Most of us have grown up and believed in the existence of Santa Claus in our very early years.  I have been coming around to the view that maybe this belief is harmful to children.  

In listening to Public Radio this weekend there was a story about a man in NYC who for some reason was getting tons of mail from children writing to Santa Claus.  No one knows why he receives this mail but it comes to him.  In reading the letters he realized a high percentage of the mail was coming from needy children asking for some of the basic things from Santa.  

This man has gone about setting up a foundation to get people to take ownership of a letter where the origins is known and try to fulfill these wishes.

At first I thought this was very noble of him but then as I analyzed it doubts have crept in.  

Here we are teaching children to perpetuate a  belief in another deity type figure that doesn't exist.  This might be the cruelest one because we are telling them this figure will solve some of their most pressing problems. They don't have boots, food, dad is beating mom and the like.  I remember myself as a youth in a poor family coming to the conclusion Santa doesn't exist.  It was painful and in no way helped me to cope with the challenges in my home.  Not only does it put pressure on the children but it puts parents in such situations under undo pressure to perpuate this lie because society says, "Don't take away their youth."  People end up doing stupid things because of this.  

What do you think?

Tags: Santa, beliefs, damaging

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Me and my wife were just discussing this at the dinner table with our four children, all of which do not believe in Santa.  They are at the youngest eight years old, and she is completely OK with it.  My question is when will society ever stop lying to their children about the existance of such a being as Santa Claus.  When will society accept the fact that it is not OK to lie to our children and that is sends the wrong message from a very young age that as long it doesnt hurt anyone, you can lie.  If we ever have more children, I made a vow to my wife that I would not discuss this lie with any future children of mine. It has to start somewhere, and by raising a child in an atheist family, passes our way of life to their children, so starts the chain in my family.  We are straight up honest about our belief that God does not exist, and that when we die, there is NO heaven, and our bodies just vanish into the earth, and become part of the cycle of life.  More and more atheist parents  have to grow up them selves and stop the phony stuff.  Teach your children to think logically and to think for themselves.  If they get pressure from the schools, then make some noise about it.  The religulous would!(misspell intended)...  It worries me that I hear more noise from Christian groups and Mormans than I do my fellow athiests.  I sure hope as athiests we can come together and fight for what we believe in. Or don't believe in.  Teaching children the truth, does not take away their youth! Lying to them only confuses them.  Oh and same goes for leprechauns, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth fairy!

there are 3 ages to man/woman :-

1 when you believe in Father Christmas

2 when you stop believing in Father Christmas and 

3 when you ARE Father Christmas

Well, maybe the real question is whether beliefs in general are harmful.

I personally think there’s nothing wrong with a belief in Santa. Other than brief disappointment, once a child lets go of this belief there are no societal constraints telling them that they must go on believing… or else! In this view of the subject it’s harmless. If this is the greatest sense of disappointment a child will experience in what I hope is a long life, then I would consider them to be extremely lucky.

 

It seems like parents are getting too protective of children these days. They want to shield their child from everything. Children won’t get to experience the same joys that most of us did when growing up. It’s like childhood has become a prescription that must be carefully administered to a child. Now with this whole Santa thing, we’re trying to rob the children of perhaps the one thing they have left, their sense of imagination. If there’s one belief, out of all the stupid beliefs in the world, that is worth believing in it’s the idea that there is a man out there who is willing to reward you for being a decent human being. There are no other stipulations. One doesn’t need to worship him or give praise or really alter one’s life at all. What a beautiful and simple message that isn’t tainted by any of the trappings of religion.

 

When reality sets in that there is no Santa, I think it’s a wonderful parallel to the idea of god and religion. If a child can let go of one myth, then perhaps there’s a lesson to be learned about being skeptical within reason about other such fantastic claims. No, I don’t think Santa is harmful and in fact, I see this belief to be an important part of every childhood experience.

Believing in Santa is fine. I think we need to take a collective breath here.  This is a child's imagination we are talking about. Nothing more. Now what you choose to do with "Santa" is on you. I think those who use him as a "behave or Santa will not get you anything for xmas or giftmas or festivus or whatever" is wrong. But having them have Santa or any other make believe thing in their lives is fine. Our problem is with indoctrinating kids into religion which this does not have to be in any way. My 6 year old believes in Santa but has no concept of it being associated to religion in any way.  Encouraging imagination is to encourage free thought which in my opinion is a precursor to reason and critical thinking.  Ho ho ho!

Would you let your child believe that you were Cindarella/Batman for years?  Why not?  Isn't that fostering the child's imagination?

How is that any different than letting a child believe that Santa is someone else?

I have no children, but plan to have some one day. And the whole Christmas season but especially the "Santa Clause" game parents play on their children has left me confused and conflicted. Let's face it... in the US especially there it is absolutely impossible for an atheist family to avoid their children being bombarded with Christmas from early-mid November to January 1st. In order to avoid it you would have to hole up with your children in an underground bunker with no access to the outside world for two months. It's everywhere. On the radio, in the drug store, on TV, at the mall, on the internet, at the zoo, on your neighbor's front lawn, in the downtown square, etc etc etc. As a childless atheist, I have an easy time dealing with this... I ignore it when it annoys me and participate when I feel like it. But... knowing I will someday have children and will have to make a choice. Celebrate Christmas? Or not? Use Santa Clause? Or not? It's something I haven't resolved yet. 

Is Santa harmful to children? I don't know. On the one hand, I have beautiful memories of being a child waiting for Santa to come each year... on the other... my "unquestioning" belief in things was never quite the same when I found out that Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy were not real. Did I feel betrayed by my parents? No. But I do remember initially being a little sad and some of the magic of Christmas vanished the next December. 

But it is more complicated than a simple choice. Your children will be exposed to the Santa Clause game whether you want them to or not. Children's television is awash in Santa Clause myth during the holidays and pretty much every holiday movie is full of Santa. Every holiday trip to the mall will be featured prominently by a tacky "visit Santa" display with dozens of squirming children lined up to sit on his lap.

So... you can't pretend the game isn't there. Your kid will ask you about it. I don't have any and even I know this is obvious. 

But there's another complication...

During this time of year, two major factors will present a risk to your child. 1. Christian Theists are on high alert during the season for any sign of "Non-believer 'Grinch' activities" to "ruin their fun." (You know... the annual "War on Christmas" that a lot of Christians make up every year just to feel persecuted. - Fox News is particularly fond of sporting stories of people that complain about overtly religious public school holiday concerts for example.)

Second... if your child is not homeschooled there will be boat loads of children in the elementary schools that will believe in Santa and if your child is not warned against arguing with other children about Santa's existence, expect your phone to be ringing off the hook with calls from angry parents saying your child has "ruined Christmas" for theirs by saying Santa doesn't exist.

It's hard enough for me to deal with my own confusion and discomfort during the holidays... I'm completely lost on how to deal with that of a non-theist child.

Advice on this would be awesome!

Oh yeah! Merry Solstice to one and all! 

As many have said before, it does create a complex in irrational thinking. It encourages children to believe some imaginary entity in the image of man, who keeps a list of the good and the bad, and threatens that if your behavior is negative, you will regret it. The entire charade is a playoff of Christianity, with the same basic rules. Don't believe in God, eternity in Hell. Don't believe in Santa, no presents on Christmas.

However, this can be a very good thing. If this belief is exercised, and eventually crushed, then it leaves a possibility of a child not trusting the parents in charge. If, at this point, a parent preaches God to a child, or any form of a religion, then it is very possible for the child to lose faith, based on the crushed informing of Santa Clause's nonresistance. That is, assuming the child is at an age too young to see the complexity of the God Mythology versus the Santa Clause Mythology, which there is only vaguely, but old enough to connect the two, and relate.

So, in essence, this can be a very good thing, as long as it isn't emphasized to the child in general. Under optimal conditions, this can essentially convert Theists to Agnostics and Atheists.

When you realize Santa is not true- you realize many thingsthat are taught are not true- it's a learning curve- the myths tahght by people are suspect- so goes ghosts, goblins, chocolate egg giving rabbits and jesus- but some hold on to childhood myths-

I have been before, and this year again Scepti- Claus- they know I'm not real- even the youngest- kids are not stupid- it's only the indoctrination of religion before and afterwards that really screws them up- Santa, Easter Bunnies and all may be make believe, but belief in Virgin Births, miracles, parting of seas of any color, stopping the sun, or any other BS, or believing that any other abraka pokus - is true - is just insanity.

Having a good time with friends and family is fine

 

 

Assuming that my earlier example is insufficient I would add

1)Some people will give you things and you don't have to thank them or even meet them. They are gifts for no reason at all.
2)Magic exists! Science is obsolete and the laws of physics are unreliable
3)There is a person of seemingly infinite resources who cares specifically for you- If you could only contact him he might help you and your family.
4)Good behavior is always rewarded, you should expect that if you do good things that as a direct consequence, good things will happen to you.
5) You are telling bold face lies to your children. I know some people think this is cute. Tina Springer said it perfectly a few posts back, you wouldn't tell your kids that you are Batman or Cinderella, why think that it is okay to say you are not Santa.
6) Magic and Santa brings up a lot of very legitimate questions that parents won't answer, meaning kids learn early to stop asking good questions or won't trust the answers- And yes, I absolutely see this as a breech of trust. If I tell you that a stranger is mowing your lawn when you are not home- it's not cute, even if I know I was the one who did it. The truth works just fine.

I can not think of a single positive thing about thinking Santa is real. The TV shows still make sense- the traditions still make sense- much more actually. When I remember trying to learn about Santa at a young age I remember one adult after another being condescending and evasive, but demanding that I still believe. Christmas has always been much more meaningful without the deception. If you still think it is good to have people lie to you, I would encourage you to tell your friends and co-workers to lie to you if it makes you feel better.

If anyone feels I am being too harsh I would encourage you to explain to me where I am mistaken- maybe there is some Santa tradition I am missing. I seriously don't get it.

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Posted by Quincy Maxwell on July 20, 2014 at 9:37pm 25 Comments

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