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[P]
Children's Myths

By QuoteMstr in Op-Ed
Mon Apr 16, 2001 at 07:03:27 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

Why do most Christan parents tell their children lies about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny? The few rogue parents that do tell their children the truth are often mocked and scolded by those who do tell these lies to their children. It is my opinion that this practice should cease.


Children are very impressionable --- if you tell them something, they will generally believe it. They believe in Santa Claus myths. They believe in the Easter Bunny. They believe in whatever other strange practices their parents impress upon them. It is wrong to take advantage of this by telling them lies.

People are highly influenced by their upbringing. The extent of this influence is debatable, but it is accepted that it is large. Telling children lies is an implicit approval of lying in general --- after all, in their minds, if their parents lie to them about a bulbous giver of Christmas gifts, they can lie about, say, doing homework or formatting the hard drive. Children will often pattern themselves after this parents, for better or for worse.

One interesting tale I heard from vsync of #kuro5hin is that one father told his son that Santa Claus did not, in fact, exist. He went to school and began telling the other children about this, who complained to their teacher. This is the utterly reprehensible part: The teacher told this child that his _father_ was lying to him, and to stop telling the other children these lies. This indicates that there is something both deeply ingrained and deeply wrong with these beliefs.

I believe the reasons for maintaining these myths have nothing to do with the commonly given non-answers, such as "it makes them [the children] excited," or "99% of other parents do it." The untruths are told for practical reasons. Consider this scenario: If a parent tells her child that if he is good, Santa Claus will bestow presents on him, then the child believes he has an incentive to be "good," at least to an extent. Some parents go further in this ridiculous farce by claiming they have a {Santa Claus|Easter Bunny} hotline. They sometimes threaten, "clean up your room or I'll call Santa Claus and tell him to bring coal!" The child, believing this, cleans his room not out of rational realization that he must (or for a reward), but under threat only. This does nothing to encourage, and possibly discourages, rational thinking and reasoning in a small child.

In the parent had told her child than Santa Claus did exist, she would need to _think_ and attempt to be rational in convincing her child (without resorting to physical violence, which is even more disgusting --- but I digress). The child would also beg and plead for gifts if he knew that the parent actually purchased the presents and not "Santa Claus." Easter is the same way, albeit with less valuable gifts. This reason is simply a symptom of lazy parenting and nothing more.

Another reason, tying in with vsync's story above, is peer pressure. It's still operative. Parents who do tell the lie don't want their children to be corrupted by the truth, you see.

IMHO, we would have more responsible, honest, and rational adults if parents did not subject them to myths and lies in an effort to conform to peer pressure, make them excited, or attempt to be "cute," if parents were as upright as they expected their children to be, and if they instructed by example and not decree and falsehood. Childhood is like a megaphone pointed at adulthood --- whatever that child is exposed to in childhood will be amplified and expressed tenfold in adulthood. (Which is why it is important to not overly shelter children)

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Children's Myths | 92 comments (89 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
Santa Claus (4.71 / 14) (#1)
by br284 on Sat Apr 14, 2001 at 10:22:06 PM EST

If the Fates will that I become a father, I will definately tell my child that there is a Santa Claus and Easter Bunny.

Why? It was fun.

As a child, I liked believing in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. It lent a certain magic to the Christmas and Easter holidays. Was I bitter and did I become a chronic liar when I found out that they did not exist? Nah. By that time, I had moved on past Santa and the Rabbit, and different things held interest for me. However, when I was of age that believed in Santa, I loved every facet of the story. Some of my most cherished memories of childhood was watching the local TV station, as the weatherman plotted the course of Santa as the night progressed on Christmas Eve. As Santa "neared" our area, my parents would tell me that it was time for bed, lest Santa catch me awake. Full of excitement, I went to bed as I waited for the jolly elf.

I loved that tradition. I think my kids will love that tradition. I see no reason to take it away. As an adult, I have no recollections of bitterness or a tendency to lie once I found out that these things were not real. I doubt that my children will. Thus I see no reason to omit this special brand of magic from their lives.

-Chris

evil Santa (4.80 / 5) (#34)
by anonymous cowerd on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 01:12:01 PM EST

And then once they are well acquainted with that happy myth, at a certain age (it's not nice to scare the pants off a three year old who will actually believe you, when after all you're just fooling around) you start joking about how sinister Santa is. You're walking through the mall and you point and grab the kid and say, "Watch out! That's Santa over there. Jeez that guy just scares me to death. Oh no, I think he's watching you!" You know that little ditty about

He knows when you are sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows when you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness's sake
Ho! You'd better not pout, etc.

Transpose that tune to a minor key, and sing it all slow and Boris Karloff-like with lugubrious descents at the end of each line. The idea being there's this sinister house-breaking weirdo who trespasses and burgles the place every Dec. 25th, nothing I do can keep this creep out, I think he sneaks down the damn chimney, and that's not the worst of it, but also all year long this bearded maniac is spying on you! Muwaahaahaa!

Kids love this kind of kidding around, plus it builds in them a confident, flexible, cynical character, sort of the habit of "look at it from this side, and then from that side," that at least won't fall prey to the first television commercial that comes along.

Yours WD "pop" K - WKiernan@concentric.net

"This calm way of flying will suit Japan well," said Zeppelin's granddaughter, Elisabeth Veil.
[ Parent ]

Hogfather (none / 0) (#68)
by odaiwai on Tue Apr 17, 2001 at 03:45:42 AM EST

Hmmm, Hogfather, by Terry Pratchett has a similar theme.

dave "you'd better watch out, you'd better beware..."
-- "They're chefs! Chefs with chainsaws!"
[ Parent ]
you're my wife now, dave (none / 0) (#80)
by sevenpies on Tue Apr 17, 2001 at 11:59:42 AM EST

For those of you who have watched `The League Of Gentlemen' (only in the UK as far as I know), I point you towards the Christmas special and Papa Lazarou's appearance as Santa..

[ Parent ]
No Christian Bashing (4.00 / 9) (#2)
by makaera on Sat Apr 14, 2001 at 10:25:41 PM EST

I agree with some parts of your article. Except for the bit about Christian parents. Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are not, and never have been, part of Christianity. Christmas and Easter are holidays the commemorate the birth and death of Jesus Christ. Santa and the Easter Bunny are secularizations that are not at all related to Christianity. My experience has been that Christian parents are more likely to explain to their children that Santa and the Easter Bunny are fake, and then explain the true meaning (at least for Christians) behind the holiday. Secular parents who have to give some reason to their children (without mentioning Christ) for the upcoming holiday propogate the myths of Santa and the Easter Bunny.

makaera


"Ninety rounds in there," Joel Andrews said. "If you can't take it down with 90 rounds, you better turn in your badge!" -- from Washington Post

I didn't mean it like this (2.50 / 4) (#4)
by QuoteMstr on Sat Apr 14, 2001 at 10:29:21 PM EST

Do you know of any non-christians who tell these myths to their children? I, in no way, wanted to bash Christians. I just didn't want anyone to take it the wrong way otherwise. As far as I know, only Chrians (even the non-practicing secular ones) tell these myths.

If they weren't at leat nominally Christian, would they have Christmas and Easter at all?

[ Parent ]
My take (4.33 / 6) (#7)
by makaera on Sat Apr 14, 2001 at 10:56:01 PM EST

I know of many non-christians who tell these myths. These myths were never really Christian to begin with, they are the result of commercialization. Though I admit that it is probably nominal Christians, more than practicing Christians, propogate these myths. However, my main disagreement was that you sort of implied (unintentionally it seems) that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny were somehow related to Christianity. In reality, they are only secular parts of the related Christian holidays.

I did not disagree with the main thrust of your article, I was shocked that a teacher would tell a child that Santa Claus existed, and that their father was wrong. Also, I also don't think that Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny should be used as parenting tools. There are limitations to how far these myths should be carried. However, they make for nice stories and I think that they added a nice dimension to a certain era of my childhood.

Finally, ever been to Japan in December? There are not many Japanese Christians, but Christmas is still a big holiday. Christmas has become a multinational, a-religious holiday of gift giving and feel good romanticizing.

makaera


"Ninety rounds in there," Joel Andrews said. "If you can't take it down with 90 rounds, you better turn in your badge!" -- from Washington Post
[ Parent ]

non-xtians and avarice/gluttony (none / 0) (#60)
by coffee17 on Mon Apr 16, 2001 at 02:00:59 PM EST

While I personally don't celebrate xmas nor easter, I know of many athiests/agnostics who do. They just lose the slight religious slant. Xmas is annual gift-giving day, and the kids seem to like it as much as xmas. Easter is the celebration of spring, and as the kids still get chocolate and candy, they seem to enjoy the holiday at least as much as those decieved into thinking of some magic fat man or coked up bunny.

Primarily I think that those non-xtians who practive xmas/easter all have kids, and are fearing dislike from the kids if they don't let them celebrate the xtian holidays of avarice and gluttony with the other kids.

-coffee


[ Parent ]

Actually . . . (3.50 / 2) (#15)
by regeya on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 01:00:29 AM EST

Santa Claus grew from the tale of St. Nicholaus(sp). The "St." should clue you in to the origin of the tale. :-)

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

the origins of the easter bunny (5.00 / 2) (#38)
by douper on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 04:58:54 PM EST

easter, is actually a pagan tradtition, which happened to conincide with the resurrection of Christ. a little more detail:
it would have been suicide for the very early Christian converts to celebrate their holy days with observances that did not coincide with celebrations that already existed. To save lives, the missionaries cleverly decided to spread their religious message slowly throughout the populations by allowing them to continue to celebrate pagan feasts, but to do so in a Christian manner.

As it happened, the pagan festival of Eastre occurred at the same time of year as the Christian observance of the Resurrection of Christ. It made sense, therefore, to alter the festival itself, to make it a Christian celebration as converts were slowly won over. The early name, Eastre, was eventually changed to its modern spelling, Easter.

The Easter bunny has its origin in pre-Christian fertility lore. The Hare and the Rabbit were the most fertile animals known and they served as symbols of the new life during the Spring season. The bunny as an Easter symbol seems to have it's origins in Germany, where it was first mentioned in German writings in the 1500s. The first edible Easter bunnies were made in Germany during the early 1800s. And were made of pastry and sugar.
(http://www.geocities.com/SouthBeach/Inlet/8974/easterpage.html)

Also, this page states that St. Nicholas was actually fictious and some sort of combination of pagan gods as well.

The christmas tree origins of the christmas tree can be found here

This is basically what I learned in my Western religion class a few years ago, with most of the emphasis put on the fact that missionaries allowed these practaces to ease the transfer to christianity.

[ Parent ]

In an ideal world; maybe. (none / 0) (#58)
by coffee17 on Mon Apr 16, 2001 at 01:54:11 PM EST

But in the world we live in, santa and the easter bunny have a lot to do with xtians. I remember being little and at xmas mass hearing the priest make some allusions to santa in order to get our attention (this being about 20 years ago it is hard to remember the specifics).

While you won't hear adult xtians saying that the meaning of xmas is santa, I'd like you to find a mere 500,000 xtians in this country who don't go overboard on gifts. Even if they say that jesus is "the reason for the season" the real truth is that the fat man of avarice owns them.

The same goes with easter, many xtians will try and play up the whole resurrection thing, but they'll be consuming chocolate and easter goodies/decorations as if the true meaning (which it is) is to support Hallmark and Cadbury.


-coffee


[ Parent ]

the season is the reason for the season (none / 0) (#81)
by sevenpies on Tue Apr 17, 2001 at 12:22:21 PM EST

Even if they say that jesus is "the reason for the season" the real truth is that the fat man of avarice owns them.

And to be quite honest they'd be wrong about that, what with both Easter and Christmas celebrations only being co-opted by Christians from much older festivals of springtime and the winter solstice respectively (the Romans' Saturnalia for example, but I'd bet it goes back earlier) to help with adoption of their new religion at the time.

Plenty atheists (myself included) are happy to celebrate Christmas, and to treat it as a secular festival of gift-giving and social gatherings. I see that as no less valid than celebrating it for the birth of Jesus while still keeping the time of year and relics (such as Christmas trees and mistletoe) of the old pagan festivals.

[ Parent ]

let's see if I have this straight. (none / 0) (#83)
by coffee17 on Tue Apr 17, 2001 at 02:10:14 PM EST

"Don't forget avarice is the reason for the season."
"Don't you mean jesus?"
"Nah, never was jesus... first it was some pagan gods, then it was a bunch of assholes trying to work some conversion spell on them, and now it's just greed... jesus is nothing but a red herring."</clue>

-coffee


[ Parent ]

just that they don't have an exclusive claim on it (none / 0) (#88)
by sevenpies on Tue Apr 17, 2001 at 03:13:24 PM EST

Nice way of putting it - "Don't forget avarice is the reason for the season." I'll have to remember to use that one...

Not so much that it was never Jesus (he was presumably born some time, so it's fair enough for Christians to celebrate his birthday). Just that those Christians who complain about people forgetting `the true meaning of Christmas' are on shaky ground given that it wasn't really theirs to begin with. That's even ignoring your point (which I agree with) about most Christians happily taking part in the consumerism aspect of Christmas themselves. Anyway, I think it's an old, tired point I'm bringing up here, so I'll shut up about it now.

Of course, whether or not you agree with how commercial Christmas has become is another matter, and doesn't have to be related to your views on its religious nature.

[ Parent ]

I agree! (3.00 / 2) (#3)
by eLuddite on Sat Apr 14, 2001 at 10:26:46 PM EST

I used to think Wile E. Coyote (Genius) was a lie until I read just how seriously he was being taken by the law. Being confronted with this evidence I inescapably came to hate my parents for not indulging my childhood with so called fantastic metaphorical tales.

---
God hates human rights.

Lies & Children (4.08 / 12) (#5)
by Signal 11 on Sat Apr 14, 2001 at 10:29:37 PM EST

Using the author's same logic, we should tell children all about sex, or how violent the world really is, and as soon as they ask, we should explain economic theory and mortgage points to them. They should know, by the age of nine, how to balance a checkbook, make correct change from a ten dollar bill, and be aware of world events like the Monica Lewinsky affair and the diplomatic tensions in China... aren't we lying about those things too when kids ask about them? "What's sex, daddy?" "Well.. it's a special kind of hug."

No, the reason we lie to kids is the same reason a lot of us as techies lie to our customers and managers: they honestly can't understand why some things are the way they are, so we create a comfortable fiction that they can understand. Why frighten kids (or managers) with unnecessary details? Look, the truth is that the boss tried installing some virus-laden golf screensaver and it destroyed half the files in the WINDOWS directory. But your boss thinks that it was due to a software "configuration error". You had better believe SMS is going on his system this afternoon and some work will be done with the policy editor to rectify this "configuration error" though! While you may find my comparing your boss to a five year old child amusing, it underscores an important point about human relationships...

Sometimes telling the truth causes more damage than telling a small lie, and it's a truism that we practice daily in our interpersonal relationships. Instead of saying your friend's haircut is bad, you say it is interesting. Instead of saying a kid is a brat, we say they're energetic. Instead of saying that PHB down the hall you call "boss" is a complete idiot, you say he has excellent potential. And instead of saying Santa Claus doesn't exist and your kid won't be getting any presents from him, you say he does knowing that it's not a lie that's going to do the kid any harm. Infact, it'll probably give you a really good reason to keep your kid from bouncing off the walls during christmas break - "If you're not good, Santa won't bring you any presents!"

Just some food for thought...


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.

sex (3.00 / 1) (#11)
by Seumas on Sat Apr 14, 2001 at 11:36:11 PM EST

We do tell children all about sex.

I don't know about you, but when I was in gradeschool (a little more than a dozen years ago), sex-education week(s) had progressed to the point of discussing transexuals and anal sex by the sixth grade class. And by third, you certainly knew all about STD's, pregnancies, puberty and the rest.
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

At age nine (2.50 / 2) (#12)
by Miniluv on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 12:03:42 AM EST

I believe it would be completely reasonable to expect a child who has been taught to make change to sucessfully render unto a customer the correct change. They ought to even perform the process correctly rather than just stating the total and shoving money at someone.

I agree with the overall sentiment however, though I think you are probably exagerrating the poorly made point of the author. There are times when Churchill was right, the truth needs a bodyguard of lies. There are other times when lies are a special sort of truth, such as in education. Consider the education you received as a child, and how many things you learned when quite young were expanded as you grew older and your overall grasp on things was greater. Were there not things that were patently false, yet were also true within the context of your understanding?

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

constructed reality VS simplified reality (5.00 / 6) (#13)
by Solipsist on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 12:15:00 AM EST

The difference here is that in the case of Santa Claus, parents are not simplifying a truth so that a child can understand it, they are creating an unneeded reality. Most of these myths just serve to teach a child consumerism; That we have a "right" to be getting the newest and latest toy or candy.

There are other myths that we teach children like goblins and dragons and ginger bread houses. But if a child asked if there are really ginger bread houses, would you tell them yes? I would hope not. Fantasy is a wonderful thing, but a child must understand what is fantasy and what is reality.

And I understand that there is such a thing as tact, but I have always befriended people who tell me the truth. Yes, when I see a casual acquanance and they have a bad haircut, I won't say that. But if it is was a close friend, I would tell them the truth as I saw it. I think that it is very important among close friends to be open and honest and family should be very close to you.

Maybe these "white lies" don't really do any damage, but the truth wouldn't hurt either. Why not just treat christmas as a gift ritual where presents are exchanged among loved ones without the symbol of Santa sitting in there?

[ Parent ]
this is silly (3.00 / 3) (#27)
by eLuddite on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 06:10:07 AM EST

The difference here is that in the case of Santa Claus, parents are not simplifying a truth so that a child can understand it, they are creating an unneeded reality.

What part of reality is unnecessary? The desire to abstract lessons from life into mythologies? Here's the lesson: Every year a fat man retires to the north pole and works 364 days to build red ryder bb guns (i love that movie) and rageddy anne dolls. On the 25th, that birthday of the most unselfish giver, that character in that other tall metaphorical tale known as the bible, fatso descends from the north pole, flys through the air 1,000,000 miles and down Timmy's chimney.

He then leaves little tokens of his appreciation appreciation for Timmy.

Wow.

Someone thinks Timmy is more than "eat your spinach." And not just little Timmy, all his rich and his poor friends and that Timmy picking bully who lives with the alcoholics across the street, too. Even the unknown little Timmies clear across the world who look different and speak a different language.

Wow. For the children the way the children want it. What a fat fucking christian. (He'd have to be fat to support the weight of all that goodness inside him. You thought these parentheses were meant to qualify fucking christian, didnt you?)

After all this work you'd think little Timmy was appreciated, wouldnt you? And when Timmy finds out who Santa is, you'd think that lesson wouldnt be lost on him, either.

Fantasy is a wonderful thing, but a child must understand what is fantasy and what is reality.

Exactly. There are so many lessons in Christmas and everyone of them is reality.

Santa is meant to exist in the mind of children because such wonder is as necessary in their development as is it's consequent denial. All tall tales serve this function and all are told as a matter of course by every culture in the world. There are certain things you do with children without even thinking - animate your voice, drop into your native tongue, tell them the nurturing stories they crave and that are suitable for penetrating their underdevelopped minds.

Surely someone here has seen the rapt expression of a child when read stories about this fantastical man who exists to fulfill their childish fantasies? Is it these childish fantasies you find unnecessary in reality?

Surely someone else here has unwrapped their 3rd pair of Christmas socks and wished like hell they were 4 again?

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

The lesson of Santa (3.50 / 2) (#33)
by Solipsist on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 12:19:37 PM EST

What part of reality is unnecessary? The desire to abstract lessons from life into mythologies?

No, I agree that this is a necessary part of life and that Christmas in particular can teach wonderful lessons. As an exchange of gifts and the bring together of family, this is a wonderful holiday. I do not advocate not celebrating christmas, just removing the constructed figure that we call Santa.

On the 25th, that birthday of the most unselfish giver...

I know of no place that Jesus's birthdate is reliable recorded. The theory that I have most often heard is that christmas place on the 25th to convert the heathens of Europe who often had a mid-winter celebration. Christianity then seemed a little less foreign to these people and they were easier to convert.

Today's Santa is more Capitalist than Christian. Christmas as a frenzy of gift giving did not exist until this century. Santa was largely converted to a marketing device that created a imperative that parents must go out and buy stuff for their children. If a child recieves few toys, maybe because their parents are poor, the child would think, "other children got more stuff than I did, so they must be better." Santa is magical and should be blind to such things as social/economic status, but the "real" santa is not so blind.

And when Timmy finds out who Santa is, you'd think that lesson wouldnt be lost on him, either.

Many people celebrate mid-winter with family and gift giving between real people. Jews do just this and have no imaginary figure in the middle. I mean, really, what is the better lesson? Giving and receiving gifts from loved ones, or receiving gifts for a mythical figure.

Surely someone here has seen the rapt expression of a child when read stories about this fantastical man who exists to fulfill their childish fantasies? Is it these childish fantasies you find unnecessary in reality?

No, I do not find these unnecessary. As you have pointed out, they are the vehicle for many important abstract lessons. But this insistance that there is a real man who can fulfill these fantasies is unnecessary. Some fantasies can be fulfilled and some cannot. A child must learn that sometimes they can want more than they can have, by any means. While this lesson is still learned in the presence of Santa, I don't think that the idea of Santa helps at all.

When you read the parable of the fox and crow to a child, you do not tell the child that the fox and crow cannot really talk. Nor would I suggest that doing so would be good. But talking animals do not impact the immediate reality of a child the way Santa does. Santa provides wonder, but also the idea that a child will be materially rewarded for being "good". Talking animals provide just wonder.

So, my point here is that "modern" myths are largely constructed or shaped by some large institution (retail industry in the case of Santa) and therefore contain good lessons only because people wouldn't accept them otherwise. But most of these myths have other purposes and motive embedded in them. I am suggesting that you look closely at what you are teaching a child and make sure that you are not just using the pat answer(Santa), but rather you are teaching a child just what he needs(the concept of gifts).

[ Parent ]
The setup... (4.00 / 1) (#23)
by Cyberrunner on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 03:44:53 AM EST

The setup is always waiting for the fall... In telling the half-truths, or putting the positive side first, humans gain some benefits. I just can't see how encouraging lying can help society on a grand scale, sure you get your short term benefits, short term happiness, etc., except in the end you are easily making the situation worse. The "interesting haircut" makes it that much easier to manipulate the person further, how far depends upon the person and what they want. The "... unnecessary details" become the justification for multibillion dollar corporations to dismiss the complaints about their poor software as just more people whining about details... The real causes get brushed aside as the victimes mound up.

I can't argue that sometimes its problematic and maybe even useful to lie. Except, when it becomes common you're not helping... The parameters can be deeply entangled into personal development, so much so that people can exist and live in their fictional worlds. But, hey, reality bites so don't forget to takes some more prosac, or whatever! In truth it might just take an insane person to live in an insane world... One were the lies make everyone happy, so they don't have to lift a finger to correct all the disorder and related problems.

Forever hiding behind lies... Not me, said the little person who could see the insane world. (Or does that mean I'm the insane one? -- <mad laughter>)

[ Parent ]

No! Not the children! (4.00 / 1) (#29)
by axxeman on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 10:23:36 AM EST

Sorry to burst your bubble siggy.

My mother used to be a biology & chemistry teacher for the 6th-8th grade, in Bosnia. SexEd was part of biology, of course, and I've had access to the books since, oh, I could read (pre-yr1 i think).

Have I been horribly and irrepairably scarred by this horrendous burden on my innocent mind? Well, I guess I AM fucked up (hmm, what's my diary say) but not because of this, sorry.

In fact it was real nice to know TRUTH. Kids "can't handle it"? Please.

Being or not being married isn't going to stop bestiality or incest. --- FlightTest
[ Parent ]

no choice (4.50 / 2) (#35)
by anonymous cowerd on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 01:36:50 PM EST

Once your kid is old enough to learn to read at a very rudimentary level of skill, if you take your son to the grocery store, on your way past the cash register his eyes are assaulted by HILLARY'S LESBIAN LOVE LETTERS (that was a front page political advertisment on the cover of the loathsome Sun this last November, by the way). In two-and-a-half-inch high red caps on a bright yellow background - pretty hard for even a seven-year-old to ignore the likes of that.

On the other side of the checkout aisle, six inches to the right of the display rack where the Snickers bars are stocked - in slightly smaller print, in chaste black-n-white, but to draw your eye to it there's a full-page-high photo of James King with her unbuttoned blouse hanging half open, your daughter scans off the article title Ten Ways to Bring Your Man to an Earth-shaking Orgasm.

You don't really get a choice about it. If you live on a farm and grow your own, your kids inevitably watch the barnyard animals openly fuck, right out in the daylight. If you live in a city or a suburb, you must buy groceries. So if you resign yourself to the twentieth century - no, twenty-first now! - and you allow your children to become educated and to go abroad in the secular world rather than locking them in the closet to protect them from Sin, then you bet you're going to be answering a lot of touchy, touchy questions well before the kids reach age nine.

Hell, by that advanced age, nine, they'll be old and wise, and they can take it upon themselves to explain to their young sisters and brothers, which they do very straightforwardly, thus sparing you all those blushes.

Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

"This calm way of flying will suit Japan well," said Zeppelin's granddaughter, Elisabeth Veil.
[ Parent ]

Techies lie? (none / 0) (#61)
by coffee17 on Mon Apr 16, 2001 at 02:09:58 PM EST

the same reason a lot of us as techies lie to our customers and managers: they honestly can't understand why some things are the way they are, so we create a comfortable fiction that they can understand.

Damn, I hope I never work with you. If I'm working with someone and they ask for a technical explanation, I will either 1) say I can't tell them if it's a client asking for privelleged information, 2) re-ask them if they really want to know, specifying "it's technical" or 3) tell them the answer. Lieing is pointless IMHO.

What's so wrong about explaining what sex is to a child? by 2nd or 3rd grade many kids have already learned enough of the facts that they won't believe this "special love" or stork business anyways. If a child is curious, explain it, and if they are too young to understand, they'll realize they don't understand, and look for something else which captures their attention.

-coffee


[ Parent ]

you're entirely correct (3.50 / 8) (#8)
by 31: on Sat Apr 14, 2001 at 10:59:57 PM EST

We should also ban all fiction books, and discourage an imagination among children. it's true, things that are imagined aren't real, and are therefor 'lies'. Just like santa, the easter bunny, the tooth fairy, things like 'ice 9' and the 'foundation' are dangerous.

Instead, i suggest we force every child in america to watch scenes of children dying of starvation, and people getting shot in the head for at least four hours a day, with their eyes forced open. the truth will set them free.

-Patrick
You misunderstand (3.00 / 6) (#9)
by QuoteMstr on Sat Apr 14, 2001 at 11:06:06 PM EST

The difference is that fiction is advertised as fiction. No parent would claim that "The Advantures of Joe the Dog" (a fictional title) is real. They do exactly that for the fiction that is Santa Claus.

[ Parent ]
the problem with that (4.00 / 1) (#25)
by 31: on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 04:56:00 AM EST

Is that kids create realities of things, even things that are labeled as fiction. It's healthy, being able to create worlds and events that don't fit with reality. And i'm young enough to remember that things i read as fiction were far more real than santa, which my parents told me did exist.

Beyond even that, to this day i believe in santa. Yes, yes, there's not going to be a fat man in red flying in from the north pole, but santa is a figurative figure. He represents the good in society... you follow the rules, stay good, and you'll be rewarded.

But my main point is that the creation of some wonder, something better than normal life is important to children. Telling a child that santa exists isn't going to harm them, living a life where the only extraordinary things are blocked off from reality by a thick wall of 'fiction' is.

-Patrick
[ Parent ]
teevee (none / 0) (#17)
by delmoi on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 01:03:26 AM EST

...and people getting shot in the head for at least four hours a day

The problem is, most kids would probably love this. They already watch violence on TV, which only leads to violence in real life, which can only be a good thing.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
myths (4.00 / 9) (#10)
by Seumas on Sat Apr 14, 2001 at 11:33:45 PM EST

I'm not sure what the big deal about Santa and the like is. By the age of maybe five or six, haven't most of us figured it out on our own?

The myths I'd be more concerned about are that x, y or z foods or substances stunts your growth, that gum stays in your stomache for seven years and the zillions of potentially dangerous wives-tales/myths.

People can convince their children of whatever they want, if it satisfies some perverse desire in them to do so. I don't intend to do the same with my children. There's enough make-believe to deal with in the world when they're bombarded by corporate America's cartoons and commercials and the rest of the world's false or inaccurate assumptions to be compelled to fill their heads with even more.

As far as the santa thing -- I would personally prefer to know that my parents loved me and cared for me enough to delight me with all sorts of goodies every December than to assume it was some magical fat fucking elf who hangs around with a bunch of little men and reigndeer all day.
--
I just read K5 for the articles.

Sorry about one thing (4.28 / 7) (#14)
by QuoteMstr on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 12:24:41 AM EST

I inserted the word "Christian" at the last moment before submitting the story. I did not think of the implications when doing this. I did not mean to offend or insult any Christians (or anyone else), nor did I mean to imply that Chrianity was linked to the myths of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, etc. I merely chose those two (predominately the former) as examples, examples that happen to be tangentally linked to Christian holidays.

belief in all of them (none / 0) (#87)
by sevenpies on Tue Apr 17, 2001 at 02:45:29 PM EST

I assumed that was why you'd referred to it. Still, it is interesting that you mention Christianity. Personally, I stopped believing in God when I was about 5, at the same time as I stopped believing in Santa Claus, and I don't think I'm the only one who did this sort of thing.

In my mind at the time, there was little difference between them. After initially having believed what I was told because I saw no reason to doubt it, I came to see both in the same way I saw other `fairy tales' and the like - as being partly entertainment, partly to illustrate a point, and partly to offer a simple explanation for why things were (I think being told the `Just So' stories in school assembly, which I could see as dubious at best, may have given me a hint in this direction). As far as my upbringing on this went, my parents were always fairly vague on the subject of religion (though my school was very religious) and, though they did say it was Santa Claus who brought the presents, they were never all that insistent about it.

On the subject of whether it's a bad thing for parents to tell their children these stories, though, I'd say it probably doesn't do any real harm. It's generally fun to believe these sort of things and, as long as it's done with a lighthearted attitude and not presented to kids in a totally serious manner, they should gradually grow out of it. I agree with the things jabber was saying in his post about children's stories, and myths having many valuable lessons and children not really believing they are literally true. I think children are more able to keep in mind the idea of alternate realities of what might be possible than we give them credit for.

Probably, what you have here is just a case of one particular teacher not being able to handle the situation and dealing with it badly. What the teacher should have done is to take the child aside and tell them that, yes, he was right, but not to spoil it for the other kids who didn't know yet. Ask if he'd play along with the thing, or at least not talk about it - and maybe understand why the teacher was talking about Santa Claus to the rest of the class.

Just my suggestions, anyway. Interesting article.

[ Parent ]

It's good (2.00 / 10) (#16)
by delmoi on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 01:01:23 AM EST

By getting kids to belive these things early, then proving their falsehood, it eventualy prepares the kids to reject the myths of the Jesus Christ's religion. In the optimal situation, anyway.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
Let's reach an agreement (2.50 / 6) (#18)
by regeya on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 01:15:22 AM EST

I'll promise to let my kids make their own decisions when it comes to Christianity when you stop preaching to me that "pushing" Christian beliefs on kids is evil and, further, somehow provably false teachings that must be stopped.

Thank you.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]

Strange agreement, that.... (4.00 / 1) (#21)
by Blarney on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 02:22:20 AM EST

So if I stop saying that Christianity is an evil virus of the mind, you'll allow your children to wander around periliously close to the edge of an eternal lake of fire?



[ Parent ]

Stop making sense (none / 0) (#47)
by regeya on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 11:18:26 PM EST

Wait, that was supposed to be start, not stop. Sorry.

So what's the deal. You're saying it would be bad for me to let my kids (we're speaking future tense here since I don't have any) make their own decisions on religion? Since your comment seems to imply that you don't like Christianity, what would be the preferred method of attack? Brainwash my kids with messages of "There is no God only Science"? How is that better than dragging them to church every Sunday?

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

when we get older and we stop making sense... (none / 0) (#69)
by Blarney on Tue Apr 17, 2001 at 03:47:36 AM EST

half my sentence was from an atheist point of view, and half from an Xtian pov. don't be so literal.

[ Parent ]
hm (5.00 / 1) (#86)
by regeya on Tue Apr 17, 2001 at 02:43:16 PM EST

blue fridays wash ashore onto a despondent peach

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Dear Santa (3.33 / 6) (#19)
by mami on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 02:11:37 AM EST

I am in big trouble and I am writing this letter to you already in April to make sure you get it on time. I just heard that my kids don't believe in you anymore and they don't want me to believe in you either. I am so desperate, because without you I don't know how to have fun at Christmas.

Please Santa, be sure to pass by and bring a lot of kids with you, who love you much. May be you can help me organizing the volunteer organization called "Parents to the Rescue of Christmas Fun with Santa ". My kids don't need you anymore, but I do. So, please come and help, Santa.

Your desperate
Mami, who can't live without you.

----

This story leaves me with my mouth wide open. I really couldn't imagine a kid would feel offended because parents want to do something loving and caring as sticking to some harmless Christmas traditions and play the Santa Claus theme with their toddlers. I don't know any kid who hasn't gotten a clue about Santa at age six and so far no kid who really complained about Santa at all...


Lies to children (4.54 / 11) (#22)
by Pseudonym on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 02:37:23 AM EST

If you've never read The Science of Discworld, I suggest you do so. It covers, from a scientific perspective, the concept of "lies to children", or as you probably know it better, "teaching".

Why do we do it? Because the world is a complicated place, and we can only expose kids to a the level of complexity which corresponds to their age, knowledge and experience.

We can't start off teaching physics students about quantum mechanics and relativistic mechanics first; we need to tell them about Newtonian mechanics first even though it's wrong. We lie to them, basically.

We can't teach high-school-level mathematics student that the vector cross product isn't really a mathematically sensible operation (I worked this one out by myself, but it took ten years for me to truly understand what's really going on). Why? Because they need to understand vectors before they can go on to other kinds of algebra and learn the truth.

I remember learning in year 7 science that the basic building blocks of organic material is cells and the basic building blocks of inorganic material is crystals. It wasn't long before we learned that this was completely wrong, but it was a valuable insight to know before having it corrected.

I see Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny in kind of the same light. We could bring up kids without them, but they're valuable pieces of cultural heritage which kids should understand before they learn the truth.

Lying to children has a long and honourable tradition behind it.



sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
More Pratchett (4.50 / 4) (#49)
by bloy on Mon Apr 16, 2001 at 09:05:14 AM EST

Since someone brought up Pratchett already... This quote from Hogfather is the first thing that came to mind when I read this article. For context, in this quote Death is speaking to his adopted granddaughter. The Hogfather is Discworld's answer to St. Nick.

HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.

"Tooth Fairies? Hogfathers? Little ---"

YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.

"So we can believe the big ones?"

YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.

"They're not the same at all!"

YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET --- Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME... RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.

"Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what's the point---"

MY POINT EXACTLY



[ Parent ]
Myths and Lies for Adults: Plato's Mating Lottery (4.00 / 2) (#24)
by TuxNugget on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 04:34:17 AM EST

In Plato's Republic, Book V, the idea of a myth to control human breeding is proposed by Socrates (supposedly).

Socrates proposes the use of Myths for supporting a scheme whereby the best mate with the best in a society that includes all kinds of people. Marriage would occur at a ritual time ordained by the state. Partners would be selected by a lottery, but the lottery is actually fixed by the rulers. Bad babies would be thrown away, while the best trained to become elite.

Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny is also a use of Myth, though not apparently so well thought out. The Santa Claus myth seems to have the purpose of controlling children while deflecting responsability away from the adult. Not sure what the Easter Bunny myth does, if anything.

Considering that Plato is one of the classic authors that influenced the minds of early roman thinkers, including those who built the early Christian church, you may find a direct quote interesting:

Why, I said, the principle has been already laid down that the best of either sex should be united with the best as often, and the inferior with the inferior as seldom, as possible; and that they should rear the offspring of the one sort of union, but not of the other, if the flock is to be maintained in firstrate condition. Now these goings on must be a secret which the rulers only know, or there will be a further danger of our herd, as the guardians may be termed, breaking out into rebellion.

Very true.

Had we better not appoint certain festivals at which we will bring together the brides and bridegrooms, and sacrifices will be offered and suitable hymeneal songs composed by our poets: the number of weddings is a matter which must be left to the discretion of the rulers, whose aim will be to preserve the average of population? There are many other things which they will have to consider, such as the effects of wars and diseases and any similar agencies, in order as far as this is possible to prevent the State from becoming either too large or too small.

Certainly, he replied.

We shall have to invent some ingenious kind of lots which the less worthy may draw on each occasion of our bringing them together, and then they will accuse their own illluck and not the rulers.

To be sure, he said.

And I think that our braver and better youth, besides their other honors and rewards, might have greater facilities of intercourse with women given them; their bravery will be a reason, and such fathers ought to have as many sons as possible.

True.

And the proper officers, whether male or female or both, for offices are to be held by women as well as by men -- Yes --

The proper officers will take the offspring of the good parents to the pen or fold, and there they will deposit them with certain nurses who dwell in a separate quarter; but the offspring of the inferior, or of the better when they chance to be deformed, will be put away in some mysterious, unknown place, as they should be.

Yes, he said, that must be done if the breed of the guardians is to be kept pure.



fascinating idea, but perhaps overkill? (none / 0) (#26)
by Puchitao on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 05:45:21 AM EST

It's very interesting that Plato would think covert government intervention would be necessary to make the "best" people seek each other out for mates. Seems like people kinda fall into that naturally, seeking out people of similar physical and mental virtues.

Of course, sometimes the ditzy but beautiful cheerleader ends up with the brilliant but pock-marked nerd, and the dumb jock picks the quiet wallflower girl who writes guitar poetry... but like tends to attract like. Or rather, we all go for the brightest and most beautiful, but we tend to end up (settle?) with mates around our level in each. And as for the population issue, well... I suppose the beautiful people do indeed get more lovin'. I dunno; if I ever become beautiful I'll notify ya.

(Thanks for pointing out that passage, btw; I had completely forgot about that. All I remember is the story, attributed to Aristophanes IIRC, of the origin of the sexes. There's a myth we need to bring back.)

Perhaps we can do *snappy fun* with you everytime! -- Orz
[ Parent ]

Wrong. (none / 0) (#43)
by LordHunter317 on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 07:04:30 PM EST



<i>Considering that Plato is one of the classic authors that influenced the minds of early roman thinkers, including those who built the early Christian church, you may find a direct quote interesting: </i>

I care to remind you that almost all the people who founded the early Christian Church were illterate and lived in an area of the Roman empire where greek though was not popular. For the first 300 years or so, the only part were Plato had any infulence was with the gnostic heretics.
Man cannot be wonderful. Man can only lift big rocks and grunt - Me to Ex-girlfriend
[ Parent ]
A more complete view of Greek Poets and Christians (none / 0) (#77)
by Anonymous 242 on Tue Apr 17, 2001 at 11:05:37 AM EST

Saint Paul quoted several Pagan poets, such as Menander, in his epistles.

Justin the Martyr (and many other early Christians) considered Socrates to be a "Christian before the time of Chirst" because of his willingness to die for Truth's sake. Saint Justin's apologies are chock-full of citations from and references to Pagan philosophy so far as such philosophy is in agreement with Christianity.

Platonism has had a very strong influence on the developement of Christian thought, if for no other reason than providing the vocabulary for the early Christian thinkers to express their ideas in.

The other two sides of of the coin are that:

  1. Plato's influence on Western Christianity is far more exagerated than on Eastern Christianity. This is because of the revival of neo-Platonism that sparked the Scholastic movemnet in medievel Europe upon which the vast bulk of Western Christianity (both Protestant and Catholic) is dependent for its theology. The Christian East, that never lost Plato during the dark ages, never succumbed to this fever. Almost all of the great Western Christian thinkers from the medievel era onwared (Anselm, Aquinas, Occam, Luther, Barth, Schaeffer, etc.) are incredibly influenced by Platonism.

  2. Aside from a very strong Platonic influence within it's philosophy, the early Church also rejected large portions of Platonism. It's not like the early Church Fathers just picked up The Republic and adopted all of Plato's ideas wholesale. They reasoned through the works of Plato and plucked out the notions that coincided with the truths expoused by the Church and rejected the rest. Only relatively recently has Christianity began to claim for itself exclusive ownership of the Truth. Historically, Christianity has claimed only to have the most complete revelation of Truth and has held that truth is truth is truth whether it be found in the writings of Philosophers or the Scriptures of the Hebrews.


[ Parent ]
Clap, Clap, Clap! (none / 0) (#50)
by jabber on Mon Apr 16, 2001 at 09:06:53 AM EST

Hear! Hear! I'm all for selective breeding and State Sanctioned coupling. Nevermind the fact that it's been tried before, and that millions bought into it to the point of looking for suitable cemetaries in which to conceive offspring infused with the spirits of fallen heroes.

/me flirts briefly with Godwin's Law once again.

But honestly, that was not the only modern application of this theory. Look around. The Sports Heroes are coupling with the SuperModels - or at least that is the standard of the Ideal that our self-appointed guardians feed us by the bucket-load.

Very interesting indeed. Please provide the source of the quotation so I may further dissillusion myself of the social programming imposed upon me by my clandestine handlers.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Oh, no!!! (none / 0) (#89)
by deefer on Tue Apr 17, 2001 at 06:22:20 PM EST

the social programming imposed upon me by my clandestine handlers.

Please don't tell me the K5abal got you too? Is there no end to this evil?


Kill the baddies.
Get the girl.
And save the entire planet.

[ Parent ]
When (2.37 / 16) (#28)
by Miniluv on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 07:16:53 AM EST

When did they prove Santa Claus is a myth?

Just because your parents bought your gifts doesn't mean mine didn't come from St. Nick. Maybe you were just a shitty kid, did that possibility ever occur to you?

Oh, and while vsync is a great guy, he isn't the fount of all wisdom. I would rebuild the story not to suck his cock before resubmitting.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'

was that necessary? (5.00 / 2) (#31)
by Speare on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 11:56:50 AM EST

I would have rated the content of your thoughts higher, until you turned vulgar. I'm not some prude that "can't handle a little vulgarity," but I am one of those people who will judge you on your use of language.
[ e d @ h a l l e y . c c ]
[ Parent ]

That's cool (3.00 / 2) (#45)
by Miniluv on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 09:10:18 PM EST

Completely understandable, and I did in fact debate with myself whether I should take it that far.

The problem I had with the story, before I even finished reading, was the copious attribution of thoughts and ideas to vsync. What made it worse was the ones attributed to him were the only ones that made any sense whatsoever.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

Why do they simplify other issues? (4.62 / 8) (#30)
by Speare on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 11:54:36 AM EST

To generate a fantasy for a young mind is no crime. Santa Claus is a wonderful fantasy for a child; the child can exercise their imagination.

A responsible parent of a child who believes in a fantasy will also help that child grow out of a particular fiction in a gentle way: "Yes, I am your Easter Bunny." It's a little more jarring to hear "Nah, there's no tooth fairy," but some families are a little more blunt.

A secondary case is, why do we not say the truth from the onset? In the case of gift-giving figures, no reason: some families specifically avoid the tooth fairy, easter bunny and st. nick as distractions. But the "lies" don't stop there.

A young mind is not ready to comprehend everything all at once. Which do you say, to comfort a child?

  • "Aunt Judy has been in the hospital for six months, a terrible cancer eating away at her insides, until her liver failed and made her die. Tomorrow, we're going to put her lifeless body in the ground forever."
  • "Aunt Judy was hurting for a long time, but now she can't feel the pain. We're going to say goodbye to her, and she's going to go to heaven to be with Uncle Sid."
  • Some would say that custom and religion springs from this; the necessity of an answer that is ready to comprehend. A 'white lie' or a tradition or a faith in the unexplained.

    If you are demanding "this practice must stop," I'd rather suggest that people take other people's feelings into account. If you don't want to tell your kid about Santa, fine, but don't tell me that I cannot provide a little fantasy for my own daughter. She'll learn the truth, and be the stronger for it, when her mind is ready to comprehend it.
     
    [ e d @ h a l l e y . c c ]

    My children (4.00 / 1) (#36)
    by goosedaemon on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 03:17:11 PM EST

    I don't plan on telling my children that Santa and the Easter Bunny are real. They're nice cultural icons, sure, and they'll have that place... Meanwhile, I'm sure they'll play with them (La la la! I'm the Easter Bunny! Hi-YAA!, that sort of thing).

    Say what? (4.62 / 8) (#37)
    by kwsNI on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 03:30:34 PM EST

    Why do most Christan parents tell their children lies about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny?

    I know that it's a pretty liberal crowd here on K5 and we try to blame a lot of things on Christians, but I can't figure this one out. A Christian parent is more likely to explain the religous background of the holiday rather than the commercial facade we've put on it. The least you could do would be to link to some relevant information to support that claim before you blame them for it.

    kwsNI
    I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it. -Jack Handy

    what???? (3.42 / 7) (#39)
    by douper on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 05:06:40 PM EST

    you mean santa isn't real?

    noooo!!!

    Why wasnt there a spoiler warning? (n/t) (none / 0) (#74)
    by pallex on Tue Apr 17, 2001 at 09:22:28 AM EST



    [ Parent ]
    Of Human Bondage (4.00 / 1) (#40)
    by pistols on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 05:35:49 PM EST

    Somerset Maugham talks about something like this in Of Human Bondage. One of his ideas (if I remeber correctly... its been a while) is that kids by necessity build an interpretation of the world that tends towards 'happyness'. He then goes on to describe the fall from this illusion in great detail :) He wasn't so concerned though with explicit illusions (like the easter bunny) as with implicit illusions (things like, adults know how to deal with life better than kids)

    It's a good book, read it if you get a chance.

    In the long run it is beneficial (3.80 / 5) (#41)
    by mattc on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 06:12:20 PM EST

    When children start finding out that they have been lied about the easter bunny and santa claus, what invisible being will they begin to question next..? God.

    Therefore, I encourage parents to lie to their children, so their children become good at seperating mythology from reality, and realize God is no more realistic than the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus.

    Except that (none / 0) (#42)
    by LordHunter317 on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 06:58:22 PM EST

    In a sense.. when you look at it right ,the only thing that does exist is God because God is the only absolute thing. But that's from a sidways perspective.. not ours or His for that matter.


    Man cannot be wonderful. Man can only lift big rocks and grunt - Me to Ex-girlfriend
    [ Parent ]
    Hear hear (none / 0) (#55)
    by Nimey on Mon Apr 16, 2001 at 10:40:36 AM EST

    I'm fairly sure that I stopped believing in God because I found out that my parents lied about Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, &c. Personally I'm glad that I followed Hagbard Celine's advice: "Think for yourself, schmuck!", but some parents may not like kids thinking for themselves (about half of my family elders, for example).
    --
    Never mind, it was just the dog cumming -- jandev
    You Sir, are an Ignorant Motherfucker. -- Crawford
    I am arguably too manic to do that. -- Crawford
    I already fuck my mother -- trane
    Nimey is right -- Blastard
    i am in complete agreement with Nimey -- i am a pretty big deal

    [ Parent ]
    Ironic (none / 0) (#72)
    by DavidTC on Tue Apr 17, 2001 at 08:06:00 AM EST

    You use a fictional charactor to describe how you broke free of believing in a fictional God, and you decide to follow Hagbard's advice, when the whole point of what he does it to get you not to trust him and think for yourself, schmuck. ;)

    I'm apparently in a very sarcastic mode today, please disregard this post if you have no sense of humor. Of course, if you have no sense of humor, you wouldn't be quoting Hagbard, so I'm probably safe. :)

    -David T. C.
    Yes, my email address is real.
    [ Parent ]

    Telling the Truth (4.66 / 3) (#44)
    by fsh on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 08:51:09 PM EST

    I personally feel that the problem is not telling the children myths, but rather telling them that the truth is so godawful important. I feel it's the conflict between these two that is causing harm. If telling a lie is always wrong, then aren't parents wrong when they tell myths to their children? As many have said, myths are all lies (like fiction is all lies), but they are vitally important for a child since they help encapsulate very difficult concepts in terms that the child can understand. Another example is human sexuality. Before puberty, making love with someone just doesn't make sense. Why explain the technical details? Once they hit puberty, and begin to experience these hormones/desires, is plenty enough time.

    As for the popularity of the Santa Claus and Easter Bunny myths, these, as many have said, are coverups for the true message of those holidays, which young children simply wouldn't be able to comprehend. It's difficult enough for a young child to understand death, much less that someone metaphorically rose from the dead to save mankind. The Easter Bunny is brought in so these young children can have some idea of the fact that it is a very special day. As they grow older, they can be indoctrinated to the beliefs of their parents.


    -fsh

    actual, honest to god myths (3.00 / 1) (#46)
    by sayke on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 10:35:17 PM EST

    i told my little little sister that the easter bunny and santa claus were characters in stories. they were real things; they were just made out of myth. that seemed to work pretty well. i don't know where i got the "made out of myth" line (it was originally in reference to god, i think), but i've found it to be apt in several situations.

    sayke, v2.3.1 /* i am the middle finger of the invisible hand */
    How about: "because it's fun" (4.25 / 4) (#48)
    by lucas on Mon Apr 16, 2001 at 12:39:23 AM EST

    IMHO, we would have more responsible, honest, and rational adults if parents did not subject them to myths and lies in an effort to conform to peer pressure, make them excited, or attempt to be "cute,"

    How about, "because it's fun"?

    There. There's no dogmatism in it, there's no cuteness in it, there's no peer pressure in it. It's just kinda fun. I talk about Santa as if he were real... why not?

    We already have too many neurotic parents who, trying to be responsible, make some really bad decisions and embitter their kids. Excessive, puritanical rage at the "corrupt" influences of whatever sort only make them rebel against authority... and don't get me started on parents drugging their children in the name of making them "normal", whatever "normal" is.

    The real solution is just to lighten up; I am sure that, once you have kids, your attitude will change, just like everyone else.... If you embitter your kids prematurely with the realities of life, they will resent it and use it against you for the rest of your life.

    YEAH! (none / 0) (#56)
    by error 404 on Mon Apr 16, 2001 at 10:51:56 AM EST

    F'n puritanical atheists. No, wait, they don't fuck, they enjoy safe sex in a responsible environment of mutual respect in order to maintain a psychologicaly healthy relationship.

    Fortunately, there are very few circumstances in which it is logical for human beings in a well-populated culture with adequate retirement funding systems to breed. So most parents have at least the occasional lapse of logic in favor of joy and fun.

    I don't have any problem with atheism in general. But joyless puritans piss me off, and when they are atheists they don't even have fear of God's wrath as an excuse.

    I don't know any parents who have successfully used either Santa or the Easter Bunny to control a kid. Most make the half-hearted "Santa's watching" effort from time to time. And other than occasionaly encouraging the kids to go outside and enjoy the Spring air and mud by "seeing" the bunny run by the window, I don't know of any parents attempting to use the Easter Bunny to control kids. In my situation, and every parant I know, both Santa and the Easter Bunny are just for fun. Both the kid's and the parent's.


    ..................................
    Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
    - Donovan

    [ Parent ]

    Corrina, Corrina (none / 0) (#51)
    by kubalaa on Mon Apr 16, 2001 at 09:21:24 AM EST

    I'm reminded an old Whoopi Goldberg movie called Corrina, Corrina. I never actually saw the whole thing, but it was pretty easy to guess the plot from the first half (somebody correct me if I misremember something). A little girl is raised by athiest parents. Her mother dies, and the father refuses to console her with stories of mom watching from heaven. The girl becomes mute out of grief, but is eventually coaxed out of it by the new nanny, Corrina (Goldberg), who is perfectly happy to give the girl a good Christian education. I don't know how even-handed the ending was, but from the portrayal of the father as an incompetent mess incapable of dealing with grief, I'd say it's not very favorable towards athiesm. My personal opinion is that the girl's troubles were because her father was insecure and unable to cope with his own grief, much less support and raise her properly, religious beliefs aside.

    I think that it's possible to explain things to kids in ways they can understand without resorting to bald-faced lies. Granted, it's a lot harder, but it's worth the effort. It's also important to recognize that a kid's idea of reality is a lot more flexible than an adult's. Kids have to do a lot of experimenting for themselves to decide what's "real" and what's not. All in all, it can be more harmful to squelch this creativity and force a kid into a rigid adult model of the world than to hand them a white lie or two about Santa Clause. The way to compromise is to learn how to bridge reality and fantasy delicately and diplomatically, so that you can tell them that Santa Clause doesn't exist without making them miserable and depressed. And to provide your services only when needed; if your daughter has thought enough to ask whether Santa Clause is real, she's ready for the truth, but no need to barge in and force her to grow up before she shows the inclination to do so.

    I think the job of a parent can be summed up like so:

    • be a decent role model
    • expose your kids to experiences which broaden their horizons
    • always be ready to answer their questions truthfully as best you can
    • don't discourage them from indulging in fantasies of their own creation
    • whenever possible, let them learn for themselves or teach them by example, not by dictation
    • don't be TOO laissez-faire; know the boundaries of their understanding, and don't force them to learn things when they're not ready


    The value of myth (4.80 / 5) (#52)
    by jabber on Mon Apr 16, 2001 at 10:16:58 AM EST

    There is inherent value to myths and fairy tales. This is not to say that you are wrong. I think that the school room incident you describe is sad and pathetic, but how else can it be handled? The Politically Correct schoolmarm could have just told the child not to tell his friends about Santa not being real (He isn't??) without resorting to calling the kid's father a liar. That was all I see wrong with the anecdote.

    Reason being that there is much value to myth and fable. They are distilled lessons in socialization and morality, removed from context and abstracted onto a level that an immature mind can easily digest. A (typical) young child is not capable of reasoning on an adult level. Something can be wrong for very subtle and difficult to explain reasons. Witness the gun control, abortion, capital punishment and various other 'right vs wrong' issues with which our adult society grapples. A child's mind is usually incapable of grasping that something is wrong for metaphysical reasons. Most children don't even realize that something is wrong because it hurts someone else.

    What children do understand is reward and punishment. Early on, children have no better reasoning capability than animals - I was a child, and I will attest to this. Fear of punishment is an effective deterrent to wrong action. Now, force-feeding fairy tales in place of truth is wrong, it's brainwashing. But, to a young mind, they are more easily understood than a philosophical debate, and much more effective than "Because I said so".

    Haans Christian Andersen, the Brother's Grimm, Mother Goose and Aesop wrote (compiled) some valuable life lessons and morality plays to give children a framework for society. Hansel and Grettel for example, teach that children should obey their parents and not go off into strange places - and they should beware of kindly strangers giving them candy. (Halloween causes parents all sorts of grief, with all wrappers needing inspection and so forth - but Halloween aside, strangers with candy are invariably out to get your kid, so H&G is a worthwhile lesson)

    Cinderella (the original, non-Disneyfied version) teaches that even in a dark and dreary life, there is hope if you are a good and honest person. Sure, Disney (the greatest threat to children's minds IMHO) has bastardized ancient fairy tales to the point where every little girl now wants to be rescued by a White Knight, but that's besides the point of Myth == Bad. It isn't. Disney == Bad, Myth == Good.

    The Emperor's New Clothes serves to teach children about human herd mentality, and the syccophantic groupthink that permeates society. It encourages children to speak the truth instead of going with the crowd, but also makes them aware of the groupthink phenomenon and the reasons behind it. Flattering those in power, after all, is a good thing, even if there is not reason for it.

    Stone Soup cautions against being too spellbound with handwaving to realize that you're being had. Too few children, especially in America, are familiar with this fable, and the marketting industry knows it!

    Aesop's Raven, Mouse and Lion, Monkey and variety of other characters not only show idioms of wit and cleverness which the intelligent child will use to synthesize solutions to future problems. They also demonstrate human characteristics and their faults or benefits. Yes, pulling a thorn from a lion's paw is a kind deed, but it is also good to have powerful friends. The lesson is not self-serving, it is two-fold, and a good parent will make a point of talking with their child about the many dimensions of a Fable.

    The origins of Santa and the Easter Bunny are very different. Santa hails from Saint Nickolas, a Russian orthodox monk who was known for his charity to widows and orphans. His is a lesson of selfless charity, and as long as children come to understand that this is the point of Christmas, then all is well; religion aside for the moment. The Easter Bunny is a vestigial remnant of European Paganism, and the Spring fertility rituals that the Christian Church subplanted with Easter. Easter, much like Christmas, is time-shifted from the original date to sway the heathen towards the light, after all. The Church is one of the most successful marketters of them all. Anyway, the bunny and the egg are both symbols of ferility, so they were used by the Pagans as such. When the Christians came, they decided to let the pagans keep their symbols, but to make them also eat some sugar-coated religion along with their chocolate bunnies and marshmallow eggs.

    Then there are the old Greko-Roman myths which are the very foundation of Western culture. There are immense lessons on vice and virtue, as well as human character, in the writings of Homer and his ilk, as well as the mythos around which those tales are spun. The omnipotent whim of the gods teaches people to be humble and accepting of the events in their life, since many things are beyond their control. The stories of heros and tragic figures teach that the virtuous succeed and the viceful perish. Not necessarily true, but it makes for a more civil society, don't you think?

    The Labors of Heracles, in particular the cleaning of the royal stables, teaches that not even the strongest man in the world can solve all his problems by brute force. It reminds children that using one's intellect will save them much effort.

    The entire mythos of Hades is full of value. From an explanation of why the seasons change (granted, totally pointless scientifically, but entertaining and full of human value) to the Sissiphusian futile effort which one hopes children would recognize in their own life.

    So ultimatelly, I think that myths, fables and such are of immense value to society. They teach. They deliver the wisdom of many generations in easily digestible chunks which allow the next generation to not reinvent the wheel, so to speak, but rather to move forward with building on that experience.

    Though I think that you do bring up a very valid concern, the political correctness of perpetuating fairy tales as truth, not as symbols. Telling kids that Santa is real is not healthy for maturing minds. Telling them that he symbolizes certain good things, is a valuable lessorn.

    [TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

    One wee thing (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by ambrosen on Mon Apr 16, 2001 at 06:06:14 PM EST

    Santa hails from Saint Nickolas, a Russian orthodox monk who was known for his charity to widows and orphans. His is a lesson of selfless charity, and as long as children come to understand that this is the point of Christmas, then all is well; religion aside for the moment.
    <p>Saint Nicholas isn't exactly a Russian Orthodox monk, coming from Myra in Lycia, in modern day Turkey. And he also died in about 345CE, 643 years before the Christianization of Russia. He's just an early Christian monastic saint (he was an Archbishop as well), and one who is recognized by all Christians who recognize saint.</p>

    --
    Procrastination does not make you cool. Being cool makes you procrastinate. DesiredUsername.
    [ Parent ]
    Easter isn't timeshifted. (4.00 / 1) (#71)
    by DavidTC on Tue Apr 17, 2001 at 07:58:08 AM EST

    ...unless the Jews are in on it also. The whole die/get raised from the dead thing took place over Passover weekend, and Easter is usually no more then two weeks off.

    It's always baffled me why it either isn't 'closest Sunday to day X', calcuating when Passover was 4 BC or whereever, or just on the same week end as Passover, but with some of the animosity the Church had show to Jews in the early days, it's not really surprising they would have issues with Jewish rabbis picking one of the two most holy days each year.

    But, anyway, Easter hasn't been shifted, it still wanders around vaguely where it should be. You're right about Christmas, though, no one seems to have a clue about when that really was.

    -David T. C.
    Yes, my email address is real.
    [ Parent ]

    Correction accepted (none / 0) (#73)
    by jabber on Tue Apr 17, 2001 at 09:11:07 AM EST

    I figured that this was one of those opportunities where a semi-factual explanation would suffice. Thanks for the detail.

    [TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
    [ Parent ]

    Christmas. (none / 0) (#90)
    by static on Tue Apr 17, 2001 at 11:26:35 PM EST

    Recent thinking put the real date of Christmas somewhere in October, but it's still a guess. The current date of Christmas dates from the Roman Empire, when the early church decided to co-opt Saturnalia.

    Wade.

    [ Parent ]

    Telling the truth (4.00 / 1) (#53)
    by JonesBoy on Mon Apr 16, 2001 at 10:30:35 AM EST

    We should tell our children that Santa doesn't exist. We should tell them the truth, that we will shower them with valuable presents with complete disregard of their behavior within the previous few weeks. Nope, this is not a reward for good behavior, but just a tradition we support so we don't look like bad parents or something. No easter bunny either. We just want to improve the economy by supporting the sugar cane growers and dentists within the area.

    Get real. The present giving thing is representative of the gifts Saint Nicalous (sp?) gave to poor children. It is showing them the value of selfless giving, thoughtfulness, and kindness to others. They appreciate the gifts of a stranger so someday, when they give to others, they will remember the joy they bring to the lives of others at the sacrifice of their own. If they knew these were just a bunch of things they "deserve" from their parents, it would just be more of a parental measuring contest rather than a good lesson. As far as the threats to be good for the presents as bad parenting, I have to ask, did your parents use santa claus as a method of keeping you good all year long? Or was it just opportunistically better than clean-your-room-cause-I-said-so? Would you prefer your parents to lecture you on the necessity of organizational behavior to impact the future behavior of an individual, coupled with the ability of organization to improve the assurance of clean sufaces while combatting the spread of allergens and contaigens contained within a domicile? I guess you could follow that with a little germ theory. A little 3yr. old would appreciate that tidbit of knowedge.

    "Childhood is like a megaphone pointed at adulthood --- whatever that child is exposed to in childhood will be amplified and expressed tenfold in adulthood." So do you only work when your employer threatens you, crap your pants, and have become reliant upon odd colored egg laying rabbits to feed you sugary snacks? Do you have supressed hatred for you parents lying to you about buying you toys while telling you it was from a stranger? Life is so cruel and unfair to you.

    Speeding never killed anyone. Stopping did.
    Parenting: decades of lies, coercion and manipulat (3.66 / 6) (#54)
    by georgeha on Mon Apr 16, 2001 at 10:34:01 AM EST

    ion.

    And before you attempt to flame me, I am a parent, and if you're not, your viewpoint is roughly that of an MCSE who doesn't know DOS, never used UNIX, but pontificates endlessly on Linux, ie, you may have a valid point or two, but you don't have much relevant real world experience.

    Getting back on topic, we tell our daughter (she's almost 5) about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. I think she believes it about 90%, there though are cracks in her belief system. She has a few pointed questions about the whole deal, and her older cousin has said a few things.

    So, why?

    A few reasons; it's fun, I don't want to make her cynical before her time, and everyone else does it. Also, it can be used to manipulate behavior, but it's hardly worth it.

    Explaining the reasons.

    • It's fun: There's a lot of hoopla, toodoo and fun associated with the holidays, Santa and the Easter Bunny are just one more way to get caught up in it. Think of all the Christmas Specials you watched growing up, they were fun, weren't they?

      Another way to think about, what if this screed was written about Groundhog Day? Why do people keep telling their children that if the groundhog sees it's shadow, there's six more weeks of winter? Why don't they just tell them all about meteorology, instead of having a little fun.

    • I don't want to make her cynical before her time. There is a lot of cultural momentum associated with Santa Claus. I don't want to shatter my daughter's illusions at an early age, and turn her into a snotty, precocious brat telling everyone around her about the lack of Santa. Is there anything sadder than a world-weary, cynical miniature adult 5 year old?
    • Everyone else does it. Normally this isn't a good reason to do something, but I don't think it does any harm, and I pick the battles I fight.
    • It's manipulative. Well, manipulation and coercion is the essence of good parenting (I don't totally disagree with Rousseau, I do think children are born with love, but they do need to learn manners, empathy and morals). As Christmas nears, children go a little bonkers, so the oft used "Santa is watching" is a little helpful, though not much.


    How good is real world experience? (none / 0) (#62)
    by coffee17 on Mon Apr 16, 2001 at 02:29:37 PM EST

    I am a parent, and if you're not, your viewpoint is roughly that of an MCSE who doesn't know DOS, never used UNIX, but pontificates endlessly on Linux, ie, you may have a valid point or two, but you don't have much relevant real world experience.

    I agree with a lot of sentiment behind that feeling, however while you have real-world experience, while I don't, and never will, you do not actually know that you are doing anything right or wrong. Sure, you might be doing things right enough that your child doesn't merely huddle rocking in a corner and scream like a FAS baby anytime someone tries to touch her. I'd say wait 'till she's about 30, and have a discussion with her about her raising, what she liked, what she didn't like, and how she thinks certain things affected her for the better or worse. Then you might be able to lay claims to knowledge.

    My main problem with your analogy is that I could too easily see my parents 20 years ago spouting about how they were great parents and really know what was going on. Now, 20 years later their oldest kid lives 1000 miles away, calls them once a month, and then usually just to ask for money. Their 2nd and last child (me) has not spoken to them in about two years, has moved without telling them his location (they only know I moved from what my sister told them, however knowing that she for all practical purposes is a spy, I have not told her where I live either, and haven't talked with her for about 8 months or so... Our main bond was our communal dislike of parents, however I don't understand why she hasn't cut the bond, and she doesn't understand why I have, so suddenly we don't talk), and openly hates them. Do these sound like people whom should be giving advice? When I was 4, and my sister 7, there didn't seem to be anyproblems, however one of the first breaking points IMHO, was when I found out that I'd been lied to about santa.

    Of course, not all kids react the same way which makes it even hard to be a "grand master" parent... thus this real-world experience doesn't really seem to count for all that much.

    -coffee


    [ Parent ]

    Parenting is very hard, unbelievable hard (none / 0) (#64)
    by georgeha on Mon Apr 16, 2001 at 02:54:57 PM EST

    which was the essense of my first point.

    Until you've been there, it's hard to know how hard it is. I have a net.friend who is a fanatic about non-coercive parenting (say, you're not from Boston, are you?), to the extent that sounds like he's never been around a pre-schooler. My daughter is bright, but she can't see the downfalls in watching Blues Clues all day and just eating candy. Hiding her candy and giving her pasta, carrots and juice could be considered coercive, yet is probably much healthier in the long wrong. However, my friend could pontificate for days on how to be a non-coercive parent, even with a 2 year old, though I never had the chance to let him babysit my daughter (my money would have been on my daughter).

    I agree with your one point, unlike writing a computer program where you get feedback as soon as you type gcc child.c, you get little feedback while you are parenting, and the feedback you do get is usually too late to be effective. It does sound like your parents are in deep denial, I could claim I am a PERL guru, becuase I've read 2/5ths of the Camel book and can code 30 very basic lines, but I would be in deep denial.

    I doubt that my daughter will be crushed when she discover's Santa is not real. She knows already that I tend to lie and stretch the truth, though nowadays it's more like "Is there such a thing as a grue, or a couch lobster?" rather than asking about Santa. If she still believes in Santa as age 7, I'll be very surprised.

    So, having kids does not make you a perfect parents, but without having kids or without spendings day and days taking care of them, it's very hard to fathom how difficult parenting is, and how silly some people are when they talk parenting theory with no real world data points.

    [ Parent ]

    agreed (none / 0) (#65)
    by coffee17 on Mon Apr 16, 2001 at 04:48:56 PM EST

    but without having kids or without spendings day and days taking care of them, it's very hard to fathom how difficult parenting is,

    One might even want to exclude those who just take care of them vs. having their own kids. I'm sure that it's easier to be a daycare worker (well, easier per child) than to actually be the parent... either way, I see it as something hard and unrewarding enough that I've taken action to never have kids... Knowing how many things seem so easy until you actually have to do them, I fear what it would be like for me to be a parent if just thought experiments are ... uncomfortable.

    -coffee


    [ Parent ]

    Glad my parents lied to me about Santa (4.00 / 2) (#57)
    by coffee17 on Mon Apr 16, 2001 at 01:24:48 PM EST

    However probably for different reasons than most others would likely be happy. When I found out that they had lied to me, I was hurt. A lot. My faith in them as unfalible was destroyed, and with it I begin questioning other things. God, blind obedience to them, and pretty much anything else they told me.

    Of course, this questioning didn't take well for them, and they especially didn't like my comparing their god's believibility with santa's believibility. Currently I have not spoken to my parents in well over two years, and don't see this changing (I've moved several times since, and have not let them know, and I certainly don't plan on calling them to talk).

    I think this is generally for the best, my parents are not good people, IMHO; and if they hadn't lied and later hurt me as a child, I might still be tied up in a dysfunctional relationship with them as many people are with their parents. Some people genuinely get along with and like their parents, and I feel these people are lucky. Some people do not get along with their parents at all, but still stick by them out of feelings of obligation, and I feel that these people are stupid. They (your parents) brought you into this world without your consent. They owe *everything* to you. They had you at their mercy when you were young and impresionable, and in many cases they probably did things which were blatantly wrong if anyone would give a few seconds thought about them. These effects can not all be simply shrugged off, and thus unless you come out perfect, your parents owe you *big time* apologies for their inept raising. I realize that not all feel this way (some are polar opposite thinking the child owes the parent everything for being brought into this world; perhaps it has to do with whether the holder of the beliefs likes life or not). I realize my parents feel this way, and will never apologize for any aspect of the razing [sic] they gave me; so I simply remove them from my life as much as possible.

    Happily I will not be damaging any kids of my own, as I've had myself sterilized. However if (and this is a big if) I had kids, I would strive for honesty with them. After all, a kid is going to be ecstatic about getting a huge mound of presents whether it comes from their parents, or santa... santa adds little to the equation, while carrying the potential for pain when the child learns he was deceived.

    -coffee


    Your parents.... (none / 0) (#75)
    by blixco on Tue Apr 17, 2001 at 10:01:17 AM EST

    ....sound like they were pretty fucked up. I think we've touched on this mildly in another thread. Suffice it to say, I'm glad you came out with as little damage as you tend to display.

    However, having had the same things presented to me by my (later very abusive) parents, I feel absolutely no hatred or hurt about the Santa thing, the tooth fairy, or the fact that Hobbits aren't real. The fact is, I was able to separate fiction from reality fairly early on. I think a lot of kids are able to do this. Some aren't.

    Like anything in this world, this is a situational argument. I would support any parents decision to not carry on the myths associated with christmas / xmas or easter / spring festival. At the same time, the severity of impact that these myths have would depend entirely on the child, the parents, and the situation. It sounds, in your case, as though you only had a few good things to believe in, and your parents took them away. That's a terrible thing. Other parents instill a deeper belief and love in their children that enables them to have myths and beliefs without fact to back them.

    So really, it's not a question of faith or myth or science. It's a question of parenting. Some folks are good parents. Others suck. Life goes on, but we're primed for a different thread. I wonder how the k5 community views parenting?
    -------------------------------------------
    The root of the problem has been isolated.
    [ Parent ]

    subject? (5.00 / 1) (#82)
    by coffee17 on Tue Apr 17, 2001 at 02:01:03 PM EST

    The fact is, I was able to separate fiction from reality fairly early on. I think a lot of kids are able to do this. Some aren't.

    I learned the truth about santa along the same time line as most people (somewhere inbetween kindergarten and 1st grade's xmas), and I don't think of it as my parents removing one of the few good things I had to believe in, but rather that they lied; intentionally deceived me. As a kid, I always took it hard when someone lied to me, but up to this point it had always just been some kid on the playground... now, it was my parents... around that time I more or less started disbelieving anything that people said, as well as doubting most forms of authority. As yogger said this is a bigger blessing in disguise, but I object to their reasons; lying to me because everyone else does. Similarly their trying to beat "don't make waves" and similar such lessons on how to be a good serf into my head was not appreciated.

    Going further in time, as I realized just how impresionable kids are, I can only feel anger at my parents for what I can only see as taking advantage of me by trying to press their agenda into my mind, rather than trying to educate me about life for the time when I am old enough to decide what I want to do with it.

    Like anything in this world, this is a situational argument.

    I agree very much with you. I think that a lot of people would have come out fine with the raising I got, while I think that given tales I've heard of other people's parents, or how people are currently parenting, I would only have been happy with only about 1% of the parents out there.

    but we're primed for a different thread. I wonder how the k5 community views parenting?

    anyone wanna handle the write up? I'll start fleshing out my "parenting is a necessary evil due to the unnecessary evil of breeding." reply...

    -coffee


    [ Parent ]

    Lies, lies, and more lies. (5.00 / 1) (#76)
    by yogger on Tue Apr 17, 2001 at 10:33:52 AM EST

    I think if I had kids, I'd tell the the same lies about santa as yours told you and do it for the same reasons you hate your parents. I would want my children to distrust stories that peoples (esp authorities) tell them.

    Other than the anger you feel for your parents (sounds like its for a lot more reasons than the santa/god bit) they did you a good service.

    Of course, when confronted I would do my best to explain I purposely wanted them to distrust people, bit that sort of mind fuck might be better delayed while they mull it over themselves.

    The is only a test .sig
    If it were a real .sig it would contain useful and/or funny information
    [ Parent ]
    thanks -- (5.00 / 1) (#78)
    by naught on Tue Apr 17, 2001 at 11:30:19 AM EST

    thanks from all of us who don't want our kids growing up around your kids. they'd be the most spoiled mal-adjusted people on the planet. i'm glad you had the sense to get yourself fixed. i wish more people would.

    i'm not going to, but then i might someday have something to contribute. *shrug*

    --eb

    --
    "extension of knowledge is the root of all virtue" -- confucius.
    [ Parent ]

    NPI: A more complex but more plausible Santa tale (none / 0) (#59)
    by pin0cchio on Mon Apr 16, 2001 at 01:57:24 PM EST

    Tell this to your kids as they get older and start to realize that Santa as he is normally conceived could not physically exist.

    There are many misconceptions about the intelligent race commonly known as `elves.' Elves are descendants of Adam and Eve from before they ate the apple. Though they are often depicted as midgets, elves are not midgets. They are as tall as human beings, and the only apparent difference to the `man on the street' is that elves have pointier ears. However, they age nearly two orders of magnitude slower than humans do. After going to school off-and-on between the ages of 600 and 700 years and learning several professions, they often land a job working at the North Pole Inc. warehouses around the world.

    `Santa's helpers' have incredible job security; they generally hold their jobs until age 2,000. They then work at various human jobs for 30 years each, retire, and route the pensions back through the school system and North Pole Inc. until death at around age 11,000. (Yes, like all other creatures, elves die.)

    When I questioned my adoptive parents about elves and Santa Claus, I made sure that other grown-ups agreed that it was plausible. I stopped believing when I set up a homemade burglar alarm around the tree one Christmas in hopes that Santa would trigger it. Nothing happened. After seeing the Disney movie The Santa Clause, I began to form this alternative version of the Santa myth:

    It would be physically impossible for one Santa Claus to deliver toys to all the children in the whole world in 31 hours, even considering Jehovah's Witnesses, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and others who do not celebrate Yule holidays such as Christmas and Chanukah. The current CEO and Santa Claus, named Tim Allen, has numerous helpers of both human and elven races.

    Regional North Pole offices and warehouses employ quite a few elves and one human Santa. The Santa hits the shopping malls and tabulates kids' wish lists. Elves then purchase toys in megabulk from the big manufacturers (Hasbro, Mattel, Nintendo, Sony, etc.) with (among other income sources[0]) the fines paid to affiliated law enforcement organizations by the families of naughty juvenile delinquents, wrap up the toys, and distribute them by truck or train (the cars say North Pole Express, or `Norpolex') to other regional offices. The local mall Santa then handles toy delivery in each town.

    Now isn't that a bit more plausible than what your parents probably told you?

    [0] This story has previously been presented in another forum, where somebody else replied with a comparison of NPI's business plan to that of a dot-com company. More detail has been added in this revision to the known sources of income.


    lj65
    We are ALL "Santa Claus" (3.00 / 1) (#63)
    by jd on Mon Apr 16, 2001 at 02:47:54 PM EST

    "Santa Claus" is a derivation of Saint Nicholos, who was certainly real and who almost certainly did what he was credited with -- giving money and other needed gifts to the poor.

    In =this= perspective, every time we donate money to charity, hand over some spare change to some homeless person, or even leave food out for animals during winter, WE are "Santa Claus", because THAT is what "Santa Claus" IS.

    Now, if you are talking about stuff such as "be good, or Santa won't give you anything", then yes. I agree that those stories deserve to be thrown into a pit of brimstone, along with any other such controlling, manipulative, conniving, shaming, abusive tales.

    Humanity has a tendancy of spotting one tiny blemish and deciding eveything is corrupt and must be destroyed. Sure, if you leave a rotten fish in a barrel of fresh fish, you'll end up with a barrel of rotten fish.

    However, neither people nor fireside tales of courage and community are fish. (For a start, when did you last see Captain D's sell fairytale fishcakes?)

    Sure, treat the tales which destroy with contempt. But if you throw out the good with the evil, you're no better off. The ratio is still the same.

    2.00 (4.00 / 2) (#67)
    by henrik on Mon Apr 16, 2001 at 08:11:52 PM EST

    s/Santa Claus/God and you have a more interesting text..

    -henrik

    Akademiska Intresseklubben antecknar!

    Dunno about interesting. (none / 0) (#91)
    by static on Tue Apr 17, 2001 at 11:31:23 PM EST

    Certainly a lot more controversial...

    Wade.

    [ Parent ]

    Eh? (4.00 / 2) (#70)
    by blixco on Tue Apr 17, 2001 at 06:43:43 AM EST

    This is one of the silliest things I've heard. Out of everyone sampled, *none* of the people I interact with on a daily basis have ever felt "hurt" when their parents told them there was no Santa. In fact, in all the cases except one, none of them heard it from their parents. They simply "played along" for a few years until it became self-evident.

    It strikes me as very odd, then, that this would be so damaging. Does this mean that *no* children's stories should be told to them? I was led to believe that most of the Grimmm fairy tales had actually occurred. Should I now sue my parents for lying to me?

    Parenting doesn't seem to be about giving your children the truth all the time, in every inappropriate way. Think about it: if you told your five year old every truth, said five year old would probably grow up to be a cynical, burned out little fuck who reads too much kuro5hin.

    Seriously, though: why not let myths like this exist? They make certain parts of childhood all the more "magical," which can't be all that bad. Especially in this sligfhtly left-of-evil world we live in. Children should be given the chance to be children, and should be able to enjoy the world their parents create for them *while they have the capacity to do so.*
    -------------------------------------------
    The root of the problem has been isolated.

    There isn't a Santa Claus? (3.00 / 1) (#79)
    by naught on Tue Apr 17, 2001 at 11:54:44 AM EST

    news to me.

    i've seen several comments on here that sum up my own thoughts, and in the interests of discussion i'll sum up:

    there is a 'santa claus'. is there a literal person whose hand we can shake? no. 'santa claus' is more like a 'spirit of christmas' than anything else. consider the parent whose child is rowdy. 'santa isn't coming' is a valid statement -- screaming kids aren't really good for fostering the spirit of christmas. the words 'santa claus' as a metaphor for some seasonal generosity are extremely valuable. you should tell your kids about the difference when they can spell 'metaphor'.

    (what's a metaphor? that's where'n we keep tha cows.)

    same with the easter bunny, etc. at first it adds imagination, but it also provides children the opportunity to realize later that there are some constructs and emotions that take on lives of their own. that an idea / ideal can drive people. that we can, at times, subscribe to aspects of personality which can be quantified into traits. santa claus is the embodiment of joy, generosity, tinsel, and the sound of ripping wrapping. (hah).

    all pontificating aside, santa's fun. we still do santa at my house -- my wife and i get presents for each other, hide them really carefully, wrap them up, and suprise each other christmas morning (after having carefully negotiated how we're going to do the previous night). santa comes, and for a few weeks, lives in us. we don't plan on stopping, even after we make the exact nature of the situation apparent to our kids. will it be a lie? no. they wouldn't understand the truth. we'll wait 'til they can spell metaphor.

    people in this day and age are so ready to pick out one little flaw with something and chuck the whole thing. 'throwing out the good with the bad', someone else called it. and we're so sensitive about what our parents may or may not have done.

    news flash: no one gets parenting right. ever. each child is different, and will respond differently to parents. every technique used to turn your kid into decent little monsters will hurt them or violate them in some way. we have to just do the best we know how, and try to keep learning along the way.

    besides that, when they leave the nest, the world is going to do the same things to turn them into decent little consumers. their jobs are going to abuse them to turn them into decent little employees. the government is going to berate them into turning into decent little citizens.

    let them have their santa -- metaphor, spirit, literal being, whatever. we could all do with a little more santa in our lives.

    --eb

    --
    "extension of knowledge is the root of all virtue" -- confucius.

    The 'Trauma' of learning there is no Santa Claus (4.00 / 1) (#84)
    by Karmakaze on Tue Apr 17, 2001 at 02:11:26 PM EST

    Warning, this post contains icky details about females some men may not want to hear about.

    I've heard and read a lot about kids being "traumatized" when they find out there is no Santa Claus. It's funny though, because I can't ever remember believing in a literal, real, Santa. I always sort of understood it as a pretend game with my parents. It was no biggie.

    According to pop culture, I was supposed to have had a trauma. Every child was supposed to have had a trauma. Yet, somehow, I managed to transition into an understanding of role and symbol so smoothly I don't remember it happening.

    I have to wonder if those children who are traumatized are hurt because they're prepped to be hurt.

    According to all of my "Young Adult" reading, my first period was supposed to be a horrible trauma. I was supposed to be scared and disgusted. I was supposed to be somehow ashamed and embarrased.

    What really happened? I looked down, thought, "Oh, so that's what they meant by 'spotting'", went upstairs, and got the requisite supplies from my mother's closet.

    And went on with my life.

    It makes me wonder if these stereotypical moments of trauma only happen because we perpetuate them. Parents go out of their way to hide the truth about Santa to ensure the shock, because that's how they think it's supposed to be done. Maybe the problem isn't spreading the myth in the first place, but the rabid suppression of the learning process when the child starts to question.

    We have enough real bad things in the world, why do we need to manufacture more?


    --
    Karmakaze

    The unintentional merit of Santa (3.50 / 2) (#85)
    by DranoK on Tue Apr 17, 2001 at 02:19:24 PM EST

    I think parents unintentionaly teach their young a very, very valuable lesson with these myths; a lesson I doubt was ever intended, but it's there, nonetheless.

    You're right; children are very impressionable. So are many adults, too. You have a kid who believes in Santa. Let's say she turns 5, and hears someone proclaim Santa doesn't exist. She doesn't believe this person, and runs to her parents. Let's even add to this and say she's upset.

    Eventually, either parents will tell their children, or children will figure it out themselves (heh I figured out there was no Santa 'cause it didn't make sense that he'd use the same crappy wrapping paper as my parents used), and therein is where the lesson lives.

    For most children, Sata has existed for a long time. For as long as their short lives can remember, they have known there was a Santa. You could say this is a life-long belief. A belief which is suddenly shattered.

    What lesson does this teach? It teaches children to be wary of what they believe. It teaches children that even someone as important and trusted as your own parents can lie to you, or give you misinformation. Hopefully, it teaches the danger in blindly believing what you are told.

    Like I said, I doubt this was ever intended, but I think the lesson exists even if nobody ever consiously realizes it.

    Pity it doesn't stick. I see too many lobotomized religious types as is. *shrug*

    Disclaimer: I have nothing against those who chose a religion when they reach an age capable of understanding what they are being taught. It angers me how many kids are raised as I was, in a conservative Christian family, in which children are indoctrinated with their beliefs.

    DranoK


    Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence
    --DranoK



    Come on now. (5.00 / 1) (#92)
    by kitten on Tue Apr 17, 2001 at 11:46:41 PM EST

    What better way for Christians to celebrate the rebirth of their savior than by telling their children that a magical bunny broke into the house for the sole purpose of leaving chocolate eggs behind?

    </stupidity>

    Perhaps the original cause of this tradition was to endear children to religion. While a small child will probably not be interested in hearing lectures on Christian doctrine, the prospect of candy and toys will almost certainly grab their attention. In this way, the child can be introduced to the holiday at a young age, and be told later (when he/she is old enough to understand) what the holiday actually represents.

    I am atheist by choice, and Jewish by heritage, so I was never inundated with stories of bunnies and jolly old men, except by my peers (my father made it clear that "Hannukah Harry" was merely a psuedonymn for himself). I kept my mouth shut and let them think whatever they wanted to think.

    I do, however, recall most of them figuring out the truth through logic and reasoning: There's no way one man could deliver toys to every Christian child on the planet; Santa uses the same wrapping paper as Mom and Dad; how could a fat man slip through that tiny chimney; hey, we live in an apartment and don't even have a chimney, etc.

    While I think the entire concept of Santa and the Easter Rodent are silly, in retrospect I must admit that it did teach everyone a few things.

    -You cannot believe everything you hear, not even from people you trust (e.g., your parents.)
    -Questioning what you've been told may lead you to the truth, even if it isn't what you expected.
    -The majority isn't always right. Just because everyone else thinks something (to a small kid, "everyone else" = kids in their class/neighborhood) does not mean it's true.
    -The most simple explanation is probably the correct one.

    I say, let the tradition continue, if kids are going to integrate these things into their paradigm of thought.
    Although I must say that it is odd that their belief in God is rarely, if ever, shaken by these revelations.

    mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
    Children's Myths | 92 comments (89 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
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