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Saturday, March 10, 2012

make believe

To all of you parents out there...I am wondering how you do/handle such mythical creatures as "The Easter Bunny", "Santa Claus" and "The Tooth Fairy"

Here is why I ask.

I preface this by stating that I realize that often times I way overthink things.

Now I was raised being taught that  the giant Easter Bunny came every March/April and took eggs and baskets and hid them around my house for me to find. I was raised that every time I lost a tooth, when I hid it under my pillow, a little magic fairy came in to my room and exchanged my tooth for some cash. I was also raised to believe that a fat man in a red and white suit and his magic elves made all of my Christmas presents in a workshop and few in a sleigh  with flying reindeer around the world in a single night to deliver said presents.

And I think I was no worse for the wear. 

However, psychologically, what does it mean to teach our kids to believe in fake things that we made up, only to tell them or have them find out later that we were completely lying to them? What stories then are they meant to believe? How do they know when I am telling them the truth. The ones about our family, or love or God etc. ? How do they decipher what is real and not? (and not to mention how such kid-friendly stories take away from the meaning of of the holidays)

I don't know, but somehow we do.

Of course as a new parent, i am starting to think about this in a practical sense. Philosophically I have said for a long time that I think I should raise my kid(s) to know the truth about such creatures, but still celebrate them and/or their origins/truths. However when I think about HOW to do that, it seems complicated. How do I teach my child that Santa isn't real (now, but he is based on a real person), while trying to help him respect that other kids do not know that he is real. It seems easier to just go with the norm/what everyone else is doing. But I've never been a "do what everyone is doing" kind of person. But then again, its not about me. its about what is good for Ben.

What is best for him? Does it even matter in something like this? 
Again, am I overthinking all of this?

1 comment:

  1. Good question! Danielle and I were both taught the Santa Claus myth growing up, and I think we've always intended to perpetuate the myth with our kids. (The Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy were never taken nearly as seriously.) Already, though, I find it hard to tell a bold-faced lie to Lucas who is just getting old enough to understand. We make it a point to be very consistent with the kids, particularly when it comes to telling them the truth. I think it's probably a case-by-case basis. I've heard of some kids being very negatively affected when they've learned the truth. Others buy into the mystery of it all but seem to recognize it's really just a game between parents and children. This is how it was for me. As a result, when I learned the truth, I wasn't hurt or even disappointed. It was simply the resolution of a years-long game.

    A question I can't answer is whether perpetuating the myth of Santa Claus detracts from the Christian celebration of Christmas as Christ's birthday since I have no basis of comparison. To be perfectly honest, I think it probably does. To tell children two supernatural, magical stories related to Christmas and then, years later, to confess that one was a complete fairy tale - I can see how that could be detrimental to certain children. Perhaps it's just all in how you handle it. Despite this, I'm still glad I got to partipate in the Santa Claus experience. It's all part of the magic of my childhood.

    Let us know what you decide! (And it may take years to make that decision...) Thanks for your thoughts!