream and a driver’s permit, there may come a time when you need to break the news gently.
Keeping The Secret
There are essentially two distinct groups in our society – those who believe and those who know the truth.
Those who know the truth inevitably are trusted with guarding the secret and even playing along. Once your child has been told the truth or has figured out the truth on his own, make sure that he understands that even knowing the truth about Santa, the Easter Bunny, and their group of friends is a secret.
Some of his friends, younger siblings, cousins, and so on may still believe, and your child needs to know that there is a special and unique kind of fun these other children get out of believing. Tell your child that these other children will figure out the truth on their own just as he did, and that it’s not his place to break the news.
Also keep in mind that children your child doesn’t know, such as those in the store, may still believe, too. The last thing a mom shopping with her young children wants is to hear your child have a loud conversation in a checkout line about how Santa isn’t real.
When your child figures it out and you finally have the conversation, there is a part of your child that is truly changed forever. Just as learning the truth was a milestone or turning point in your life, this is a point of growth and reflection for your child as well. Your child will be in on an adult secret and will feel that much more grown up.
In addition, your child may feel that you respect him enough and that he is responsible enough to be entrusted with the secret. As with other aspects of watching your child grow up, enjoy this special moment with your child, as it will be a memory he will carry with him for many years to come and that will even reflect on how he handles the same situation with his own children years down the road.