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Entry 24: Santa Got Run Over By The Truth, Dear!

January 30, 2010

Although I know we’re a full month outside of Christmas 2009, I’ve been mulling around for answers to another question a family member of mine posed right around the major gift giving event of the year. 

“What are you planning to tell your newborn son when he’s ‘of age’ about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy?”

Getting past my sarcastic retort…’You mean they’re not real?!!!”, I thought I’d attempt a written response. 

My family member (again, remaining nameless to protect the guilty as charged) offered that they are deciding against perpetuating the myths of the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus to their kids. 

And while I respect their willingness and tenacity to not do this with their children, I’ve thought about this alot, talked it over with my wife, and I’ve come to the conclusion that perpetuating these myths of the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus to my son are really not all that big of a deal.  Let me explain. 

I think ,as a kid, having magical characters swoop in during assigned times of the year to perform assigned magical duties is just one of those brief, yet harmless rituals we can give our kids.  Reality will hit in so many different ways all through the course of their life, that to give them this dose of un-reality, if you will, is, as I see it, a bit of gift.  I do understand that foregoing this ritual can spare some heartache in the end (‘You mean Santa Claus isn’t real?!!!’  Sob…Weep…Wail…) However, the fun you impart to the kids in the stories of these three legendary characters, I think more than makes up for the letdowns later.  I have no scientific studies though to back this up, only anecdotes.  Speaking of which, I honestly don’t think I am all that scarred from my own parents doing the same to me regarding the same three mythical characters in my first decade on the planet.  I rather look back at the perpetuated illusions as a good bit of fun. 

Slight aside…I’ve recently started listening to an excellent podcast entitled, ‘Reasonable Doubts’.  On episode 59, the hosts interview Dale McGowan, the author of a new book entitled, “Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical Caring Kids Without Religion”.  It’s really one of the best discussions I’ve heard yet on how to handle ‘sticky’ issues regarding what to tell your kids about religion, myths, morals, and everything in between.  I highly recommend listening to this Reasonable Doubts episode entitled, “Parenting”. 

McGowan’s main stance is on teaching critical thinking to your children.  He takes no hard stance on what you should tell your kids about religion, the Santa Claus myth, or any myth for that matter.  Rather, he believes in using all supernatural claims that your kids hear about and ask you about, as ways to enhance critical thinking abilities.   I just hope I’m savvy enough when my son gets to the age where he’s questioning my wife and I on these things to be able to question back his questions with critical thinking exercises.  I really want to get McGowan’s book, and start preparing for that day.

If you are a parent (and even if you’re not), where do you stand?  Do you think it’s better to be honest at all costs with your kids regarding Santa Claus, and the host of other mythical mighties?  Or do you feel like you can play make believe with your children, keep these characters strong in their imagination for their first decade, and then duck out unscathed? 

Interested to hear your takes on the issue.

Until next time, thanks for stopping by,

TRC

the.recovering.christian@gmail.com

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One Comment leave one →
  1. February 2, 2010 9:34 am

    My wife and I debated this very question too.

    While the myths taught me to be critical and not to trust my everything my parents said, my wife made the point that Santa is seemingly unfair. He seems to leave more gifts for some kids than others, which was what my wife experienced growing up. This lead her to feel more miserable about her condition, growing up quite poor.

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