'Tis the season to be jolly . . . and to defend your choices as a parent all season long. Whether it's your great aunt reminding you that, in her day, children didn't need toys with batteries or someone telling you that your Christmas lights are going to give your baby lead poisoning, it's easy to feel like you're being attacked during the most wonderful time of the year. Especially if you take your kids to visit Santa. If you've never needed to learn how to deal with comments about letting your kid sit on Santa's lap, consider yourself lucky. And then prepare, because it's only a matter of time.
I hate to sound so bah humbug about this, because Christmas is a magical time of the year, especially when you have children. But it seems like everybody is ready to ruin it at any moment. OK, so maybe they think they're being helpful when they tell you that putting your child on Santa's lap perpetuates rape culture, but I disagree.
Because I'm assuming you aren't putting your child in harm's way. I'm assuming here that the Santa you're going to visit isn't hanging out in a back alley offering $20 to let your child sit on his lap. I'm . . . assuming a lot of things, to be honest.
But no matter if your kid is super pumped to see Santa or a little nervous, you're bound to hear some comments about putting your child on the jolly guy's lap. So prepare yourself and know how to deal with the comments so you can keep the spirit alive for Christmas. (And so you don't drink a whole carton of rum with a side of eggnog later.)
1Make Sure Your Child Actually Wants To Sit On Santa's Lap
Obviously this is huge. You can't deal with the comments about putting your kid on Santa's lap effectively if you're forcing your child to do it. Make sure your kid knows that it's their decision and that, if they want, Santa would love for them to sit on his lap, but there's no pressure.
2Explain Consent To Them Like You Did Your Children
Consent is a biggie and it's often the word people fling around when discussing Santa, which means you need to explain to people what consent means just like you explained to your child. According to Today, you should explain that consent is about boundaries. Meaning, if your kid doesn't want to sit on Santa's lap, you aren't going to force them. But if they feel it's safe and within their boundaries, then there's no harm in doing it. You know that your child has the ability to decide who they will be touched by, even if it's a hug from Saint Nick, so let others know in an effort to dissuade the judging of your child sitting on Santa's lap.
3Remind Them That Your Personal Family Traditions Are Not Their Business
If your kid wants to sit on Santa's lap and you're fine with it, I'm not sure why anyone thinks they have a right to speak on the matter. So tell them firmly, but politely, that your family traditions are nobody else's business. Your child is safe, you're happy with the decision, and they don't get a say in what your family does together.
4Remind Them & Your Kids That It's Not An All Or Nothing Approach
You know, it's OK if your kid was pumped for Santa and is now a little apprehensive. People seem to assume that if you had plans for your child to sit on Santa's lap, that it's all or nothing, but that's not the case. Explain that to them and your children. If they want to stand by Santa for a picture or if they just want to shake his hand and leave, that's OK, too. It's up to your little one how the visit goes, so make sure everyone knows that you aren't operating on a specific idea — everything's open and flexible.
5Give Them A Candy Cane
Seriously. It's Christmas and some people need to lighten up. You've done everything you could to explain to them that sitting on Santa's lap is a personal decision for your child and if that doesn't work, just give them a candy cane already. Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal.