This is Why Atheists *Should* Teach Their Kids About Santa Claus December 22, 2013

This is Why Atheists *Should* Teach Their Kids About Santa Claus

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, explains reasons atheists should teach their kids about Santa:

What’s that? You think atheist parents should *not* teach their kids about Santa Claus? Well, there’s a video for that, too!

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next!

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  • Jeremiah Traeger

    Funnily enough, a few weeks before I became an atheist, I came to the conclusion for myself that I would’t ever tell my kids about Santa because I would never want to be dishonest to them.

  • FlyingFree333

    Teach a kid magical thinking during their formative years and they will grow up with that mode of thought, teach them critical thinking early on and make them much better equipped to deal with reality.

  • Castilliano

    You don’t have to make Santa any more real than you do Dora, Kermit, or Spongebob. He’s a character, and it doesn’t diminish their love of him any more than it does of those others.

  • KrisDStar

    Little kids naturally have magical thinking. It is part of normal child development. Children can’t effectively use logic until they are at least in first grade.

  • ahermit

    When my kids asked about Santa …or God for that matter…I didn’t try to teach them anything. I just asked them “what do YOU think?”

  • You are supposed to ask them “where you there?”

  • My daughter grew up thinking Santa was real and she is now agnostic.

  • ok. haven’t watched the “don’t teach Santa” vid yet, i wanted to give you my own reasons before seeing someone else’s.

    but i disagree with this video. the strongest argument is #2, and i can respect that one. but my own experience, as an atheist raised in a pretty much nonreligious household, is a negative one, when it comes to xmas and santa.

    my first objection: consumerism. “santa” is basically a way of mythologizing the consumerist experience. once a year, children experience an orgy of gifts! there are so many reasons why this is objectionable. where, how and by whom were these gifts made? (slaves or neo-slaves in horrible working conditions in 3rd world countries, mostly). then there is the environmental angle. a plastic toy that a child will lose interest in in just a few short years- the very definition of “throw away culture” that fills our landfills. teaching kids that they must be consumers who “need” something new every year, every birthday, every month… no. this is not a good lesson.

    my second objection: teaching kids it’s OK to lie. you’re right, it’s an eye opening and maturing experience to learn your parents will lie to you. i guess you can argue that lesson has value, but in this way? “we love you! so we lied to you and manipulated your strongest childhood desires, for our own amusement.” don’t ever forget that the people who say “Santa is for the children” the most, are the parents, who get off in part in seeing how “successful” they are, because they can litter the base of a tree with boxes, once a year. that’s not the best message i can think of, to send to kids.

    which leads to my next objection: how it makes poor children feel, in our culture of “what did you get for xmas?” i remember that, very well. rich kids routinely make poor kids feel bad about themselves this time of year because their parents could afford more than the poor parents can. these are scars that can last a lifetime, if you’re poor.

    finally: the race element. as has been in the news about the War on Christmas this year, everyone knows “Santa is White.” sure, a lot of nonwhite families will use representations of nonwhite Santas, but for the most part, “Santa” is presented to children as an old white men. i love old white men! they are awesome. but i do recall being a child and thinking, “Gosh. is there a magical gift giving person who looks like my mom? no? why is that?”

    i have no problem teaching children that this is a season that traditionally, and because of MANY traditions of different origins, this is a time to exchange gifts and cheer and family. but i was very, very disappointed to realize that in my family, my otherwise rational, science based parents were willing to lie, hide things from me, and pretend to believe in things that adults mock when among themselves. i felt… i dunno. intellectually assaulted. i will never forget watching thru a hole in our house, the year i figured it out, mom and dad putting the gifts under the tree. they didn’t know i was awake, and we were having construction done that hear so i could see the downstairs thru a grate opening in the middle of the night on dec 24. they were drinking and laughing and mocking the whole holiday narrative. it was shocking and made me very sad.

    lying to my best friend for the next two years also made me feel dirty. she didn’t figure it out for another couple of seasons, being in a xtian family that really pushed this stuff.

  • Madison Blane

    Exactly! Kids are so imaginative at that age. Let them imagine! It’s a STORY. Depriving your kids of Santa is like refusing to read them fairy tales simply because they’re not real.

  • wallofseparation

    I have taught my kids about Santa and as they grew it became a lesson in looking at a story and the evidence and determining the best answer. This has prepared them with a healthy dose of creativity AND skepticism as they have grown…

  • Glasofruix

    Father Winter > Santa Fatsos

  • Madison Blane

    Teaching your kids to use their imagination is a precursor to letting them think for themselves enhancing their ability to think critically and deal with the abstract later in life. Study early childhood development and psychology and you’ll find out that imaginative stories are a natural part of a kid’s normal developmental process. Are you going to refuse to read you kids any story that isn’t based on reality and evidence?

  • Makoto

    It may sound funny, but I figured out the truth about Santa before my parents knew I had.. they were having fun pretending to be Santa, so my brother and I decided to let them have that fun a bit longer.

  • Madison Blane

    Letting them be imaginative isn’t lying to them. Parents pretend to drink invisible tea during a tea party and pretend that plastic cups are delicate china – that’s not lying. Parents pretend with their kids that a blanket held up by two kitchen chairs is a fort in the woods – that’s not lying. Elf on the Shelf ‘comes alive’ and has mischievous adventures through the night – dropping him in the flour for your kids to find him isn’t lying to them. And neither is telling them stories and reading them books about Santa, or the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy or any other of the ridiculous stories kids realize aren’t real later in life. It is encouraging imaginative play, just like letting them tell you about their imaginary friend, and it is a critical part of their development. You’re all welcome to tell your kids whatever you like, but please don’t hold back because you think play-acting with them is somehow dishonest or deceitful.

  • BillyJoe

    Agreed with Castilliano. Kids don’t have to believe to join in the fun.

  • Nathan Knows

    Hi, I just wanted to address your first point. My girl goes through her toys the day we bring the tree from the balcony in (to decorate) and fills up a box of her toys to give to Santa (which we donate). Santa then gives them to other kids. What she thinks is that her gifts from santa are other kid’s old toys(which is often true anyway) Our tree is to celebrate winter in the same way we plant flowers to celebrate spring. It’s all good and very not religious.

  • Jaynee

    Thank you so much for your insightful video Hemant. I have a son who is in 1st grade, and your advice is a brilliant way for me to encourage, acknowledge, and honor his critical thinking skills as he starts to piece together “The Santa Mystery.”

  • Brian Macker

    Oh please.

  • revyloution

    I’ve always thought it was bizarre that you would lie to your children about anything.
    I guess parents have the right to deceive their children about anything, but I find Hemants logic to be lacking. Should I also teach them that the Earth is flat so they can discover that I was lying to them?

  • revyloution

    Right on. This is exactly how I treated it with my daughter.

  • (I have not watched the video yet b/c I can’t find my headphones.) I don’t know what I’m going to do about the whole Santa thing. I disagree with the entire premise that all the good things about Santa have to be outgrown. I mentioned not wanting to teach my kids that Santa is real, and my best friend immediately jumped on me with “Oh, so you’re just going to throw them right into the harsh realities of the world?” And I was, like, “No… why does that have to be the only alternative?” Either A) the world sucks or B) Santa is real and the world is magical! for exactly 10 years, and then the world sucks. Like, seriously, there’s got to be a better way, right?

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