The Santa Conundrum – When is the time right to tell our kids?


Santa picking up cooke while sitting before a fire

Imagine if someone told you a jolly senior citizen was going to break into your house while you’re sleeping; sure he’ll leave presents but he also has unlimited access to your home. You’d have the SWAT team on speed dial right? As an adult the concept of gift-leaving magical beings is just, weird; but as a child, Santa is pretty much the coolest thing since sliced bread.

This chapter is not in the parenting books, there’s no google search that will solve this problem. When is the right time to tell your kids the truth about Santa? Every child is different and only you as their parent will know when the time is truly right, but having your explanation ready to go ahead of time is probably not a bad idea.

We as parents are knowingly lying to our kids, from day one essentially and for some, most of us are okay with this. The shoe seems to drop first on the Easter Bunny and Tooth fairy since those are so easily falsified but the man in the red suit, totally believable.

I have a 9-year-old and a 3-year-old, so I’m parenting in two different worlds sometimes. My oldest attends school with kids as old as 12-13 years old; kids that if given the opportunity would spill the beans without a second thought. My youngest is just starting to understand the idea of the big holidays but I’m pretty sure just thinks everything comes from Mom and Dad.

I wrestle with the idea of telling my oldest myself before someone at school tells her but wanting to keep the magic alive for her a little bit longer, especially in a world where kids have to grow up so early. It’s a fine line to straddle; you can’t just outright ask them “so where do you stand on Santa” because that’s going to raise a lot of red flags but you also don’t want them to get mocked in 10th grade when they show off what Santa brought. Seriously Dr. Spock, where was this chapter!?

The moral of this tale kids: have your story straight. Either go the path of denial if you think they’re too young to buy yourself some more time, or tell them the truth. Tell them your childhood memories and how as a parent getting to ‘be Santa’ may actually be better. Let them play Santa (or the Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy) for their younger siblings and watch them revel in the joy that can bring. Remind them to keep this ‘secret’ to themselves because some of their friends may not be ready yet.  

While it’s sad to think of this door closing, think of how nice it will be not to wake up in a cold sweat at 5am realizing the Tooth Fairy dropped the ball, again.


Photo of Santa with small child