5 Strategies for Teaching Kids the Truth About Christmas
Posted by December 3, 2020on
How do parents who don’t celebrate Christmas teach their kids not to celebrate the holiday, especially when it can look so appealing? Here are some tips.
I want that! Can I have that? Mommy, can you get me this? I want it! Daddy, Daddy, pretty please . . .
These are just some of the demands parents hear from their kids during the period leading to Christmas. Kids are the ultimate salespersons for all the toys and gadgets released before Christmas. That’s why advertisers target children with ads.
It goes without saying, the Christmas season is very appealing to children. Stores get decked out with tinsel, lighted trees, beautifully decorated showcases, and a jolly man dressed as Santa ready to pose with and hear the requests of children. Online ads are filled with fun Christmas imagery. For children, it’s a feast for the eyes!
But not all families celebrate Christmas.
There are thousands of Christian families around the world who have deep objections to the holiday because of its roots in ancient paganism, its absence from the Bible, and the materialistic consumerism that surrounds it. For a deeper treatment of the reasons some Christian families have deep problems with the holiday, read “Four Reasons Christmas Is Not Christian.”
These parents face the challenge of combatting the visual appeal of the holiday and teaching their young children why they don’t celebrate Christmas. Here are some strategies my wife and I have used to teach our two little ones about our position on Christmas. We hope your family may find them helpful.
Strategy 1: Keep it simple
The Bible says that there is a “simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). The truths of the Bible have a level of simplicity at their core—a simplicity that children can grasp. When explaining the family’s beliefs on Christmas to young children, we need to keep it simple.
My wife and I tell them that God doesn’t like Christmas. They usually respond, Why? That gives us the opportunity to share some basic principles. For instance, we explain that God doesn’t like lying. He loves the truth. But Christmas contains many lies, from the claim that Jesus’ birth was in December to the myth about Santa Claus. For more insight on lying, especially subtle lies, read “Enemies of Honesty: Half-Truths.”
Strategy 2: Be proactive
The Bible exhorts parents to constantly teach their children about God’s way of life (Deuteronomy 6:7). Parents can apply this by proactively teaching their children about the problems of Christmas—not just waiting for the questions that come around the Christmas season. My wife and I tell our children all year round that God doesn’t like Christmas. We do the same for Easter and Halloween. So that way it is reinforced, and when Christmas comes around, they are telling us God doesn’t like it.
Our blog post “Does Christmas Make Jesus Happy?” may provide you with some ideas on how to explain this to your kids.
Strategy 3: Remove the wonder
When the ornately decorated Christmas trees begin to appear, our little ones are amazed and always point to them. Some parents may be tempted to try to shield their kids from Christmas trees or distract them so they don’t pay attention to them.
One day, my wife took a slightly different approach when out with our children. She took our son up to the tree and explained to him it was fake. She even encouraged him to touch it and feel for himself. Since then, he hasn’t been so in awe of decorated trees. We explained to him that Santa isn’t real either, just an older man dressed up in a costume pretending to be someone else. Showing the reality behind the spectacles of the season can help children see past the glitter.
For families who keep God’s festivals, this is an excellent opportunity to remind children of the real joy they experience at the Feast of Tabernacles. (If you’ve never heard of this special observance, check out “What Is the Feast of Tabernacles?”)
Strategy 4: Don’t let them feel they are missing out
It’s easy for young children to feel as if they are missing out on something fun. It’s important for parents to provide children godly alternatives. This applies to Easter, as well.
When my little one received an Easter egg as he was leaving day care, he said in the car: “I really like Easter!” (That was even after we had taught him why God doesn’t like Easter.) So I took the Easter egg from him, which left him in tears, and drove him to the grocery store. I told him he could pick any piece of chocolate in this store that wasn’t an egg or a bunny. His tears quickly dried up and turned to excitement as he saw that he could still have yummy chocolate that had nothing to do with something God doesn’t like.
Similarly, parents can give their kids gifts on other occasions to show them there isn’t anything wrong with gifts (God loves gifts, James 1:17). Parents should try to make appropriate occasions extra special so that kids don’t feel they are missing out by not getting Christmas gifts.
Strategy 5: Teach them to be sensitive to others
Our little one is transitioning from day care to primary school (he calls it “big school”). His teacher pulled me aside one day and said my son was telling all the other kids that “Christmas is evil.” After this, I had to explain to him that other people are still learning and that, if they didn’t ask him, telling them that something they believe is good is actually evil wouldn’t help them. I explained that it’s better to pray that God will help them instead.
Teaching children is an awesome responsibility and a constant learning curve for parents. For families who don’t celebrate Christmas and other popular holidays, teaching children about these days can be a challenge. Hopefully you will find these strategies helpful—but don’t forget to pray to God for wisdom on how to pass godly values on to your children.
You may find our free parenting resource “Encourage, Equip & Inspire” to be a helpful tool as you strive to do this!