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The truth about Santa Claus: When should you tell kids?

Mary Fetzer is a freelance writer and marketing consultant with a marketing degree from Penn State University and 15 years of international business experience. Mary specializes in writing about parenting, children, pregnancy, college, h...

Tell the truth or let them believe?

When should you tell your kids the truth about Santa Claus? Find out why parenting experts say there is nothing wrong with keeping this fun tradition alive and read one mom's struggle with the truth about santa - and how she came to believe.

santa and little girl

I will never forget the day my daughter asked me to tell her the truth about Santa Claus.

She was in the third grade and said that her friends kept telling her that was no Santa – that parents put presents under the tree. When she first heard these rumors just a year before, she dismissed them and added how she felt sorry for those kids who didn't believe – what if they didn't get anything for Christmas?

Her dad and I told her that sometimes parents would buy for their non-believing kids. But then it occurred to us – since her friends were giving her the scoop – maybe, just maybe, she was pretending to believe. Pretending to please Mom and Dad. Pretending just in case there was a Santa.

Choosing to believe

Nearly a year passed before the subject was brought up again. Then one fateful day, our daughter looked me square in the face with those innocent baby blues, and asked, "Is Santa real?"

I was so caught off guard, so unprepared to discuss this, so wishing her father was home from work so he could step in, that I said nothing. Not a word. I just looked back and her and slowly shook my head. Immediately, her face fell. She burst into tears and yelled, "You lied to me!" and ran to her bedroom before I could speak.

What is the truth?

I called my husband and gave him the low-down. "What do you mean you told her the truth?" he demanded?  When asked how he would have handled the situation, my wonderful husband had a simple reply. The answer to the question was, "Yes, Santa is real if you choose to believe."

"The truth" is that Santa does exist in our hearts, he explained. Yes, our daughter wanted to know about the red-suited gentleman who flew on the sleigh and came down the chimney, but more than that, she wanted reassurance that Christmas truly is a special, magical time of year. "I don't want take that away from her," he said.

Are little white lies bad? Find out here.

Next page: What age should you tell? A parenting expert weighs in

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