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-   -   Should I teach my kids to believe in Santa (http://ravingatheists.com/forum/showthread.php?t=13906)

mmfwmc 12-14-2007 04:19 PM

Should I teach my kids to believe in Santa
I don't have kids yet. Maybe I won't. But if I do, this seems like the season to ask the question:

Should I teach them to believe in Santa?

It seems that, while religious people sometimes deplore the commericalisation of Christmas, Santa is the best thing they could hope for in terms of indoctrination.

A kid spends several years believing that there is a big beard in the north pole who will give you what you want if you are well behaved and ask nicely. How hard is it to move from there to believing in a big beard in the sky who will give you what you want if you are well behaved and ask nicely?

The parallels run deeper. While kids spend the entire year believing in Santa, they don't really worry about being good until about a month before Christmas. This prepares them for religious adulthood where they lie, cheat and steal like anyone else, then try to be honest on Sundays. (Yes, that's a generalisation. Poetic licence.)

All in all, it would seem to be better not to give kids this brainwashing to start their lives.

On the other hand, I really liked believing in Santa. What do you guys think?

Choobus 12-14-2007 04:20 PM

As long as you make sure that they understand that Jesus and Santa are the same guy there's no harm in it.

ubs 12-14-2007 04:25 PM

Yes. Children should be permitted to believe in magic and indulge in fantasy. Its great fun and it passes fast!

inkadu 12-14-2007 04:30 PM

Teach them about Santa but make sure you have this poster up in the house.


They'll make the connection later.

(Actually, I was looking for the "Depressory"-style poster with Santa, captioned: Kids, on the day you learn more about Santa, remember everything you've been told about Jesus. But cannae find it.]

ubs 12-14-2007 04:50 PM


inkadu wrote (Post 458612)


Inkadu, if you put one of these up in your yard, how long do you think it would last before there was fallout.

Choobus 12-14-2007 04:53 PM

the trick is to put one up in someone else's yard....

inkadu 12-14-2007 05:04 PM

We just have to find a town willing to give us room for our seasonal religious displays.

I rather humorlessly wonder if I'd be open to hate crime statutes for putting The Santafiction on someone's lawn.

skribb 12-14-2007 05:19 PM

If you don't teach your children about Father Christmas, they'll be teased by their peers, so it's quite a dilemma I must say. Even though they'll eventually stop believing, I find it wrong to tell such a big lie to a child. For me, I wasn't really "told" Father Christmas existed, it was more of a socalisation thing for me, since no one really "denied" his existence. And when I stopped believing, well, it wasn't because my parents told me, it was on my own accord, I just stopped believing, just like the god and jesus crap - I wasn't indoctrinated but I saw signs of god everywhere, like churches, Christmas itself and so on. Then one day I just decided it was all bullshit.

In essence, tell your children it's bullshit, but do it in a way palatable to children. Or something. I'm the worst choice for a parent, sorry :(

whoneedscience 12-14-2007 05:39 PM

I think telling them there is a Santa could be done well. One of the most important things you can teach kids is that you're not always right, and that they shouldn't follow you or anyone else blindly, even though they come pre-wired to do so.

I've even considered taking kids to church in hopes they could see through the bullshit (just consider that I don't actually have kids, so my opinions could very well be worthless and extremely naive).

For the same reason, I find an appreciation of sarcasm an important trait to teach. Sure, they'll suck at it at first, but every time I run into an otherwise intelligent person who is completely clueless about the concept of subtlety in humour, I die a little inside.

Livingstrong 12-14-2007 05:46 PM

I'm with skribb here. I think the truth is always much better than a lie. However, you can ask them if they want to participate in the celebration of the holidays, and if all the family agrees to, then you can still share gifts with each other, why not?, but all this should always be based on the truth. Truth with love equals sanity and respect forever.

Rocketman the Sequel 12-14-2007 05:48 PM


Choobus wrote (Post 458617)
the trick is to put one up in someone else's yard....

Hey so long as you don't burn it---who cares.

GodlessHeathen 12-14-2007 05:55 PM


CycloneRanger 12-14-2007 10:13 PM

I've never understood this whole "Santa" thing. When I found out he wasn't real, the first thing I asked my parents was "why make up this story?"

I'm not pissed or anything at the lie, and it seems pretty harmless, but I still don't see the benefit. What exactly does a belief in Santa do? Why not just admit that the gifts labeled "from Santa" come from the parents? It's all rather pointless.

anthonyjfuchs 12-14-2007 10:42 PM


CycloneRanger wrote
I'm not pissed or anything at the lie, and it seems pretty harmless, but I still don't see the benefit.

In essense, teaching children about Santa Claus teaches them that people can believe with absolute conviction in the existence of an entirely fictional character if they are taught to believe. And I therefore see it as an appropriate vehicle for exposing the lack of evidence for the Jesus myth.

When a child realizes that Santa Claus is a fictional character -- in spite of the "news reports" on Dec. 24th tracking the movements of his sleigh, and the assorted "helper Santas" at all the malls, and the movies and television specials -- it seems a fitting time to discuss the fact that people believe in other characters based on the same sort of evidence.

I don't intend to teach my children that there is a man named Santa Claus who lives at the North Pole with a sweatshop full of elves producing toys that he distributes to children every Dec. 25th based on their behavior during the preceding year. Rather, my wife and I will situate the presents under the Saturnalia Tree (my wife started calling it that a few years back, as well as refering to a "Saturnalia Fairy") after the kids have gone to bed on the 24th; the kids will find said presents on the morning of the 25th. If they ask whence said presents came, we'll tell them only "that's what the holiday is: a time for presents."

We won't lie, but we won't tell the whole truth. Then when the kids come home from school, having undoubtedly heard tales of this mysterious Arctic philanthropist, they may tell us that they heard that the presents came from Santa. And I'll say that "a lot of kids believe that." If they ask if it's true, I'll answer with the question: "do you think it's true"?

If my kids say they do, then I'll let them, because it's their own (poorly-informed) choice, and they will eventually come to realize the folly of it. If they say they don't, I'll remind them not to tell any of the children who do still believe in Santa because, just as my own kids did, each child needs to figure out that truth for themselves. That way, my kids aren't the ones responsible for ruining anyone else's holiday cheer.

The notion of each person figuring out the truth for themselves will utlimately translate quite naturally to religious myths, I think, if my wife and I succeed in imbuing our children with a foundation of logical thinking and critical enquiry.

Irreligious 12-15-2007 01:02 AM

You don't have to teach your kids to believe in Santa if you live in a culture where images of Santa Claus are pervasive this time of year. They'll pick up on the belief without your help. If you don't want them to believe in Santa, then you'll probably have to actively discourage such beliefs.

Personally, I think it's harmless, since they all outgrow that particular fantasical belief well before they hit puberty.

It's perfectly natural for children to view the world as a magical place. It helps them to cope with a lot of confusing and complex notions that are entirely alien to them. They're new people, after all.

Besides, they have to be acquainted with fantasy if they're ever going to be able to distinguish it from that which is real. And indulging fantasy can have the side benefit of encouraging them to think creatively. The idea of humans soaring above the clouds was, necessarily, relegated to the realm of fantasy 150 years ago. But it was creative minds that figured out how to approximate the fantasy and begin to conceive of it as something that could actually be a "real," concrete human experience.

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