Mowery Youell & Galeano, Ltd.
Mowery Youell & Galeano, LTD. Attorneys at Law
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Santa Claus: which parent controls the truth?

'Tis the season for celebrating family, decorating the Christmas tree, displaying generosity in gift giving, sharing our blessings with those that might need help, and, yes, threatening that "Santa won't come unless you are a good boy or girl." Okay, the idea of Santa Claus is more than just a way for Columbus parents to keep the kids in line from November to December.

While the idea of Khris Kringle can be magical for kids, the wonder of it all only lasts so long until they find out the truth. In this day and age, parents can disagree over how long the fantasy should last or even whether it should be in their children's lives at all.

For some parents, the myth of Santa Claus is about keeping tradition over generations. It is about keeping innocence and wonder in their lives. For other parents, the tradition of Santa Claus may be based on a bit of a morality lesson that one should always treat others kindly, even when they think no one else is watching.

On the other side, some parents disagree with this myth. They may believe in requiring scientific proof for worldly matters. Their truth is that it is scientifically impossible for one man to travel to every child’s house across the world in one night in a sleigh flown by reindeer. Some parents may even have concerns that believing in the “magic” could be harmful to a kid’s educational growth or psyche.

We certainly aren’t here to judge a parent’s decision on how they handle the “Santa Claus” issue or their reasoning behind the decision. The point is that even these seemingly little decisions can be important to parents. When parents are divorced or were never married, who has the authority to make this decision?

Although a lot of child custody discussions focus on the physical custody of the child, this is only half of the agreement -- or parenting for that matter. Although it may be called something different depending on the jurisdiction, the other half of the agreement involves the legal custody of the child.

Legal custody involves the decision-making authority of the parents over issues that affect a child’s upbringing. Will one parent have sole legal custody to make these types of decisions unilaterally, or does each parent have a say?

Source: Wonder Woman, “Let your child believe in Santa,” Jane Gopalakrishnan, Dec. 2, 2013

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