For the record, I want to start off by saying that this post is by no means meant to pass judgement on those who make a different decision than we do in regards to the Santa issue. I have several close friends and family members who participate and I do not think you are bad parents if you do the Santa thing in your house. I do not think you are teaching your kids to be dishonest and I do not think that you are keeping the real meaning of Christmas from them.
That being said, as I've mentioned on this blog here before, we do not do the Santa thing in our house.
But this post is not about the reasons for or against the decision each household makes about this controversial subject. This is about the result of those decisions and how they seem to be affecting my youngest daughter. What you choose to do as a family in your home is totally up to you...but when it starts leaking out to my home and having a negative affect on my daughter is when I need to try to at least get my feelings out and my opinion stated.
I feel that every year it's everyone's concern about keeping the magic of Santa alive for their young children, so DON'T YOU DARE let it slip that he's not real. If you don't do Santa in your house, you better be sure that you stress that to your kids so they don't spill the beans. The pressure that our non-believing children get put under to keep this fact a secret feels unfair to me. So I suppose I'm being the advocate for the other side of the spectrum for a change.
It has seemed particularly difficult for Malia to understand just what she is and is not allowed to say in this regard. She knows she's not supposed to just blurt it out to someone that Santa isn't real. But there were several times this Christmas (as well as last Christmas) where she would come home from school or a friend's house asking about what she should've said to such-and-such a question about Mr. Clause. Always concerned that she would accidentally say the wrong thing. Or not knowing what to say when asked directly, "Do you believe in Santa?"
We would try to explain to her that if she was asked outright she was certainly allowed to say what she believed but she would still come home from such experiences saying that she just said "I'm not allowed to say."
I could tell that this always bothered her - the stress of trying to make sure she doesn't say something she shouldn't as well as not feeling free to express her own beliefs.
You might be wondering why I'm bringing this up now, as we are nearing the end of January and Christmas is long over. The reason is because of something that happened at school last week.
Malia came home from school one day last week saying that she was asked - along with a group of peers - if she believed in God.
Her response? "I'm not allowed to say."
I'll be honest...this broke my heart. My 7 year old daughter is getting so confused and I believe that because of the Santa thing, she is thinking that she needs to keep her belief in God a secret too. Of course I made sure to immediately explain to her the difference and that our belief in God is just the opposite - that we are SUPPOSED to tell people that we believe in Him. But I totally get where her confusion lies.
And therein is my problem with the secret about Santa (and the tooth fairy...we let the girls have fun with putting their teeth under their pillow and getting money but they know it's from us). I normally stay away from controversial subjects and I am not one to normally start - or join - a debate on something that is sure to have strong opposing sides. I get anxious about getting ripped to shreds or about stepping on someone else's toes. So remember that this is not something that was easy for me to post. But as anxious as I am about getting any negative feedback from this post, I am more concerned about my child and what this is doing to her belief system.
So to those of you who are always so concerned about kids letting it slip and asking that we keep this a secret...I am asking you to remember that my child is under a lot of stress and confusion about this subject and that there is another side to consider.