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?
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.
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...