Santa stories: Is ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ the best policy? courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)As Congress debates repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” millions of Christian families are wrestling with a related dilemma when it comes to the truth about Santa Claus. Today is the feast St. Nicholas—the origin of Santa Claus in the U.S. and Father Christmas in Europe—so it’s a good day to raise these questions.

How do you handle Santa?
Don’t ask, don’t tell?

Millions of parents face this dilemma: If we pretend Santa is real, our children eventually realize that we have deceived them. This can go two ways. My family plied the Santa myth, and it didn’t bother me too much when I learned (from my big brother) that Santa wasn’t real. My nephew (now an adult) had a different reaction. He was furious with his parents for lying to him. But if parents do tell the truth about Santa, do they deprive their children of a precious childhood experience and force them to be realists too soon?

DON’T ASK, THE CHILD’S SIDE: Eventually, all children begin to suspect that the Santa myth isn’t true. The budding engineer starts to consider the challenges of squeezing Santa down a chimney. Tomorrow’s traffic controller thinks about congested flight patterns. The future logistics expert ponders the impossibility of visiting billions on the same night. But children everywhere don’t want to ask, fearing that the truth means the end of the Christmas-present gravy train. So, parents and children conspire to perpetuate the myth.

What was your experience growing up?

How have you handled these ethical dilemmas with your own children?

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