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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This.  Exactly.  It can actually be quite harmful to a child if they are not allowed to explore imaginary worlds and make believe.  This is how they learn about social skills, physics, and the way things generally work.  As they grow up, (especially if they have parents who guide them in being confident and teach them how to ask questions, and allow them to ask questions), they will begin to question things, and they will grow out of it.

i don't agree with you. in my profile presentation, in fact, i wrote that santa claus has been in some way my sheet anchor: when my parents told me he was an invention (i think i was 7-8 years old), my faith in god started to crumble, and i began to think about it very seriously.

i think that until parents will continue to tell their kids the santa's tale (to deny his existence later in years), some of them can still be saved by the skill of using their own mind to understand that there's no difference between god and santa.

Children crying over the loss of an imaginary friend that supposedly brings them gifts is not exactly something I worry greatly about. My nephew figured it out himself last year (or one of his friends convinced him). My sister was clever enough to tack on "it's the same thing with God" after he had told her.

But don't you think there should be something said for letting them come to those conclusions on their own?  


Give them the tools they need to do it, and let them work it out on their own.

No it is not harmful. My mother would have lost her mind if she did not have the advantage of threatening to call Santa and cancel Christmas, if I and my brother did not behave. All she had to do was pick up the phone and it struck terror into our hearts. We then instantly turned into obedient little angels, for a short while, anyway lol.

I do have some mixed feelings over this, but when all is said and done I do have some magical memories of Christmas. At the time, of course, it was Santa that made it special, but as I grew older it still remained special but in a different way. I know it was just one of the ways in which my parents showed their love for me, by creating these moments. So it is still "magic" really. I do remember asking Santa to turn me into a girl one year, maybe when I was 5 or 6. He didn't so that got me a little suspicious about the limitations of his power :-)


 I think my oldest child is now at the playing along stage, but my youngest still gets very excited about Santa, and that creates more "magic moments" for both of us. As my children come to realize the truth about Santa, it will be a little painful, but will perhaps teach them to be sceptical of all kinds of supernatural phenomena.

Ok. So aside from using mind games to manipulate a child, which I don't consider to be the most enlightened tool in the parenting handbook, what is the actual benefit to the child, himself, for believing in Santa? Because at the end of the day, we want what is best for our child and society, right? The only benefit I see for the child is the opportinity for them to come to the realization on their own that Santa is not real -out of critical thinking. If it is used for that direct purpose I see the value.....as long as you don't string them along or outright lie to them along the way.

Think about how valuable trust is as an adult. It is very fragile. It can be broken in an instant, and take forever to build or regain. I think we look at this as a silly little matter that if were perpetuated on us as adults, in a more sophisticated manner, with a manipulation in mind, (say, with a diety) would be considered harmful. Children's brains are in a developmental stage. I dont think that we should be psyching them up to be believing that being tricked and manipulated is fun. We are teaching them that it is darling to be duped. And that we are the ones who lied to them.

I constantly trick my kids by feeding them a line of BS. My youngest recently asked if it was OK to prod his belly button, and I had him going for nearly a week by telling him that he might accidentally deflate himself! They are starting to questions everything, which is sometimes annoying but mostly good :-)

I don't think the belief in Santa is harmful. But I've never told any of my children that Santa is real because I didn't want to lie to them. And, even though it didn't ruin me in any way when I figured out, as a child, that he wasn't real, it did upset me a little that I was lied to.

 

But I have always taken my children for traditional pictures of Santa and we watch Rudolph and all those cute christmas movies. I've always told them that Santa Claus is based in fact. I've told them there once was a person who we refer to as Santa Claus (St. Nicholas), that was such a good man to children that people honor him year after year by dressing up as him. They carry on the tradition of saying their gifts are from him because of what he did.He was a real person, so he died many years ago, but people still try to continue his traditions in their own way.

 

As for this man who receives the Santa mail, I think it's a wonderful thing to help those who can't help themselves and to try and give them a little something that they may not normally be able to get. Christmas or any time of the year, it's a beautiful gesture to help others.

 

Ahhh, memories... when my sister was 5, I broke it to her that Santa isn't real...

I think that belief in Santa (or Low Tres Reyes, or Papa Noel, or whatever else you grew up with) is a harmless bit of holiday fun, so long as it isn't taken too far into adulthood. As a child, my imagination was very rich and I loved the idea of a sort of 'Spirit of Christmas'.

Likewise, some parents may dislike the idea of letting their children believe in Santa and they are well within their rights. I don't believe that it's harmful to tell children from the start that Santa isn't real, as long as the children may exercise their imaginations and enjoy their sense of wonder before they lose it.
Everyone has a story about how they learned about Santa- Mine is the kind that everyone thinks "might happen one day" My mother had no tolerance in a disbelief in Santa. She was unable to answer any of the difficult normal questions as well as many of the rarer ones "If I am to be grateful to everyone who give me gifts, why can't I be grateful to Santa who gives more gifts than anyone- he clearly loves me, but I have never met him- and you won't let me" These discussions never had any humor to them.

finally, I told my mom that if there was no Santa the gifts would be hidden in the house- she was very angry and told me I could look. I found them in the first place I checked. Her response was that I ruined Christmas. That I was a bad child and so on.

Now, I know most kids have parents who are less crazy than mine- mine is only an extreme, but consider that I had to have debates in school with kids who saw Santa like a kind of Jesus figure and literally cried and threw punches when they heard I was a "Santa Atheist" or kids who became irate because I was "calling her daddy a liar" I am with Dr. Seuss on this one. Christmas is magical for a whole lot of reasons. Having your wonderful gifts delivered by an omnipotent man who gets you some of what you want and give the kid who beats you up every day ten times more" well, that I can do without. I like Christmas- and I like the people I give gifts to to know who is giving it. It is given out of love, and I want it to be appreciated. I hate the lesson that some some is conjured out of nothing but your lazy parents have to scrape for the inferior toys. I would have had a much better time if my parents told me where the gifts came from, what they had to do to get them, why they made the selections they did- I could have given better feedback on their selections, I would have thanked them for every toy under the tree. Even after my Santa incident I never treated the "Santa" gifts the same as "mom and dad" gifts. Like those ones came from nowhere. For the record, my mother responded similarly to the tooth fairy, I have no problems with the Easter Bunny because for whatever reason my parents saw that one as too far fetched to defend. A better question might be "why would anyone want to slow the moral and scientific development of children with such garbage"

Again, I know some or most parents don't do what mine did- I still don't see the upside.

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