The big Santa bribe…

I’m uneasy with my feelings about Santa. Yes, I want my son to be a good boy, but I’m not sure that guilting him in to it with the threat of ‘Santa’s Watching’ is something I’m entirely comfortable with. 

The thing is, I’m not massively religious (I would describe myself as an agnostic, but that’s definitely a story for another day) & I don’t hugely see the difference between using the threat of a mythical being witnessing your child’s behaviour, whether you’re referring to Santa or God. Trying to get good behaviour based on guilt is not something I want to instill into the psyche of a 2 year old. Using the fact that Santa is watching is fine – maybe – until you get to January, then you’re screwed, or do I need to say Santa watches 12 months of the year?! I absolutely get towards the end of my tether with Little T on occasion & of course I’d like him to behave & I often wonder how to get him to do so, but it does not sit well with me to use someone else is watching as a reason. I feel like I have the threat of Santa as additional arsenal in my back pocket, but I don’t believe it would be of benefit to any of us to use it.

Mr T is often a little later than me getting home from work & I would never use ‘wait until daddy gets home’ as a way to get Little T to behave at any point in the day because I believe this would make him fearful of his daddy & I’d hate to be the person responsible for this & using Santa an a figure to be feared is just the same in my eyes. I also think that dealing with a particular behaviour as and when it occurs ( like taking a toy away, etc) is much better than waiting until later – over a month later in this case – to make the point.

Please don’t misunderstand me; I love Christmas. I am in no way a scrooge & am so looking forward to Little T’s excitement this year, but want him to view it as a special time we spend with family & friends & not measure it on how many presents he receives, or not. It is such a special time & I would like him to look back on family celebrations with fond memories, based on how much fun we had & how special the family time was. I don’t know whether I am being unrealistic for a 2 year old, but this is the first year he really ‘gets it’ & I feel he’s being bombarded with the commercial point of Christmas from all directions – through adverts on tv, magazines he sees that come through the post, through relatives who mention it & also through children at pre-school.

I went to Sunday School religiously (see what I did there?!) until I was 12 & by that point, I was old enough to make my own decisions around my beliefs on God & Jesus & these have evolved since then. I’d like to offer Little T the same opportunity. I will explain to him the Christmas Nativity story & why we celebrate & let him decide for himself how he feels about it. I will encourage hymns & parties, but in my personal opinion, the role of Santa has been massively inflated in the past few decades & it’s not something I totally agree with. I have talked before of being a bit of a traditionalist in my blog about my daily struggle with the modern world & am a big fan of Tim Minchin’s ‘White Wine in the Sun‘ – I love him & think the lyrics very much reflect my own feelings about this time of year. The fairly new ‘Elf on the Shelf’ is a phenomenon that extends this guilt & pressure even more. Quite simply, children cannot be perfect all of the time & expecting this is misguided – they need to blow out at some point & I’d much rather this was at home, but the thought of the Elf watchin & reporting back to Santa jusr increases the pressure & I don’t think this is fair.

That’s not to say I don’t talk about Christmas & I don’t encourage Little T to think about him, I just don’t see the need for all of his behaviour rest on whether or not he gets presents at Christmas or not.

I also object to the number of people who have already said to him – mid November – ‘What do you want Santa to bring you for Christmas?’. I do not want him to be the child that says ‘I want this’ or ‘I want that’. It is horrid to see the children even being pushed around the supermarket with their parent saying ‘I want this…..’ & I firmly believe in some way children are pushed into this. So far in just one week, Little T has been asked by my mother-in-law, my mum’s hairdresser, my sister-in-law & my friend what he wants from Santa, or reminded that Santa is watching. They have even been told at pre-school that if they don’t sing loudly in the Christmas concert that Santa won’t bring them any toys.

I actually think, as a member of the educational profession, if you need to defer to Santa (or God) to get children to do as you ask, then you’ve lost that particular fight then & there.

I know it’s only a matter of time before friends at school get competitive around Christmas presents & it broke my heart last year to speak to a friend who was going through money issues, after her husband’s redundancy, & hear her say ‘I thought we’d done ok with presents considering, but when he got back to school & found Santa had bought some of his friends an iPad, he wanted to know if he’d been naughty because he hadn’t got as much’. I know I cannot control this, but it’s awful to think that my friend’s son had been measuring whether he had ‘naughty or nice’ or not dependant on how much cash had been spent on him, in the name of Santa.

I suppose people may say I am naive – & maybe I am – &  that I have missed the total commercialisation of Christmas – & maybe I have (& I’m actually fine with that) – but I would like Little T to keep the innocence of the young for as long as he possibly can & appreciate the magical wonder of this time of year.

It doesn’t have to involve a huge amount of money spent on presents, just the love of family & friends & good times spent celebrating, Santa or no Santa.

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