I am the host of Speak Atheist, http://speakatheist.com and we are planning on doing a show next week on Santa Claus and wether or not atheists should tell their children that there is one. This also hits home with me in my personal life because my wife and I have a baby on the way and all we talk about is how to raise our coming child.
I am curious how everyone feels about this. The way I see it, it could be good or bad depending on how you approach it.
I can see that it would be bad to teach your children to buy into fairytales that are simply not true. I am sure the brain is developing neuro pathways as a child and that this belief could cause to predispose the child into believing in other fairytales (God) when they become an adult. Also, knowing that your parents lied to you could be a problem, even though I have nothing but fond memories of Santa and never felt betrayed by this deception.
However, I can see this being good as well. Perhaps if the approach was taken to teach the child about the story of Santa Claus and then, when they question it, use it as an opportunity to help them logically reason whether or not Santa Claus actually exists. I could also see this behavior helping children develop a healthy level of skepticism to other claims. I mean, are flying reindeer really harder to believe than a talking snake? Also, I love every memory I have of Santa Claus. Even after I knew he didn't exist, I enjoyed pretending that he did. There is a part of me that looks forward to sharing this with my child.
What do you guys think?
This is similar to my thinking regarding the loyalty and trust matter. I would be afraid that if I lied to my son or daughter it would undermine their trust in me.
Hi Jaret, good question. We were brought up by atheist parents, and although they never categorically insisted a god didn't exist, it was all very obvious by the way they spoke. My Dad crept around in a red dressing gown delivering our Christmas stockings, but all the other presents were marked as from Mum and Dad.
I think it's probably best to celebrate the tradition of Santa, in the same way the tradition of the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy - tell them its a fun tradition, but that some little kids at their schools might not yet realise its just a story so not to spoil it for them.
I have a two-year old....I have no problem with with the Santa myth. I see it as a future learning lesson. When my wife and I decide to, we'll expose the myth for what it is and explain that many people believe in things that they think are real, like Santa, but really aren't.
My wife and I decided on a policy of no lies before our first child was born, so we make sure that our children ( 3yo and 6yo ) know what is real and what is imaginary. Our kids still love stories about mythical creatures, and we celebrate Christmas with decorations, presents and Santa stories. The kids love Christmas and really get into the whole thing. Last year I was a little concerned at one point that my 6yo actually believed in Santa as he talked him so much, so I asked him if he thought that Santa was real, the response was "no of course not Dad ( In that "you are an idiot Dad" voice that kids do so well ) I'm just pretending".