Use My Voice

Speaking up about the issues I can't get out of my head or heart.

Guest Post – Why My Kids Don’t Believe In Santa

I am very excited to have our first ever guest post for this weeks, Why? Wednesday. My good friend Angela has taken some time to  explain how her family handles the “Santa situation”. I appreciate her honesty and most importantly her friendship!

My Kids Don’t Believe in Santa
All of my Christmas memories as a child are full of Santa and magic. I loved everything about Santa. The gifts, the letter writing, and the cookies he loves to eat. I was convinced I would find him kissing my mom under our Christmas tree. Utterly convinced of it!
If I had married an American man, my family would likely celebrate with Santa. However, I married a man from Colombia, South America. Some Colombian children grow up with a version of Santa, but it is nothing like it is here in America. Regardless, my husband was never taught to believe in anything at Christmas, except Jesus. He moved to the United States in his 20s. He has pretty much embraced everything about American culture, with a few exceptions. One of those exceptions is Santa.
It would be untruthful to say that culture is the only reason we don’t celebrate with Santa. When I became a Christian at the age of 16, I was surprised to hear that our God is a God who loves regardless of behavior. His love is complete and everlasting. My first Christmas as a Christian, every time I heard an adult tell a child that Santa only brings gifts to good little boys and girls, I squirmed. Of course, as adults, we know that “Santa” will bring gifts regardless. J But it seemed somehow wrong to celebrate with a fictional character so unlike Jesus- whose birthday we are celebrating. Santa has God-like qualities (ie: He sees you when you are sleeping…), yet he is really nothing like God. These descriptions about Santa are so opposite to the truth about Jesus.
If I had been raised with Jesus and Santa, I might feel differently. I know many amazing Christian parents who teach their kids about Jesus 365 days a year. They also incorporate Santa, the elf, etc., into their traditions. Trust me— I don’t look down on them or judge them in any way at all. We all need to parent our kids according to our own convictions… on Christmas and every day. We all must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. I am not naïve enough to think that belief in Santa will make or break a kid’s faith in Jesus.
For me, I can’t do both Jesus and Santa well. One year, we decided to try Santa. It was our first year in public school, and my son came home talking about Santa. All the mystery of Santa was new to him. He had never heard about Santa at home, church, or school. We saw him in movies and at the mall, but it wasn’t personal. He was in 1st grade at the time. So my husband and I decided to “let him believe”. But I soon realized his belief in Santa needed constant reinforcement. He constantly wanted his doubts explained away. He asked continual questions. He wanted to believe so bad. Everything became about gifts and Santa. He had what the Bible calls “child-like faith”. I couldn’t teach him to put that faith in Santa, when Christmas is really about Jesus.
In our home, we are not afraid of Santa. Although my kids know the truth, we allow them to pretend. They write notes to Santa. We put out cookies. Grandma likes pictures of the kids with Santa, so we try to fit that in. This year they want to buy an elf, so we’ll do that too. We love watching movies like Polar Express, Elf, and Rudolph. We have other Christmas traditions too. My kids are not robbed of a fun and magical Christmas because they don’t believe in Santa. They make up their own truths about Santa. They will share in the fun of moving our elf. We all love Christmas, and we make memories every year.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!

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Why Santa (but not The Elf) is A part of Our Family’s Christmas

As I have previously written about my family LOVES Christmas. Starting the day after Thanksgiving when my kids get up they no longer great anyone with “Good Morning” it is “Merry Christmas”. I love it because they just kind of started it on their own and they all do it. Like all families traditions are a big part of celebrating any holiday. There is one Christmas tradition that seems to divide people more than any other, specially Christians, Santa. There seems to be two camps of “Yes  Santa” and “No Santa”  then some have carved out a “I will neither confirm nor deny” camp.

Well my family falls firmly in the “yes Santa” camp. I do understand the other side though. I understand why some people worry that their children will be mad that they lied to them when they find out. I understand that we at times give Santa God like powers (he knows if you’ve been bad or good…) and that could be confusing to a child’s faith development. And yes, Santa can be used to manipulate your child’s behavior for all the wrong reasons. I hear all these reasons and even get where people are coming from. As I child I can remember thinking, “Is Santa God? Are they the same?’ I can even remember thinking as a college age person that maybe I wouldn’t “do Santa” with my kids (who were still years away) because I didn’t wan to mislead them. Here’s what I finally came to realize. I don’t know anyone whose relationship with their parents was truly harmed because of Santa. Now there might have been much bigger issues at play in the family but I don’t think Santa was the main problem. As far as the faith part I also don’t know of anyone who left their faith because of Santa. Might they have questioned things, sure, but I want my kids to question and examine their faith.  If they want to to think through the differences between an imaginary Santa and a very real God I am ok with that. I believe the foundation of faith in their lives is strong enough for that. If they choose one day to walk away from their faith I really don’t believe it will be because of Santa. I will say when my kids ask me if Santa can see them all the time and really knows everything they do I am quick to answer, “No, only God can do that”.

So what about manipulating behavior with Santa? This is actually one of my least favorite parts of the whole Santa thing and one of the big reasons we don’t have an elf.  I try very hard to not use Santa as a manipulation tool. My expectations of their behavior should be the same in December as it is in July. The positive consequences for good behavior and the negative consequences for bad behavior should not drastically change because the month does. Also, I can not imagine how bad one of my kids would have to be for Santa not to come, so why even go there?

Now as far as the Elf, like I said, I don’t like the manipulation aspect of it. However, the biggest reason is that I’m a sprinter not a marathon runner (strictly a metaphor I’m not any kind of runner). I could do a bang up job with an elf for about 4 days and after that I would resent the guy and call him bad names. I calculated up the number of nights I would have to do the Elf if I continued until my youngest child was 13 and it came to around 300 nights, um not gonna happen.

Now back to Santa. I want my kids to experience Santa because they deserve the magic. In the same way they deserve to believe Tinkerbell brings pixie dust and fireworks to Disney and that magic  can get Mickey from Epcot to Magic Kingdom in the blink of an eye.Our kids grow up to fast and they are growing up in a world that often treats them as and expects them to be adults way to early.  Santa is all about childhood and I believe in childhood.

 

Look next Wednesday for a post from my very good  friend on why they take a different approach to Santa. In the meantime how do you handle Santa in your family?

Oh and here are my kids with Santa:

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Your Introverted Child and The Holiday Season

I am an extrovert….just barely. I mean it, I score usually about 10% higher on any extrovert /introvert scale. I come from a family of introverts and most all of my close friends are introverts. In fact my husband is the only extrovert I can think of that I have ever had a really close relationship with . So in my years of having close relationships with introverts I have learned a few things. Which is good because I have known for a long time that my oldest child is an introvert but now I’m beginning to realize my middle one is too (the youngest well she’s ALL extrovert) .

So how is it I am beginning to realize my middle one is more introverted than I thought? I began to realize it last year when he would come home from kindergarten and go to his room to play by himself for an hour or so everyday.  At first I was really bothered, didn’t he want to be with us? I mean he was gone all day (I’m the extrovert remember?). Then after awhile he would come out of his room happy and ready to be with us, he needed to recharge. This past week was Thanksgiving. Which meant family all day one day, going to see Santa and a tree lighting the next, then the next day getting our tree and then… his birthday party.  His party was at the bowling alley and I think he might have bowled a grand total of 5 frames. He was very content to sit back watch everyone and just hang out. He talked to people. He was  thrilled with his presents and because even though he’s an introvert he is a serious ham he even pretended to pass out from excitement. He just had no interest in being in with all the action. He loved his party, in his own introverted way. As an extrovert I would have liked to him to be out more. I worried he wasn’t being outgoing enough or having fun. Later though as I thought about all of the other introverts in my life I realized that was exactly how they would have acted.

A couple of things to keep in mind about introverts:

  • They aren’t always quiet (nobody has ever called my kids quiet)
  • They highly value close realtionships
  • They want to be listened to
  • They can get people and stimulation overload quickly
  • They need to recharge by themselves

For all people the holiday season can be stressful. For introverts the holiday season can be one giant anxiety attack waiting to happen. People, parties, company, shopping. school plays..oh yes and the normal day to day life that must still be lived.  So how do you help your introverted child through this crazy season? Here are a few thoughts:

  • What do they HAVE to go to?  There are some things they are going to have to do and some that they will really want to do. Pick those things and skip the rest. Get a babysitter if you have more events than your child can handle. Just remember as you are scheduling all of the special event that things like school, church, and other activities are still going on.
  • Let them have an escape.  It is ok to allow your child to bring a book or a device with them to most events.  Now, obviously you don’t want your child stuck in a book or on a game all night so agree before you go on when they can have it and for how long. Also, help coach them on how to respond when someone tries to interact with them when they are “escaping”.
  • Find them a quiet space. This goes with the one above but when you get somewhere help them find a place that is good for them to have a little quiet space. It doesn’t have to be a room to themselves it can be a chair in a corner or just a spot out of the way.
  • Let them bring a friend.  Introverts often feel awkward in a crowd. They don’t like to mingle on their own or walk up to a group and ask if they can join in. Sometimes having a buddy with them can make them feel more comfortable.
  • Most importantly….let them recharge. The biggest thing I have learned is that introverts must recharge by themselves. When you get home give them some space. This can be tricky if your introverts share a room like mine do but find a way to give them some space. My oldest will go out and jump on the trampoline when he needs to recharge. My middle one will sit on is bed with books or Legos . However they recharge give them their space to do it.

How do you help the introvert in your life cope with the holiday season?

Also, on a holiday note we have a two part “Why Wednesday” coming up one form me on  why my family “does” Santa and one from a good friend on why her family does not.

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