Santa Claus has remained a huge part of Christmas, with children all over the world looking forward to Christmas eve when the legendary jolly bearded man who wears a red outfit is said to travel worldwide using his trusty reindeers, delivering gifts to children who belong to the "nice" list.
Of course, every adult knows that Santa Claus is a fictional character based on St. Nicholas — a real and revered fourth century saint who became known for secretly giving gifts to people.
When asked what Christian parents should tell their kids about Santa Claus, Dr. Joshua Straub, president and co-founder of The Connextion Group, offered a few ideas.
"If you're a Christian parent, perhaps you, too question whether you should conform to the holiday tradition of Santa Claus celebrated across the world. Logically speaking, your concerns are warranted. If we lie to our kids about Santa, then perhaps we lied to them about Jesus as well," he wrote for The Christian Post.
Personally, Straub grew up believing Santa Claus is real. Some of his best childhood memories involved baking cookies and leaving milk for Santa. It was only when he reached second grade that one of his best friends told him the truth: Santa isn't real.
It broke his heart, but Straub said he was still grateful to his parents for letting him enjoy Santa as a child. Nonetheless, Straub said Christian parents should take some precautions in telling their children the truth about Santa.
Straub said Christian parents should not use Santa to manipulate their children to behave. "At the risk of sounding like a scrooge, Santa's not making a list and checking it twice. God, on the other hand, really does know our child's heart," he said. "The values and discipline we instill in our children throughout the year ought not to be based on a fictional character but on God who knows even the number of hairs on our child's head."
At the same time, Straub said it is important for parents to build relational trust with their kids. Santa might be a thing of fiction, but if kids truly trust their parents, then their world won't be shattered. "When Dad said he would be at my wrestling match or baseball game, he was there. When Mom said she was going to play with me, she did. I never questioned my parent's love for me. I was emotionally safe. Again, Santa Claus isn't the issue here, it's the overall quality of our relationship with our kids," he said.