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 Should my child be allowed to believe in Santa?
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Denwash
New Member

USA
18 Posts

Posted - 12/12/2006 :  15:50:53  Show Profile Send Denwash a Private Message
Hi, I was trying to get some feedback on this - My wife and I are having a disagreement about telling our daughter about Santa Claus. I would like to present Santa as a legend, with a historical perspective. She would like to present Santa as an existing phenomenon. I believe that it would be harmful to my daughter, in that it would promote magical thinking from a very early age, as well as offering a known untruth from an authority figure. My wife believes that the tradition and the inherent joy involved in the experience is worth what she feels is a minor lie for a good cause. Does anyone know if there have been any studies done on this? I am not familiar enough with child psychology to know whether this is a positive/negative/neutral experience for a child. I am also worried that this belief could be a gateway to religious indoctrination.

HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 12/12/2006 :  16:08:57   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
Welcome to SFN, Denwash!

My belief in Santa taught me as a child that sometimes adults lie to kids in order that the kids have more fun. When I found out it was a lie, I immediately extended the principle to God, and became an atheist in the fourth grade. I don't really see harm in Santa belief at a young age. I enjoyed Santa while I could. The fun, I think, far outweighs any dangers. The kid getting over it will be a growth experience that he or she can take personal credit for.

The upshot may actually be less magical thinking in the long run.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 12/12/2006 16:13:12
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Chippewa
SFN Regular

USA
1496 Posts

Posted - 12/12/2006 :  16:33:42   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Chippewa's Homepage Send Chippewa a Private Message
My advice for what its worth is to let your child's imagination run wild lest she grow up to become a naysayer to any or all abstract concepts that propose things that don't yet exist. (I'm not referring to her blindly believing in mumbo jumbo like Big Foot and UFOs when she grows up, but rather if she meets or becomes a future Einstein who's ideas are at first theoretical, she'll need the imagination to inspire beyond the pragmatic.) Its OK to suspect that Santa doesn't exist but later she might realize that Santa is also symbolic.

If you let her watch the classic "Wizard of Oz" movie (with Judy Garland) I doubt that she would suddenly "believe in Oz" but she would likely enjoy the flights of wild imagination and the great characters not to mention the timeless songs. Since I'm on a movie kick with this advice, I also strongly recommend Jean Shepard's "Christmas Story". Even though it's about a little boy growing up in late 40s Indiana, it has just about the best balanced depiction of an indifferent department store Santa ever, and very funny. That film and the more recent "Polar Express" movie would nicely balance your child's imagination with the necessary satire.
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 12/12/2006 :  17:37:27   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
Agreein' with Chip & 'mooner. Any healthy child has a fertile imagination, and SC is a part of it. They quickly learn how to keep their fantasies seperate from reality. I've no doubt that your daughter's friends will clue her in in due course, and she'll be none the worse for the experience. And when the jig is finally up, smile and say, "You caught us!"

Due to the length of my aged, white beard, I occasionally get asked by the little ones if I am the Claus. I tell them, "No, I'm his stunt double." And we all get a good laugh out of it.

Enjoy your childs fantasies while you can. They grow up all too fast.

Welcome to SFN Denwash
1




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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moakley
SFN Regular

USA
1880 Posts

Posted - 12/12/2006 :  19:10:00   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send moakley a Private Message
I agree. I still enjoy reading The Velveteen Rabbit.

Life is good

Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned. -Anonymous
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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 12/12/2006 :  20:58:39   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
While this issue is raised time and time again with claims it teaches kids not to trust, I have yet to see any evidence whatsoever presented there is harm in the holiday fantasies. I still remember thinking we would stay up and see 'Santa' and I remember when my older brother broke the news the real Santa was our parents. Pretty significant considering I remember those things.

It was fun. I think you should let kids enjoy it. When they are old enough to notice Santa doesn't really find his way to all the kids in the world, they'll figure it out on their own. Or the older ones tell the younger ones.

Show me the evidence of harm in this fantasy. Kids are not miniature adults. Their concepts evolve as they mature. They can't conceive of all those values you think you are instilling in the early years. You teach sharing by having them give presents to others. You cannot teach a 2 yr old about legends. They don't get it. A 10 year old might get it as might a child who has matured to an awareness Santa isn't real.


Parents who practice the values they want to teach their kids, usually raise kids with those values. That includes trust. I have heard adults claim learning Santa wasn't real made them think of their parents as liars. I am very skeptical the kids thought that at the time (sorry HM check out Kil's false memory stuff) unless they already knew Mom &/or Dad weren't reliable. Kids don't think parents are liars when they find out about Santa and the Easter Bunny. Kids think, "does this mean I won't get presents from Santa anymore?"

Learn about the thought processes of young children. They really really really don't yet think the same way adults do. They can't because the brain structures aren't there yet. If you hate the Santa legend, fine but otherwise let the kids have fun. They love Christmas. They will grow up all too fast and you'll be missing those early years soon enough.


Edited by - beskeptigal on 12/12/2006 21:04:49
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25973 Posts

Posted - 12/12/2006 :  22:12:14   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
My five-year-old already knows that Santa is "just pretend." At least he did last year, I haven't talked with him about it again, and his friends are giving him some whacky ideas.

Recently, the grandfather of my boy's best friend died. Shortly afterwards, my boy announced that he wanted to die because in Heaven, you get to do whatever you want whenever you want. Obviously, that family gave their kid the "everyone is happy in Heaven" idea as a way to cope with his grandfather's demise, but he passed it on to my kid as (I hope!) something other than what was intended by his parents. It took my wife and I some effort to talk my boy out of his death wish (which he never acted on in any way other than telling us about it - he doesn't like to be hurt, and I don't think he understood how badly he'd have to hurt himself in order to die).

Of course, I did ask my boy recently if he thought the Spy Kids were real or just pretend, and he said they were real. So we had a talk about that. I'm betting he's forgotten that Santa is just a game we play.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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Why not question something for a change?
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Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 12/13/2006 :  01:00:44   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message
quote:
Of course, I did ask my boy recently if he thought the Spy Kids were real or just pretend, and he said they were real. So we had a talk about that. I'm betting he's forgotten that Santa is just a game we play.


After learning that Santa was fake, I myself pretended that I believed in Santa because I was afraid of not getting presents. I guess I figured if they are going to trick me, then I'm going to trick them. Same thing with the tooth fairy.

If believing in Santa causes any significant problems, then our society is in a whole lot of trouble. It's rare that someone doesn't at one point in their lives believe.

Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
- Isaac Asimov
Edited by - Ricky on 12/13/2006 01:01:08
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Chippewa
SFN Regular

USA
1496 Posts

Posted - 12/13/2006 :  01:18:49   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Chippewa's Homepage Send Chippewa a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dave W.

...Of course, I did ask my boy recently if he thought the Spy Kids were real or just pretend, and he said they were real. So we had a talk about that. I'm betting he's forgotten that Santa is just a game we play.


Of course, the Spy Kids are real. In other words, some day soon, you might find yourself explaining that they're real actors in a movie that requires a lot of people with skill and creativity to work together under a film director so they can all make a show that kids are thrilled at or laugh at. And it's all done through the flickering images on a screen which tell a story. (And they make or loose a lot of money doing it too.) At least that's one way a kid can eventually come to realize what's behind it all. Then some day your son might come up to you and say "I want to be a film director and make cool movies" rather than simply believe in the fantasy.
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 12/13/2006 :  01:46:32   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Chippewa
Of course, the Spy Kids are real. In other words, some day soon, you might find yourself explaining that they're real actors in a movie that requires a lot of people with skill and creativity to work together under a film director so they can all make a show that kids are thrilled at or laugh at. And it's all done through the flickering images on a screen which tell a story.

From my recollections of being a kid, the time of day often affected what I was willing to believe.

Daytime--I had no problem understanding Poltergeist was just a movie with paid actors who were faking and that none of it was real.

Nightime--Holy Christ coffins filled with rotting corpses are going to pop up out of my bedroom floor at any second!!!!!!!!!


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Edited by - H. Humbert on 12/13/2006 01:48:52
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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 12/13/2006 :  03:25:42   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message
I don't remember my parents lying to me directly except that they always had a special present that came "from Santa." Had I asked them, they would have probably told me something about the spirit of Christmas or something.

On the other hand, I think the Santa Claus idea is an idea like religion which says that reality is not enough, the idea of Santa in this (U.S.) culture is that we have to make up this "thrill of Christmas" bullshit in order for kids to have fun.

Kids are not toys to dress up and lie to. I think that's the harm done. It's true that they're not "miniature adults," but they are miniature people, and it seems that we ought to respect them enough not to lie to them just to get our kicks from their gullible reactions.

I did it with my kids and I'm not particularly proud or ashamed of it as I believed in the supernatural at the time. If your wife thinks it's important, then respect that. I'm not saying that necessarily means go along with everything she says, but at least respect it. Most of what women want makes no sense to men. That doesn't make women wrong. Maybe there's a way to compromise.

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



Edited by - Gorgo on 12/13/2006 03:29:13
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 12/13/2006 :  04:03:53   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
To add to what Gorgo just wrote, and to what I wrote, if you feel there is an ethical issue, yet you don't want to run roughshod over your wife, consider this: You need not actively lie. Nor do you have to be an active Grinch. As an ethical issue, this one's minuscule.

I suspect that the greater of minor dangers in this would be to spoil a little part of childhood that would otherwise be fondly recalled for years to come. (Personally, I'm very grateful to my parents for their Santa lie. Not only did it provide me pleasure at the time, it later helped me become a skeptic.)

The kid's going to be Santa-disillusioned soon enough, anyway. I suggest letting her have her suspension of disbelief, at least without actively debunking Santa. There's worse myths to believe in than Santa Claus.

I kinda wish I still had that belief. Kinda.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 12/13/2006 :  04:26:11   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
Show me the evidence of harm, Gorgo. Otherwise my skeptic sense concludes the harm is only in how you perceive Santa today, but not how kids perceive Santa today or how you perceived him when you were a child.

Kids do not think of Santa as "the idea of Santa in this (U.S.) culture is that we have to make up this "thrill of Christmas" bullshit in order for kids to have fun." And it isn't for 'your kicks' when they experience the magic of Christmas. It's their kicks.

So are you lying to them to take them to Disneyland?

You scrooges need to read more on child development. Kids love this stuff. Why not allow them the fun of these fantasies? There's no way kids think Santa is something for Mom and Dad. They love the lights and the decorations and the presents and what they learn leaves them with wonderful memories of home and family traditions when they are older. I'm sad my son doesn't have the experience of all the aunts and uncles and cousins and siblings and the holiday celebrations I had as a kid. He has no sibs and the relatives are all in other states. I was happy for him when his Dad actually had him over for some of those things (bigger family) but it wasn't until he was 12 and by that time the affair was more boring for him than fun.

You guys seem so concerned with the fact you tell your kids Santa is real for a few magical years. But the kids love that experience. They don't think they've been lied to. That's adults putting their own feelings into the picture. You have to look at the kids' feelings. Christmas is a magical time. It leaves good memories. If it doesn't, then it isn't Christmas and Santa that are the problem, it's the family behind it all.

Give your kids wonderful times to look back on. That's what really matters. If anything, it's overconsumption you should worry about in terms of values, not childhood fantasies. The important values are giving and not expecting so much they lose sight of love and family over 'things'.

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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 12/13/2006 :  04:48:46   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message
quote:
Show me the evidence of harm, Gorgo. Otherwise my skeptic sense concludes the harm is only in how you perceive Santa today, but not how kids perceive Santa today or how you perceived him when you were a child.



Show me where anyone has studied this aspect. I didn't say it would kill anyone, although we have plenty of evidence of fantasy killing people.
quote:


So are you lying to them to take them to Disneyland?



I didn't tell them that Mickey Mouse bought them a bike. I took them to a place where actors and actresses play parts.
quote:


You scrooges need to read more on child development. Kids love this stuff. Why not allow them the fun of these fantasies?



Let them have THEIR fantasies, not someone else's lies. Why do you think reality is so terrible that you have to lie to them so they have fun?

Do I need to read a book to figure out that lying about reality is something I'd rather not do if I don't have to?

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



Edited by - Gorgo on 12/13/2006 04:50:28
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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 12/13/2006 :  06:19:11   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message
quote:
It's their kicks.


Nah. It's yours. Kids don't need lies to have fun.

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 12/13/2006 :  06:24:46   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
The thought occurs: as compared to most of the other myths, legends and outright bullshit we indoctrinate our children with, Santa is pretty innocuous.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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