The Dreaded Question: Is Santa Real?Parents often live in fear of this time of the year, because as their child ages, their belief in Santa Claus becomes challenged by hints that perhaps he isn’t as real as they thought.

Sometimes the first hints come from watching television, catching a part of conversation that suggests Santa was never real. Other times it comes from surreptitiously catching Mom & Dad putting out the presents in the middle of the night. Yet other times it comes from the realization that it may be physically impossible for one individual to go down so many chimneys in such a short amount of time (not to mention how heavy he would be eating all those cookies!).

Psych Central’s parenting expert Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker will help you get through this transition to help keep your child’s disappointment and hurt to a minimum.

December rituals are similar in millions of households around the U.S. There’s a big buildup to Christmas with trips to visit Santa workshops and photo shoots with Santa (that promptly go on the Facebook page or family website). “The Night Before Christmas” becomes a bedtime story. TV specials like A Charlie Brown Christmas, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, and, of course, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas now run almost 24/7. Local top 40 radio stations run novelty Santa songs all day.

On the eve of the big day, stockings are hung and cookies and milk are set out for Santa as well as a carrot for Rudolph. Some parents even take a bite out of the cookie and write a thank-you note from Mr. Claus for the kids to find the next day.

It is part of the magic of Christmas for children and a nostalgic visit back to childhood for adults. For those who had wonderful childhood Christmases, it’s a chance to recreate them. For those whose Christmases were less than wonderful, it’s a chance to do it better. So we adults engage in a conspiracy of tales. What would Christmas be without the story of a jelly-bellied elf who somehow gets around the world in one night to deliver presents and treats to good little girls and boys?

Then comes the thud of reality.

Continue reading the article: When Your Child Asks, Is Santa Real?