For a small child, the anticipation of Christmas Eve and Santa’s arrival top the list of the most exciting things that happen in December. What is better than waking up on Christmas morning to see what Santa left under the Christmas tree? Although hard to fathom, not everyone believes in Santa. And even worse, what if your ex is a Grinch? What happens when your 5-year-old Santa-fanatic comes home from visitation with questions or in tears because your ex, or some Grinch living with your ex, told them Santa does not exist? Besides calling your former partner with a few choice words for unilaterally dashing your child’s innocence, here are some steps to take to bring back the festive spirit.
Follow your child’s lead on what they want to believe
If you have a child that demands the truth, maybe it is time to rip off the band-aid and tell them the story of Santa Claus and how his magic came to exist. Remind them they can still have fun and participate with the traditions of the fairytale. If you have a child willing to still believe, go with it. There is no harm in keeping the Christmas magic alive, at least for a few more years.
Don’t Blame the Other Parent
In an effort to reassure your upset child, it is never a good idea to suggest that your ex is a liar. Redirecting your child’s attention to happy memories of the magic of Christmas time and Santa, may help your child. I suggest reminiscing about leaving cookies out for Santa, looking at last year’s photos with Santa, and the like.
Communicate with Your Co-Parent
Communication is key. Have a follow-up conversation with your child’s other parent. The timing of childhood mysteries might not have come up in the past during coparenting conversations, and that’s okay. Now that Santa is out of the mythical sack, it is time to make a plan for any future unveilings that may dampen the spirit of your child. This could also include the tooth fairy or Easter bunny. No matter your personal ideology on these subjects it is better to communicate than to decide on your own.
The goal for everyone in this type of situation is to keep the magic alive for your little ones. A conversation about expectations can go a long way. If you and your child’s other parent are at a roadblock over these types of decisions, consider the possibility of mediation to protect the holiday spirit and magic for your child. Mediation is a great way to maintain the decision-making within your control and craft creative solutions for your family to move forward.