“Mommy, is there a santa claus?”

Well – have you also been asked this question? Educational expert Nora Imlau believes it is legitimate to enchant young children with Christmas stories. But she also thinks kids deserve honest answers when they explicitly ask who is putting presents under the tree now. She gave us a few basic rules that moms and dads should follow in the run-up to Christmas.

No matter how crazy the world is right now: There’s hardly a child in this country who doesn’t look forward to Christmas. And we, the grown-ups, also long for peace, joy and family festivities even more so this year than usual.
It’s too nice in these weeks, which somehow always start earlier and at the latest in the middle of November: Advent calendars are hung up by tiny gnomes; the Christ Child bakes cookies in the sky when the sun goes down; Santa Claus comes by to pick up the wish list. In short, we basically tell our children a lot of nonsense at the end of the year. But is that really "lying" already?

Christmas magic makes you happy and thankful

Lying is a harsh word associated with meanness and hurt, says parenting advice author Nora Imlau. She reassures them: "Most people think back to the stories of Santa Claus or the Christ Child with completely different feelings: happy and grateful that they were allowed to enjoy this childlike Christmas magic." That’s why she would never give blanket advice against telling children about miracle creatures of the Christmas season. There are, however, some basic rules to follow.

Knecht Ruprecht and the rod are old news

Rule number 1: Christmas stories should bring joy- and not to scare. The creepy Knecht Ruprecht with his rod is fortunately as good as extinct. And really has no place in the magic of Christmas. "Anticipation and security: that’s what Christmas stories are all about", Nora Imlau says.

Rule #2: Christmas creatures should not be misused for educational purposes. "If you don’t clean your room, Santa won’t bring you presents" – According to Nora Imlau, such threats are not only mean, but also cowardly, because we are thus putting our own punishments on the shoulders of a mythical creature.

The kindergarten teacher explained to the kids that Santa Claus doesn’t exist& that it is a disguise. :exhausted: Why did she have to destroy the spell?

— Mother& Sons (@Marsha_) 17. November 2016

When the "magic phase" ends

The belief in Santa Claus and the Christ Child falls into the so-called "magic phase" for children, in which the child explains everything he or she can’t explain properly with magic. But at some point, every child figures out that it’s the parents who put the colorful packages under the tree. Whether it’s because they recognize the wrapping paper that was just in the shopping cart, or because a child or kindergarten teacher bursts out with the truth.

When it comes, the question of whether Santa Claus or Christ Child really exists, many are tempted to extend the magic a little longer. But is that a good idea? No, says Nora Imlau: "It’s better to tell honestly and openly that the Christmas companions are mythical creatures that the grown-ups tell the little ones about to brighten up their Christmas. And that now for it too big invite the child who has become a child to preserve the story together for the younger ones from now on." In this way, children did not feel betrayed, but understood and grown up: "They can now experience for themselves from the other side that a beautiful story does not have to be a lie."

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Our expert

Nora Imlau has written various parenting guides and recently published the title "My Family Compass" What do I need and what do you need??" (Ullstein Buchverlage, 22.99 euros). In the summer, the 37-year-old moved with her husband Malte and their four children from Leipzig to southern Germany.

Does Santa Claus really exist??

Many of us take it for granted: we tell children that Santa Claus or the Christ Child delivers the presents. On the other hand, we teach them not to lie. So how much giddiness is allowed at Christmas time? On the next page, four families share how they deal with these issues.

"We celebrate a party for Jesus" – no figures that don’t exist

Deborah Bosch (37) Nordholz (Lower Saxony), with Paula (8), Johann (5) and Enno (1)

When she was little, Santa Claus or the Christ Child were not the focus of Christmas- but the Christian thought, the birth of Jesus, remembers Deborah Bosch (37, teacher). With her three children Paula (8), Johann (5) and Enno (1), she also sees Christmas as a birthday celebration: "A party for Jesus! And because he loves us humans so much, we get presents on his birthday, give each other something for Christmas! Giving presents brings joy- and we celebrate that! Doing good for each other! We don’t celebrate Santa Claus and the Christ Child, we celebrate the rituals of Christmas, scents, sounds, coziness, beautiful songs, traditions and delicious food. And we’d rather eat chocolate Santa Claus than believe in the man with the gift sleigh." That wasn’t always the case: When her oldest daughter was three years old, Santa Claus even came to visit once. "At this age they find the story great, especially when everyone else at that age also believes in it. But in the meantime our children have realized that we parents fulfill their wishes, buy and wrap presents. Children are curious, discover their world . For example, they discovered the wrapping paper beforehand at home and put one and one together. When other children talk about Santa Claus, they say that we parents are Santa Claus or the Christ Child and that we also get the presents." Something like this happens- nevertheless, the whole family respects other traditions as well. "We try to raise our children in a tolerant way and to accept other ways of thinking. Therefore, it is part of not necessarily taking away the illusion from others!"

"I tell my children what my mother told me"

Carolin Behrendsen (28, florist) loved the story of Santa Claus herself as a child. "Back then, when my friend kept saying that Santa Claus didn’t exist, I always asked my mother if that was true- and she said: ‘Carolin, everything we can imagine in our imagination, exists in us as well.I thought that was so nice, and at some point the subject of Santa Claus just fizzled out for me, without any great need for clarification. In the Protestant kindergarten here at home, the children are also told about God. But no one has ever seen God, and yet many still believe that he exists
and that he loves and protects all children. My family doesn’t belong to any denomination, but I always thought this was a good idea for the children, too. Santa Claus and the Christ Child are simply magical figures who bring families together at the end of the year, make the house cozy and make our children shine. Why should we do without?" Carolin also told her children Emma (6) and Gunnar (1) about Santa Claus. And when Emma recently asked her for the first time if he really existed, she replied: "Emma, everything we can imagine in our imagination exists in us." Her daughter’s answer: "Now I understand why I’m always like this
I have a warm feeling in my stomach when I think of Santa Claus."

"Our children knew from the beginning that we parents were buying the gifts"

Franziska (46) and Martin Widmann (54) from Hamburg, with Jakob (15), Hanna (12) and Noah (7)

Dr. Martin Widmann (54, director of a grammar school) and Dr. Franziska Widmann (46, psychologist) has consciously never told her three children Jakob (15), Hanna (12) and Noah (7) that Santa Claus or the Christ Child exist. "Our children know Santa Claus and the Christ Child, just as they know unicorns or fairies. But that the gifts come from us or grandma and grandpa, they knew from the beginning. They realize that Christmas is celebrated to honor Jesus’ birth. You also know that many people don’t care about the origin of Christmas anymore", says Martin. Again and again there was criticism in the circle of friends: "We have often been confronted with the reproaches that we would deprive the children of the chance to get to know this very special magic", says Martin. Noah, Hanna and Jakob love the Christmas season anyway. "You don’t need a fairy tale about Santa Claus or the Christ Child to do that. And we’ve never spent Christmas Eve crying behind the sofa, because the nice idea of hiring a Santa Claus backfired . " Other families can do as they please: "But we never saw the point of telling the children a story, knowing that after a few years they would find out that there was no truth to the story."

"My daughter still wants to keep the magic for herself"

Vanessa Wolff (39) from Alfeld (Lower Saxony), with daughter Marlene (8)

Vanessa Wolff (39, job mediator at the job center) told her daughter Marlene (8) about Santa Claus right from the start: "Since people in kindergarten, in the family, and also among friends hold on to this story, there was basically nothing left for us to do but go along with it. The sparkling eyes on Christmas Eve, when she saw that Santa Claus was there, I wouldn’t want to miss for a minute either." Marlene puts cookies and a glass of milk out for him every year- Vanessa lets both secretly disappear. In the meantime, her daughter has doubts: "She probably suspects that we are behind it, but wants to keep the magic of the story for herself. For us it has become a big challenge, because by now I can’t fool her that the
Letter carrier always delivered packages for the neighbor. She can read- and of course takes note of the address labels. I think soon she will be ready for the truth. If she asks, I will probably tell her the real story." Soberly regarded the narrations are so far naturally a lie, say Vanessa. But: "There are so many things I don’t tell her yet in full, so as not to scare her. It is child- and I want to keep her childlike as long as possible. When I tell her about Santa Claus, I have to bring in the Easter Bunny, and then the next thing she wants to know is where babies come from. As a mother, you can prepare yourself for many things, read all the books, but no one explains these important topics to you beforehand . "

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