no childhood magic for Atheist children?

After reading this article, I am wondering ... should I always be honest to my child and never start telling him about Santa, the FSM and the Easter Bunny, witches and gnomes, fairies and the goblin in the washing machine that eats up single socks?

Remembering my childhood, I simply liked this magic stuff, and I liked to believe in it even though I knew it wasn't really for real. I continued talking to my teddy for comfort even when I was old enough to know he was only a stuffed animal.I loved to play, imagining myself sitting in a rocket on the way to the moon. It didn't matter that at age 9 I already knew it was only an old wooden bench and that a salad bowl ontop of my head would be of no use outside of our planets atmosphere. It was play.

I think this is basically, what Santa etc is as well: play! Why not play "pretend" with your kids?!

Should I really keep my child from experiencing his childhood as a miracolous thing where anything was possible? Isn't a bit of wonder and adventure needed when growing up, to have creativity go free and to keep wondering throughout life? Isn't science full of magic and wonders too, because it is so amazing and so very detailed and complex that no human being has the mental capacity to grasp it in its fullest (not implying any Gods here)?

I am afraid draining a childhood of all mysteries will create a resignated, dull, pessimistic adult, who is not really interesed in anything much. Who won't be able anymore to close his eyes and have himself wander amongst hobbits when listening to Tolkien audio plays, who doesn't see a point to read fables to his kids or just roll around the floor tickeling them and laughing his ass off.

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Comment by Trish E. Harmon on December 8, 2011 at 12:28am

I don't see anything wrong with telling kids about Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, because, as we all know, we eventually learn they are not real and we don't dwell on it and think our parents did a horrible thing. I don't know of anyone who needed therapy after finding out Santa or the bunny didn't exist. It's just fun, that's all. It's not like teaching them about God, because that's something even adults DO believe in and then force their children to believe it, too. It extends way beyond the years when kids find out that Santa and the Easter bunny don't exist. It also comes with teaching kids prejudice toward other religions, races, sexual orientation, etc. Santa and the Easter bunny are not those kind of symbols. So, I say, don't be so serious, let your kids have some fun with it. They'll learn, as we all did, that these were just stories. I never believed in God and I still look back fondly on the times I believed in Santa...not sure if I believed in the Easter bunny...and it was fun. It's just that simple.

Comment by Trish E. Harmon on December 8, 2011 at 3:00am

It has nothing to do with children's rights. Geez, I think some people just don't know how to have a little fun, loosen up a little. I did not suffer any ill effects from believing in Santa Clause when I was little, nor did my kids (who are ALL non-religious) and they are amazing adults. It's not a big deal. Kids learn it's all just a story, and parents tell little "stories" all the time to get their kids to do what they want them to do. Sometimes I think people don't know how to have a little fun with life. Life is too short to be so serious all the time.

Comment by Unseen on December 8, 2011 at 11:27am

@Liz   Well, look at it this way. Finding out that there is no Santa Claus, Easter bunny, or tooth fairy sets the child up for realizing there is no God, either. In that regard, we can consider it quite functional in an atheist parent's strategy.

Comment by Unseen on December 8, 2011 at 11:38am

@Kir   Parents have a lot of harmless fun with their kids, including playing hide and seek (which includes deception), the old "look I took off your nose" trick (thumb sticking out between the first and second finger), and various magic tricks.

I never realized how sinister this all was until you pointed it out. (yeah, right)

Comment by Steff on December 9, 2011 at 4:57am

Thank you all for your many responses, I am afraid I could not yet read them all.

I am a bit shocked to find Santa being put by some of you on the same level as an demons and exorcism. I think there is a significant difference, and also you don't have to use Santa to make your kid obey your orders, he can simply be a nice fat guy in a red dress that gives presents to kids and digs cookies ...

Kir, being a foreigner I find it very hard to read your texts with all these abbreviations. If you take your time to reply someone, why not spend an extra minute on proper writing. This would make it much easier for people like me to read it. As on the context, I get your point of view. I disagree though.

But then, I don't believe that not-to-lie always and under any circumstances is the right thing to do. At least not that if "not telling the full truth" qualifies as a lie itself. If I would never lie, I would neither have a job nor a partner. Small lies are neccessary to get along with people.

Thanks Kevin for clarifying the difference between lying and fiction.

I think a shared (good-natured) fiction between parent and child will not do any harm.I saw a documentation about Roald Dahl once, who woke up his kids at night to sneak out with them in PJs and watch the stars and the train and hunt for magic creatures. He played pretend with his kids and they loved it. I have the fondest childhood memories with my uncle, who got his telescope to watch the stars with me, and with whom I "saw" the moon rocket and the guys walking around the moon. His explainations were so detailed that my imagination was strong enough so I did see them. I can not see anything harmful in things like these - there is no mindfuck, no brainwashing, no instrumentalization.

Trish, well written, thank you for your thoughts.

Will continue to read the rest later.


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