At what age is it appropriate to tell our child the truth about Santa?
Every child is unique in how they experience the world, so I prefer to consider the developmental stage rather than the age of the child for this question. Age is too prescriptive; it doesn’t take into consideration each child’s uniqueness.
I also tend to approach Santa as a topic that allows us to talk to children about beliefs. The ability to believe in something which they cannot prove, the ability to believe in something magical. In navigating this conversation with my own son, I have always encouraged him to tune into his own thoughts and beliefs and to decide for himself what he believes to be true or not. Some of the conversations we have had around this sound like this….
My child: “How does Santa get to every house in just one night?”
Me: “Well, the books we have read tell us that he flies on a sleigh with Reindeer… but what do you think?”
If he asks for my thoughts, I reassure him that it doesn’t matter what anyone else believes; everyone gets to make their own decisions about their personal beliefs.
My son also understands that not everyone believes in Santa. He has several Jewish friends, so he understands that they celebrate the Holidays differently, which makes sense to him as he has been raised with the idea that everyone has the right to decide what they believe in.
The best thing about navigating “Santa” in this way is that we don’t really need to decide when to tell our child the truth about Christmas. We allow them to reach that understanding in their own time.