I've been pondering this for a while now, what do you all think of things like the myths of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, etc? Since some are simply in good cheer, should children be lied to about the myths, or should one say that they're just stories (whether when asked about it or immediately)?
I would personally lean toward the second one, simply avoiding the introduction of such myths while keeping the spirit of the holidays.
In literary speak, there's a fine line between myth - fairy tale - fiction literature
Santa and tooth fairy and easter bunny are not myths, they are fairy tales.
A myth is the object of dissension where different people ARGUE the case for its reality
There is nothing wrong with fairy tales, they allow young minds to be imaginative, which is an important component of learning. As long as no one argues they're real. People who argue such things are real end up in insane asylums, as should religious people!
I suppose a good thing about Santa being “real” for a few years is that children eventually figure it out and get to think about why they believed in him in the first place. The moment of awareness can start a learning curve. They see it for what it really is. They are better able to distinguish a fairy tale from reality later in life.
I think it is only good for children that are also being taught a religion. When their parents break their hearts by telling them they believed in something that wasn't real and that they were lied to, they may be more skeptical about things. I can remember thinking -well if santa isn't real, are they gonna tell me god isn't real?- My brother said he thought the same thing. Hoping that it will make them doubt the existance of their deity is the only reason I would be for it. As atheists, I think that we should not lie to our children. If you do celebrate these holidays, your children will be just as happy with the toys whether you bought them or a fictional character bought them. It doesn't make the experience any less enjoyable and they will still have anticipation for christmas morning.
I asked my mom when I was six whether Santa was real, and she just said no... as if I'd asked her if she knew where my missing sock was. Casual. I wasn't phased. We still had fun with Christmas and acting like Santa was coming but knowing it was just my parents. It's fun as long as kids know it's pretend.
I think the problem is when parents insist their kids believe Santa is real, and are horribly offended if someone suggests otherwise. I had friends who were traumatized when they found out. It can be a game; it's easy for kids to play make-believe. It's difficult to overcome the betrayal of an outright lie and purposeful deception from someone you trust!
My, lets make childhood sterile and non-magical at all.
Children like these things and then they learn to a) question the story and b) not to accept without proof what and adult says.
My grandson sometimes while playing thinks that Spiderman is real but is skeptical about Jesus. He doesn't want to hear that Spiderman isn't real, or the tooth fairy, or the Easter Bunny but has refused to go to church since he started thinking and asking about Jesus. Which is fine with his Mom and I.
I tell him I don't believe in that stuff but he has to make up his own mind when he is old enough to read and think about it. He is rapidly learning to read.
I'm kind of like that, too. I loved the magical belief when I was a child. I think it feeds imagination and creativity. I miss it sometimes as an adult. Not in the way that I'd like to be delusional, but just that anything-can-happen kind of feeling I had as a kid. The world is big, wide, and interesting to a child. The impossible is still absolutely possible. We have Santa and the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy at my house, only I teach them the historical significance behind the traditions rather than full-on religious dogma. I grew out of these things as a kid minus any trauma and with critical thinking skills intact. I am not bitter because I was "lied" to. I recognized it early on as a fun tradition meant for entertainment.
Even now I tell my children, "I don't believe in god." Not, "We don't believe in god," or even, "You don't believe in god." I bring up points regarding religion for them to think about. I allow them to ask questions. I want them to think things through themselves. I don't feel childhood fantastical traditions will cause any lasting damage to this process.