I have very strong feelings about making kids do something against their will, especially when they are trying to tell us something. In this case, that they are afraid, not comfortable, and scared to be on a strange-looking guy’s lap alone, while their parents seem to enjoy this moment and even take a photo of it. Holidays are about joy, love, and trust, and not tears, anger, and bad memories about how your parents’ choices destroyed your holidays.
This is an interesting article Santa in the Mall. What’s that got to do with child abuse? from Dawn Awakening. Read the full text over there, and here is a preview:
“Have you seen the parent standing in the queue for Santa with a toddler in the midst of a tantrum? Or the one offering bribes, coaxing, begging, even demanding that little Jane or John sit on Santa’s lap “just for a minute”. Have you seen children crying, reaching out for help or simply in despair after being forced to do something they simply didn’t want to do? The photo is produced and the parent is annoyed because their little one wouldn’t smile for the camera. Why? Why is this piece of paper so much more important than the child’s feelings? We are not talking about getting a child to wear their seatbelt or hold hands to cross the street, it’s a PHOTO!!
Now I do believe that, in general, those parents lining up for the Santa Photo do love their children. I think many of them get caught up in the expectations and pressures of Christmas *themselves* and do not think as clearly as they normally would. Would they normally tell their child to sit on the lap of a stranger? Would they normally ignore and invalidate their child’s tears or plea for rescue from a scary situation? I don’t think so. I encourage all parents to put their children’s needs above the Christmas expectations. What’s more important: displaying the annual Santa Photo for the grandparents, or respecting your child’s needs?
A loving parent does not want their child to be the victim of abuse. I cannot stress enough how important it is to EMPOWER your children! Teach your children that it’s NEVER alright to touch someone who doesn’t want to be touched, and it’s NEVER alright for someone to touch your child when they don’t want to be touched. A child OWNS their own body and they have RIGHTS over it. Teach your children that they have the right to say “NO”, to decide who touches them, when and how.”