Personally, my parents never let me think Santa was real. My mom has said she was so heartbroken when her parents finally told her the truth that she decided never to subject her kids to that kind of hurt and disappointment — but that's just her. Everyone's different when it comes to letting their kids believe in Santa.
One Reddit dad recently chose to disclose the truth to his young daughter, and, as you can imagine, it didn't go so smoothly. Here's exactly what happened — in his words:
"I (39 M) was watching the movie Elf with my wife (32) and 6-year-old daughter. We reached the scene where the elves worked on Santa’s sled to make it fly because not enough people believed in Santa. My daughter latches on to this and just keeps asking, 'Is Santa real?' Her mother said yes, but my daughter kept asking me as well."
"I said, 'Santa is a great idea and a lot of fun, but no, he is not real.' For some context, I love Christmas, but I didn't get to celebrate Christmas until I had a family. I was raised in a family whose religion prohibited Christmas. I couldn't wait to get out and experience all the missed moments. So we do Christmas as big as possible — all the stereotypical traditions. For the past five Christmases, I passively went along with the Santa idea with my daughter, even though I told my wife that I didn't like lying to her and I didn't see the point in lying about something that would eventually come out no matter what. I also told my wife that I wouldn't lie if I were ever asked."
"Well, the moment finally came. She asked me, and I said he wasn't real. At first, my daughter was fine. My wife gave her a long explanation as to why she was lucky we got her presents. My daughter didn't really like this explanation and was upset."
"We both told her that some parents work really hard to convince their kids that Santa exists and that she shouldn't try to convince kids otherwise. My wife definitely felt like I should have lied. Eventually, my wife asked my daughter if learning that Santa wasn't real changed how she feels about Christmas, and my daughter said, 'Kinda.' My wife thinks I should have lied, that letting kids believe in Santa is harmless and that I can't relate to Christmas from a child's perspective because I didn't have those experiences. I think we played along with a tradition for as long as possible, but when my daughter directly asked me, the truth was the better option. I can't really walk this one back, and we all will have a good holiday, but [Am I the Asshole]?"
People had strong reactions to the post, with the majority believing the dad was definitely in the wrong.
"It's a very mild [You're the Asshole]. It isn't that you told your daughter too soon or something — it's that you decided to directly contradict your wife in front of your daughter. You could (read: should) have deflected answering directly, then had a conversation with your wife in private about when to broach the topic of Santa's existence to your daughter. Kind of a shitty thing to hear your wife tell your daughter, 'Yes, he's real,' and then you immediately go against that."
"[You're the Asshole]. There isn't any harm in believing in the magic of Santa as a kid. I don't know anyone who is upset they were lied to about it, including my own kids. Santa is a huge part of Christmas for those that believe, and you just ruined that part of Christmas for your daughter. The big A-hole part is how you directly contradicted your wife in front of your daughter and told your daughter to lie to her friends. You should have gone along with it and talked with your wife about it in private later, not undermine her in front of your own kid. Now your kid has to listen to her friends getting excited about Santa, and even though you told her not to tell anyone (aka lie to them), she'll probably slip because she's so young. So while you were so worried about lying to her, you told her to lie to others. Do you see the issue with this?"
"The kid was allowed two holidays that they’d probably actually remember, and you felt the need to ruin the joy of Christmas for the rest of their life. This isn't just asshole material — this is shit parent material. You’re not talking to some rational adult that needs to grow up, you're left to ensure a child can grow up as a child in this heartless, cruel, fucked-up world. Your being physically incapable of playing along says something about you."
"Yeah, [You're the Asshole]. There really is zero harm in letting children believe in Santa. I'm not really sure why this was a hill you needed to die on, but here we are."
"[You're the Asshole] for doing this unilaterally. It isn't even your holiday tradition you've fucked with. And when you asked if this changed the way your 6-year-old felt about Christmas and she said, 'Kinda,' she meant 'yes.' Boooooo."
"And I adore how you are dictating how the future is going to go. 'We all will have a good holiday.' You hope you will, but who knows for sure."