When we were young parents we struggled with the whole “Santa” controversy. Do we have Santa bring presents? Or not? Do we get a Christmas tree or not?

There are so many decisions we as parents get to {have to} make over the years, and they aren’t always easy ones.

Christmas Photos

The reality is that children will most likely believe in what the media influences them to believe or what other children they know believe, unless we, their parents teach them differently. Santa, for example, is the prevalent Christmas icon in the stores and in most family traditions. For the Christian, we deeply desire to make Christ our focus, but with so many other fun traditions to be experienced and our deep desire to be good parents, we simply want to do it all, right? But in doing it all, the Christian faces a different challenge. The challenge to truly make the focus of Christmas be about the birth of the Savior of our souls.

Are you struggling with this conflict, is the Holy Spirit convicting your heart to be more protective of what your family is truly celebrating and reflecting on?

As a parent, we deeply desire to raise our children to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. We don’t want them to be tempted to make idols for themselves, yet in some way, we in our desire to be the cool parent, who makes fun memories, we justify doing things without realizing the competition there is in the heavenly realm for our children’s heart, soul, and mind.

Gift giving isn’t evil! Sharing a gift tells someone you are thinking of them and that you love them, but it can easily become the idol of your child’s heart if that is their focus at Christmastime.

You see, the battle for hearts isn’t just about Santa!


4 Convicting Conflicts We Faced As Parents

1.) We didn’t want the focus of Christmas to be on anything except Jesus.
2.) We didn’t want to tempt our children to fall in love with idols that would distract them from Jesus {i.e.: gifts}.
3.) We didn’t want to create a reason for our children to question the existence of God when they found out Santa wasn’t real later.
4.) We didn’t want our children to think we were lying to them.

I readily admit that we haven’t got it all figured out as parents. For the first 5 years of our marriage we participated in Santa traditions. It was fun. We had friends who came over dressed as Santa, not because we asked, but because they offered. And it was fun. But I saw my children’s focus being led astray from Christ.. no matter how many videos we watched about Jesus, or how many books about Jesus we read, or even how involved they were in church.

Test Your Child’s Heart

When I tested my children, or had others test my children, asking them what they thought Christmas was about, I was surprised by the answer. Their thoughts were focused on presents, Santa and Jesus.

Jesus was in competition with Santa and gifts for their focus. And it broke my heart.


We parents certainly don’t have all the answers for everything, and I am sure that when I am older, I will look back with a different wisdom and wish I would have done some things differently. But I know that I don’t want my parenting to be scarred by my own desire to fit into the culture or be blamed as being a judgmental Christian just because we don’t include Santa in our Christmas traditions. Isn’t that what Christians do? We label people as judgmental as soon as their lifestyle or parenting choices convict us.

As parents, we all need to come to an agreement that as we seek for mentoring, for wisdom from those who have gone before in this parenting journey, that we wouldn’t just take what they do as gospel. We need to recognize that no parent does it all right, all the time. We can only do our best and our best is a reflection of our pursuit of Christ and His guidance on this journey. Just because we don’t do Santa does not in any way mean we judge you for doing it. It just means that we felt convicted about what that influence had on SOME of our children’s hearts. Your family is different from ours, and most importantly, they are your jurisdiction, not mine.  

We need to simply ask ourselves the hard question: Who is winning the competition for my child’s heart this season? 

Is it the culture who is winning? Are the friends, the gifts, Santa, Christmas parties, or Jesus? I think there is a balance that can be found. A special balance or harmony, rather, that can be found by each individual family. It may look different for each of us. But the key is truly knowing what the hearts of our children can handle and adapting, maybe even every year, making sure that our focus in on where our children’s hearts are focused. 

I rest in accepting the grace that is free for me as a parent, and new every day. If we don’t know what to teach on this topic or any other, this is just one opportunity for us as parents to be stretched and figure out what we are to teach.


The connection of our children knowing the truth became really important to us because both Jesus and Santa were not physically visible, in a simple sense. Well actually it was worse than that, because when we went Christmas shopping kids were lined up to sit on Santa’s knee and tell him what they wanted for Christmas. The need to be fully truthful with the kids became increasingly convicting for us personally as we anticipated the day of having the conversation. Would the kids doubt that Jesus was real? They couldn’t see Him the way they could see Santa at the mall. The thoughts of them doubting our truthfulness and trusting our teaching just ate away at my heart.

But I didn’t want to be that parent. I didn’t want to be a grinch. The unfun party-pooper. The uncool mom. After all, we had already scratched the American Halloween traditions in attempts to redeem that holiday which was also known as All Saints Day and Reformation Day. It was inevitable, I was becoming that mom. And no-one we knew really was. Was I going to be outcasted? Was our family? Were we going to be judged? For sure we were.

The people-pleaser in me didn’t want to make these hard decisions, but the Lord kept convicting my heart. So I researched, prayed, asked mentors advise, prayed, and oh… did I mentioned we prayed and read scripture.

One of the most convicting verses we studied was Matthew 5:37,

“But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” KJV”

Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” ESV

Another verse and truth that kept coming to our hearts was about how our God is jealous for our hearts, our loyalty. This made this issue seem really important. So I couldn’t just leave it up in the air and go with the flow of the culture.

Exodus 20:3-4, ESV:

“You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

And then these verses in Romans 12:1-2, ESV

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”


The Conversation

So what did we decided? Kelsey was about 5 years old, and we decided to go with the truth. “Santa isn’t alive today. He isn’t why we celebrate Christmas. We won’t be giving presents from Santa anymore.” Ugh. Talk about a downer. But she and Austin {2 yrs old at the time}, took it surprisingly well.

We told the kids we didn’t feel good about pretending with them about someone being real when he wasn’t. We told them everything, our whole thought process. That we wanted them to trust us, and to believe what we say because mom and dad don’t want to keep things from you. We told them ultimately, we didn’t want them to think that we would ever lie to them.


Let me make something clear. We don’t think less of those who choose to celebrate Christmas different than us. We don’t think you are “liars.” So please don’t take this post that way. For us, we felt convicted by the Spirit to make the choices we made. However, I would encourage you to pray about what God would have your family do. Don’t just go with the flow, what the culture does. God does call us to be different than the world. How that looks for your life may be different from mine. And that is fine, but we are also called to encourage and exhort one another, challenging one another to be more like Christ, so I do hope this post makes you question things or even encourages you were you are at. But may I encourage you also, that we do live in the world. Above you may have seen a couple pictures that confused you. Maybe they don’t seem in alignment with what I am writing here?

Well, the picture of Megan, for example, is of when she was in a ballet recital as an elf. By participating in this ballet class for a season we had an opportunity to meet many folks we would have never otherwise met. We would have long deep discussions, they would ask about our life with 5 kids {at the time}, homeschooling, and faith. We talked with Megan and taught her that we don’t believe in elves or santa, but that this would be an opportunity for our lights to shine for Jesus. The same goes for the goofy photo booth pictures from a Christmas party we hosted. We have made certain that our kids know between real and make believe. We may have had silly reindeer and santa hats on, but that doesn’t mean we teach the kids about “santa.” You can use these opportunities to teach the truth.

Resources We Recommend

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BY Voice of the Martyrs

It is the true story about a gentle man’s heart for God and how out of love for the Lord he would secretly slip money into poor families homes so their daughters could have a dowry and get married.
After reading to the children about who he was and what he did for the people in his community, we were inspired. Not because he was Santa Clause, though some called him that, but because, out of a love for the Lord, he was spurred on to do good things for people in need. If there is ever a time to do that it is a Christmas.
During a season that the worldly culture bombards people into spending and getting, we should focus on giving in ways that really count or make a difference.

Father, we thank you for sending your Son, for coming to earth to reconcile relationship with us through your blood. We ask that you would guide us as parents in the decisions we make, the things we teach and focus on, and how we shine your light to this world. Please help us to make independent decisions that do not reflect what others have done. And we ask that you would open our eyes and soften our hearts to be sensitive to your Spirit, allowing you to convict us. Change us Lord. Train us not to justify or turn our eyes onto what others are doing but truly, humbly focus on you and what your Word guides us to do as parents. We recognize that in ourselves we have no wisdom, but that all wisdom comes from you. Give us the wisdom of the ages so that we may leave the legacy you have called us to for your glory. Amen