Telling kids about Santa Claus?

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Were you:

Told that Santa was real, and would do the same for your kids?
66
34%
Told that Santa was real, and do the opposite for your kids?
56
29%
Told that Santa was fake, and would do the same for your kids?
42
22%
Told that Santa was fake, and would do the opposite for your kids?
1
1%
Told that Santa was an otter, and would duck your kids?
27
14%
 
Total votes: 192

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Re: Telling kids about Santa Clause?

Postby Razzle Storm » Sat Nov 17, 2007 10:51 am UTC

jynjin wrote:Personally, I am in the NO camp.

I have family members who insist on having my nephews believe the lie, which in turn forced me to deal with the issue with my own children. What I did was explained the historical legend of Saint Nicholas in the context of charity. I emphasized that Christmas is a chance to show others we care for them (which can result in presents), and St. Nick is a reminder of that. I figured they would garnish understanding of the selfish spin commonly out there eventually and hopefully understand the balance. So far, at 2 and 6, they have, and generally seek the most fun presents to give over receive.

Hope that helps.


You are probably the most awesome parent I've heard of.

Also, my mom still signs present as Frosty, Rudolph, Santa, etc. I think it's mainly just to put some variety into the presents though, because it was usually just me and her at Christmas.

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Re: Telling kids about Santa Clause?

Postby no-genius » Sat Nov 17, 2007 11:51 am UTC

zenten wrote:
no-genius wrote:I dunno. It's fun, isn't it?


No, I really don't find it fun, or see how it would be. I did get into some debates as a kid about the capabilities of Santa Claus, but I did the same with the capabilities of the Transformers.

I meant fun for the kids?
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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby Maurog » Sat Nov 17, 2007 2:27 pm UTC

My parents told me about Santa (well, the Russian equivalent at least, it works the same, just on a new year and no religion involved), and I think it's rather harmless. It's a sort of "implied existence", just like children's stories have all these anthropomorphic animals that talk and behave like people. A child is perfectly capable of accepting talking animals, a concept which is completely trumped by real life, taking into account children see real animals all the time.

Then, we just grow out of it. The mind is a beautiful thing, isn't it?

PS: I don't think believing in Santa can make you religious any more than being read about the Big Bad Wolf can make you a furry.
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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby vicente408 » Sun Nov 18, 2007 11:45 pm UTC

My parents did label some gifts as from Santa, though mostly it was in a tongue-and-cheek fashion. I can't remember ever truly believing in a Santa Claus, though I always did play along because I thought it was a fun game.

So, I'm not sure... I guess I'd tell my kids stories and such about Santa (reading "The Night Before Christmas" for example) as he is definitely a part of modern culture, but I'd never go so far as to outright tell them that he does exist. If they ask me that, I'm just gonna let them figure it out for themselves, like they should for any other question.

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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby Blipo » Mon Nov 19, 2007 12:48 am UTC

I was always told Santa was real, but I never bought it. It never made sense.

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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby sunkistbabe1 » Mon Nov 19, 2007 8:49 pm UTC

Mighty Jalapeno and I were told Santa was real, and Easter bunny, tooth fairy etc...
But then they told us the truth when we got to a certain age. I actually found out by accident about all of them once, when I caught our mom putting out easter eggs. She was very worried, but I remember taking it very well. It made sense to me that they weren't real. So I guess it worked out ok for me.

I'm a little torn with our kids. Hubby wants to tell our kids Santa is NOT real. I still remember the feeling of finding a gift that magically appeared. But if our girls are anything like me, they wont care if I said it was from the cat, as long as they thought it was cool. Our oldest is already talking about santa bringing gifts at christmas. (She turned 4 today). And I think we'll label the gifts from us, and maybe the cat. She can still enjoy the themes of Christmas without thinking Santa is real.
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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby mosc » Mon Nov 19, 2007 10:14 pm UTC

we live in a society where a significant portion of ADULTS believe that santa is real. I'm all for fantasy and imagination but if these kids are incapable of moving on later in life than they can't handle it and should be told the truth.

I don't understand religious Christians in this. Clearly you'd want to separate this fantasy from your church, wouldn't you? The guy's practically a deity with all kinds of superhuman powers. Then again, I've never understood the embrace of pagan concepts in a faith that clearly doesn't accept them. I guess they just cater to the masses.
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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby Maurog » Mon Nov 19, 2007 10:20 pm UTC

Well, he is a saint. Saints are allowed to have superpowers.

As for pillaging symbols from other religions, it's a good tactic for converting people. They all do it, and it works. How many people believe in Odin now?
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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Nov 19, 2007 11:12 pm UTC

mosc wrote:we live in a society where a significant portion of ADULTS believe that santa is real.

[Citation Needed]
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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby The Spherical Cow » Mon Nov 19, 2007 11:19 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
mosc wrote:we live in a society where a significant portion of ADULTS believe that santa is real.

[Citation Needed]

My first thoughts exactly.

Also, with respect to the idea of the church wanting to get Santa away from Christmas - it's not as if they came up with the whole concept of Santa as we know him today. He's very much different from the church's St. Nick. They follow along, mostly, to avoid being seen as Scrooges, but continue to remind those who listen that Christmas is actually all about Jesus.

They seem to accept that Santa is part of Christmas now, but as far as I can see, the Church separates Santa into a 'fun' part of Christmas, away from the religion and the serious celebration of the birth of Jesus.

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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby Enigma90825 » Mon Nov 19, 2007 11:28 pm UTC

I found out Santa wasn't real when a FedEx guy delivered one of my presents to the front door when I was home sick. Damn you FedEx! I was like 8 when this happened...
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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby b.i.o » Tue Nov 20, 2007 3:09 am UTC

I was told Santa Claus was real and I don't know what I'd do if I actually had my own kids (which I'm not sure will ever happen). I had it figured out by first grade or so anyway so I don't think it had a whole lot of effect on me.

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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby btilly » Tue Nov 20, 2007 3:31 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
mosc wrote:we live in a society where a significant portion of ADULTS believe that santa is real.

[Citation Needed]

I googled for a poll on this. Found http://www.ipsos-na.com/news/pressrelease.cfm?id=2503 which suggests that about 40% of Canadians will tell a pollster that they believe in Santa. I have to wonder how many were telling the truth vs just playing along vs interpreting it differently. For instance depending on how the question was worded I'd have to say yes because Santa Claus is based on Saint Nicholas who is based on a real Bishop who really lived. (But doesn't resemble Santa Claus much.)
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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby Djabanete » Tue Nov 20, 2007 4:08 am UTC

Until reading this thread, I was not aware that any children actually believed that Santa Claus existed. I certainly don't recall ever believing in him myself, and my parents never had to confirm/debunk his existence for me.

But perhaps that's because I read Calvin&Hobbes from an early age... I still remember the strip where Calvin's dad swears loudly after dropping a huge package on his foot in the dead of night :D

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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby aleflamedyud » Wed Nov 21, 2007 3:32 am UTC

And now, a Jewish perspective... at least, my extremely nasty Jewish perspective.

Yeladim, don't you know where your Chanukah presents come from? No? Lamah lo? Your presents come from the Chanukah Bankman!

Every year, a representative of the Rothschild banking empire, and AAALLLL the other banks controlled by us Jews and in fact the ENTIRE Grand Jewish Conspiracy takes out the money earned that year in world domination and uses it to buy presents, gelt and dreydels for all the good little yeladim and yaldot. That's why Chanukah comes at the end of the goyish year, when the totals have been done at the banks. So not only do you get presents, but our money is laundered into a form no idiotic goy would ever suspect :P .

OK, now that I wrote that I'll have to spend about 30 seconds laughing. I mean, the funny bit is that it's just as believable as a fat man in a red suit.
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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby Sunsnail » Wed Nov 21, 2007 8:44 am UTC

LikwidCirkel wrote:For some reason, many parents who expect their kids to figure out that there is no Santa, somehow expect the same children to continue believing in a personified God. That is very troubling to me, because they're really not very different concepts.

:lol:

My 9 year old cousin told us the same thing. We were talking about Santa Claus and he said something along the lines of "Jesus ain't real! He's like Santa." Since I thought it was way out of my position to teach someone else's child about religion, I explained to him that Jesus was actually real.

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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby btilly » Wed Nov 21, 2007 5:08 pm UTC

Sunsnail wrote:
LikwidCirkel wrote:For some reason, many parents who expect their kids to figure out that there is no Santa, somehow expect the same children to continue believing in a personified God. That is very troubling to me, because they're really not very different concepts.

:lol:

My 9 year old cousin told us the same thing. We were talking about Santa Claus and he said something along the lines of "Jesus ain't real! He's like Santa." Since I thought it was way out of my position to teach someone else's child about religion, I explained to him that Jesus was actually real.


There is actually an open question about that. See http://jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/jpadvert.htm for an example of a book arguing that Christianity started as a typical mystery religion, then a historical person was invented to fit.

The case for this theory is stronger than you might expect.
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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby trickster721 » Wed Nov 21, 2007 6:13 pm UTC

Just explain to them that things can be true in different ways, if you're worried about it. Dividing the world into literal truths and terrible lies isn't exactly encouraging a healthy outlook on life. Kids can deal with abstractions a lot better than your average adult.

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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby zingmaster » Thu Nov 22, 2007 9:33 pm UTC

Well, here's my take. I talked with my parents one day in the car, and they told me that they were concerned that my little brother still believed in Santa Claus (he's 14, btw). I highly doubted it, but in a way, I can see how it could still be true. See, for him (as it should be for a lot of us), Christmas still has a magical touch to it, something that very few other times in the year (or even in life) can even come close to matching. My brother loves everything about the holiday: the music, the festivities, the family time, the snow, the tree...I could go on for miles. The entire atmosphere of Christmas is unique. And part of that magic is the myth of Santa Claus. I'm sure we all know that Santa doesn't exist, but there isn't that much of a problem in still pretending that he exists, because let's face it, Christmas lets us be kids again. And we shouldn't always maintain our seriousness of life every day of the year. It should be okay to let go once in a while.
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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby OfficiallyHaphazard » Thu Nov 22, 2007 10:58 pm UTC

hmm, we always had gifts under the tree. They would be "From Mom and Dad" etc. We would open these gifts on christmas eve. Then the next morning, we would wake up and find stockings filled with some other nick-nacks and gadgets and candy. These were from "Santa"
I liked this way because it kept the fun of "Santa" while we still knew who was really giving the gifts.
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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby sunkistbabe1 » Thu Nov 22, 2007 11:04 pm UTC

Even once we knew that santa was not real, stockings were almost always put out during the night when we were not aware, so it was a surprise the next morning. Hell, i've done that for hubby before. Of course he has a bad habit of trying to figure out gifts before xmas, then convince me he needs to play with them early, or use them or whatever, so I have to do a good job of hiding things I buy early for him every single year anyway.
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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby stephen » Tue Nov 27, 2007 7:07 am UTC

Is lying to your children a good thing: no. Therefore, why lie to them about something so patently false?

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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby Maurog » Tue Nov 27, 2007 9:36 am UTC

Is cutting people a good thing: no. Therefore, surgeons are the same as serial killers.

Now that's over with, let's examine these "lies". Is any fiction a lie? Should we deny children from reading fairy tales, science fiction and mythology, and only let them read objective truth? Or maybe preface each of the above with "this isn't real, it's a bunch of lies"? I doubt that even if you tell a child that the Big Bad Wolf isn't real, they will be able to grasp that idea until they grow up a bit.

At an early stage, there is no separation between reality and fiction. I distinctly remember inventing a make-believe plot in which evil robots threatened the world and only the mysterious machine could save it. This was going on for months, I even got the neighbours' kid involved in that fantasy, we were casually exchanging comments like "the robots are on to something, we must protect the machine". I believed every word we were saying... I was about 4 or 5.

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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Nov 27, 2007 7:19 pm UTC

Maurog wrote:At an early stage, there is no separation between reality and fiction.

Emphasized for Truth.

I keep bringing this up, and people keep seeming to ignore it. Kids believe all sorts of crazy shit when they're young. Then they figure it out when they're older. I don't see how the Santa Claus story, when added as a single drop to this bucket of fantasies, could have a large impact either way.
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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby Nath » Tue Nov 27, 2007 10:01 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Maurog wrote:At an early stage, there is no separation between reality and fiction.

Emphasized for Truth.

I keep bringing this up, and people keep seeming to ignore it. Kids believe all sorts of crazy shit when they're young. Then they figure it out when they're older. I don't see how the Santa Claus story, when added as a single drop to this bucket of fantasies, could have a large impact either way.

See, I don't have much of a problem with toddlers believing crazy things. But I know smart kids, old enough to know that there is such a thing as fiction, who still believe in Santa Claus. Why wouldn't they? Their parents make them believe in other magic fat guys; what's one more? Santa Claus, like you say, is just a drop in a bucket.

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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby maafy6 » Wed Nov 28, 2007 5:36 am UTC

From what I've been told (I really have a horrible memory about anything that went on when I was really young), I never believed in Santa. For some reason that really annoys my sister, but whatever. We always had fun with it though, like someone else above, there'd always be a few presents under the tree until Christmas Eve, and when we woke up in the morning there would always be a whole lot more under the tree, all from this mysterious Santa.

As for my kids, of course I'm going to tell them about Santa, because there's no particular reason not to. If your relationship with your kid depends on whether or not you lie to them about Santa Claus, I'll take the leap and say that Santa Claus ain't your biggest problem.

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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby Elenion » Wed Nov 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC

I believed in santa claus when i was a child, but the presents he brougth me was always tagged with "from xxx <-the person they were really from" so i never thought the gifts were actually from him.. he just brought them. In Norway its tradtion for alot of ppl that some family member dress up as santa claus and bring all the presents for the children on christmas eve after dinner.. We did that too, and at some point I figured it out, but I still ejoyed it (I used to sing for santa..how embarassing) and I can't remember beeing disapointed at all. I even was santa claus myself once, for my little sister..:)

So i voted the yesandyes-answer.

Oh and even though I believed in santa, the best part of christmas for me was to hand out the gifts I made or bought myself.. :)
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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby space_raptor » Wed Nov 28, 2007 7:06 pm UTC

I'm with gmalivuk.

The No people strike me as taking the whole Santa thing way too seriously. It's for children. Generally they're not mature enough to understand the difference between lying and make believe.

Of course, I'm sure some of you know 6 year old Mensa members who are already getting scientific papers published. Big deal.

There is a giant sample population of people that believed in Santa Claus when they were young, found out the truth from their parents, and continued to trust them 100%. The whole "not trusting your parents because of Santa Claus" argument strikes me as BS.
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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby Elenion » Wed Nov 28, 2007 11:10 pm UTC

Yeah I agree with space_raptor. I also think most kids suspect that its something "fishy" about it long before they find out for sure its not real..
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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby N.K. » Thu Nov 29, 2007 12:29 am UTC

It's not necessary, but I don't think it will do any damage, or make them sad when they find out he's not real. Besides, as Elenion said, I think that most kids gradually realize it. I know I did.

Now, if you go up to a little kid who genuinely believes in Santa and say, "Hey buddy Santa's a myth and your dad eats those cookies!" then that could be a bit of a strong blow.

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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby BirdKiller » Thu Nov 29, 2007 2:37 am UTC

I would say we have to give gifts as a message of thanks and gratitude and that anyone that comes out of the chimney are known as "strangers", and strangers in our house are called "robbers".

Of course, if I know my kid will be leaving cookies, then yeah, maybe I'll tell them about Santa.

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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby o0o0xmods0o0o » Thu Nov 29, 2007 3:41 am UTC

I won't tell my kids about Santa, because what is the point? I mean I enjoyed the whole Santa idea but when I learned the truth, the whole magical luster of Christmas died. Plus, who doesn't want to get angry phone-calls from parents asking why your children are telling their children that Santa does not exist. FUN!
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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby thicknavyrain » Sat Dec 01, 2007 6:41 pm UTC

I think that whether or not you tell your children about Santa doesn't have an entire effect on your relationship with your children. I never believed in him but I like to think I've turned out ok and I'm sure the same could happen either way. Ultimately the sacrifices you do for them and the love you give is what your kids'll remember you for.

But it's always a good excuse for cookies.
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Re: Telling kids about Santa Clause?

Postby Hexadecimator » Sun Dec 02, 2007 8:08 pm UTC

Razzle Storm wrote:Also, my mom still signs present as Frosty, Rudolph, Santa, etc. I think it's mainly just to put some variety into the presents though, because it was usually just me and her at Christmas.
We still get stockings from "santa" and presents from the grinch, who brings you stuff that you need but don't really want.

I never felt betrayed by my parents for lying about santa. Though I can't remember a time when I didn't know he was fake. Being told that "You need to go to bed so santa can come, since he's really tired and wants to go to bed" didn't help keep the secret, nor did the fact that only half the carrots got eaten :P.
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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby kellsbells » Sun Dec 02, 2007 11:35 pm UTC

I'm a longtime reader of XKCD, recent reader of these forums. This whole question really made me want to weigh in.

I say Yes, tell them about Santa. For my parents, it was enormous fun, and I definitely recall it being a huge amount of fun for me as well. I was the youngest in the family--once my sister got a little older, she got in on the act too, and she loved it. When I was about nine or so (don't recall exactly, maybe ten) I was puzzled enough by the inconsistencies to ask them straight up, "Is Santa real?" and they asked "Do you really want to know?" and I said that I did, so they sat me down and told me the truth. I was glad they did, and though they were worried that it would mess up my Christmas (this was early December), I took it very well and didn't mind at all having my suspicions confirmed. I loved the mystical feeling of Christmas before then, and afterwards I felt mature enough to just appreciate the season of giving. I don't think there's anything wrong with Santa, like there's nothing wrong with reading fairy tales or make believe. Kids do make believe games constantly... they understand how it works. If we tell them that there is no fantasy, that all made-up things are worthless, then how do they ever get that creativity that kids find in their imaginations?

An additional side note that made me almost really believe in Santa (and made me prolong the Big Question to my parents for about three years)... one year we were at the mall shopping for presents in mid-December and we were eating in the food court. My mom nudged my shoulder and pointed out this guy sitting at a table off behind us--a giant fat guy with a long white beard, all alone, and with a sprig of holly on his sweater. He didn't even glance our way once, but my mom and I raised our eyebrows a lot. Then as we were getting up to leave, I felt this hand come down on my shoulder, and there was the guy, staring down at me. He smiled and said "You never know when you may meet the real Santa Claus", and then he was gone. I still treasure that memory today, because what if? I can't believe that wondering "what if?" is a bad thing. I want my hypothetical children to wonder too.
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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby spi » Mon Dec 03, 2007 12:35 am UTC

I can't say that I ever believed Santa was real. My parents would put presents under the tree labeled from Santa. Eventually that went away but I never had a point in time where I asked if Santa was real and they lied to me.

I guess if it is told in the right way I wouldn't mind letting my hypothetical kids believe for a little while.
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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby Platypodes » Mon Dec 03, 2007 10:10 am UTC

My parents treated Santa as a make-believe game, just like all the other make-believe games we played when I was a kid. I liked to leave cookies out for him and stuff, and my parents filled my stocking when I was asleep (if I remember right, just the little stocking-stuffer presents were "from Santa"). It was all at about the same level as when my dad would pick up one of my stuffed animals and make it "talk" to me. My dad never stopped to say, "I need to make sure you understand that this stuffed animal isn't really talking," but he didn't try to convince me that the stuffed animal really was talking, either.

When I was really little, the concept of "real" vs. "pretend" just wasn't part of my thought processes. But as soon as I started to think in those terms, it was obvious that Santa was pretend just like the talking stuffed animals were pretend. I didn't have to "figure it out"... It was just obvious.

It disturbs me that some parents encourage their kids to believe in Santa once they get to the age when they do have the concept of "real" vs. "pretend." Once a kid has reached the age of asking what's real and what isn't, shouldn't adults be helping them figure it out instead of encouraging to take certain fantasies as fact? Kids shouldn't have to have playground debates over whether Santa is real (and yes, they do have those debates); their parents should be clarifying such questions for them instead of misleading them.

One interesting side effect of the "Santa is real" message that I've now seen twice is for kids to be afraid to admit that they've figured it out for fear that the presents will stop. My best friend when I was little kept up a pretense of believing in Santa when she was way too old to really believe in it, and now I have a friend whose twelve-year-old daughter is doing the same thing. What a weird little dance... The parent telling the lie of "yes, it's real," and the kid telling the lie of "yes, I believe it."

Me, I had lots of fun with the idea of Santa while knowing it was just pretend. Kids love pretend games; you don't need to convince a kid that the games are "real" for the kid to find them fun. Heck, I still enjoy seeing Santa in the Christmas parade!
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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby aleflamedyud » Mon Dec 03, 2007 6:57 pm UTC

Elenion wrote:Yeah I agree with space_raptor. I also think most kids suspect that its something "fishy" about it long before they find out for sure its not real..

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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby cathrl » Mon Dec 03, 2007 7:05 pm UTC

Teshi said pretty much everything I would have.

I'll just add - some people seem to be indicating that in their culture all the kids' presents come from Santa. That does seem a bit odd to me. How do the parents explain that they give presents to everyone bar their own kids?

I have two kids of my own - one is 11 and definitely doesn't believe in Santa any more. The other is 8 and probably doesn't, but won't let on in case he doesn't get a stocking :) He doesn't need to worry. In my family the adults all give each other stockings as well - it's a great excuse to buy all those silly little things which you can't really call a "present" but think someone would like.

The idea of a stranger in her bedroom worried my oldest sufficiently that we've always put the stockings out downstairs in front of the fireplace - and yes, right next to the glass of sherry, the mince pie and the carrot :)

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Re: Telling kids about Santa Claus?

Postby Jumbalaya » Mon Dec 03, 2007 7:07 pm UTC

My mom never told me about him. It wasn't until I was about 8 when I came from home and complained. Most children that age come home crying because some one told them he was fake, I came home demanding back presents that my mom was hiding because someone told me that he was real ><.

My mom told me not to tell the other kids he was fake, and she didn't tell me because she felt she would be a hypocrite.

Parents tell there kids to not lie, yet they make up a man that gives them presents to see them cry later about him not being real.

I also saw someone mention the ye' olde Russian Father Winter(Ded moroes or something like that) and Snegurichka.


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