I had a very interesting experience. My best friend is a Catholic, when we meet up we always talk about religion and politics etc etc. I am very close to his family his parents and his wife are also practicing Catholics. His brother is a atheist. They are all very liberal, baptist hating, ACLU members. I have always found the discussions heated and invigorating and we are still friends at the end. No one takes things personally.
So I am over at his parents house for the evening talking with my friends mother. His wife walks in the room and sits down beside me. The conversation is about indoctrinating children. Imagine my surprise when I bring up Santa Claus, and they act like I just punched a baby. I do not know how this subject is so personal. I believe the direct quote i received was "you can talk about Jesus all you want but leave santa claus out of it."
Two days later I am at my grandmas house with my family and extended family there are about 30 people there because my cousin is being deployed. I bring up this subject with my uncle about lying to children about santa claus. My uncle is as much a militant atheist as anyone i know tell me that he does think its harmful and dismisses my claim.
Ok am I being a dick? I find it very difficult to knowingly mislead children. Children expect you to teach them, they expect you to pass on what you know. Does anyone have any thoughts?
** I haven't read the responses, so I can give an unbiased opinion.
I have five kids, and we happily did "the Santa thing" with them all. It was joyous to watch their faces when meeting Santa at the mall, writing letters, and "seeing what Santa brought" on xmas morning. I wouldn't trade it for anything.
And they learned the truth about Santa when it was right for each of them. As they matured, and began to question reality vs fantasy, they all came to the realization - on their own - that Santa didn't exist, and that it was "magical thinking".
I also believe that it is a GREAT first lesson for kids to begin to understand the whole concept of "magical thinking" in the larger context. To begin to look at everything with a critical eye, so that they approach the world.
Basically, it is a great analogy to all magical thinking, including deities.
It teaches them to arrive at these conclusions on their own, based on their own questioning and rationality. As the old adage goes, "Some lessons cannot be taught - they must be lived to be learned."
So, I see no harm in the "Santa experience", and in fact I believe it does a great deal of good as a life lesson. And yes, I would do it again (but I definitely don't want a 6th kid to do it! ;) )
EDIT: One other thing - I've asked all my kids if they wished that, instead of going through the "Santa Experience" that we had taught them the truth and just given them presents. Every single one of them said, "NO WAY!" They loved the experience, and will do it with their children (I already have one grandson) as well. Incidentally, 2 of my kids are adults 3 are teens, and one is young enough to remember vividly when he "believed". He also loved it.
That's exactly what I was saying. These "never lie to a child" people give me the impression of never having had children or of letting atheist theoretical dogma override wisdom in their handling of the issue if they do have children.
Like you said, it's the kid's first lesson to apply critical thinking, and in that regard it's better than the dogmatic idea to never lie. For one thing, ultimately it will be THEIR prerogative to determine what is true, not the parents'.
In fact, the idea of consciously indoctrinating children with what one believes is true is what Christians and Communists have in common, which to me seems a kind of child abuse. Better to teach kids the importance of exercising their own judgment rather than simply swallowing what one is told whole and without criticism.
Some of the discussion seems to be centered on not undermining the child's trust in his/her parents, but think about it: part of growing up is weaning oneself to some extent of the influence of one's parents' and family's influence over one's intellectual life. Rather than teaching your kids to trust what you say, you should be allowing them to develop a healthy mistrust of taking their views from authority figures, including you.
So I should tell children about jesus and participate in the fairy tale as part of a lesson in skepticism.
This whole idea that teaching children about santa claus caused them to be skeptics is rather unfounded. How many Christians believed in santa, and still believe in jebus.
You can not claim that the Santa claus myth is somehow responsible for their skepticism.
Did you entirely miss the word "allowing" in my post. You seem to want to turn this into some sort of diabolical manipulation on our part intended to control our kids into being skeptics. Stick with the text. Don't read into it or go beyond it with wild speculation.
You have it backward, Daniel. Because we have NOT taught them the whole Jesus myth as "gospel" (pardon the pun), the Santa Claus experience helps reinforce rational thinking and the concept of magical thinking.
Plus, those of us who seem to be fine with the SC thing are all parents; the bulk of the naysayers are not.
When I was in college and before I had a job and kids I believed all kinds of radical crazy shit. It''s characteristic of the left now that, like the right, if the world won't come around, well then we'll just force it to come around, starting with the kids.
Well, I can tell you, kids will know when you're consciously trying to mold them. And it will NOT build trust.
I guess I think the Santa thing is OK because we KNOW we are going to tell then the truth by the time they are 7 or so, if they haven't figured it out for themselves ( or an older sibling hasn't told them). The Jesus thing is supposed to go on forever, and it is really difficult to get out of when everyone around you keeps asserting that it is true. I for one, didn't even question it til really shitty stuff happened in my life.So it is way more of a problem to teach them religion.
In the western world, the majority of people see the belief in Santa as the ultimate sign of innocence. Most stop believing between the ages of 7 and 9 and is, most of the time, the first hard truth we must face. So, I am guessing that most people think if you talk bad about Santa, you are talking bad about the innocence of children. I do not agree with that, because I see so many other signs of childhood innocence that I don't think Santa should be the ultimate representation.
As a parent, I think it is a good thing to let a child believe in Santa. When the child learns the truth, they learn more than just that Santa was a lie, they also learn to not trust everything they hear from adults; authority figures lie too. I neither encourage nor discourage the belief in my own child (the rest of her family does that instead), I just ask her what she thinks. She also believes in faeries and that Peter Pan will take her off to Neverland.