Grace E Mauzy of GEM Parenting agrees. Mauzy is a leadership coach for parents raising children with natural high self-esteem.
"I do not think there is a correct time to tell children," says Mauzy. "If fact, I encourage parents to stretch this innocence as long as they can." Mauzy explains that the "magic" parents create for their children creates a unique trust between them. "When you encourage and enable inner creativity to develop, you are giving your child an amazing sense of self-esteem."
My clumsy reaction to my daughter's question was completely backwards. Deep down, I think, I worried that her friends might tease her or try to humiliate her. Looking back now, I realize that it was my answer – not my daughter's belief – that was cause for humiliation. I was devastated by the way I had handled this. Regretful that I couldn't take back that simple shake of the head. Desperate to repair the damage.
When my daughter finally emerged from her solitude, it was apparent that she didn't care to talk to me about this. For my benefit, she left pencil drawings of Santa and elves and reindeer around the house. Each drawing included a simple statement, like "I believe," or "It is real."
She understood what my husband did. Her written words indicated that her question was not about the jolly bearded guy. "I believe" and "It is real," truly reflected the spirit of the season.
"Let them believe as long as they can," adds Mauzy. "Re-guide them to believe in Santa when they have been told the 'truth.'"
It's been three years since that fateful day. And never again in our household has anyone suggested that "he isn't real." Our daughter enjoys every festive moment of the season. Even as a sixth-grader, she plays Christmas with her sister – there are sleighs, elves and Santa suits, but more than that, there's anticipation. Faith-driven anticipation that "He is real," and that's why we celebrate this beautiful holiday every year.
Tell us: When do you plan on telling your child the truth about Santa Claus? Comment below!
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