What to tell your kids when they ask about Santa

By Marelize Potgieter
23 December 2015

It’s not always easy to know what to tell your child when they ask about Santa Claus. Here are expert tips and a few celebs share their secrets.

Do you leave milk and cookies for Santa every year or do you tell your kids the guy in the white suit doesn’t really exist?

PHOTO: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Meath#/media/File:Jonathan_G_Meath_portrays_Santa_Claus.jpg PHOTO: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Meath#/media/File:Jonathan_G_Meath_portrays_Santa_Claus.jpg Fantasy and imagination forms part of an essential development phase up to age nine, when kids still have difficulty in grasping abstract concepts, Lize van der Merwe, an educational psychologist based in Goodwood, Cape Town, says. “Making Dad dress up as Father Christmas helps to stimulate the imagination a bit,” Van der Merwe says. “Parents sometimes ask me when they should tell their children the truth about Father Christmas but I don’t think that’s really necessary because kids work it out on their own in time.”

'Kids work it out on their own in time'

Van der Merwe believes kids these days are confronted at an early age with serious issues such as crime and violence. “To keep them ‘little’ for a while longer with fantasies such as the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and Father Chrismas isn’t a bad thing.”

We asked a few well-known personalities what they tell their little ones.

Model Minki van der Westhuizen and her rugby player husband, Ernst Joubert, to Katerien (5 months): “We’ll probably tell her about Father Christmas, but she’ll also learn from the start that we’re celebrating the birth of Jesus and that we can share love because God sent his Son to the world.”

Dr Michael Mol of Hello Doctor to Joshua (13), Rachael (10) en Naethan (5): “Many of us have grown too old for fairy tales, but we're still not wise enough to understand them as adults. I think we rob our children of something special when we deny them the opportunity to believe in fairy tales, and to learn how to draw truth from a made-up story.

“I'm of the opinion parents should use the Santa myth to teach their children to be giving rather than demanding, and to experience generosity and grace. Our older two know the truth about St Nicholas (Santa Claus) – a Christian man whose extreme generosity helped strangers, but they nonetheless love the excitement they see in our youngest child's eyes who still believes in a too good to be true, fat and friendly man in a red suit!”

Singer Elvis Blue and his wife Chireze to Lali (3) and Jua (7 months): “These days it’s easy for children to find out the truth about Father Christmas on their own. When I see how my little girl reacts to the lights and adverts with the friendly man in the red hat. I can see that Father Christmas isn’t real for her. Clearly she likes him very much but I get the feeling she can tell the difference between a real person and something that’s there for purposes of imagination and entertainment.”

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