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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.

http://www.theeighthday.org.au/mt/gd...a_jesus210.jpg

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

Quote:

inkadu wrote (Post 458612)

LOL!

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

Quote:

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

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v4...1969/santa.jpg

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

Quote:

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.

Rat Bastard 12-15-2007 06:30 AM

We need to figure a new word for those celebratory days while we're at it- "holidays" comes from "holy days".

Sternwallow 12-15-2007 06:56 AM

Quote:

ubs wrote (Post 458610)
Yes. Children should be permitted to believe in magic and indulge in fantasy. Its great fun and it passes fast!

And it conditions them to think magically and to accept superstition. Yeah, that's the ticket!
:eh:

Sternwallow 12-15-2007 07:01 AM

Quote:

GodlessHeathen wrote (Post 458633)

Hey, guy, thanks for finding this. :rock:

Sternwallow 12-15-2007 07:26 AM

Quote:

Irreligious wrote (Post 458711)
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.

Your words are wise, young Marklar. My qualm is about the difference between creatively building a fantasy versus believing it.

Those people you mention about flying didn't actually believe that their concocted notion was real, did they? It was a fine dream, but only a dream.

I think the primary enterprise of childhood is learning that there is no magic. They work very hard all the time to discover how things really work and we call the activity "play".

Concepts and ideas arrive at our minds with breathtaking frequency. Magic is just one way to briefly postpone the analysis that will eventually integrate the concept into our overall world view. It is important to always understand that the magic is not real, being imaginary. Otherwise, if the magic is believed as true, that certainty will prevent the needed further inquiry.

Thus, we didn't know the cause of mushroom rings. We imagined fairies dancing around shaking their dust (pollen) onto the ground. If we had seriously believed that, we would not have investigated and discovered the propagation of spores. Likewise, if we envision a soul to explain the sanctity and dignity and purpose of human life. It is OK, as long as we do not believe that it is an actual fact. Later we can dissect humanity and discover that the soul is the correct answer or that it is actually a complex enzyme secreted by the Pineal gland or something else entirely.

Sternwallow 12-15-2007 07:29 AM

Quote:

Rat Bastard wrote (Post 458729)
We need to figure a new word for those celebratory days while we're at it- "holidays" comes from "holy days".

We also don't want to proclaim our belief in the god Saturn. This is why I have been using
"Happy Celebratory Season" or "Happy and Prosperous Celebratory Season" or just "Happy Season".
:angel:

inkadu 12-15-2007 07:30 AM

Or you could just teach your kid to read and how to use a globe. When he reads, "Made in China" on all his toys from Santa, he should be able to figure out something's amiss.

Unless you also give him a copy of "The Economist" in which case he'll just assume Santa off-shored his factories.

Irreligious 12-15-2007 09:03 AM

Quote:

Sternwallow wrote (Post 458738)
It is important to always understand that the magic is not real, being imaginary.

I agree most emphatically, Sterny. Though I'm still of the opinion that there's no real harm in cutting those under 7 years old a break.

Livingstrong 12-15-2007 10:51 AM

Quote:

inkadu wrote (Post 458741)
Or you could just teach your kid to read and how to use a globe. When he reads, "Made in China" on all his toys from Santa, he should be able to figure out something's amiss.


:lol:

It's true though.

Desillusioned 12-15-2007 04:09 PM

Quote:

CycloneRanger wrote (Post 458706)
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.

a teacher once told me, that it is easier to tell the kid a fantasy, than explain a very complex idea to them. Or at least what adults think is complex. So the idea that Santa as a reason for presents is in fact very harmless.

I was raised in venezuela, so instead of santa, we had Baby Jesus. Then on my 8th Christmas my parents told me Baby Jesus didn't exist (in the "giving presents kind of way"), and i end up fine.

Sternwallow 12-15-2007 06:58 PM

Quote:

Desillusioned wrote (Post 458796)
I was raised in venezuela, so instead of santa, we had Baby Jesus. Then on my 8th Christmas my parents told me Baby Jesus didn't exist (in the "giving presents kind of way"), and i end up fine.

So now, when you find out that someone close to you has lied, you do not lose a little of the trust you had in them? If not, why not?:eh:http://ravingatheists.com/forum/images/icons/icon5.gif

ubs 12-15-2007 07:39 PM

I think that's harsh Stern. I come from a long tradition of adults telling tall bullshit tails to the kids in the family and I don't think it hurt me at all.

It seems like just yesterday I was listening to one of my young uncles tell my cousin about how the world begged the scientists not to cross the bees with the killer spiders, thus forming the killer bees. The scientists, he said with a mock sob, just wouldn't listen.

Santa just fit right in with that. I loved Santa when I believed and I loved revisiting the bizarrely elaborate tales when I realized it was nonsense.

For years now my own kids have been telling me (with hard looks) that THIS year they will be catching "Santa" in the act. I always say (with my own hard look) "Is that right? How are you going to do that?" To which they always respond. "It's top secret."

Sternwallow 12-15-2007 08:09 PM

Quote:

ubs wrote (Post 458843)
I think that's harsh Stern. I come from a long tradition of adults telling tall bullshit tails to the kids in the family and I don't think it hurt me at all.

It seems like just yesterday I was listening to one of my young uncles tell my cousin about how the world begged the scientists not to cross the bees with the killer spiders, thus forming the killer bees. The scientists, he said with a mock sob, just wouldn't listen.

Santa just fit right in with that. I loved Santa when I believed and I loved revisiting the bizarrely elaborate tales when I realized it was nonsense.

For years now my own kids have been telling me (with hard looks) that THIS year they will be catching "Santa" in the act. I always say (with my own hard look) "Is that right? How are you going to do that?" To which they always respond. "It's top secret."

I didn't mean to be harsh. It is ordinary practice in families I am personally familiar with, to place trust and truth on a very high pedestal from the outset with their children. Then some of those same parents tell outright and deliberate lies (not fibs or fantasies, but "really real facts" to be believed whole-heartedly). They are then stunned when the children discover the truth and, along with it, a new resentment.

I think I like the approach of your family where make-believe is not elevated to dogma and where it can be benign fun with no traumatic let-down. :thumbsup:

nkb 12-16-2007 07:21 PM

This was actually the subject that made me join this forum.

I'm with Sterny on this one. I don't understand the need for getting kids to believe in a real-life Santa, as I don't see how it actually increases their enjoyment of the holiday. The presents are first and foremost, and the only reason kids love Santa is because they believe that he is the one supplying the gifts. Take that link away, and kids don't give a shit about the old fat man.

I prefer to have my kids to implicitly trust me, so telling blatant lies is not high on my list.

ubs 12-16-2007 07:36 PM

Even if you always seek to tell your children the absolute full frontal truth, because it is your point of view, you cannot help but skew the information. How is blind faith in you any different than blind faith in anything?

Sternwallow 12-16-2007 08:44 PM

Quote:

ubs wrote (Post 458970)
Even if you always seek to tell your children the absolute full frontal truth, because it is your point of view, you cannot help but skew the information. How is blind faith in you any different than blind faith in anything?

Of course you exaggerate. Placing truth on a high priority so that you and your children can share the strongest possible trust, accepting that it will not be perfect on either side, is better than either insisting on blind faith or showing that lies are an acceptable behavior.
:eh:

Livingstrong 12-16-2007 09:35 PM

Quote:

Rat Bastard wrote (Post 458729)
We need to figure a new word for those celebratory days while we're at it- "holidays" comes from "holy days".

In Spanish/Mexico we say: "dias festivos" which in English means "party days" or "fun party days", but Catholics and Protestants who are very very religious do say: "dias santos" which in English literally means "holy days/holidays". :)

ubs 12-16-2007 09:41 PM

Quote:

Sternwallow wrote (Post 458977)
Of course you exaggerate.

Sure, but I think that nkb is also being over the top. I'm sure when one of his kids asks "Where do babies come from." he does what we all do, give as much information as the child can handle, but probably NOT every detail. And when we do that we are, by ommission lying to protect. So we are not ALWAYS honest with our children.

Certainly when the time comes to discuss drugs and alcohol, nkb's emphasis will probably be more on dangers and less on feelings he had during any personal experiences. Again, it is deliberate editing in an effort to protect.

But then when the opportunity arises to encourage a child's imagination and sense of wonder and it seems TRUTH MUST PREVAIL.

I often observe fellow atheists being what appears to be fearful of fantasy, and I think that is sad. There is definitely something lost in having presents only delivered from your parents - individuals that you know and to whom you now owe reciprocity - as opposed to the serendipitous beneficiary of a large elf's generosity. It absolutely is not the same experience.

No dogma is being embraced here. Is it not a sense of wonder, a curiosity about what appears to be magic that sends into the stars, peering into a telescope, writing about the number 42?

anthonyjfuchs 12-16-2007 09:52 PM

Quote:

ubs wrote
...give as much information as the child can handle, but probably NOT every detail. And when we do that we are, by ommission lying to protect.

You don't really think that "withholding some facts" and "telling deliberate mistruths" are comparable, do you?

I remember being taught certain scientific principles in seventh grade Biology; I also remember being taught the same principles in eleventh grade Biology. And I remember that in seventh grade, I was given a cursory lesson in the principle devoid of the nuance that I learned in eleventh grade.

This is not a matter of lying, even by omission. It is a matter of what the child can reasonably be expected to comprehend.

Quote:

ubs wrote
"Where do babies come from."

"Mommies."

ubs 12-16-2007 10:08 PM

Quote:

anthonyjfuchs wrote (Post 458986)
You don't really think that "withholding some facts" and "telling deliberate mistruths" are comparable, do you?

He said he would never lie to his kid, which was in fact a lie.

And I am saying that there is value in permitting, encouraging, and even participating in fantasy.

Did you believe in Santa? Did it suck or was it great?

Quote:

anthonyjfuchs wrote (Post 458986)
"Mommies."

Sure, until they're teens and you start to worry about them getting to college without mishap, then the answer changes considerably.

anthonyjfuchs 12-16-2007 10:54 PM

Quote:

ubs wrote
He said he would never lie to his kid, which was in fact a lie.

Not necessarily, because you're not his kid.

Quote:

ubs wrote
And I am saying that there is value in permitting, encouraging, and even participating in fantasy.

But is there not a line between "permitting," "encouraging," and "even participating" in a fantasy that your child thinks up on her own, and introducing a fantasy that you know to be false which your child did not think up on her own?

Quote:

ubs wrote
Did you believe in Santa? Did it suck or was it great?

Believing in Santa was great for a sixth of each year. I don't remember thinking too much about the Fat Man in the middle of May.

Discovering that my mother had deliberately lied to me for almost a decade, on the other hand, sucked. Of course, it was a good lesson, as I later discovered that a jolly fat man was the least of my mother's lies.

Quote:

ubs wrote
Quote:

I wrote
"Mommies."

Sure, until they're teens and you start to worry about them getting to college without mishap, then the answer changes considerably.

The answer does not change at all. It is true that babies come from mothers; the fuller truth is simply a little more complex. But few children can reasonably be expected to understand the biological mechanisms by which babies come from mothers.

Telling a child that babies come from mommies is not a lie. It is the simplest form of the truth.

Irreligious 12-16-2007 11:07 PM

Quote:

anthonyjfuchs wrote
Telling a child that babies come from mommies is not a lie. It is the simplest form of the truth.

Or you could tell your child that they come from Cleveland, if it's true. When my daughter was 4, she was thrilled to share this information with nearly everyone she encountered. The little ones are not always asking exactly what you think they're asking.

Rocketman the Sequel 12-17-2007 02:38 AM

Quote:

ubs wrote (Post 458988)
He said he would never lie to his kid, which was in fact a lie.

And I am saying that there is value in permitting, encouraging, and even participating in fantasy.

Did you believe in Santa? Did it suck or was it great?

Sure, until they're teens and you start to worry about them getting to college without mishap, then the answer changes considerably.

which is actually along the lines of the mechanism of myth and how it works--most times...

mmfwmc 12-17-2007 03:56 AM

Quote:

Irreligious wrote (Post 458992)
Or you could tell your child that they come from Cleveland, if it's true. When my daughter was 4, she was thrilled to share this information with nearly everyone she encountered. The little ones are not always asking exactly what you think they're asking.

Reminds me of
http://picayune.uclick.com/comics/ch/1985/ch851220.gif

It's a little hard to read, so I'll transcribe it:
I wonder where we go when we die?
Pittsburgh?
Is that if we're good or if we're bad?

Sternwallow 12-17-2007 06:30 AM

Quote:

ubs wrote (Post 458984)
Sure, but I think that nkb is also being over the top. I'm sure when one of his kids asks "Where do babies come from." he does what we all do, give as much information as the child can handle, but probably NOT every detail. And when we do that we are, by ommission lying to protect. So we are not ALWAYS honest with our children.

Certainly when the time comes to discuss drugs and alcohol, nkb's emphasis will probably be more on dangers and less on feelings he had during any personal experiences. Again, it is deliberate editing in an effort to protect.

But then when the opportunity arises to encourage a child's imagination and sense of wonder and it seems TRUTH MUST PREVAIL.

You set up the notion of omission as a kind of untruth when we know that none of us has the total and complete story on anything. Is nature lying to us by the omission of the last final detail of everything? I do not think so.

But then you imply that the untruth you identify with omission is applicable to the creation of a make-believe entity which is billed as "really really really real and he has Elves and reindeer and a really truly sleigh and he likes cookies." The lie is not in the fantasy, it is in the forceful claim to be true.
Quote:

I often observe fellow atheists being what appears to be fearful of fantasy, and I think that is sad. There is definitely something lost in having presents only delivered from your parents - individuals that you know and to whom you now owe reciprocity - as opposed to the serendipitous beneficiary of a large elf's generosity. It absolutely is not the same experience.
I fear fantasy the same way I fear a ladder made of newspaper. It is fine if it is merely decorative, there is no risk, but one shouldn't try to climb it.
Quote:

No dogma is being embraced here. Is it not a sense of wonder, a curiosity about what appears to be magic that sends into the stars, peering into a telescope, writing about the number 42?
It is, indeed a sense of wonder to look out at the unknown and dream about discovering the facts behind the beauty, knowing that the facts will make it even more beautiful and multiply the things to wonder about.
The real world is more wonderful than any cleric has ever proposed and it is wonderful enough. There is no need for magic nor any particular virtue, other than self deception, in it.
:\

ubs 12-17-2007 07:31 AM

Quote:

anthonyjfuchs wrote (Post 458991)
Not necessarily, because you're not his kid.

I believe that nkb is a relativist and I was illustrating earlier that he absolutely would lie to his child under the right circumstances.

Quote:

anthonyjfuchs wrote (Post 458991)
Believing in Santa was great for a sixth of each year. I don't remember thinking too much about the Fat Man in the middle of May.

Right, so the tradition was pleasurable if unimportant, until....

Quote:

anthonyjfuchs wrote (Post 458991)
Discovering that my mother had deliberately lied to me for almost a decade, on the other hand, sucked. Of course, it was a good lesson, as I later discovered that a jolly fat man was the least of my mother's lies.


...until you connect it with religion. I was raised in an atheist household, so I have no connection between Santa and Religion. And I think that is crucial. I think that is why I donít find the tradition threatening and many atheists do.

Quote:

anthonyjfuchs wrote (Post 458991)
The answer does not change at all. It is true that babies come from mothers; the fuller truth is simply a little more complex. But few children can reasonably be expected to understand the biological mechanisms by which babies come from mothers.

Quote:

anthonyjfuchs wrote (Post 458991)
Telling a child that babies come from mommies is not a lie. It is the simplest form of the truth.

If you are a mammal babies do not come from mothers. They come from mothers and fathers and omitting information about that interaction is a lie. In the middle ages when the whole family slept in one bed, and children witnessed their parents copulating- it is not only a lie but one based on culture and custom, like Santa.

Quote:

Sternwallow wrote (Post 459017)
You set up the notion of omission as a kind of untruth when we know that none of us has the total and complete story on anything. Is nature lying to us by the omission of the last final detail of everything? I do not think so.

First - omitting with the intent to deceive, which you absolutely are doing when you emphasis the negative side of drinking to your teen is a lie. Secondly, given that Truth may not even exist, why hold it up as a virtue.

Quote:

Sternwallow wrote (Post 459017)
The real world is more wonderful than any cleric has ever proposed and it is wonderful enough. There is no need for magic nor any particular virtue, other than self deception, in it.

At our local museum there was a display by an artist using a new kind of black paint that absorbs light completely. Even standing very close to the painting, there appeared to be a hole in the wall., My eyes saw what could not be and it drew me closer and closer in trying to figure it out (until finally the guard yelled at me because my nose was nearly in the paint). I was drawn in by the magic.

nkb 12-17-2007 02:28 PM

ubs,
I did not want to sound like an absolutist when it comes to telling my kids the truth about everything. I would like to think that I will follow through on as much as I am capable, but you never know.
I hope they don't have to deal with this until they are much older, but if a grandparent dies while they are still young, I hope that I will not resort to lying to them about some happy place where they end up.

But, you are comparing apples and oranges (as Fuchs already pointed out). Omitting details, because the child is not old enough to understand complex explanations is not even in the same ballpark as telling them the whole Santa story, and then continuing to lie about it for years, until finally saying, "Eh, I was just making it up".

To stop you from emulating a certain theist here (rhymes with chili) in projecting opinions and worldviews on others with incomplete information, maybe it would make sense to give you a little more background on me.

I do not discourage my children's imagination. I will play along with it, when they want me to join in. I understand that they don't actually think they're driving a car, or flying a plane, or riding an actual horse (that would be me), and I don't tell them to stop being stupid and deal with reality.

When it comes to the unending questions from my daughter (my son is not old enough yet), I attempt to answer her with honesty, and I make a decision about how much she will understand (she is 3), and give her as much detail as I think she can handle.
So, if she asks me where babies come from (which has come up), she is told that they come from mommy's belly, that it grows in there, and then comes out. Would it make sense to tell her about having sex with mommy, or how the sperm fertilizes the egg, or the details of how the embryo eventually changes into a baby?

nkb 12-17-2007 02:33 PM

Quote:

ubs wrote (Post 458970)
Even if you always seek to tell your children the absolute full frontal truth, because it is your point of view, you cannot help but skew the information. How is blind faith in you any different than blind faith in anything?

Who said anything about instilling blind faith in me?

My aim is to raise my children with the ability to use rational thought, to question things instead of blindly accepting them, and, most importantly, to be able to trust their parents to not knowingly lead them astray.

nkb 12-17-2007 02:38 PM

Quote:

ubs wrote (Post 458984)
Sure, but I think that nkb is also being over the top. I'm sure when one of his kids asks "Where do babies come from." he does what we all do, give as much information as the child can handle, but probably NOT every detail. And when we do that we are, by ommission lying to protect. So we are not ALWAYS honest with our children.

I disagree with your definition of lying.

To me, omitting information, when someone does not have the mental capacity to understand it, is not lying, it's just using common sense.
Omitting information to mislead, or to gain an advantage, can be construed as lying, which is not the case in this situation.

ubs 12-17-2007 09:32 PM

Quote:

nkb wrote (Post 459145)
So, if she asks me where babies come from (which has come up), she is told that they come from mommy's belly, that it grows in there, and then comes out. Would it make sense to tell her about having sex with mommy, or how the sperm fertilizes the egg, or the details of how the embryo eventually changes into a baby?

Of course not. I didn't expect anything else. I was just pointing out that we all participate in deceiving our children when we think its in their best interest. I have very fond memories of the Santa experience and as I said, I don't have any link between that and religious disappointment as many of the people here do.

To me worrying about the discovery seems an overreaction, but I never thought for a second that you were anything but an excellent Dad. I'm sorry if my verbal repartee with Anthony came off that way.

nkb 12-18-2007 08:14 AM

I realize it is not easy to go back and analyze your thoughts when you were a child, but I wonder if your fond memories of Santa aren't just a mental association with the time of year that you get lots of presents.

Santa was not actively pushed in my childhood by my parents, and as far back as I can remember, the presents came from people (parents, relatives, friends, etc).
I assure you that I had and still have very fond memories of Christmas, even without the notion that Santa brings all the gifts.

nkb 12-18-2007 08:20 AM

ubs,
No hard feelings, I realize that you weren't trying to be mean about it.

I still disagree with your definition of lying, which is where our rationalizations diverge.

Tracy 12-18-2007 11:22 AM

Combining Santa and Hannukah blessings in an Atheist home
 
My husband and I were raised Jewish and Catholic respectively, we like some of the traditions around the holiday season and are passing them on. Santa is definitely one that I want to milk as long as I can (as well as Christmas trees, lights, The Nutcracker, and christmas carroling). My two year old daughter loves hearing about Santa with his reindeer, his Christmas eve shenanigans, and his gifts . Just because we're atheists doesn't mean we're not fun! My husband is not really into the Santa myth because he was raised to see Xmas as a pretty tacky holiday (like most Jews) but he's getting into it a little now as he sees our daughter get excited about it. It's not just the presents - it's the magic too. She loves to make up stories and be told made up stories and uses her imagination to conjure up images of Santa and his travels through the skies. We tell her that Santa is a nice man who lives in the snow and gives toys to boys and girls because it makes him happy to give. I loved hearing about Santa when I was young and wasn't disappointed when I found out he wasn't real.

Hannukah on the other hand has proved a little more tricky. During the holiday, we light the menorah, say the accompanying blessings and give the gifts. The gifts and candles are easy to explain but the hannakah blessings will be a little trickier as we get older. My husband and I aren't too concerned, we'd like her to know about traditions as just that - traditions. She already knows the blessings in hebrew and likes to say them with my husband (much like the religious Christmas carrols that she is singing). I like that she'll have some sense of traditions and as she gets older will learn about its connection to religion. We don't believe in god and I would rather she not believe but most of all would prefer that she develop her own sense of analytic thought so that whatever conclusions she comes to will come from a place of rational thinking rather than from fear and conformity. We will likely move to an islamic environment next year (for a 2 year posting in international development) and will probably expose to her Id and other more pleasant aspects of Islam while we're there. We'll see how all of this goes!

For those of you who don't have kids yet - I suspect you'll likely get a little more relaxed about this stuff when you have them. Your guidance is the most signicant factor in your young child's upbringing, cultural myths can be fun without causing damage if you present them in a playful imaginative way. The real world will hit them soon enough:):\

Professor Chaos 12-18-2007 11:25 AM

Awesome first post, welcome to our forums, Tracy!

Metman07 12-18-2007 11:36 AM

I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you're going to program little kid's minds to accept these absurd fantasies as realities, you'll only make them more susceptible to believing in absurdities later in life.

By all means, let them know about Santa as a fictional character but don't tell them he really exists. For years we tell kids that magic is real and fill their heads full of absurd fairy tales and teach them as though they were real. Then one day out of the blue, after years of conditioning to believe these things, we expect them to become rational thinkers.

Professor Chaos 12-18-2007 11:38 AM

I've said it before and I'll say it again: telling your kids that Santa Claus is real will not make them more susceptible to believing in absurdities later in life.

nkb 12-18-2007 11:53 AM

Metman, I don't know if I agree with your statement.

My main point is, why bother? Nobody from the other side has yet to give me a convincing argument as to why it is necessary or preferable to convince your kids that Santa is real.

Why do these same people not tell other tall tales, and pass them off as truth?
Does anyone here feel the need to tell kids that leprechauns, tooth fairies, unicorns, talking animals and hobbits are real-life creatures? Why not?

Just for clarification: I am not trying to take Santa out of the holidays. My daughter has watched all sorts of Christmas programs, has gone to story time with Santa at the mall, etc, but at no point in time do I tell her he is real. I just don't get it.

Professor Chaos 12-18-2007 01:56 PM

If you tell your kids to believe in Santa, just don't let them watch the news.

Rhinoqulous 12-18-2007 01:58 PM

Quote:

Professor Chaos wrote (Post 459418)
If you tell your kids to believe in Santa, just don't let them watch the news.

That reminds me of last years Robot Chicken xmas special where the US shoots down Santa's sleigh for violating US air-space.

athena23 12-18-2007 02:57 PM

dont tell them that santa exist later it would be worse for them to understand that santa doesn t exist, maybe you can tell them that santa only live in our hearths that is a christmas spirit and almost all the parents represent him puting that clothes on to remember him ... send me a pm if you want to talk about that bye
:D

Quote:

mmfwmc wrote (Post 458607)
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?


Professor Chaos 12-18-2007 03:05 PM

http://www.gconn77.com/images/Spam.jpg

Livingstrong 12-18-2007 03:18 PM

Quote:

Professor Chaos wrote (Post 459451)

:lol:

Coatsy 12-18-2007 03:24 PM

Quote:

athena23 wrote (Post 459447)
dont tell them that santa exist later it would be worse for them to understand that santa doesn t exist, maybe you can tell them that santa only live in our hearths that is a christmas spirit and almost all the parents represent him puting that clothes on to remember him ... send me a pm if you want to talk about that bye
:D

Can anyone make any sense of this dribble? Santa lives only in our hearths? Wouldn't his beard catch fire?

ubs 12-18-2007 04:17 PM

Quote:

nkb wrote (Post 459377)
My main point is, why bother? Nobody from the other side has yet to give me a convincing argument as to why it is necessary or preferable to convince your kids that Santa is real.

Santa presents are from this magic, make believe person that you never meet. The gifts do not engender an obligation, beyond a cookie or carrot and milk offering and the lesson is that sometimes, for no apparent reason, good things happen to you.

Santa makes you feel like the world is your friend and that you are a naturally lucky person. And I hope that my children to always feel like they are naturally lucky.

ubs 12-18-2007 04:18 PM

Quote:

Tracy wrote (Post 459366)
I loved hearing about Santa when I was young and wasn't disappointed when I found out he wasn't real.

No way! Because then you are in on the grown-up secret!

Welcome Tracy. Fellow Atheist and defender of Santa!

ubs 12-18-2007 04:30 PM

And one more thing. You anti-Santites will love this

Pagan Orgies to Human Sacrifice: The Bizarre Origins of Christmas

Irreligious 12-18-2007 04:39 PM

Quote:

Coatsy wrote (Post 459457)
Can anyone make any sense of this dribble? Santa lives only in our hearths? Wouldn't his beard catch fire?

:lol:

Yeah, and his chestnuts would be roasting on an open fire.

nkb 12-18-2007 07:50 PM

Quote:

ubs wrote (Post 459486)
Santa presents are from this magic, make believe person that you never meet. The gifts do not engender an obligation, beyond a cookie or carrot and milk offering and the lesson is that sometimes, for no apparent reason, good things happen to you.

Santa makes you feel like the world is your friend and that you are a naturally lucky person. And I hope that my children to always feel like they are naturally lucky.

I counter that with:
The gifts they receive from parents, relatives and friends do not engender an obligation either (when was the last time you saw small kids worrying about having to give something back, other than a thank you?).

Getting presents at Christmas from so many different people makes children feel lucky, to have so many who care about you.

Addressing your last sentence, will your kids stop feeling like they are naturally lucky, once they find out Santa is a scam? ;)

I know we are beating this subject into a bloody, messy pulp, but, while I appreciate the sentiments you are conveying, they are in no way dependent on the kids believing Santa is real.

Metman07 12-18-2007 10:16 PM

Santa certainly isn't necessary to make children feel lucky. The vast majority of children across the world will grow up without ever having believed in a portly white bearded man who delivers presents around the planet using a flying reindeer-powered sleigh.

Gnosital 12-18-2007 10:20 PM

Quote:

Rat Bastard wrote (Post 458729)
We need to figure a new word for those celebratory days while we're at it- "holidays" comes from "holy days".


That's why I call it "term break".

Gnosital 12-18-2007 10:23 PM

Quote:

Sternwallow wrote (Post 458738)
Your words are wise, young Marklar.

Indeed.

Quote:

Sternwallow wrote
Later we can dissect humanity and discover that the soul is the correct answer or that it is actually a complex enzyme secreted by the Pineal gland or something else entirely.

I drink therefore I am.

ubs 12-18-2007 10:35 PM

Quote:

nkb wrote (Post 459533)
Getting presents at Christmas from so many different people makes children feel lucky, to have so many who care about you.

That's true. Its called a Birthday. If your Birthday was the same to you as Christmas than I can see why you would find the tradition valueless. For me they were very different.

Quote:

Metman07 wrote (Post 459549)
Santa certainly isn't necessary to make children feel lucky.

That's true. I said that I felt that was a benefit of the Santa tradition, not that the Santa tradition was the only source of happy luck.

Gnosital 12-18-2007 10:39 PM

Kids don't have to be told that the Grinch is actually REALLY REALLY REAL to enjoy the story of how he kicks ass down in Whoville.

I never read them the ending of that story.

Coatsy 12-19-2007 03:07 AM

Quote:

Gnosital wrote (Post 459553)
Kids don't have to be told that the Grinch is actually REALLY REALLY REAL to enjoy the story of how he kicks ass down in Whoville.

I never read them the ending of that story.

I don't think it would be a good idea to tell kids the Grinch was real. Especially not around Christmas time.

nkb 12-19-2007 08:01 AM

Quote:

ubs wrote (Post 459552)
That's true. Its called a Birthday. If your Birthday was the same to you as Christmas than I can see why you would find the tradition valueless. For me they were very different.

Once again, you are drawing incorrect conclusions.

I do not find the tradition of Santa or Christmas valueless. Santa (or, more precisely, St Nick) can be a valuable lesson for kids. All the tradition that goes with Christmas is fun (decorating the tree, making cookies, wrapping presents, and, of course, receiving presents), and I am not advocating that it should be equivalent to a birthday celebration.

But, you have still failed to adequately explain the need for kids to believe that Santa is real. You can have all the traditions and fun of Christmas without that lie.

Gnosital 12-19-2007 11:43 AM

Quote:

Coatsy wrote (Post 459558)
I don't think it would be a good idea to tell kids the Grinch was real. Especially not around Christmas time.


Which is exactly what I wasn't advocating.

Stories = good + fun + imagination

Lies = 1/(good + fun + imagination)

There is no need to tell the Santa lie. It's a lot like spankings. Plenty of parents do it, and plenty of kids grow up without permanent psychological harm from getting spanked. But there's no good reason to do it, and it does carry the potential for harm.

It all depends on how you experienced it as a child, whether you are going to think it's a big deal or not, and whether you think it's a great thing or a suckass thing. But saying that it doesn't do any harm isn't a strong reason to do it. Sort of a Pascal's wager for tots, innit?

Professor Chaos 12-19-2007 11:49 AM

What is the potential harm in telling teh Santa lie.

I see potential for harm in not telling teh Santa lie when the kids are ostracized by their classmates.

mmfwmc 12-19-2007 11:59 AM

I'm kinda with Prof on this. My brother found out that santa wasn't real pretty early on. After that, my mother made me keep an eye on him to make sure that he didn't tell anyone else - other kid's mums* don't tend to like it.

*Yes, I spelled that correctly. Unlike you yanks, we have a ready supply of U's in this country. Of course, if you've ever heard a kiwi accent you'll know we have a cronic shortage of R's.
i.e. Court and caught sound identical.

Irreligious 12-19-2007 12:11 PM

Quote:

Gnosital wrote (Post 459638)
Which is exactly what I wasn't advocating.

Stories = good + fun + imagination

Lies = 1/(good + fun + imagination)

There is no need to tell the Santa lie. It's a lot like spankings. Plenty of parents do it, and plenty of kids grow up without permanent psychological harm from getting spanked. But there's no good reason to do it, and it does carry the potential for harm.

It all depends on how you experienced it as a child, whether you are going to think it's a big deal or not, and whether you think it's a great thing or a suckass thing. But saying that it doesn't do any harm isn't a strong reason to do it. Sort of a Pascal's wager for tots, innit?

Interesting point, Gnosi. I vividly remember being made aware of the Santa sham. I was only 5 or 6, but I felt like the biggest dupe for having believed it in the first place, especially when I saw that I should have known better. I trace my burgeoning skepticism back to that single incident, so maybe it wasn't such a bad thing.

nkb 12-19-2007 12:18 PM

The subject came up at lunch today, and my wife told me that she was discussing it with some of her friends (who are also moms of small children).

When she explained that we weren't "doing the Santa thing", both of her friends said that they don't want our kids hanging out with theirs around Christmas (they were partially joking).

Professor Chaos 12-19-2007 12:18 PM

Exactly, Irr. Someone (I'm really lazy today, cause it's right here in this thread but I don't want to look it up) claimed that telling teh Santa lie would lead to a greater affinity for believing nonsense. I call bullshit on that one for the reason you state. Once the kid realizes he's been had, wouldn't he think twice before believing an extraordinary claim again?

Gnosital 12-19-2007 12:19 PM

Quote:

Irreligious wrote (Post 459662)
Interesting point, Gnosi. I vividly remember being made aware of the Santa sham. I was only 5 or 6, but I felt like the biggest dupe for having believed it in the first place, especially when I saw that I should have known better. I trace my burgeoning skepticism back to that single incident, so maybe it wasn't such a bad thing.


You know, I didn't tell my oldest son the santa lie. But he picked it up anyway, and then later, after he learned the ugly truth, accused me of telling him the lie in the first place! Which pissed me off entirely because I was not happy about bustin my ass in grad school and sacrificing beer a lot to give him a nice xmas and having some fat male authoritarian figure get all the fucking credit.

Now the spousal unit has decided the younger kids need the myth, so WTVR. But they are also getting the jeebus myth, and it' sreally ok, because I can use this to draw subtle parallels that will someday, hopefully, undermine the jeebus shit.

So it's all good.

ubs 12-19-2007 12:43 PM

nkb, explaining the tradition to children without participating in the fantasy, is like telling someone about another country that they will never visit. It's not the same experience. It reduces Christmas to a kind of Moonie Birthday Party.

Don't you miss believing in Santa? Don't you want your kids to have a taste of that however brief their capacity for it is?

http://designresearchgroup.files.wor...n_rockwell.jpg

Irreligious 12-19-2007 12:58 PM

It's possible that this whole should-you-or-shouldn't-you let 'em believe in Santa thing is a "different strokes for different folks" kinda deal. I mean, it really depends on the kid and his or her particular sensibilities.

I don't know many folks who express the bitterness I felt at having been duped. Mind you, it didn't stop me from enjoying Christmas, because it was still all about the presents and the feasting for me (and the two-week vacation from school).

Some kids take the discovery that there is no Santa with relatively good humor (a lot of 'em, I imagine) but I wasn't one of those kids. Constitutionally, I had a very low threshold for bullshit, but not every kid is like that.

Obviously, it's not necessary for kids to believe in Santa, since there are many more kids in the world who don't, as opposed to those who do. But I don't know that we can say, categorically, whether it's a good thing or a bad thing for a kid to believe in Santa.

nkb 12-19-2007 01:02 PM

Quote:

ubs wrote (Post 459683)
nkb, explaining the tradition to children without participating in the fantasy, is like telling someone about another country that they will never visit. It's not the same experience. It reduces Christmas to a kind of Moonie Birthday Party.

Celebrating Christmas without telling your kids Santa is real is like visiting Ireland without believing that leprechauns exist. It does not take away from the enjoyment.

I'm sorry, but once again, you are misunderstanding my position.

We go through all the traditions that most others do too. Santa is prominent as well (in fact, our tree topper is a figure of St. Nick). The only difference, it appears, is that I don't see the need to make the kids believe he is real. That minor part just isn't essential, and because of they negatiev connotations of lying to my kids, there is no reason to continue it.

Quote:

ubs wrote (Post 459683)
Don't you miss believing in Santa? Don't you want your kids to have a taste of that however brief their capacity for it is?

I don't miss it, probably because I didn't grow up here, and Santa Clause does not play as big a role outside of the US.
Ask me if I enjoyed Christmas anyway?

nkb 12-19-2007 01:07 PM

Quote:

Irreligious wrote (Post 459688)
But I don't know that we can say, categorically, whether it's a good thing or a bad thing for a kid to believe in Santa.

And that is the crux of the entire issue (at least for me). Believing in Santa may not be bad in itself, but I will not tell bold-faced lies to my kids in order for that belief to occur. It's really that simple.

I'm not going to make fun of them if they believe it, or go out of my way to straighten them out, but if they ask me about it, I will tell them that Santa is not a real person, but a symbol for the generosity in people.

ubs 12-19-2007 01:09 PM

That's a good point, Irr. Everyone probably should adjust according to their audience.

nkb, what do you do about the tooth fairy?

Professor Chaos 12-19-2007 01:10 PM

"Bold-faced lies" is a bit hyperbolic, no?

Molehill ------------> Mountain

This is probably the least important topic going in here, and that includes what mmfmcmmfwc should wear to his rugby team's party.

ubs 12-19-2007 01:12 PM

Quote:

Professor Chaos wrote (Post 459698)
"Bold-faced lies" is a bit hyperbolic, no?

Molehill ------------> Mountain

Agree.

Quote:

Professor Chaos wrote (Post 459698)
This is probably the least important topic going in here

Disagree. Some of us are enjoying this Prof!

Professor Chaos 12-19-2007 01:15 PM

I'm not saying it's not enjoyable. I'm just saying whether or not one tells teh Santa lie to one's kids is, IMHO, not at all important. It won't have any impact on that child's life whatsofreakingever.

At least in the mmfwmcwmmmff thread we might get to see him dressed in either diapers or a virgin Mary outfit.

ubs 12-19-2007 01:18 PM

God, he should go as God.

nkb 12-19-2007 01:22 PM

Quote:

ubs wrote (Post 459697)
nkb, what do you do about the tooth fairy?

Haven't come across it yet. The oldest is 3, so we don't have any teeth to dispose of.

As far as what I am planning on doing: nothing. The tooth fairy myth is possibly even sillier than the Santa myth.

What is the real purpose behind the tooth fairy? Is it to make something potentially scary (losing your teeth) into something to look forward to?

I have already touched on the subject with my daughter (she brought it up indirectly), by explaining how adults have more teeth, and she will eventually lose her teeth so that the new ones can come in. She did not have a problem with that explanation.

In general, I have found that giving her a truthful explanation (appropriately simplified so she can understand it) for her questions goes a long way. It simplifies life later, when you don't have to make more elaborate fibs to build on the ones you already constructed.

nkb 12-19-2007 01:25 PM

Quote:

Professor Chaos wrote (Post 459698)
"Bold-faced lies" is a bit hyperbolic, no?

Yes, I got a little carried away. :)

But, it's still a breach of confidence in my book.
Quote:

Professor Chaos wrote (Post 459698)
This is probably the least important topic going in here, and that includes what mmfmcmmfwc should wear to his rugby team's party.

In itself, it is not an overly important topic, but I think it ties in to some important parent/child trust issues, and can be extrapolated to other subjects, such as what to say when someone dies, for example.

ubs 12-19-2007 01:34 PM

Oh man! No money for teeth? That's a drag.

Quote:

nkb wrote (Post 459713)
I think it ties in to some important parent/child trust issues, and can be extrapolated to other subjects, such as what to say when someone dies, for example.

We're through this. I told them that living things are kind of like a unique snow flake of chemicals and when something dies the its kind of like they melted...the ingredients are there, but the snow flake is gone.

Then I emphasized that it was a long long way off.

They weren't thrilled, but then, I've never heard of anyone being jazzed about death....and probably that's a good thing.

Professor Chaos 12-19-2007 02:47 PM

nkb, maybe you just need to try a different Santa.

Quote:

Atheist Santa
Who's that coming down the chimney? Nobody -- that's ridiculous. Atheist Santa shows up in a gray Toyota Corolla and knocks on your door. Once you let him in and he has cookies and milk -- come on, even atheists love cookies and milk -- he will explain to your child that Santa may love all the children of the world, but he has never submitted his claims of flying reindeer and magical present delivery to James Randi, who would gladly pay a million dollars if presented with irrefutable proof of his wild claims. However, as a gesture of goodwill, Atheist Santa will leave your child with a set of wooden periodic-table blocks and a scale model of archaeopteryx.

nkb 12-19-2007 03:00 PM

That sounds much more reasonable. :)

skribb 12-22-2007 09:21 AM

Quote:

Irreligious wrote (Post 459688)
But I don't know that we can say, categorically, whether it's a good thing or a bad thing for a kid to believe in Santa.

Some parents may worry about the effect of the Santa story on kids once they figure out who's really been eating the cookies and milk left by the fireplace, but giving kids an immediate dose of reality on the subject isn't necessary, says child psychologist Bruce Henderson of Western Carolina University, because young children often use their imagination and make-believe when they play.

It's worth a read: http://www.livescience.com/health/07...ta-belief.html

ghoulslime 12-22-2007 10:56 AM

I voted "Yes".

When my daughter was young, I told her stories about elves and dragons and fairies. I also told her the stories about Santa. She knew that it was all make-believe, but she believed it for a while, because magic and fantasy is fun. As she got older she figured it out. I would never outright lie to her. If she asked me a question like, "Dad, do you really think there might be dragons?", then I would answer ambiguously, with a twinkle in my eye something like, "There might be!" It was a game. Games are fun.

I think the trick is to remember that there are different levels of "belief".

"Santa is watching!" should not be on the same level of reality as "Watch out for snakes!"

Actually, I think that letting kids have a taste of make-believe helps them understand the human animal a bit better when they are grown. It is good practice for developing the skills to discern whether someone is full of shit. Now when my daughter hears silly godiot talk about Jesus or some other nonsensical fictional character, she easily tosses it into the mental closet with fairies, dragons, and leprechauns. (Praised be the green ones!)

Go ahead and tell your kids about Santa! Put up your goddamn Christmas tree and have some fun!

I would, however, advise against having them write Santa letters to Ghoulslime:

Barney 12-19-2010 08:24 PM

My son enjoyed looking at
http://pulpfactor.com/wp-content/upl...-and-Santa.jpg

He's 14 and says he is Atheist.

My daughter who is 9 still beleives in Santa, or says she does, even though I have flat out told her. Nope. Its me.
On previous Xmases she refused to beleive it and came up with quite a varied apologetic for her denial.
"santa has given you the presents"
"He's magic, thats how he gets around the world"
"He turns into fairy dust, thats how he can fit down the chimney even though we only have a flu and he's morbidly obese"

So this year, I'm going to freaking shake her awake and dump the stuff on her bed whilst shouting. "LOOK! THERE! IMPERICAL EVIDENCE!!"

ghoulslime 12-19-2010 08:51 PM

Santa is real! This is what you vile atheists don't understand in your disgusting atheist belief system! :mad:

ILOVEJESUS 12-20-2010 05:14 AM

If santa doesnt exist how come he left me presents when I was a kid???
On a serious note I don't think children have to be indoctrinated into something that is only relevant for about 2 months a year. It is harmless fun that can be used to help rational thought as the child grows up , without having to be a kill joy. Father christmas can also be used in a pseudo religious manner when my son has a tantrum to tell him he is being watched and will not get presents if he doesn't behave , about 2 months prior to Christmas onwards. The reason my boy will grow out of santa is because at 10 no other boys or girls his age will believe in a magical entitiy living outside of the laws of reality delivering presents to the deserving..........there will be other more fantastical nonsense to worry about with what the older people tend to believe in, books thousands of years old claiming divine wisdom etc. These will be more worrying than partaking in a little Christmas cocal cola induced magic.

nkb 12-20-2010 11:25 AM

Hanging out with some soccer buddies, we got into a conversation about Santa, and whether we should lie to our kids.

Two of them have kids slightly older than mine, and they told me about the Elf on The Shelf, which I had never heard of before.

Essentially, it's an elf doll that is Santa's spy, and he reports back to the jolly fat guy on all the bad things the kids do. You move him around when they're asleep/not paying attention, so that it appears that he moves around the house.

On the surface it sounds kind of fun, but the whole Big Brother watching part of it is sending the wrong message, in my opinion.

Kate 12-20-2010 11:42 AM

http://i.ytimg.com/vi/zwXdSH2Co78/hqdefault.jpg
http://fusioncorp.biz/images/viral/clown.jpg

ILOVEJESUS 12-20-2010 03:02 PM

Quote:

nkb wrote (Post 624943)
Hanging out with some soccer buddies, we got into a conversation about Santa, and whether we should lie to our kids.

Two of them have kids slightly older than mine, and they told me about the Elf on The Shelf, which I had never heard of before.

Essentially, it's an elf doll that is Santa's spy, and he reports back to the jolly fat guy on all the bad things the kids do. You move him around when they're asleep/not paying attention, so that it appears that he moves around the house.

On the surface it sounds kind of fun, but the whole Big Brother watching part of it is sending the wrong message, in my opinion.

I tend to think about the spirit in which you do things like that and at what age, but I get ya baby.

anthonyjfuchs 12-21-2010 09:02 AM

This subject seems to come up every year, dudn't it?

I've often found it strange how fully-grown adults can claim that teaching their children that Santa brings them presents by flying around the world in a red rickshaw drawn by magical reindeer isn't lying. I've heard otherwise rational adults (nonbelieving adults, no less) actually say "it isn't lying" as if the act of saying that it's not lying makes it not lying.

I've never really understood how people accept that explanation, when they wouldn't accept it anywhere else. Telling someone that something is true when you know that it's not really actually true in the corporeal world is lying. Claiming that a lie isn't a lie just because you don't want to feel bad about lying doesn't make the lie not a lie. Whether there are degrees of lying isn't really relevant. It's still a lie.

That said, I think there are ways to allow the fun and imagination without lying. Like ghoulie said, a conveniently ambiguous answer goes a long way in treading that fine line. Now that I have a young'un of my very own, I intend to just leave the presents under the Saturnalia tree, and have fun with my daughter as she opens them the next morning.

If or when she ever asks "where do the presents come from," I'll answer with something to the effect that, "It's Christmas, that's when there's presents under the tree." Not a lie. When she inevitably comes home from school one January day and tells me that her friends told her it was Santa Claus, I'll tell her that I've heard that too. Not a lie. If she asks outright whether or not Santa Claus brings the presents, I'll tell her that a lot of people believe that. Not a lie.

I can let her believe certain things without teaching her to believe certain things.

ILOVEJESUS 12-21-2010 10:39 AM

Quote:

anthonyjfuchs wrote (Post 624981)
This subject seems to come up every year, dudn't it?

I've often found it strange how fully-grown adults can claim that teaching their children that Santa brings them presents by flying around the world in a red rickshaw drawn by magical reindeer isn't lying. I've heard otherwise rational adults (nonbelieving adults, no less) actually say "it isn't lying" as if the act of saying that it's not lying makes it not lying.

I've never really understood how people accept that explanation, when they wouldn't accept it anywhere else. Telling someone that something is true when you know that it's not really actually true in the corporeal world is lying. Claiming that a lie isn't a lie just because you don't want to feel bad about lying doesn't make the lie not a lie. Whether there are degrees of lying isn't really relevant. It's still a lie.

That said, I think there are ways to allow the fun and imagination without lying. Like ghoulie said, a conveniently ambiguous answer goes a long way in treading that fine line. Now that I have a young'un of my very own, I intend to just leave the presents under the Saturnalia tree, and have fun with my daughter as she opens them the next morning.

If or when she ever asks "where do the presents come from," I'll answer with something to the effect that, "It's Christmas, that's when there's presents under the tree." Not a lie. When she inevitably comes home from school one January day and tells me that her friends told her it was Santa Claus, I'll tell her that I've heard that too. Not a lie. If she asks outright whether or not Santa Claus brings the presents, I'll tell her that a lot of people believe that. Not a lie.

I can let her believe certain things without teaching her to believe certain things.

What about when you were a kid? Did you not believe in dragons and magic and silly things like that. I think if it became religious with santa services and commandments sent by him as to how you must live to attain presents etc my opinion would change. Its so light hearted as to be a waste of time not getting into its spirit in my opinion.


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