Around this time of year, I start to see posts shared on Facebook or Instagram, reminders in moms groups, or on parenting forums…
“Don’t say your expensive gifts are from Santa.”
You’re not supposed to say any of the expensive gifts you’ve purchased for your children are from Santa. Those gifts must be from you, their parents.
The idea is that other children will wonder why their friend or classmate received expensive toys from Santa and they did not. Leading them to question their value as a person… apparently.
Believing in Santa and Understanding the Value of Money
One of the biggest flaws with this concept is the fact that it assumes children who are young enough to believe in Santa, are also old enough to understand the value of money.
Most children who believe in Santa are under the age of eight. Money concepts start to set in around age seven, which means there’s a big chance that the realization of ‘the family with the big house gets more gifts than the family with the small house’ leads to the discovery that Santa is a magical, mystical, myth— and parents are, in fact, the ones responsible for all the gifts.
When a child believes in Santa and then starts to feel that gift-giving is financially unfair, it’s less likely that they internalize the idea of being less special and more likely they question the existence of Santa.
Once we understand money, how can we possibly believe in magic?
What About God?
If the idea of Santa bringing expensive gifts to one family, and not another, is harmful…
If parents are supposed to be telling their children that only humble gifts come from Santa— socks, clothing, school supplies…
What about God’s wealth distribution? Er— wealth inequality?
I mean that’s what this is about, right? We don’t want anyone’s heart broken over uneven wealth distribution.
And maybe uneven wealth distribution is more obvious around the holidays… and maybe more so to children… But, I have to ask…
What about God?
If it’s hurtful for children to believe Santa values one family more than another, based on the monetary value of gifts received, isn’t it also hurtful for a child from a poor or disadvantaged family to believe God values them less than a child from a wealthy family?
If Santa is capable of evening out the blessings, why isn’t God?
Why do we use Christmas to regulate the way people spend their money? Why don’t we just shame big spenders all year ‘round?
Teach Your Kids a Better Lesson
Some people have money and some people don’t. Your children are going to experience wealth inequality from their point of birth until forever.
So you can try to hide it or you can teach your children about wealth inequality, why it exists, how they can take control of aspects of their lives to avoid becoming disadvantaged, and what they can do to avoid being negatively impacted by debt.
We all want to protect our children and their feelings. It breaks my heart to think my daughter will be judged or teased based on clothes or shoes, or what calculator or laptop she’s given, by my husband and myself… who are in fact working hard to provide her with a good life.
But the reality is, some people have more than you, and some have less. If you want to avoid broken hearts and pleas of why teach your children coping mechanisms while they’re young.
Don’t let them grow up believing their self-worth is based on what they’re given from Santa or God.