How to Handle the Topic of Santa as a Christian Parent

Jesus said we are to be IN the world but not OF the world (John 17:15-19).

What does this look like at Christmas? Specifically, what does your family believe about Santa?

1) At one end of the spectrum are parents who Embrace Strictness. They reject anything having to do with Santa. They’re not rejecting the birth of Jesus, but the commercialism of Christmas. They may even choose not to decorate or give Christmas presents.

If you choose to embrace somewhat of a stricter viewpoint, we invite you in to be intentional with connecting well with our kids. When we ask our kids to go against what the world is doing without explaining the “why,” they tend to reject us as parents because we’re preventing them from doing something they see others doing as fun.

If you become judgment-based, it can create a lot of descension. High standards require high relationship. This becomes more of an issue as kids get older so it’s important to connect with them by explaining the why, not laced in judgment.

2) On the other end of the spectrum are parents who Embrace the World. These are parents who choose to celebrate Christmas the way the world does now – focusing on the secular traditions and commercialism of it. It’s becoming more common among Christian families.

If we want raise our kids to know and love God, be mindful of the confusing messages this can send to kids. Think about it from their perspective. We teach our kids if they’re good, they’ll get rewards from Santa.

Parents sometimes use Santa as a manipulative tool to get their children to obey. The whole naughty and nice belief can set our kids up for a performance-based life. Don’t expect to do the same things as the world and then expect different results.

3) We’re somewhat in the middle – we Played the Santa Game. We educated our kids about who Santa really was; he was based on the real St. Nicolas. National Geographic has a great article that explains the whole history of Santa –

We told our kids that the idea and spirit of Santa is based on a true person who was the patron of children and a `gift bearer.’ We taught them that we have a character who adds fun to the celebration of Christmas. So to answer the question, “Was he real?” – yes, but not real like the Santa we see today. I would tell my kids that the dressed-up Santas they saw different places were reminders for us to be kind, loving, generous, and helpful like Jesus. And that all the Santas they see are representatives of the real St. Nicolaus.

So, go take your kids’ pictures with Santa. Have a birthday party with friends to celebrate Jesus. Put scriptures all over our house. Decorate with nativity scenes. Read the Christmas story. Give to a family in need. Teach them that St. Nicholas was giving because God is giving. Talk about the reason why you celebrate Christmas. And focus more on Jesus.

Holidays need to be relational and a place for connection. Don’t let the commercialism of the world distract you from important relationships.

The reality is Santa is a part of the world our kids live in. Have fun with the secret or let them in on the secret. Either way, the most important thing to remember is to continue to connect with your kids during the holidays and all throughout the year.

It’s all about relationships!

If you have a question or a parenting issue that you’d like us to discuss in a future podcast, email us at [email protected].

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