Santa Claus: A Dillema

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Santa Claus: A Dillema

Post  NedStark on Tue Nov 17, 2009 11:40 am

I really hate to bring my personal life out in the open like this, but I really feel like I need an outside opinion. My wife and I were talking and I said that I don't want to tell our future kids that Santa Claus is real. I don't want to because I feel like I'd be lying to them, and I don't want to lie to my kids. My wife is of the opinion that kids should have "magic" in their lives and that if I make sure they never believe Santa is real I'm taking a part of their childhood away. She also says I don't understand because I grew up a Jehovah's Witness (they don't celebrate Christmas) and never believed in Santa Claus anyway. I asked her how she felt when she realized there was no Santa and she said she was fine with it but pretended for a few years after so she would get more presents. She has a great relationship with her family now.

Personally, I'm really struggling with this one. I don't think I can see myself looking my children in the eye and telling them something I know isn't true. My wife is not a very religious person. I would classify her as an "apatheist," she believes in God most of the time but isn't religious at all.

I don't know if it's my skeptical mindset telling me I shouldn't lie to my kids, or if it's my JW upbringing (they would often criticize "outsider" parents for lying to their kids, because they believe that lying to children about Santa Claus will turn them into atheists). Is there really any harm in letting young children believe in Santa Claus and fantasy? I don't want them to grow up without any imagination, but at the same time I want them to develop decent critical thinking skills. Am I just making a big deal about nothing?

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Re: Santa Claus: A Dillema

Post  Neon Genesis on Tue Nov 17, 2009 12:25 pm

I was taught to believe in Santa as a kid and I decoverted to atheism, but my deconversion had nothing at all to do with Santa. On the other hand, my sister also believed in Santa when she was a kid but now she converted to liberal Christianity. So, while she no longer believes in the religion of our parents, she still believes in God. I think it's a harmless myth to teach kids to believe in as long as they're told it's not real when they get old enough. Has there been any study though that shows a difference in the mentality of kids who were raised to believe in Santa and those who aren't? Like are kids who believe in Santa but later find out it's a lie more likely to be resentful to their parents than those who don't or is it impossible to find out if this is true? The only problem I have with the Santa myth is using the myth to teach kids that they should be good for the sake of a reward alone instead of being good for goodness' sake as it goes in the song, but otherwise I think it's mostly harmless.

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Re: Santa Claus: A Dillema

Post  Sosa on Tue Nov 17, 2009 7:10 pm

I was not raised believing in Santa Claus and I would have a problem teaching my kids to be good just because someone is watching you and if you're good you get a reward. I don't want to raise them that way.
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Re: Santa Claus: A Dillema

Post  snafu on Tue Nov 17, 2009 10:32 pm

Hi,
I had the Santa question from my 6yo boy the other week. Same dilemma as you, as my wife wants to promote the 'magic' of santa, and she had lots of fond childhood memories of santaism.

I took the approach of talking about the santa story & making up our own mind, and thinking up some curly questions to see if santa would be real or pretend. My son came up with "how does santa get in the house when we don't have a chimney?" all by himself. My contribution was that why can we see lots of santas in the shops, and they are all just a bit different. They can't all be santa.

In the end, my son said he thought santa was real anyway, & I gave him the freedom to do that. We however, did have a good critical thinking discussion which is a good foundation to build on later.
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Re: Santa Claus: A Dillema

Post  Aught3 on Tue Nov 17, 2009 11:43 pm

No matter who tells you its true, no matter what you think you saw, no matter how much you believe in it - you can still be wrong. Best sceptical lesson ever.

I don't think there is any harm to the children, apart from possibly getting teased at school if it goes on too long. It's a fun little story with a bit of make believe and was my first encounter with being sceptical of what I was told and what I saw (my parents were quite elaborate). It is most likely something I will do if I ever have children. As long as you don't use the idea of Santa bringing presents as the main way to teach your children to behave I can't see the myth of Santa causing any long-term harm, it didn't to me
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Re: Santa Claus: A Dillema

Post  Stanley on Thu Nov 26, 2009 12:37 pm

I would have no hesitation in allowing any children I may have to believe in Santa Claus. I think realising the truth of it would be a valuable lesson when they grow up. If they start doing bad things because of their belief in Santa Claus, I'll bring their belief crashing down all around them, obviously. So long as their belief doesn't harm them or anyone else, they can believe what they like for as long as they like.

Come December, I'll be popping "It's a Wonderful Life" on the DVD player and suspending my belief. I'll also read A Christmas Carol again. I'll also leave presents for my wife by the fire when she's gone to bed on the 24th. I love folk stories and the possibility that they might be true is hugely exciting as a kid. I enjoy Derren Brown's "magic" as an adult. I don't see why kids should not enjoy "magic". I do see why they should not make major life decisions based on magical thinking.
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Re: Santa Claus: A Dillema

Post  politas on Fri Dec 11, 2009 6:58 am

Well, I entirely enjoyed the Santa mythos as a child, while never actually believing it was real. It was a "Let's pretend" thing, which children are very, very good at. We always knew there was no such person, that it was Mum & Dad buying the presents, but we still were eager to see what "Santa had brought us".

You don't need to tell children that Santa is real any more than you need to tell them that Winnie the Pooh is real, or Noddy, or Mr Toad. The magic is in the fantasy, not in a purported reality.
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