It is a delicate dance when your child is transitioning from childhood to pre-teen development because you start to realize they have significant memories and attachments to certain moments in their young lives and you don’t want to be the one to break their spirit. At the same time you don’t think it is socially acceptable for your pre-teen to be believing in the Big Man in Red who travels the world in 24 hours in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer because you are afraid they will be judged by their peers. So how do you break the ice on this topic?
Through my journey as a step-mom and a child therapist I believe it is important to provide a balance between the truth and keeping the spirit alive. As your child shows curiosity by asking questions to make sense of what their brain is starting to ponder based on what they may hear from friends or older individuals; the logical (or better yet the illogical) aspect of this tradition; and how they feel in their bodies about letting a piece of their childhood go. The feeling is what we need to preserve so their belief in the spirit of Christmas remains alive!
If you have created traditions with your children for the holidays based on Santa Claus then the transition can become more confusing for your child as they notice there are less gifts coming from Santa. And possibly internal conflict for yourself as you’re unsure how to navigate through this stage of development without taking away the little person’s hope or innocence. So how can you do this without feeling like a fraud and be cognizant of their feelings? Last year as our child started pre-teen years we decided to only have gifts from Santa that were toy base, not electronics, which would encourage his creativity and bonding with his dad. Through LEGO, Star Wars theme, the father-son relationship has developed an attachment over building a big LEGO set each Christmas which is important to maintain so we decided this year to provide one big LEGO set, Yoda. Yoda, a figure who represents guidance and wisdom, will symbolize the transition from believing in Santa Claus as a human to the belief in Santa Claus as the Christmas spirit: traditions, connections, and love.
The last letter from Santa will read: To B, In the spirit of Christmas I leave this one last gift for you and your dad to do. Love Santa