The Washington Post published a story that questions one of America’s favorite holiday experiences…letting your child sit on Santa’s lap. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, some are concerned about parents who force their kids to sit on the Jolly Elf’s lap.
Samantha Schmidt, the Post’s gender and family issues reporter, wrote a feature headlined, “Should crying children sit on Santa’s lap for photos? Here’s why some parents are saying no.” The story appeared in the Social Issues section of the paper’s website.
Schmidt began the article by painting a picture of a two-year-old girl who was reluctant to sit on Santa’s lap during a recent trip to the mall. The mother of the toddler was frustrated. Schmidt asked, “If her daughter was crying and resisting a photo on Santa’s lap, should she make her go through with it?”
The reporter comments that a “photo with Santa is still a childhood rite of passage for many Americans,” but some parents have “begun questioning the way the culture approaches photos with Santa amid the #MeToo movement and a national conversation over how to teach young children about consent and physical boundaries.”
Schmidt asked what kind of message it sends to girls later in life if they were forced to sit on Santa’s lap as a child.
“Some say it’s a matter of simply listening to children and not forcing them to follow through with photos if they are scared or uneasy. Others have opted out of taking their children to meet Santa in the first place.” Schmidt then gave details of various accounts of parents who object to forcing children to sit on Santa’s lap.
Schmidt did acknowledge that many people will still partake in the holiday tradition.
“For many parents, merely putting Santa in the same sentence as #MeToo is an absurd overreaction and an attempt to politicize an innocent, beloved holiday ritual,” she wrote.
Schmidt also cited a developmental psychologist who feels “lessons about consent and unwanted touching should start early, and parents could use the holiday tradition as an opportunity to teach children that they are in control of their bodies.”
The reporter finished the article saying that most “Santas are taught to make sure their hands are always visible” during the holiday photo shoots.