Saturday 10 November 2012

The Sunday Parenting Party

Taming the Goblin

Its time for the Sunday Parenting Party, a link up exclusively for parenting posts. 
This week I'm linking the following:
(Goblin is 36 months, original graphic from here)
Most parenting decisions are not irretrievable. If you decide further down the line that a certain style of parenting or a certain method of discipline isn't working you can switch to an alternative. You may have subtly shaped a portion of your child's life through that method but executing the new method can probably 'remould' them if necessary. 
However there are some decisions that once made are final. Hublet and I have taken one of those decisions:
We have told Goblin that Santa isn't real.

I imagine there are a few of you reading this who are a little horrified that we aren't going to induct our three year old into the magic of the Christmas fantasy. And I understand why you might feel like that. I get that most parents want to make Christmas extra special by joining in the global fantasy that a magical being comes and brings presents, and that he flys in on a sleigh with reindeer, and elves in Lapland make the toys. It is all quite fantastic and watching children's faces when they see their stockings full of presents and believe that Santa has been, must be amazing to behold. 

But the trouble is, its a lie. 
I don't want to lie to my child. 

Are we overreacting? Are we introducing the cruel realities of the world at too tender an age? Are we being selfish? Will we damage our son?
The truth is I don't know. But this decision feels right for our family.

We aren't starving Goblin of all the fun of Christmas. Hublet gets quite annoyed with me dancing round the house singing "Christmas, Christmas, Christmas" from mid November onwards. I know that Santa isn't real and it doesn't stop me loving Christmas time and feeling that its magical. Why should Goblin need to be treated differently. We will still tell him the story of Santa coming down the chimney and we'll still play the game of leaving out a carrot and a glass of milk. But Goblin will know that it is imaginary play and not real. This fits with the way we share other fantasy with Goblin. We tell Goblin stories about imaginary beings: aliens, talking animals that drive vehicles, fairies and gnomes, and Santa. We feed his imagination. But the difference is Goblin knows they are stories. 

What harm can it do to tell your child that Santa is real? Probably none - I'm not judging anyone who does tell their child that Santa is real. And I don't remember being traumatised by the discovery that Santa wasn't real. 
But I don't want a day to come when Goblin discover that his own parents were conspiring in a lie. I don't want to risk him thinking, well if they are lying about that, what else are they lying about. And lies can mount up. First its Santa, then the Easter Bunny, the Dummy Fairy, the Tooth Fairy, how his first pet went to live on a farm (when he actually died). Where would I draw the line?

So we had the conversation. It revolved around a shopping trip. He wanted a toy and we explained we weren't going to buy it. When he persisted we said "well we will write it on your Christmas list". This seemed to satisfy him. And later he said "Santa will bring me my truck at Christmas". Hublet and I were a bit surprised that he knew about Santa. So we said
"Goblin you know Santa is pretend, its Mummy or Daddy pretending to be Santa" 
Goblin responded "No Santa is real and he wears red and he walks"
I guess he must have got that from nursery or TV. We ended the conversation with him adamantly telling us Santa was real. 
But the following week we were at the supermarket again and having pretty much the same conversation over a toy. 
"Well we can put it on your Christmas list"
Goblin turned to me and said 
"Yes Santa will bring them at Christmas" 
Then he smiled and whispered 
"It will be you or Daddy pretending to be Santa".
There were some great posts last week. Some that made me roll on the floor laughing, some that made me want to cry and some that were incredibly thought provoking. These are five of my favourites:
Life with a spirited child by Four Little Piglets
The things we do for a picture by Raise a Boy
Just ask for Help by Stuff with Thing
Keeper of all kids knowledge by Picklebums
On being the grown up by Prickly Mom
And now to the linky
Just a little reminder that parenting posts include tips and tricks, anecdotes about disaster days and super fab times, posts on breastfeeding, potty training, birth etc. Kids Craft and activity posts aren't really parenting posts unless they reveal a parenting truths (like how you failed to be child led and payed the price) or contain tips on parenting (like ways to calm a tantrumy child).  So if you have straight kids craft and activity posts to link please link them to Kids Co-op instead. 

I'm sharing this at


  1. I enjoyed reading your un-Santa Clause post, or Santa-light. What amazes me is how many young children cry when they see 'real' Santa and are told they have to sit on his lap and tell him what toy they want for Christmas, and then get a piece of candy at the end. Kind of perverted if you REALLY think about it! Our son did not like Santa Clause, not when he came to visit his class, or at a party-like event. And we never told him about Santa. He has Down syndrome and so we've been careful about such things!

    1. Yes I have always thought it was interesting that people encourage their children to go and sit on the knee of a complete stranger just because they are dressed as a fictional character. Goblin would never agree to do it anyway because he is pretty petrified of all adults in fancy dress.

  2. Dilemna, with a capital D. Kids have a way of bringing these situations to the fore. It's a struggle between cultural mores and your own ideas of how you want to raise your children. Good for you for doing what you think is right!

  3. Same decision here! We put Santa in the same category as fairies and other fun to pretend about things.

  4. I choose to do this too (& DH went along but didn't agree with me that it was a lie, which is what I think too!) but my girls don't necessarily believe me because they are corrupted by other children :lol: I refuse to lie and pretend about santa, fairies etc etc and totally agree that you can still have tons of fun pretending without the believing! :-)

  5. I feel very reassured about you having a fun Christmas with out a real Santa. This is our first year of all the children knowing that Santa isn't real (yep we went along with the myth) and for me a little magic has been lost. When you look at it rationally it is a crazy concept, thanks to this post I am going to enjoy play acting Santa this year and not let it matter that everyone knows Santa is me!

  6. I'm so glad you linked this to our holiday hop! Loved reading it!

  7. I didn't want to have Santa in our lives, either, but my entire extended family thought I was crazy. So, I reluctantly relented and told my kids about Santa. I don't feel at all comfortable with it. It is cute to see how much my children believe in magic, but I know that one day they will realize I lied to them about a major event in their young lives. I am sure they will wonder what else I lied about.

  8. I love that your son still participates in all the Santa traditions but recognizes them as imaginary play. We considered doing something similar with our girls but in the end we have embraced the myth of Santa - so interesting to read about how your son has processed the information.


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