The Man in the Red Suit

Each family decides how they’ll approach cultural myths and traditions. 

Before we had children, my husband and I decided how we’d handle Santa Claus. He was taught early about the real Saint Nicholas. We decided to follow that same tradition of explaining Saint Nicholas’ connection to Christ. Each year our children received letters from Santa’s Helper explaining details about Saint Nicholas to read before they opened their first gifts. 

By the time they read the last letter explaining who Santa’s Helper was, there were no tears, drama, or sadness, only the lightbulb moment and excitement to carry on the tradition with their family when they were adults.

Friends have expressed the betrayal they felt when they learned the truth about Santa Claus (and the Easter Bunny). Some told me they began to question other things their parents told them were truth. Saint Nicholas was a real man who loved Jesus and shared His love through his generosity. His legacy has been twisted for many parents’ benefit, though.

“He knows when you are sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness’ sake.” 

Why has our culture decided it’s appropriate to use Santa Claus and his make-believe elves to scare our children into being good? But wait there’s more…

Elves and Leprechauns

Let’s discuss the “Elf on the Shelf” phenomenon. One nine-year-old girl told me last Christmas that she and her brother had been so naughty during the year that their elf had to bring two more elves to their house to watch them last Christmas so they’d be good enough to get Christmas presents. Ew! 

In March, people set Leprechaun traps and set up elaborate scenes of mischief to trick their children into being good. 

These tactics to trick children into being good cause fear that someone is watching them, waiting for them to be naughty. These tactics don’t foster integrity in our children to do good to honor God.

When we’re training our children about making right choices because it’s the right thing to do (aka having integrity), we can tell them God watches over them. But GOD watches over them to protect and provide for them in His love for them, not to catch them being naughty. 

In Psalm 121:3 we read, “He will not let your foot slip – He who watches over you will not slumber…”

And in Psalm 139:2-4 we read, “You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You, Lord, know it completely.”

Knowing God watches over them brings children comfort with accountability. 

Instead of scaring children into being good, let’s empower them with the knowledge God is with them no matter where they are!

How can you empower your children with the knowledge God is with them today?