I 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: