Social Question

livelaughlove21's avatar

Why is it considered okay to lie to kids about Santa?

Asked by livelaughlove21 (15085 points ) December 20th, 2012 from iPhone

I don’t understand why people do this. Why is it okay to lie to kids about some make believe character for 10 or so years of their life? And how exactly does a parent explain this lie without sounding like an ass?

I remember finding out and being so disappointed. If you never lie to the kid, you wouldn’t have to explain why you’re a big fat liar and you wouldn’t have to watch them cry when Joey at school tells them Santa isn’t real.

So – WHY?!

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72 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Telling a kid that Santa is real is not a lie. Telling him that Santa is not real IS the lie.
Santa exists. I know it in my heart. You must have faith.

jaytkay's avatar

Kids aren’t too bright. They’ll buy most any stupid stuff you tell them.

Glad this is in Social

mrentropy's avatar

It wouldn’t be Christmas if this ridiculous question didn’t come up.

Blondesjon's avatar

I lied about Santa, quite masterfully I might add, to all three of my children.

I did this in order to extract the power hidden in children’s tears that can only be released by ultimate betrayal.

all shall kneel before zod

augustlan's avatar

My dad played Santa professionally for a number of years, so I pretty much always knew Santa wasn’t real. I don’t see the harm, though…it’s just a bit of fantasy. As my kids got older and each learned the truth in time, we talked about the “spirit” of Santa (not in a religious or ghost sense, but the feeling of Santa), of giving abundantly and sort of anonymously and how fun and loving that is. Then we brought each of the older kids into the game, keeping the fantasy alive for the younger ones. The ones in on the secret helped pick out stocking stuffers for the younger ones, and it was loads of fun for them.

All of mine are well past the Santa stage at this point, but still help pick out stocking stuffers for their sisters. And so it goes.

CWOTUS's avatar

For the same reason, I suppose, that people feel that it’s okay to lie about god, heaven, hell, angels and the like.

Rarebear's avatar

I think that telling a kid that a fat stranger is coming into your house and leaving gifts kind of creepy.

tom_g's avatar

I struggled with this before I had kids, and ended up caving in to pressure and giving in to xmas – the capitalist pseudo-christian holiday – despite being anticonsumerism and an atheist. I did, however, provide myself with a rather weak copout. It goes like this: I have never told my kids that santa exists, and I never will. When my kids have asked questions about santa (“Why does santa do…?”), my response is always, “Well, how does the story go?”. They provide me with details from the story and they answer their own question.
Yep, I know, it’s weak. But I really can’t get myself to outright lie to them.

Bellatrix's avatar

I knew Santa wasn’t real from a quite young age. I was able to tell my brother that I knew it was our dad but not to let him know I knew because it would spoil his fun. That’s what it was, fun. It made Christmas more magical. My dad would sit and tell us stories about Father Christmas and elves and hobgoblins and all sorts of fairies and it was a wonderful, magical bonding time. He told us stories about fairies and the like all year round so Father Christmas was just part of those stories at Christmas time. I think that’s why some parents buy into this lie (me included). So their children can share in the magic they may have experienced when they were small.

Jeruba's avatar

I don’t. Never did.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t see the problem. We tell kids Mickey Mouse isn’t real, and yet they persist in believing in him. We might as well tell them Santa isn’t real. It won’t change a thing. And for god’s sake! I mean, literally, God’s sake. We tell folks God isn’t real and they keep on believing in Him. Clearly telling the truth or telling a lie as far as who or what to believe in is completely irrelevant.

There. That should absolve you of any guilt you might feel in the matter, @livelaughlove21. Feel free to tell the truth or not. It won’t make one whit of difference to anyone.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@augustlan Okay, but is “doing no harm” a good enough reason to do something? I feel like lying always has the potential to do harm, but I think doing good is what we should be doing when raising kids. What good does the Santa lie do? Yeah, their little eyes light up when they see all the gifts under the tree on Christmas morning, but I’ve seen some bad reactions to the truth, so how is it worth it? I’m sure their eyes would light up at the sight of gifts even if they’d never heard of Santa.

Oh, it’s all so magical…until you find out the truth. It just makes no sense to me.

@CWOTUS The difference being that parents who teach their kids about that actually believe those things are real. If a person truly believes in God, telling their kids about God is telling the truth. It may not be your truth or mine, but I’m willing to bet no parents actually believe in Santa. It’s a child’s belief.

@Rarebear Amen. Reminds me of this Jeff Dunham bit. :)

@tom_g Weak or not, I like it better than a blatant lie. I’ve been looking for a way a parent wouldn’t have to lie, but also wouldn’t have to deal with phone calls from parents demanding to know why your asshole kid told theirs that Santa isn’t real. My response? “Well is he? Sorry my kid told the truth. I shall punish him severely.”

augustlan's avatar

I don’t have a good answer for you, @livelaughlove21. It’s just a tradition that lives on, for the most part. I don’t see any problem with raising kids without the Santa myth, of course. But I’d be very careful about my kid telling other kids that their myths aren’t real. They should know that it’s not their place to ‘break the news’.

jaytkay's avatar

@Bellatrix I knew Santa wasn’t real from a quite young age. I was able to tell my brother that I knew it was our dad but not to let him know I knew because it would spoil his fun.

You lied to your parents about Santa!? You monster!

I did that, too

livelaughlove21's avatar

@augustlan I agree, but children aren’t known for holding their tongues when they think they know something no one else does. Or for knowing their “place”.

Bellatrix's avatar

:-) Partners in crime @jaytkay.

augustlan's avatar

@livelaughlove21 True, kids aren’t always the best at keeping a secret. I accidentally said “Thanks, Daddy!” when he, dressed as Santa, gave me a gift in front of other children. Oops!

Bellatrix's avatar

I think as long as we aren’t abusing our children in any way, and I don’t think perpetuating the myth of Santa is abusive, we should parent as we see fit. If people feel telling their children Santa is a lie is the right way to parent, fair enough. If they want to share the story with their children, also fine.

There are so many horrible things that can happen to children – this seems like a very minor blip on the radar.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@Bellatrix I never said telling your kids about Santa was abusive. I also never said it makes you a bad parent to do so. And finally, I never said this was a huge deal. It’s just a question in the “social” category – no one thinks this is a life or death situation.

Bellatrix's avatar

I didn’t say you said any of those things. I said I think there are far more serious crimes against children than telling them Santa exists and parents should make their own choice. There is no right or wrong way. You added the other inferences.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Oh, and my apologies @mrentropy. I thought a break from the end-of-the-world topics would be nice.

People are making apocalypse jokes like there’s no tomorrow! :)

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Because I, for one, think it’s shitty parenting to squash children’s dreams and fantasies unless it will actually harm them. My 11 year old now knows that many things she believed in are make believe. She’s fine. She’s normal. She didn’t have a spaz attack and become clinically depressed because of it. My six year old still believes in Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, fairies, mermaids, unicorns, and even leprechauns for fuck’s sake.

I have always encouraged my children to believe in what they want to believe in. They’re children, not insane adults.

Oh, and they also have an “Elf on the Shelf” that they named Twizzle. They love it. My 11 year old found out about Santa and Twizzle’s pretend status last year, and she took it quite well. She now enjoys hiding the elf in different spots for her little sister to find.

But then again, perhaps I really am full of shit. Perhaps I shouldn’t lie to them that their school is safe. Or that they’re the most beautiful children in the world. Or that they can be princesses when they grow up. Or that no one in our family has ever been to prison. Or many other untruths parents frequently tell their children.

Coloma's avatar

I don’t think any child has ever, really, been damaged for life upon finding out there is no Santa.
I figured it out around age 8 when I noticed the “Santa” gifts were wrapped in paper that…..ZING!…looked very much like the paper I had seen in my mothers closet. haha
I felt moderately disappointed for about 20 minutes and then I was over it.
Prior to that I bought it hook,line and sinker,and of course, left out carrots for the Reindeer and the proverbial cookies and milk for Santa.

My ex and I orchestrated a huge Tooth Fairy ruse for our daughter, writing elaborate notes and I even named the Tooth Fairy ” Sophia.” lol
My daughter was completely convinced that “Sophia” was real.
I will admit, however, that she has told me that telling her she was made from a little pink ball of clay sung to the “Gumby” tune and that the traffic lights were operated by little monkeys behind the lights kind of freaked her out. lol

Hey, family jokes and humor…like the time I cut out my exes head from a photo and glued it to a cut out of the Easter bunny and pasted it in my daughters baby book. haha
Just recently she was half razzing me and half bragging to her boyfriend what a zany mom I’ve been, lots of ” you won’t believe what my mom did this one time.”

jonsblond's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate I sure hope you don’t lie to your children when you think their artwork is ugly. They would be better off knowing the truth, don’t ya think? ;)

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@jonsblond Oh my God, of course I don’t lie about that. That would be a life altering issue! I mean, to tell them they did an awesome job on that panda/robot/duck/octopus/tree thing and stick it on the fridge, only for them to find out years later that I lied and it was hideous? The damage that would cause!

Coloma's avatar

@jonsblond
@WillWorkForChocolate

You two are cracking me up!

burntbonez's avatar

Kids need accurate and believable feedback from their parents. Over time, if parents keep on exaggerating things, kids come to mistrust the parents. A friend of mine is taking his son to all the debate matches. He has to go, because his son wants honest feedback. His mother always tells him he is wonderful, but I guess that doesn’t help. He needs to know how to debate better. He doesn’t need his ego puffed up. Especially when he knows it really isn’t true. If he was the best, he’d take home the trophy.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate Children wouldn’t have dreams and fantasies to be crushed if parents didn’t tell them it was real in the first place. And as for lying to kids about things like artistic skills, those are to spare their feelings. These are lies we all tell at any age, and it’s not even sort of the same thing as lying about the existence of a person. The difference being there’s some logic behind it.

And, once again, I never implied this was life-altering, mentally damaging, or even all that important. Seriously people, your sarcasm is oh so witty and I’m just some crazy lady that thinks telling kids about Santa is a heinous crime, I get it.

My parents told me about Santa. I’m not scarred for life. They’re not bad parents. I know plenty of parents who tell their kids about Santa. I might even tell mine about him. No big deal, but the fact remains that there is no good reason to do it. None that I’ve heard yet, anyways.

I guess I missed the memo that questions posted on Fluther must be regarding life altering issues. Oops! :)

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@livelaughlove21 So… kids don’t have friends that tell them things? They don’t watch TV or movies? They don’t read books? Kids are going to hear about these things from all over the place, not just because Mommy lied and told them a fake story.

I believe, as a parent, that it it not my job to always tell my children the absolute 100% truth. My job, as a parent, is to let my children be children and actually experience a normal fucking childhood, before their innocence is raped by reality.

The excitement and wonder in a child’s eyes when they see Santa at the mall, or get that special Santa gift on Christmas morning, is a good enough reason for me.

And I didn’t mean that every question had to pertain to life altering issues. What I meant was that I am sick and damn tired of people asking this question every year, like their parents never told them harmless lies, or they have never told their own children harmless lies. A lie about Santa is harmless and totally fun. I personally enjoy staying up extra late despite my own sleepiness, to sneak that extra special gift out to the tree after my kids have gone to bed.

My mother-in-law still demands that we say, “I still believe in Santa” before she will give us our special “Santa sack” on Christmas night. I’m 33, and it’s still fun. There’s nothing wrong with make believe.

jonsblond's avatar

@livelaughlove21 A family tradition that brings joy to everyone year after year isn’t a good reason? Really?

JLeslie's avatar

I think it’s fine. What is wrong with magic and make believe. Kids pretend naturally. They have all sorts of creative ideas in their heads.

My parents didn’t lie to me about santa, what I remember is they told me santa doesn’t come to our house because we are Jewish. But, they lied to me about the tooth fairy, what happened the next time my tooth fell out? My mom just handed me the money directly instead of under my pillow. So? Do kids get fewer presents when they find out about santa? Isn’t that all they are really worried about when they find out he isn’t real?

livelaughlove21's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate Yeah, kids hear about things elsewhere, and may believe those things, but it’s not other kids writing “From: Santa” on the gifts, is it?

@jonsblond Christmas doesn’t bring joy unless Santa is involved? Really?

Telling your kids Santa is real isn’t a horrible thing to do, but neither is NOT telling them.

The general consensus seems to be, “why not tell them about Santa?” That really isn’t an answer. I suppose the answer is that it’s a parental preference that has no logical basis. I can live with that.

jonsblond's avatar

@livelaughlove21 Christmas doesn’t bring joy unless Santa is involved?

You are putting words in my mouth. I didn’t say that.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@jonsblond So were you. Mine was an actual question though.

Coloma's avatar

Santa Goose is real. Believe!

jonsblond's avatar

wtf? Where did I put words in your mouth? This is ridiculous. I’m out.

Bellatrix's avatar

He looks good in his hat too @Coloma. Does he get nervous around this time of the year?

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I don’t write Santa on them. Santa gifts are in front of the tree, unwrapped. The gifts from us are the wrapped ones. But yes, I still encourage my kids to use their imaginations, and I go right along with the Santa story. I knew when it was time to tell my oldest last year, just as I will know when it’s time to tell my youngest.

I honestly don’t understand why some people make a big deal out of it. It’s not like we’re telling them if they put a blanket around their neck and jump off the roof that they will fly. If they want to believe in harmless fantasies, then I think that’s fantastic.

Why is it considered so bad to lie to kids about Santa? Eh? Can it really do harm? No. Will it make them weep on their therapist’s couch when they’re 40? No. If your kid wants to paint a fuchsia tree, would it be shitty parenting to tell them, “You can’t do that, trees aren’t actually fuchsia.” Yes.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

Why is it considered okay to lie to kids about Santa?
U wot m8. You can’t prove Santa doesn’t exist.

JLeslie's avatar

@livelaughlove21 It is very cute when kids get so excited they can barely fall asleep and then the next morning are excited to see the toys. My husband is seven years younger than his sister and when he was little he would be so wound up he would sleep with her Christmas Eve, it’s cute. But, I agree, parents can do whatever they want. I don’t think telling kids about santa or not telling them matters in the end. I don’t think of santa as “lying” to kids. It is just a story, we tell stories all the time to kids that aren’t real. James and the Giant Peach, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella. I know some parents go as far as to keep their kids away from Disney, but if they do hear one of the stories do parents make a point to say, don’t believe in that, it’s not real? We grow up, we figure it out. There are no magic wands, no bipity bopity boo. But, it’s fun to sing along.

Plus, if you tell your kids there is no santa, they will be the ones to tell their classmates. ~

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t think they think it’s lying.

JenniferP's avatar

We teach our children not to lie and then turn around and lie to them. I don’t get it.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Wow, I nearly forgot how pretentious, condescending, and narcissistic people get on here. Thanks for the lovely reminder.

I’m not going to continue saying the same thing over and over if no one is paying any attention. Thanks to the few of you that answered the simple question without insisting that I was making this out to be something I wasn’t.

The damn question is about Santa, people. SANTA! Chill out.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Exactly. Chill out. It’s only Santa.

Sunny2's avatar

When my 6 year old daughter asked if Santa Claus was real, I went through the idea that he is the spirit of Christmas. Know what? She didn’t believe me. She knew he was real. I didn’t find that out until she was an adult.

JLeslie's avatar

@JenniferP Is that what kids think when they find out about santa? They think mommy lied to me? I don’t think they do. Because, it was a well intentioned fun result lie. Like if I lied to you about taking you out for dinner and when you get to my house there is a surprise party for you with family and friends you have not seen in years who you miss. That lie was ok right?

AshLeigh's avatar

Santa’s not real? :(

JenniferP's avatar

@JLeslie I felt lied to and confused when I found out in the fourth grade. And with this lie, it is kept going for years and the kids really become attached to the idea. It is different with a surprise party. But I wouldn’t even lie about that. I might find some way to trick the person without lying.

Argonon's avatar

Well I always thought it was fun believing Santa as a child, but I figured it out pretty soon.
We still get presents from “Santa” even as adults. They’re usually fuzzy socks or something like that. My mom insists on still doing the Santa thing even though she knows we figured it out a long time ago.

JLeslie's avatar

@JenniferP I would thinking tricking someone is the same as lying. It’s dishonest. It shows a false intent.

I would guess there are other children like you who get very upset and confused when they find out Santa isn’t real, but I think it is a minority. A kid finds out, is told how the magic trick happens, and then it isn’t mysterious anymore. That’s how I see it. But, as I said, I am not trying to tell you your feelings were wrong. How long were you upset and confused? Did it last weeks and years? Or, just a day? Whatever it is, you won’t do it with your kids. Well, I assume you don’t celebrate Christmas anyway, so it isn’t really a big issue whether to pretend santa is real or not.

The biggest drawback I see with santa is how so many adults I know get depressed or dissappointed Christmas isn’t magical like when they were children. That is until they have children.

Ela's avatar

Why is it considered okay to lie to kids about Santa?

I think it’s okay because children need good things to believe in and they need to figure some things out for themselves.

Supacase's avatar

@livelaughlove21 Children wouldn’t have dreams and fantasies to be crushed if parents didn’t tell them it was real in the first place.. You don’t think children should have dreams and fantasies? Imagination is a wonderful thing and is at its very best when accompanied by the innocence of children who still believe anything is possible.

My daughter has a mesh canopy over her bed and she watches the ‘TV’ on the top when she goes to bed. She says she really sees images “with her eyes, not just her brain” She said it is magic. When she asked if I can see images on her ‘TV’ I admitted that I can’t. She smiled and said it must be magic just for her. Do you think for one instant that I would tell her she is wrong?

I found out about the Easter Bunny, which led to me finding out about Santa, on the bus when I was in 2nd grade. I vividly remember talking to my mom about it on the avocado wall-mounted dial phone in my grandma’s kitchen. I was disappointed, but it wasn’t really a big deal. I understood the difference between real and pretend, as I believe most children do by the time they find out. Moving Santa from the real world to my imaginary world was no worse than realizing The Brady Bunch wasn’t a real family.

When my daughter asked me if Santa is real, I asked her what she thought. She said he is. Ok by me. If she ever asks me why let her believe I will tell her the truth – for fun. Writing him letters, making him cookies, watching the sky for his sleigh, imagining him squeezing down chimneys, trying to stay awake late enough to catch a peek… Santa is fun!

I am surprised so many people think children lack the ability to process things like this without suffering emotional damage.

JenniferP's avatar

It didn’t take long to get over but it was a lesson that i couldn’t trust my own mother. I believed it longer than most other kids and they made fun of me when I insisted he existed. It isn’t as simple as a magic trick, which everyone already knows is not true magic. They all know it is just sleight of hand. If they are real little they may think it is really magic and I wouldn’t want them thinking that either because I think real magic is wrong. I would explain ahead of time what it is about. That is something that wouldn’t arouse the emotion in a child like believing in Santa. I do believe it is okay to trick sometimes and it isn’t necessarily lying. Or maybe I won’t use the word trick but just say lead them in a direction away from something. Like when I was considering becoming a Health Unit Coordinator at the hospital I work at, I was told to not reveal patient’s names to people who called in asking if they were a patient (unless they gave permission). I viewed it as okay to say “There is no one available by that name.” Technically they weren’t available but they were a patient. And they didn’t have the right to that information. There actually are cases like this in the Bible, where God-fearing people did similar things to lead undeserving ones away from knowing something. However, it is different when the person is owed an explanation and you direct them away from it. A parent may ask a kid “Did you go to the party while I was gone yesterday” and the kid answers “I went to the library and studied.” Maybe the kid did go to the library and also the party. But the parent is owed an answer so the kid lied even if he could say “I was technically telling the truth.”

A child once asked a parent “Well does God exist?” after being told there was no Santa. Anyway, I am not telling anyone what to do. That is just where I am personally coming from.

Santa_Claus's avatar

Come on, man…

Shippy's avatar

He’s not real??

Bellatrix's avatar

Wouldn’t it be lovely if he was? I just heard about an air base or something where the number was given out by accident as being Santa’s helper’s number. And the boss of the base told the people there if they took a call from a child, they had to say they were an elf and listen to them seriously and take down their list.

Our post office have an address kids can write to and they get letters back. I think it’s really sweet.

Although I get that those who disagree with Santa will not think this is such a good thing.

ucme's avatar

Because it enraptures their fantastically pure minds, which only adds to the whole xmas experience.
When they are older & find out the” truth”, they’re all like “oh I knew that already, I was just playing along for the lulz!”

JLeslie's avatar

@JenniferP From what I remember you couldn’t trust your mother because she wasn’t trustworthy on many fronts. I think your feelings about Santa are because you are angry at your mother for many things she did and also you align yourself with your father’s religion that does not celebrate Christmas let alone the whole Santa fantasy.

About your example, I beleve omitting a detail is lying if the person purposely omits it because they know the other person would dissapprove.

Lying is not black and white like you want it to be, Parents lie to their kids a lot. They lie when they are divorced or widowed and start dating a new person and don’t tell their kids about the new person or the date until they feel that new person in their lives has some staying power. Parents tell their children all sorts of positive reinforcement that might not be completely honest at the moment to encourage their children. My dad used to tell me a pretend stories before I went to bed. I lied to friends in high school that I had already drank quite a bit so I was not pressured to drink. I wish I had just said I don’t drink and not worried about the peer pressure, but I didn’t have that confidence then, and I have no regrets lying rather than drinking when I did not want to, I would advise other teens to do the same.

wildpotato's avatar

Jew here. I don’t remember ever believing Santa was real, so I bet my parents told me he wasn’t real straight off. I do remember knowing that it was very important to not let the cat out of the bag to other kids, so I bet my parents emphasized that as well. I liked being in on the secret and never told the Christian kids.

I suppose that experience left me with the impression that there are at least some kids who are emotionally invested in the belief in Santa. Interesting to read all these replies indicating that this is not so much the case (excepting JenniferP’s).

@tom_g lol, I can just imagine the conversation in a few years: “Well kids, if you think back carefully you should realize I never actually lied…”~

tom_g's avatar

@wildpotato: ”@tom_g lol, I can just imagine the conversation in a few years: “Well kids, if you think back carefully you should realize I never actually lied…””

I know. I said it was a copout. But it really isn’t too different from how I handle all conversations with my kids. I nearly always answer a question with a question. I’d rather encourage them to develop their own reasoning toolkit rather than depend on dad for straight up answers. Questions are usually just a trigger for a conversation. But in the santa case, I hold off on the followup questions and really allow them to explore how much they want to believe. I’m not going to ask them, for example, what possible mechanism would allow for some aspect of the santa myth. And, I think they really get it. I think. They usually dive deep into these types of conversations, but are completely satisfied with something as absurd as this….

son: “Dad, how does Santa get into houses that don’t have chimneys?”
me: “Hmmm. How does the story say about that?”
son: “I think he must just come through the front door. I’ll make sure it’s unlocked on xmas eve.” [..and he runs off to play…]

This conversation would have gone on forever if it was about something “real”. Each follow up question-as-answer on my part would result in a deeper dive into the subject.

If I recall my earliest feelings about santa – I think I always (or as long I could remember) had a complex understanding. I knew deep down that it was impossible, but wanted to believe so strongly.

wildpotato's avatar

@tom_g For sure. I tilde’d my comment because I like your reasoning, and was just having fun carrying it to the extreme.

To actually answer the q doh! I don’t think I will tell my kids Santa is real, if I have any, even though I do intend to celebrate Christmas in the future (because I’m with a guy who celebrates). I don’t like the idea of lying to kids. I see why others do it, or do it by omission, but I’m just personally in more of the Why bother camp than the Why not camp. Unless it’s very important to be untruthful about something I see no reason to be, and I fail to see any important reason to be untruthful in this. For me, it was just a fun secret I got to know about before anyone else did, and I don’t see why that would be different for a kid who grows up celebrating Christmas. Though I’m totally open to being corrected in this if my impression is mistaken, as I have no experience from the “inside.” Are there important reasons that belief in Santa should be an integral part of Christmas for children who celebrate the holiday? Is my dismissal of the importance of Santa misguided?

@livelaughlove21 I agree that belief in Santa is of a different order than belief in many of the things in the above examples. There is one conceptual category for the type of untruth (or truth) of fictional stories, another for the type of truth (or untruth) of God, angels, etc., and Santa does not, initially, fall into either of these. He is not put into the category of “story” from the beginning, so that kids know all along that it’s a matter of the willful suspension of disbelief. He is not placed in the category of real-things-that-aren’t-tangible, like God and angels. He is at first placed into the category of definitely real, tangible objects in the world. So comparisons between belief in Santa and belief in stories or belief in God aren’t all that helpful. But I like that sussing out the false comparisons clarified the issue for me. I think it’s really interesting how the concept of Santa makes an entire category switch, because unlike other concepts that do this (when kids realize they’re mistaken about the way the world is), before the switch in this case the concept is validated in its category of truth/untruth by external factors – specifically by the most important external factors in the child’s world, the parents. So it makes sense to speculate that the category switch must be felt in a different way than the normal everyday sort of mistake-driven category switches.

@WillWorkForChocolate I found many of your points salient and interesting, but it seems like a weak and unhelpful criticism to attack livelaughlove for asking the q at all. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t here last year, and if she wanted a decent amount of traffic on her thought or if she just wanted more info or info from people she knows rather than from users who are no longer active, it makes all the sense in the world to ask it as a new q. It doesn’t violate the guidelines for a good reason. I guess I’m confused about why you would spend time answering the q if it makes you feel put-upon.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@wildpotato Thank you. Meanwhile, 8 apocalypse questions have been posted in the last day or two and no one is worked up about that. I never thought people could get so upset about a question about Santa. And yet, people are still implying that I think lying about Santa causes emotional damage. :)

JLeslie's avatar

@tom_g I nearly always answer a question with a question I think you missed this Q. You might be Jewish. LOL.

I think it is still qualifies as a lie in the case of not telling your kids the answer, I just think it doesn’t matter. Answering a question with a question is usually to get more info or make the other person think, not to cover something up. Covering up or not answering makes it technically a lie.

tom_g's avatar

@JLeslie: “Covering up or not answering makes it technically a lie.”

Sure. I agree.

JenniferP's avatar

@JLeslie I am no longer angry at my mother so that has nothing to do with it. I may look younger in my picture (thanks to my Iphoto) but I am 46 years old. I am not angry for what she did to me as a teenager. Plus she is in a nursing home with severe Alzheimer’s so your anger melts away when you see them like that.

And my mom was trustworthy in a lot of ways. She supported me and didn’t drink or have guys over or anything like that. She was just controlling.

I don’t have esp strong feelings about Santa per se. It is just a part of the whole Christmas package. Anyway, as I said these are just my own personal views. Every one has to decide for themselves how to raise their own kids and what to believe in.

By the way, Kudos to you for not giving into peer pressure and drinking with your peers in high school. After I left my religion, I caved into peer pressure and got involved in all of that and I regret the stuff I did back then.

JLeslie's avatar

@JenniferP Sorry to hear your mom has Alzheimer’s :(. I didn’t feel like you thought everyone should tell their kids Santa is a lie, not to worry. I just think you take it more seriously than necessary. Meaning I felt you were portraying it as a trauma that changes a child. I don’t think it is traumatic for kids in any significant way. Children are freaked out as they discover things all the time. That steak we ate used to be a live animal? Vegetarian for two weeks. That sort of thing.

JenniferP's avatar

I never thought it was a “trauma.” I know first hand what “trauma” is because of my upbringing so I can tell the difference.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate When I was little my mum asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said a mermaid. She accepted that rather than “telling me the truth” and I appreciate it.

Personally, I am glad that my parents let us believe in the whole Santa thing but I eventually grew out of it and just started to know he wasn’t real. I certainly wasn’t traumatised and I didn’t!to feel that my parents were untrustworthy because of it. Anyone who judges a parent for letting their child believe in Santa would strike me as a bit of a self righteous douche!

Coloma's avatar

@JenniferP It sounds as if you have a whole lot of issues with your mother, and maybe this Santa thing is triggering the others. To say you cannot trust your mother because she perpetuated the very typical and very normal childhood Santa Claus myth is a bit over the top IMO. I think this issue is just one of many but certainly not the core issue. If your mother was abusive towards you that is where the trust issues come in, Santa is being scapegoated methinks.

JenniferP's avatar

@Coloma As I said I have no issues with my mother anymore. I am 46 years old. Who says my mom is responsible for all my trauma, anyway. Before my dad became religious he was a drunk and Paranoid Schizophrenic. We had other problems too. My issue with Santa is because of my beliefs about Christmas. Only a licensed Pscychologist can attempt to analyze me and even then only if he meets me in person. Nope, people heal as they age. I am only talking about Santa because it is the current issue at hand. I came to this question and that is what I was talking about. If the question was on a different subject, say Hellfire, I wouldn’t breathe a word about Santa.

Besides, my mother wasn’t exactly abusive. She was kind of abusive. She didn’t beat me or swear. She did yell. Thank you for sharing your opinion however.

JLeslie's avatar

@JenniferP I accept your answer. It doesn’t seem as though you are trying to convince others, just interested in the opinions of others and stating your own. That’s what fluther’s for.

CWOTUS's avatar

@Leanne1986 you reminded me that when my wife was pregnant with our first child, people (including her) would always ask “What do you want?” and I’d answer, “A puppy.”

Even she liked the answer, after she got over the shock of hearing it the first time.

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