Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Paradise lost?

If a child at the age of reason asked you whether Santa Claus is real, would you say yes or no?

What if she asked about the existence of heaven?

My wife said that when she got old enough to "know" about Santa Claus her mother sat her down and had a conversation with her explaining that Santa was still real because the spirit of Santa was real and was something that we kept alive with us, that magic was something that we have the power to create or ignore. As far as heaven goes, we are both fall under a scientific sort of pantheism so heaven is not a place believed in literally but again as something that people have to work to create here on earth.
I would say that no one knows
I'd tell her Santa isn't real, because if she's old enough to figure it out on her own, there's no point in treating her like a baby. She might find it insulting.

I'd also tell her heaven isn't real, because I'm an atheist and I'm not going to purposely keep religious fantasies alive in the minds of children who doubt already.
I would provide the child with the question and before allowing an answer remind him or her that imagination doesn't always equate to fact, but it is in imagination that most people live, young or old. Same goes for Heaven.
If it were my child, I'd have to tell him the truth that Santa does not exist.
...and I'd say yes heaven does exist because I would definitely raise my child in my faith so that he would have that faith as a basis for his life as well, should he choose to do so.
I have a six year old son, and the Santa question hasn't come up yet. I'll probably just tell him the truth.

The heaven question came up not too long ago after attending a funeral, and I simply told him that some people believe in heaven and some people don't, but that I didn't know for certian one way or the other. He seemed to accept that without too much of a problem.
The age of reason? You mean 28, right? :)

You wing it, as you do with everything you do as a parent, since life doesn't always follow the easy assumptions non-parents make.

It really depends not just on the kid, but on what the question is that she really is asking at the time.

As I recall with my children, we had a sort of "Don't ask, don't tell"
policy about Santa, where each side got to save face long enough that by the time we all knew that we all knew we didn't have to say anything awkward.

My daughters are in high school and they still require me (er, Santa) to have special gifts from Santa in wrapping paper that they haven't seen before and won't see again after, with tags and a letter in Santa's handwriting (which is totally different from the handwriting of the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy).

As far as heaven goes, I explained the various beliefs many cultures had. But then I gave them the "Where is it you were before you were growing inside of me? That's where you'll return to" that I cribbed from Alan Watts, and it seemed to suffice.
I would tell her that Santa Claus is as real as she makes it.

Heaven...is something she'll have to discover by herself.
I remember when I found out Santa wasn't real. It was last Tuesday. Took my wife about an hour to convince me.

Is it OK to tell your kid Santa doesn't exist? Sure, just don't volutnteer the information unless they ask. They will hear from their friends that Santa's not real and come to you for verification. They are now ready for the truth. If it's someone else's kid, it's not your job, so lie.

Heaven, well, if it's your kid tell them what you believe, but be careful. Kids who are indoctrinated tend to be intolerant of people with different ideas. There's a lot of extremists running around with bombs who were indoctrinated at an early age.
No and No. Disbelief in magic is a part of adulthood. Some people, however, hold on to these childish beliefs. My child, however, is better than that.
If the mind is able to image anything whether it be Santa or Heaven then the act of imaging puts the form into a sort of existance. We then, as with all our imaged mythos, move toward bringing the feasible image to objective existance ie thousands of pillow stuffed men in red suits and white beards wandering the streets and malls each December. Heavenly sanctuaries Edens and spas and hypnotic prayers moving toward manifestation. Unfortunately this tendancy consistantly moves us to create armageddons, (imbalance) to prod along the return of our idea of Jesus, (balance). A dangerous fence to walk.
I would tell the child the truth, both times. Yes, there was a Santa Clause. He was known in his day as Saint Nicholas and was a very generous servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Eventually he died-- and went to heaven.
I would ask the child what they thought and told them if that's what they think then they have a right to believe that.
Well seeing as I was raised never believing in Santa for the very start, I want to raise my kind like that. So I imagine I won't get that question very often, if ever.
As to Heaven I would have to tell that I do belive in Heaven. But I would encourage them to look into it a learn about it for themselves and make their own opinion (exercise their free will).
I don't have children, and won't. The child in question would have to be someone else's, so in both instances I'd ask them what their parents say.

Okay, that's a cop-out. Assuming the kid is mine... not sure how that would come about, but for the sake of discussion...

Heaven: I'd say, "lots of people believe lots of different things about heaven, what it's like, and if it's there at all. Here's what I believe.... "

Santa: I'd say, "you get your presents every year, what do you care if he's real or not, you ungrateful little brat?". Okay, not really...I'd tell 'em Santa's real in the same way the Velvateen Rabbit is real. Hopefully the kid would have enough empathy for the velvateen rabbit so that he wouldn't feel like he'd been decieved all his life on the Santa deal.
If she's old enough to ask about Santa, she's old enough to be told the truth. I would tell her how great the spirit of Santa is & what it means to people.
As far as God is concerned, I'd tell her God means so much & so many different things to so many people, that later she will have to make up her own mind.
She would already know that I believed there is a God that is literally everything in the universe.
My problem has been identifying "the age of reason" with today's youth. They learn very slowly until about the age of twelve, then enter a surge of great intelligence until the age of sixteen whereupon they know every thing.

Not too long after sixteen, they enter a stage of intelligence loss until around twenty five where they are totally bewildered.

I am thinking somewhere around forty they will be of the age of reason. By that time, I will be too old to care whether they believe in Santa & God, or not.
I would say what I have told my daughter, that its the love of children that lives inside us and so Santa Claus is alive through this feeling
(although here in Greece is Saint Bill and not Santa Claus)
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