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Moms, How do you answer the question, “Is there really a Santa Clause?”

How do you answer the question, “Is Santa Clause real?”

How far have you gone to keep your kids believing in Santa?

How old were you when you find out the truth about Santa? Who told you?

Please post questions, comments, and funny stories below. I may use them in an upcoming Studio 5 TV segment.

About Dr. Julie Hanks, LCSW:
Dynamic self & relationship expert Dr. Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW loves to make a difference for women. She owns Wasatch Family Therapy and regularly contributes to TV Shows and her advice has been featured nationally including Wall Street Journal, Parenting, Fox News, and others. Connect on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter. Her books The Burnout Cure and The Assertiveness Guide are now available. Dr. Hanks is currently accepting coaching clients.


Lisa Bailey Rogers

Hi Julie, I let my kids believe as long as THEY want to believe. One year my oldest 4th grade at the time asked a question about Santa and my response was “WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE?” I then proceeded to have faith in what he felt. The next year 5th grade, a teacher spilled the beans. My son was stressed, thinking we had told him one thing and everyone at school believed an other. I could tell that he needed the truth to feel safe. So I called Dad and asked if it was OK to tell him the truth. He was so relieved when I told him flat out everything. I could tell with this child that he needed the truth right then. I have a 5th grade daughter and 2nd grade son and they still believe.
I did NOT like how I found out about Santa, and did not even want to share in the tradition of this when I first had children. But it is a fun tradition full of magic.

Vanessa Marble

Being LDS, we chose to tell our children from the get go that there is no such thing as Santa Claus. We want our children to know the true meaning of Christmas and that the greatest gift ever given to us from our Heavenly Father is His son, Jesus Christ. We want to deter from the “commercialism” of Christmas and want to instill in our children, “THE REASON FOR THE SEASON” and celebrate Christ’s birth. I admit we have gotten in trouble because our children will start telling other children Santa is not real and I feel bad they have burst a Child’s bubble, but we have explained to them that not everyone feels the way we do and let them have their opinion. But also as a parent, we are the ones going out and fighting shoppers and trying to get that “perfect” gift, I really hate for Santa to take all the credit….LOL….;0)


I found out when I was 11. My mom and dad had asked our neighbors who didn’t have any children to hold the presents until Christmas Eve. I got up to get a drink of water and someone knocked at the door, so I answered it. Yep, it was the couple from down the street with a whole bunch of stuff. Mom and dad did some quick back peddling but the secret was out.


I told my children that there was a santa claus long ago, he was a real man who gave gifts to children and the santas they see now are his helpers and parents pay santa for the gifts. which explains the discrepancy between some families gifts
I did not want to be untruthful but also wanted to give them the opportunity to believe in santa.
To me it was important that the childern knew i would be truthful when they asked.
Then on christmas morning we would have the saying ‘they who believ will receive’ so every one played believer for that day so there was still the magical feeling for the believers amid the non believers

Scott Ellsworth

My wife and I believe that it is important that we tell our children the truth all the time so that they would believe us when told them really vital things such as morality and religion. Also, as children imagine God to be like their parents, we wanted them to believe God. So, we determined to raise our children knowing the truth about Santa Claus from the beginning. This backfired. Our first child did not believe us and thought that we were lying to her when we told her that Santa Claus was a real man who died long ago. As our whole purpose was to build trust, we decided to just drop the issue. On this one, we just let them believe what they wanted. We neither promoted the belief in Santa Claus nor denied his existence. However, we did teach them that Santa Claus is about the fun of anonymous giving, that people say a present is from Santa Claus when they don’t want anyone to know who gave it.


One year when my youngest was about 10 or 11 and his older siblings had told him that Santa wasn’t real. He had asked me about that and I told him of course Santa is real. Well, the Sunday before Christmas there came a knock on the door, and to our surprise stood Santa himself, we invited him in and he told us about the true meaning of Christmas and sang I am a child of God, wished us a merry Christmas and he was on his way. That year my son had no doubt in his mind that Santa was real, he even tried to convince his older siblings that Santa was real. This is a true story, and my husband and I didn’t even arrange it.


The reality is, the “spirit” of Santa is very real. We’ve always tried to express that truth to our kids. We have 4 kids ages 14 to 7. Each child is different. What has worked for us is the truth. Our oldest DEMANDED to know the TRUTH while in 5th grade; she needed to know then. Our second was far more believing and we finally sat her down and talked about it when she was in 6th grade. I truly believe in not lying just to keep the belief in tact. When they’ve asked me if he is real, I’ve always turned it around and asked them. That helps me to know where they are personally.
“Belief” is important. Faith is based on hope, so we try to help our children recognize why we celebrate Christmas, and when they have learned the truth of it, they haven’t been let down. Instead they are excited to help “Santa”.

Connie Garner

Hi Julie!

Here is a url of a sweet letter that was written by a Mom to her children regarding Santa Claus. You may have already seen it but thought I’d share in case you hadn’t. 🙂

Jenn Morgan

I let my kids believe as long as they wanted to. Except I did accidentally spill the beans for one of the kids and she still teases me about it. I would ask them how they felt about it and told them there was a real man who loved and shared the Christmas Spirit with those in his village. There are many legends, stories and traditions throughout the world and there must have been a foundation for them. We continue that tradition with our children in ways that meaningful, always incorporating the Savior during the season. Aren’t we Santa’s too? …. leaving gifts or treats on doorsteps? Sharing what little we don’t have with others anonymously? It has become very materialized the last many years, and as LDS parents, teach our children the importance of giving, serving and loving as the Savior did (and Santa Claus, too). The “magic” is the Spirit testifying of the Savior and all things that are good.

Rose T

On purpose, we blur the line between which presents are from Santa and which are from Mom and Dad. We open them all together at one time, in one place. We let the kids believe as long as they wanted to believe. The older two found out at an earlier age than the younger two. But as soon as a child knew who was sub-contracted to do Santa’s work for him on Christmas Eve at our house, that child got to stay up late and help set up the stockings/living room (and see some of the presents in advance!), Waiting for their siblings’ reaction to the presents is very nearly as exciting as waiting to get the presents. It becaome a sort of natural transition from ‘getting’ to ‘giving’.

Michelle {Fun On A Dime}

Believing in Santa, for me, was some of the magic of Christmas. I believed for a LONG time and still do! Growing up I had suspicions that my parents were it, but I’m the type of person who doesn’t go looking for my birthday present because I want a surprise. So, it didn’t matter if they were all Santa or not for me. My parents never had to come out and tell me. Besides, once you start saying “I don’t believe in Santa”…it kind of kills the fun. lol As I got older I got to help Santa or keep the magic going by being excited for my younger siblings. My youngest sister is 16 years younger than me and having a young child in the house just makes it more of a necessity to believe longer. lol And there were times were we, as a family, had opportunities to BE Santa for others (12 days of Christmas, random gifts dropped off, etc.). Which, I feel is just as magical. =)

Now that I have my own family, I’m not going out of my way to make Santa the only gift giver, but to make Christmas something special and magical for my kiddos. I want to give them opportunities to “feel the magic”, that warm feeling, of giving and the opportunity to believe in the season…pretty much the reason it is called Christ-mas.

Sorry, for the Novel! lol

Michelle {Fun On A Dime}

Oh, and something else that we do, that we learned from my husband’s sister, is to make sure the really big/good gifts come from US, Mom and Dad, and not Santa. Santa gives a couple small gifts or a fun family gift, like a game, but he is not the focus of the gift giving and not the focus of Christmas…just a fun tradition.


My sister is bugged by our choice to tell our children that Santa is not real. From when they were very little, when the question came up we would explain the historical story of Santa Claus and that some people pretend that he is real, but that we know that he is not a real person. I want the kids to know that they hear the truth from me, not to find out the truth from some kid at school. In addition at Christmas time we like to emphasize the birth of Christ not the commercialized Santa. I don’t think that my kids have missed out on the magic of Santa, we do lot’s of other fun things at Christmas time. We attend live nativities, have lot’s of fun door-bell-ditching (the nice way leaving anonymous gifts on neighbors porches then running and hiding), decorating the tree, and attending Christmas parties. When my sister’s kids ask me if Santa is real, I tell them that at our house we do not believe in Santa, but that it is ok if they believe different than us. So hopefully we agree to disagree.

Patti Sampson

I only have one daughter, so I wanted her to believe forever, not realistic. In 3rd grade she didn’t really believe so I hired a Santa Claus to come to our house at about 10:00 one evening. She knew the door had been locked, but I had gone and unlocked it. He came in shaking his bells calling her name. She came running out of her room wide-eyed. He talked with her and told her that he had been told that she didn’t believe in Santa and he wondered why. She told him her reasons. He then explained what I had been telling her about my belief in Santa. She couldn’t believe that Santa actually was saying exactly what her “Mom” said. Every time she asked me if I believed in Santa I would say yes. I love the magic of Santa. I love the magic of giving to others and doing kind things for others and watching people be kind to others because of Christmas and the happiness that people feel during the holidays and a lot of that comes from the happiness that Santa brings. All the stories and songs and cute Santas and reindeer. There really is a Santa – does he fly around in a sleigh, no; but that part is a great story – that sounds so fun and makes it even more exciting and fun. For me that was a wonderful moment and she still thinks that was one of the best experiences.

D Chaston

Once I was an adult with small children, my father told me emphatically that he was sorry he ever lied to me about Santa. He said it was one of the biggest mistakes he ever made. He asked me not to repeat it with my own children. It left me wondering exactly what to do. We didn’t grow up with very much money in the house, and I think the idea that Santa gave gifts (that my parents couldn’t afford) stressed him out too much. If children realize that their parents are paying for the gifts under the tree, they may be less likely to demand things their parents can’t afford. The truth has a way of making children more appreciative of the gifts they receive. It’s difficult to thank a faceless “Santa.” When my children asked, we told them the truth. We made it a way that the oldest children could “help” the parents play Santa. We told them it was important that the littlest ones still believe if they want, but that they could help in that wonder that was still in our youngest children. Instead of feeling let down about the truth, they were excited to help the younger ones still experience the wonder of Christmas. When the oldest ones were our little “elves” it gave them a sense of meaning. When my very youngest get to that age, I may have them help as “elves” to another family or cousins.

Linda Isom

Read the following story and I’ll explain at the end how we told our son.

I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma. I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her. On the way, my big sister dropped the bomb: “There is no Santa Claus,” she jeered. “Even dummies know that!”

My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her “world-famous” cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be true.

Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything.
She was ready for me.

“No Santa Claus?” she snorted…”Ridiculous! Don’t you believe it! That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad!!

Now, put on your coat, and let’s go.”
“Go? Go where Grandma”I asked. I hadn’t even finished my 2nd world famous cinnamon bun..

“Where” turned out to be Kerby’s General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything.

As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days.

“Take this money,” she said, “and buy something for someone who needs it I’ll wait for you in the car.”

Then she turned and walked out of Kerby’s.

I was only eight years old. I’d often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself.

The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for..

I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church. I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock’s grade-two class.

Bobby Decker didn’t have a coat. I knew that because he never went out at recess during the cold weather.

His mother always wrote a note telling the teacher that he had a bad cough but all us kids knew Bobby Decker didn’t have a cough, he didn’t have a good coat.

I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat! I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that.

“Is this a Christmas present for someone?” the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down.

“Yes ma’am,” I replied shyly. “It’s for Bobby.” The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter coat. I didn’t get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, “To Bobby, From Santa Claus” on it..

Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker’s house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa’s helpers.

Grandma parked down the street from Bobby’s house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. “All right, Santa Claus,” she whispered, “get going.”

I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma.

Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.

Fifty years haven’t dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker’s bushes.

That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were: ridiculous..Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.

I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95.

May you always have LOVE to share,
HEALTH to spare and
FRIENDS that care….
and may you always believe in the magic of

This is how we explained it to our son. One of his friends families Dad had lost his job last year and so we played “Santa” for this family. I was the getaway car driver as my husband and son left the giant baskets of gifts at the door, rang the doorbell and went dashing off to the “get away” car. Once in the car my son said “That was the funnest thing ever, I love being Santa Claus!” Even more bittersweet was when this sweet Mom got up in fast and testimony meeting and wept while thanking those silent helpers who helped make a great Christmas for them. My son looked up at me grinning ear to ear and said “When can we play Santa again?”

Now this year, we have a family picked out once again. I imagine I will resume my responsibilities as the getaway driver.

Karen Madsen

My husband and I haven’t had to answer that question quite yet because our daughter is only 17 months old, but we recently talked about what we should do. We decided that when we talk about Santa we emphasize that he is a symbol of Christmas and the good feelings that come from giving gifts to others; to be religious, he is a symbol of a loving Heavenly Father who gave the Savior to us as a gift. That way when our kids want to know if Santa is “real” we can remind them of how he is a symbol and we, their parents, carry out the role of Santa to feel those good feelings that come from giving gifts, especially to those in need.

I don’t remember when I found out, maybe around age 9? I don’t remember anyone ever saying anything to me about him not being real, I just remember figuring out that all the notes from Santa about eating the cookies were ALWAYS in my mom or dad’s handwriting.


I’m the oldest of 7 siblings & was raised in a good LDS home with parents who loved the spirit of Santa. We put out the cookies and milk for him every year. I loved watching the old Christmas cartoons about Santa and his reindeer. I remember when I started having questions about it (probably from hearing other things at school) and asked my parents straight out if they were Santa Claus. They said no, but that they were his helpers. That satisfied me for while. But when I finally found out that he wasn’t real (I can’t remember exactly how, but I’ve never forgotten the feeling) I was devastated. All the magic for me was gone. The only thing that saved Christmas for me as an older child was having younger siblings who believed. I would stay up late with my parents wrapping presents for them and enjoyed watching them in the morning jumping up and down for joy so excited to open presents.

Even though I was devastated upon learning the truth, I remember as a teenager hearing the story of a neighbor dad who told his son flat out that his son is not going to believe in anything so ridiculous as Santa Claus. I couldn’t believe that this dad told his son “the truth” and thought at this time, “How horrible”.

Now, I’m a mother of 6 children living in Germany. (I married a German). The commercialism of Christmas really bothered me as a mother. Being in Germany and not having my children in daycare (which is the norm here regardless of whether the mother works or not) it was really easy to break away from the Santa tradition. Presents come from Mama and Papa. My husband explained to the children that Santa is a tradition. For those people who were not religious, they needed something to believe in, so they choose to believe in Santa Claus. We explained to them that here in Germany, it was actually the believe and tradition that the “Christ Child” came back every year. Each tradition brings a spirit of giving and sharing and that we respect people’s belief whatever it is. Even after talking to the children about this, one son, 6 years old, wanted to know if Santa was real. I asked him who he gets presents from… “Mama and Papa and Oma and Opa”. “Okay, so then what do you think?” I asked him. He answered, “Yes, because Santa Claus came to the Ward Christmas Party.” So, in the mind of this little boy, Santa Claus only comes to the Ward Christmas Parties. (he-he-he-he) Seriously though, without coming right out and saying that Santa is not real and false, we keep reminding the children that Santa is a tradition.

I think it’s important to teach our children truth. The definition of truth is: “Things as they really are.” Sorry Santa, you’re just not the real deal.

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