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

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.


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