Santa Claus, Jesus, & Childlike Faith

randomlychad  —  December 5, 2012 — 21 Comments

20121205-062754.jpgI have made many mistakes as a parent, but perhaps none so grievous as quashing my son’s belief in Santa at a very young age. What can I say? I was living out of a very conservative, a very legalisitic, place in my faith.

I was afraid.

I was afraid, at that time, that allowing him to continue to believe in Santa would, and his subsequent eventual discovery of the truth, damage my credibility vis-a-vis Jesus. I did not want him to feel lied to.

I could not have been more wrong.

Oh, sure my intentions were good, but the net effect–and this is something that took me years to understand–was rather than protecting him, I was harming him. Moreover, in quashing his childlike faith, I was creating a hyper-rationalist–someone who was skeptical of everything.

Hewing to a conservative theology is one thing. Having convictions, and keeping them, can be a very wonderful thing in our world. It is indeed important to stand for something. Thing is, and my wife–being much more intuitive about these things–tried to warn me: I was doing far more harm than good.

Because, you see, having a belief in Santa at a young age is something Jesus can work with. Rather than hindering an eventual trust in Jesus, this childlike faith actually fosters faith in him. For that sweet sincerity of childhood makes a transfer of trust all the easier. Because, though they do not know it, what they are truly seeking is him, is Jesus. (I think of Shasta, in C.S. Lewis last Narnian tale, The Last Battle, who–though he did not know it, truly sought Aslan all along).

So take it from one who has been there: the consequences of quashing childlike faith (which, sadly, eventually happens all on its own) early are far-reaching. Yes, there is such a thing as a healthy skepticism, but fostering it too early takes just about all the wonder out of the world.

Which is why my wife and I are doing things differently with our daughter: we are allowing her to believe in the the Tooth Fairy, Santa, et cetera for as long as she needs to. We will cross the bridge when we need to, and not sooner.

Childlike wonder is a wonderful thing to behold. Let live as long as you can.

What do think? Speak on it:




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Christ-follower, husband, dad, blogger, reader, writer, movie buff, introvert, desert-dweller, omnivore, gym rat. May, or may not, have a burgeoning collection of Darth Vader t-shirts. Can usually be found drinking protein shakes, playing with daughter, working out with his son, or hanging out with his wife. Makes a living playing with computers. Subscribe to RandomlyChad by Email

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  • Kind of a catch 22 to me, Chad. I grew up believing in Santa, but one year Santa put out the gifts like on December the 10th and the name tag had my Mom’s handwriting. It didn’t take a long time for me to figure out what was going on.

    • I hear you, Jim. I don’t think my parents went out their way to hide what was going on.

      My point is that I think we do our kids a great disservice when we drive a sense of mystery out of their lives. Had to learn that lesson the hard way. We have to be choose to embrace mystery.

      • totally agree, chad. mystery, wonder, awe. these are things we certainly lose as we become adults. as i age, i find i long for those halcyon days.

        • I hear you. While I don’t long to go back, I do long for the mystery that was all to quickly dispelled by cruel reality.

          • oh, i certainly don’t want to be a child again. but i’m all for acting like one on occasion. 🙂 after all, jesus calls us to approach him like a child.

          • Amen! Well-said, Tim!

    • Exactly. And we shortcut that at our peril. I was one of those Christians who, stupidly, bought into the argument about the lying thing.

      Not realize at all that I was killing awe and mystery in my son’s heart.

      For someone who can sometimes be so perceptive, I was such a blockhead. Childhood should be magical.

  • i agree that belief in santa, et. al is not harmful in the least. my sibs and i grew up believing in all of it. in fact, i don’t recall ever having a talk with my parents about any of it. i think it was just a natural evolution and realization that it was mom and dad all along.

  • Thomas Mason

    At times I don’t like my 9 year-old still believing in Santa. Sometimes it seems unfair to her and us. After all, we’re the ones doing the buying. But child-like wonder is a magical thing and I don’t want to do anything to destroy that wonder before it’s time. I, too, believed in Santa Claus, until one Christmas I spied my dad putting together the train set I would get the next morning. My belief in Santa ended at just the right time.

    • Exactly, Thomas! There’s a right time. I blew it, doing it too soon. Not this time!

      Great to hear from you! How are things going (take this to email if you like)?

      • Thomas Mason

        OK, I’ll ask for your email address via FB message.

  • seekingpastor

    I have no problem with Santa Claus as long as he is kept in the proper place with the proper prospective. I just wish my kids would fix him a fried bologna sandwich instead of cookies.

  • Public school ruined Santa Claus for my oldest… I hate to sound like that guy, but when she came home and said that she was getting picked on by classmates for believing in Santa, my wife and I decided that it was more important to be truthful with her than to lie to her, tell her the truth later, and then have to worry that her faith will be weakened because she can’t trust us -- “Well, if Mom and Dad lied to me about Santa, maybe they lied to me about Jesus and he’s made-up too!”

    • In that situation, Russ, it seems you had little to choice.

      I thought much the same, but think now that I had that same conversation with my son at far too young an age.

  • Ricky Anderson

    My parents never said a word about it -- one way or the other. I think that was a good way to let me be a kid without lying to me and damaging their credibility.

    • Nary a word? Wow! That’s impressive!

      Most impressive.

      But you are not elfin yet.


  • Well said. i think there is room in our faith for mystery. Allowing our kids to believe in Santa helps enable the capacity to accept the unfathomable wonder of Christian faith.

    • I love that, K.C.! “Unfathomable wonder,” indeed!