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Posted by: freedmyself ( )
Date: November 28, 2012 04:54PM

So what to do about Santa? Ok Mormonism is more than false, not even funny. Two years ago my daughter was asking lots of questions one breath are there fairies at the north-pole? the next, how long will our bodies be in the ground? Being TBM at the time and with the frequency of the questions and the deep nature. I didn't want her to confuse Santa with Jesus or if my she could trust my word or not, so I told her Santa was pretend and the whole story was for fun but everything I said about Jesus and the veil before and after life here on earth was real!

Now Jesus born of virgin Mary half god half human who suffered for and experienced every persons sins & experiences that ever will live on the earth and that our bodies will rise again and we can become gods sounds ludicrous, way more than the North Pole and elves helping Santa get presents to all the children around the world in one night magically on a slay poled by reindeer in the sky.

Ok here's the thing should I eliminate magical thinking (aka Santa) and just teach my two youngest to use reason or should I continue with the Santa hype and excitement, then later help them understand religion using the euphoric feelings falsely produce believing in a pretend concept such as Santa to understand why people choose to believe in fantasy than reason to sooth thoughts about what will happen when they die and if they will see their loved ones again.

My husband leans towards thinking that Santa is harmful and magical thinking shouldn't be entertained and that the kids will understand the parallel between the silliness between Santa and (Jesus and/or religion for the most part) without having experienced believing in Santa themselves.

I'm torn I see the light up response and excitement with the idea of Santa coming and maybe it's fun and will later show as an object lesson -with more impact having once believed in Santa- that was fun in a Peter Pan sort of way as a child but not fun in a adult world to live in a virtual reality (aka: imagination) in Never Never Land. Or would Santa just keep my kids thirsting for the "magic of Santa" to cope with the imagination of the big ?'s (How did I come to being? What will happen to me when I die?)and as adults be more likely to turn their fate/mind over to an organization for a temporary peace of mind?

Part of me thinks I'm over analyzing but I can't seem to come to a choice yet.

Santa for the Holidays in 2012 or should Santa be eliminated?

2010: So in round one Jesus defeated/eliminated Santa for my first born.

2011: In round two Jesus fell and was eliminated for the whole family -Mom, Dad & 3 kids-.

2012: Round three Santa is still there in the minds of my 2 youngest... Should Mom & Dad tell the truth and eliminate Santa in our children's minds or let Santa live on in their minds?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/28/2012 04:56PM by freedmyself.

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Posted by: kolobian ( )
Date: November 28, 2012 04:57PM

I personally am grateful that my parents allowed me to believe in Santa Claus and then answered my questions honestly when I asked them.

1. It shows that just because everyone around you seem to believe something, it doesn't mean they do; and if they do, it doesn't mean it's true

2. It shows kids that people believe stupid things

3. It teaches kids about standards of evidence

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Posted by: kimball ( )
Date: November 28, 2012 05:39PM

I'm not sure I remember ever believing in Santa, despite the efforts of my family. It was too clear from their subtle attitudes that they did not believe in any such person, and simple logic probably took me the rest of the way in the dawn of my childhood. This may be one reason I stayed TBM until I was 28. I never got to experience disillusionment on that scale. Then again, many die-hard mormons I know believed in Santa until quite late in their childhood, which may belie a tendency to cling to fantasy against all reason.

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Posted by: EXON46 ( )
Date: November 28, 2012 05:00PM

Santa is real, you can look him up. The North Pole is a real place, you can look that up too.

Now Jesus is real, he mows my yard on Thrusdays.

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Posted by: conformingsheep2 ( )
Date: November 28, 2012 11:02PM

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Posted by: Mia ( )
Date: November 28, 2012 05:06PM

I cleaned out the fireplace, put up the tree, and hung a wreath on the door.

Sat down to the computer and booked my flight to Arizona.

If santa wants me, he'll have to find me.

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Posted by: Cheryl ( )
Date: November 28, 2012 05:08PM

Santa is purely immaginary fun for children to lift their spirits and help them experience the joy of giving. No one punishes them when they ask if Santa is pretend.

Jesus is another matter. Parents expect kids to believe the story is true forever. They get upset and often withhold love or punish kids who no longer fall for the idea.

Santa is a widespread cultural myth and a wise parent would go along with a child's level of development and have immaginary fun with the child. It's like using toy dishes to have pretend tea or using Tonka trucks to pretend a child can build towers.

Kids who experience many immaginary adventures can eventually learn the difference between those and reality. And they can practice adult skills safely and find out a little about what it's like to try diffent gownup experiences.

Jesus is a religious idea and not for fun but for churches to control members.

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Posted by: saviorself ( )
Date: November 29, 2012 08:05AM

+1 Great analysis

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Posted by: justrob ( )
Date: November 29, 2012 09:09AM

I don't think Santa is a terrible idea, or that it will ruin your children, but he also isn't necessary for a fun/imaginative childhood.

I had plenty of imaginary adventures with out that particular one, and it allowed my parents to never lie to me, which thing I really liked. & I chose to do the same with my children.

I think blanket statements meant for all children don't take into account the huge variance of personality types, capabilities, and needs of each child case by case, *especially* when the statement is about an entirely subjective topic like Santa (by subjective, I mean there IS no way to be objective, as hard data [heck, even soft data really] doesn't exist).

Claiming that it will cause "developmental and emotional problems" and that if I were a "wise parent" I would go along with the Santa thing, is absolutist to the point of being false.

Read my posts, & you will see that I have never said, "No parent should go along with the Santa myth," but rather have shown my positive experience without Santa both as a child and as a parent of small children.

Each of you is not only free to make your own choice with how best to foster creativity, intelligence, and trust in your children, but you *should* make your own choice. I merely have shown that the "No Santa" paradigm is a viable alternative, and that it can be a source of gratitude among certain children (like myself) and still allow for lots of imagination, fun, and christmas-giddiness (like myself & my children)

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Posted by: Albinolamanite ( )
Date: November 28, 2012 05:11PM

My son is 12 and my nephews are 9 and 11. They all figured out there was no Santa from other kids/family members and other hints. For example, my son came across a present marked "From Santa" in a closet once and he put it all together. He told me a couple years ago that he stopped believing in Santa about age 7. It was a proud day for me because I learned that he won't be easily taken by BS in his life. When it comes to Santa, I just let it happen for my son without any intervention because Santa was so exciting and fun for him. I just didn't have the heart to tell him. Also, I think not telling them will give you great insight into the minds of your children.

Jesus, on the other hand, is too closely associated (especially in the United States) with fear, death, burning, sin, hatred, intolerance, racism, rationalization, power, control, money, nationalism, etc. All of those things are the very opposite of what he truly stood for but we all know he's been hijacked. Not to mention the goofy stories. Bravo to you and your family for allowing the round 2 Jesus beat-down. It is child abuse, in my opinion, to scare your children with ideas of Jesus.

Unless, of course, you tell your kids he's riding shotgun with Santa.

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Posted by: Cheryl ( )
Date: November 28, 2012 05:17PM

Santa is for fun and kids can work through the myth and use this process in other ways.

Jesus is for fear and manipulation and parents and churches expect everyone's thinking to be set in stone on this subject.

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Posted by: justrob ( )
Date: November 28, 2012 05:27PM

My parents were always 100% honest about santa, and I was very grateful for it. I continued that tradition with my kids.

But, it isn't about throwing Santa & Magic & Fun out, it's about explaining it.

I tell my 2yo & 4yo that Santa is a pretend story, just like Mickey Mouse, and other fun stories on TV. But, it is based on a tradition where a kind man used to give away presents. So we pretend that Santa brings us presents, because it's fun. So even though he isn't real, it's fun to pretend.

Every now and again I will ask them the following to make sure they are still keeping the right expectations and understand the social protocol:
--Is Santa real? No.
--So why do we talk about him & watch shows about him? It's fun to pretend.
--Do we tell other kids that Santa isn't real? No
--Why not? Because we aren't the boss of them, & it might make them sad because some parents tell kids that he's real

But, other than that intermittent talk, they still sing songs about Santa, and talk about what Santa will bring them for xmas, etc...

So you can have the fun/magic of Santa, while still having the realization that he isn't real.

I love Christmas, & I've never regretted that my parent's didn't lie to me.

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Posted by: justrob ( )
Date: November 28, 2012 06:00PM

My 4yo understands perfectly.
Last year she understood fine too.

My 2yo knows how to answer the questions correctly, but I think understanding isn't really there. But he enjoys talking about santa, and judging from my daughters progress from 2 to 3, I imagine the transition next year will be easier based on the preparations/questions this year.

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Posted by: Cheryl ( )
Date: November 28, 2012 07:43PM

There are developmental and emotional problems with children who are forced to present an adult image to others beyond their natural readiness level. There is no advantantage in a child absorbing concepts beyond their years. Yes, little toddlers can recite some things that are real and make believe, but this isn't proof that they are adult-like in their understanding or that they always know the difference between what seems real and what is fake or magical.

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Posted by: justrob ( )
Date: November 28, 2012 09:06PM

I think my parents did a lot of things wrong, but when people ask me what they did right, my answer has always been: they treated my like an adult and didn't lie to me. Which includes not copping out with easy answer about hard-to-explain questions like where babies come from, thunder, math, etc...

I think it played a significant part in our (my siblings' and my) intelligence & independence.

From a very young age we were capable of taking care of ourselves, even though are parents were caring and took care of us the vast majority of the time.

I remember cooking entire meals for the whole family at 7, not worrying about the reality of Santa.

By the time I was 11 I was repairing the trailer roof & debating about science and politics.

So I think I have a very different view of what children can handle, because I went through it and do not regret it at all.

While I agree that true understanding of complex principles isn't accessible to small children, I also think that the sooner you begin explaining those things, the sooner children do catch on to those complex principles.

Obviously I'm not going to force knowledge into their heads, and if they are done listening I don't force them to stay there. But as long as they still want to know, I will provide as much knowledge I can and explain it multiple times in language they can relate to.

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Posted by: Cheryl ( )
Date: November 29, 2012 05:47AM

it must be a lie to play peek-a-boo because no one actually disapears and the toddler isn't being treated as an adult.

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Posted by: thingsithink ( )
Date: November 29, 2012 07:40AM

A lie would be playing peek a boo by disappearing for a jaunt to the mall while your toddler is playing without telling her you're leaving.

It's easy. No crying. But it's a lie of convenience that is destructive.

The nice thing about respecting children as people from the beginning is you don't have to figure out what age to extend respect. People greatly underestimate children. Then we wonder where the immature, undeveloped adults came from.

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Posted by: justrob ( )
Date: November 29, 2012 09:21AM

It's a facetious example. It might parallel the "respect" and "being treated as an adult" but it has nothing to do with "lies" unless you are simultaneously proclaiming to actually be disappearing.

A much more accurate example is when a child asks where babies come from and someone says that a friendly fowl carries them in a nappy and drops them off at the door.

The reason this example is a better parallel is because there is an artifact, and the child wants to know how it got there (e.g. baby vs presents).

With the stork example, I told my children something very similar to what my parents told me:
You remember in Bugs Life how a seed will grow into a plant like a tree?
Well, men & women have things like seeds inside of them that can grow into a baby if the man & woman put them together.
So, when a man & a woman want to have a baby, the man puts his part of the seed into the woman's body, and then she can grow a baby inside of her, & that's why her tummy gets big because she has to make space for the baby to grow.
Then when the baby is grown up enough to be strong, the baby comes out of the mommy's body, and can grow up like you and me.

Did I blur past unnecessary details? absolutely.
But I didn't lie, and I answered the parameters of my child's question.

*IF* she had asked about sex, genitalia, or how the baby comes out I would have answered those questions, but I have no need/desire to force that information upon her at the moment.

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Posted by: thingsithink ( )
Date: November 29, 2012 07:24AM

My four year old understands too. I've taken your approach Justrob.

I love your post. I'm very committed to the approach you say your parents took. I'm hoping for some of the very results you experienced. Your post is encouraging.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/29/2012 07:29AM by thingsithink.

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Posted by: conformingsheep2 ( )
Date: November 28, 2012 11:08PM

Nice approach with your kids. Can I add that to my pinterest?

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Posted by: toto ( )
Date: November 28, 2012 05:40PM

I never pretended Santa was real and my kids were fine. They still wanted to believe in him, though, but when they initially asked me if he was real, I told them that Santa was a fun idea but wasn't real. They just loved the idea of Santa being real so much that I allowed them their fantasy until they chose not to believe. They weren't traumatized by my lack of belief and I didn't want to lie to them. They always knew I didn't believe in Santa.

The same thing regarding magical beliefs happened around six or seven years of age. They both, at those particular ages, believed in fairies and angels and wanted to pray. I let them. They asked me if I believed and I told them I didn't. They wondered about death, too, I told them I believed when we died, we died but memories of us would still remain.

But the Tooth Fairy was different; she was real. And still is. I've never denounced the veracity of the Tooth Fairy even though my kids knew she wasn't real. It's been a fun joke among us.

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Posted by: The Oncoming Storm - bc ( )
Date: November 28, 2012 05:45PM

Steve Benson will post something fairly soon where he makes a case that you should never allow your kids to believe in Santa.


My personal opinion is that it is fine to play pretend with kids. I think it happens all the time in many areas and is a healthy part of development.

However I also think:
1) You shouldn't go to any effort to make Santa seem real. (E.g. don't dress someone up like Santa and put him and have him dance on the roof.) We would say things like what do you want Santa bring your for Christmas or go to bed so Santa come come. However, those are still things we say even though our kids know and are in on the game.

2) Be honest the first time a child asks "is Santa really real". In my mind this is where it becomes a bad lie where you loose their trust. I think as soon as they wonder and ask if Santa is real it's time to say - no it's just a pretend game we play. It's also not a bad time to explain that Santa is a symbol of giving love without expecting anything in return.


Personal story:

My youngest is 7 - he knows that Santa is pretend. Just last week he told me he wishes he could go back to not knowing that Santa is real. So at least from his perspective he liked not knowing.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/28/2012 05:46PM by bc.

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Posted by: Brethren,adieu ( )
Date: November 28, 2012 07:14PM

My daughter was 9 when she figured out on her own that Santa wasn't real. When I asked her how she figured it out, she said it just didn't make any sense.
She is now a teenager, and unfortunately, she hasn't used the same brain to figure out that Jesus isn't real either. She's bought into the whole TBM dogma.
My son, on the other hand, was 11 and still believed in Santa, and her sister had to tell him he wasn't real. He became an atheist and an advocate of science on his own at the age of 14.

Go figure.

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Posted by: anoninnv ( )
Date: November 28, 2012 07:46PM

When I was a kid I liked Santa and around 9 or 10 I figured out he wasn't real. But it was really fun pretending for my younger sisters.

I was talking about the Santa thing with a friend of mine and his idea is that Santa is important. The story encourages children to seek answers for themselves. When they figure out that Santa isn't real, the parent can say, "You're right, he's not real. It's just something we play because it's fun." Most kids react pretty well to that kind of explanation.

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Posted by: Mia ( )
Date: November 28, 2012 10:09PM

You're right. It's a bit like being accepted into being one of the grown ups. Now you get to pretend like santa's real, and watch the joy of the little one's.

I remember my brother going up on the roof and yelling Hohoho down the chimney. He wanted the little kids to go to bed so he could watch a movie. It worked like a charm. He got stuck with the job every year after that.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: November 28, 2012 10:26PM

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/28/2012 10:28PM by steve benson.

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Posted by: Mia ( )
Date: November 28, 2012 10:47PM

I KNEW you'd show up here pretty soon!

Why don't you and SO meet me and DH in Phoenix for a drink? We will be there a week (over Christmas) drinking Margarita's and hopefully basking in the sun.

We'll buy you dinner and drinks. Only if you're not too much of a lush.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 11/28/2012 10:52PM by Mia.

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Posted by: The Oncoming Storm - bc ( )
Date: November 28, 2012 10:51PM

That heh! heh! heh! sounded suspiciously like ho! ho! ho!

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Posted by: munchybotaz ( )
Date: November 29, 2012 06:24AM

That special time of year when all the selfish parents are on their very best denying behavior, hoping to avoid someday finding big lumps of gullible, distrustful, and/or resentful in their stockings. And that special time when Steve and the other Santa bashers (are there any, besides me?) get a lot of extra kicks in their virtual shins.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/29/2012 06:31AM by munchybotaz.

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Posted by: exrldsgirl ( )
Date: November 28, 2012 10:45PM

My son was about 4 or maybe 5 when he first asked if Santa was real. I didn't want to lie to him, but I also felt like the moment had come a little earlier than I'd wanted. I told him something about Santa not exactly being a real person who literally does what they say in the stories, but that he is more of a symbol and that we all can be Santa for other people (by being kind, giving gifts, etc.) I also told him not to spoil it for any other kids. I guess my answer was vague enough that he wasn't sure, and he asked me again the next year. He is now 8 and knows for sure that Santa isn't real, but still claims that he won't spoil it for any of his friends (many of whom still believe.)

Also when he was around 4, he had a children's book of Bible stories. As I got ready to read one to him, I told him a little of what it was about (I'm not sure which story it was, but I'm thinking it might have been about Easter), and the first thing he said was "Oh, so it's a made-up story then." And he was perfectly happy to hear a made-up story, but I did tell him that many people believed that the story really happened.

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Posted by: neverevermomo ( )
Date: November 29, 2012 05:43AM

Growing up Catholic when I brought up the issue of Santa Clause not being able to bring me presents since we didnt have a chimmney, my parents told me "Well, he WAS real a long time ago, we just honor his memory now as Santa Clause. That's why some people call him St Nick." and then they proceeded to tell me the watered-down story of St. Nicholas, who would apparently walk around and give poor christian children small trinkets around the pagan winter solstice celebrations so that they wouldn't feel left out when little pagan children got THEIR presents. Then I asked "So then where do my presents come from?" and then they said Jesus. Which of course lead to me asking "But how does he bring them to me?" And then they said, "Because thanks to Jesus we have jobs to buy them for you" and then that was that. So every christmas growing up we would thank Jesus for giving our parents jobs to buy us presents, thank our parents for buying our presents with that money Jesus gave them and Santa Clause/St. Nick for giving little children presents when he was still alive.

And many many years later, I still do.

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