Sure, it may make certain parts of parenting seem easier as we approach Christmas. “Be good or Santa won’t bring you presents” it’s an easy line to say, but it’s lasting implications go much farther than making a child stop jumping on the couch.
A child’s worth is not, should not be, dependant on their behaviour. Children have less developed brains. Their impulse control is almost non-existent. Emotions are physically painful and often bubble over during the upheaval of Christmas. To expect children to behave, think, and look like mini-adults at anytime is unrealistic, to expect it at Christmas, and also to wrap their intrinsic worth into the mix, is mean.
In our home when our children ask about that passage of the song or that scene in the movie, we turn it around and ask our children if it’s possible for a child to be truly bad? We talk about the bad things a child may do, hitting, throwing things, calling names and then we talk about the reasons why a child may behave that way and we talk about the way the adults in those children’s lives behave. The smaller/younger the child, the less likely the child intends to be mean, the more likely the child has either made a mistake or is copying the words and actions of the adults in their life.
So if there really aren’t bad children, then what does Santa mean when he says to be good for goodness sake? We’ve taken it to mean that Santa wants us to believe. In the movie, the children live in a bleak world where fun and toys don’t exist. All of the adults in their lives uphold the laws in fear. They have no reason to believe in a stranger. In our home this is what being good means. Simply believe.