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Hi everyone!

I have 2 great kids who are 9 and 6. They both still believe in Santa, the Easter bunny, and tooth fairy...well at least they say they do. I have doubts about my son (the 9 y.o.).

 

For a while now I have been feeling bad about keeping up the ruse. Every now and again they will ask questions and I just feel so guilty about brushing them off or outright lying to them. When they ask questions about other topics I never lie. I always answer their questions to the best of my abilities in a way they understand, but when it comes to these stupid traditions, I just can't seem to bring myself to tell the truth.

 

My husband has mentioned having similar feelings though we've never talked about if we should break the news to the kids or not.

 

What's your take? What did you do with your children, or what was your experience as a child? I know I believed as a kid, but I honestly can't remember when I found out the truth.

 

Should I answer their questions truthfully or keep it going until it runs it's course?

Tags: EasterBunny, Santa, ToothFairy

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Good grief.  It's only three weeks a year and every kid knows Santa is going to give them presents anyway. The other 49 weeks a year (and even during the three before Christmas), parents are the bad guys all the time.  We are the people who make kids take a bath, get shots, do homework, clean their rooms, eat foods they don't like, etc.  If a person  happens to have a teenager, all they ever get to do is be the bad guy and constantly wrong about every subject.  Believe me, as a parent, we get plenty of bad guy time - every single freaking day.
If the child thought they were getting presents no matter how they behaved, than their good behavior has nothing to do with Santa. One possibility is that they like the holidays, the food, and the presents, and hanging with their cousins makes them happy, and happy people are less likely to revolt against the rule of law, which here is the parent. So telling them Santa is the one who won't give them presents if they misbehave, is irrelevant. They would feel the same as if you told them you were the one not giving them presents if they misbehaved.
Again, what I write and what you read seem to be at odds...so I'll make this brief:
I am totally okay with a few lies. We all lie, it's what holds society together. Kids are born lying, ask any parent. It's an instinct. All I care about it teaching him the proper time and way to lie.

It is not the parents job to brainwash anyone. It is the parents job to provide food, clothing, and shelter; a basic education; and the social skills (including lying) to survive in the world. I can raise a freethinking kid who can decide on his own which norms he chooses and which he rejects.

I never said I wanted to escape being the bad guy. In fact, I never said I did anything, I said that some families require different approaches than others.

Natural consequences have zero to do with religion. You don't change the oil in your car, the engine seizes: natural consequence. It's what happens after an action or inaction. If my kid keeps his room a mess and then can't find the item he wants in said mess: natural consequence. The consequence that arises naturally. No religion at all. Actually, the exact opposite of religion, because there are only reality based consequences.

I also never claimed wanted to never be a bad guy, I said that one can't always be the bad guy. (See the difference between never and always?) The time has no magical powers, and you are the naive one if you think a kid thinks it does. It just takes the personal out of the equation: it isn't the parent forcing the kid to stop, it's a neutral third party (the timer) that indicates the stopping time. That's why parents set rules, so there is advance knowledge on the kids part about what is happening. It's time to go to bed because it is eight o'clock, not because the parent is making you. Might seem subtle but it makes a huge difference to a kid.

Hope this clears things up!

Brainwashing is the forceful change of a persons beliefs to another set of beliefs. Explain to me how what you do is different than brainwashing. You may be hung up on the colloquial understanding of brainwashing. Also, there is no such thing as a free thinker. You are definitely giving off religious vibes here. Humans are computers, they run on a program, DNA. Humans react to a given situation based on previous external input they received, consequences. What choice a human makes in a given situation is based on the weight assigned by evolution and experience to the various variables involved. An example:

Shots hurt, I want to avoid them as a child. After all who likes pain. But I am told that they will prevent a greater harm. If I can trust my parents, and believe them when they say this, I accept getting a shot with minimal physical coercion. If I have been given a reason not to trust my parent, whatever it may be, and depending on how strong it is, I will require more physical coercion.

 

Making a mess and therefore being unable to find something, is totally different than wanting to play video games, and being told you have to go to sleep. The natural course would be that you continue to play video games, and suffer the next day when you must wake up for school. This is a natural consequence in our closed system, a family, because school is mandatory based on a greater authority than the parent, society/government. If the timer goes off and the child doesn't stop, what exactly do you imagine the natural consequence to be? Hint: there isn't one. The timer going off means that you, the parent, are going to force them to stop, not that some impersonal force will impose a negative sanction.

 

My childhood is more recent than yours. And I know why the kid follows the timer, even if you are too old to remember. You previously established the timer as an unmoving rule. You may have used the timer in some other area, which would explain your child following the rule of the timer the first time you applied it to video games. That doesn't mean you aren't the bad guy. That means you successfully internalized the power of the timer previously. If your child did not stop the first time the timer went off, its unlikely that you just sat there and let him defy you, because he is defying you, and not the timer. Sorry. If in the specific instance of video games, he did defy you the first time, you punished him. Eventually he internalized the idea that you would not allow him to defy you in regards to the timer, and he followed the rule of the dings. The timer does not make you not the bad guy. It just means you successfully brainwashed your child, as all good parents do and should, to understand that there was a limit to his video game playing time.

 

In fact there is no neutral third party, the party is the child's eventual internal acceptance of the timer indicating that he will, with no deviation, receive a punishment for violating the rule of the timer. You were the bad guy when you established the power of the timer, as a symbol of your authority. You are now not the bad guy because there is no bad guy. Further if your child attacks the timer, he is still attacking you, and your authority, symbolically. When I burn a flag, or smash a timer, I am not blaming the flag for my oppression, I am blaming what it represents, my government.

 

Its not what you write and what I read that is at odds, its what you think, that the timer becomes the bad guy, it doesn't, and what actually happens, that there is no bad guy because your child has been brainwashed to accept that he has other things he needs to do besides play video games.

 

Hope this clears things up!

Sorry, I couldn't reply directly to you for some reason...

Fast answers: I'm not brainwashing, there is such a thing as a freethinker.

While school may be mandatory, Homeschooling is viable option that avoids the waking up early issue. The natural consequence for not listening to the timer is not that the parent forces a stop, it's that the parent won't let the kid play the next day because trust was broken. It isn't an order, it's a negotiation agreed upon prior to playing.

Punishment doesn't work long term, according to most studies. Rewards do work. Instead of setting up a punishment for not listening to the timer, one can set up a reward for listening. There isn't a punishment, there is a lack of reward. Simple, very effective, and no brainwashing.

What you are describing is not brainwashing, it's a very simple training. People do what works, they avoid what doesn't. Reward the right thing and punishment is unnecessary. Brainwashing is, as you describe, forcing a person to change beliefs drastically. Raising a child does not require that level of force, or such a change of beliefs, although some parents can certainly do so.

Humans are not computers: humans have emotions and can learn very quickly. If you touch a hot stove and burn your fingers you learn to avoid stoves. That isn't brainwashing, that's learning. If you get a shot that hurts, but after you get ice cream of cuddles or a new toy, you learn that shots are worth the reward.

It isn't religion, it's a basic understanding of how behaviors are formed and shaped and how people learn.

My kids believe in Santa and the Tooth fairy.  I'm think they're faking it about the Easter Bunny to get candy though.  It's fun.  It's harmless.  Someday other kids will tell them "the truth" just like they did me.  I was not especially traumatized over it.  The Tooth Fairy didn't bother me at all. 

 

Santa is the spirit of giving and love.  And that is very real.  The Tooth Fairy is probably some old pagan tradition that has lived on despite changes in management (i.e. religion). Terry Pratchett said it best in Hogfather.  Hogfather (Santa) is the little lie that allows us to believe in the big lies like justice and mercy. 

 

There is so little magic and wonder in modern life.  Why not let kids have a little for a little while? It's a given kids are going to grow out of it.  I think more parents are sad when their kids quit believing in Santa than kids are sad Santa isn't an actual person.  I've known many parents to have a good cry when Santa finally left the building for good.  It's certainly a sign a child is growing up and leaving the things of childhood behind. 

 

Naturally, it is an individual choice which every parent must make for themselves.  There's no right or wrong answer here.

What?  There's no justice, no mercy?  Run for the hills! ;)
Yep, that would be a side effect.  Just because you celebrate Christmas doesn't mean you have to do it the christian way.    I like christmas trees and lights and everything not christian about christmas.  I even like Santa Claus and look forward to watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer - the first time.
Me, too!  The fun parts of Easter (the eggs, bunnies, candy, spring, etc. part) and Christmas (essentially every single thing except the nativity and being dragged to a religious service) are entirely secular.  BTW, I could go on and on about the origins (not Christian) of Easter and Christmas, but I will spare everyone :)  I save that for religious people who ask me why I still celebrate Easter and Christmas, haha.

Dont worry about how your kids might tell others the truth, just also teach them about respect and saftey along with the truth.  I am a teacher and when kids ask me about it I say you will need to ask your parents about that.  Kids who upset other kids just need to learn how upsetting others on purpose is disrespectful.  No kid will be able to forsee what all their truths or beliefs will do to others yet if they know they are disturbing another they also need to know what to do about it.

I just recommend being honest. Yes they might be ticked, or they just very well might not care. My mother and grandmother did not even tell me Santa or the Easter Bunny existed. Their reasoning was "Jesus is important so lying to a kid about imaginary beings is setting them up to not believe you"

 

They didn't know how right they were >.>

 

When I have kids, I am going to teach it as a family plus history thing. I'm not even going to try and say santa claus to my imaginary kids because I'll start laughing.

Ok, I am going to answer this with out knowing any of your other comment here and then I am going to read some of them.  I do not have children of my own, I was a kid who was also lied to in the tradition of fantasy characters.  I don't think you want anyone to tell you that you are wrong.  You need to chose what you want for your kids and yourself.  Your kids will love you none the less if your intentions were for childhood fun, just don't let childhood fun turn into adulthood denial.  I personally would never have started telling my kids about fantasy characters for traditional holidays.  Yes I don't mind telling stories that are fantasy as long as they understand that it is in fact fantasy.  So how or when you decide to talk to your children about what is bothering you is all your choice.  This makes me wonder what your kids believe of religion or not because isn't this really one in the same?  If they do not believe in a god or some religion then the santa thing will be a lot easier to explain in my opionion.  If you feel guilty about it then say "sorry".  Saying sorry to something I feel bad about makes me feel better almost instant.  I will even say sorry to my dog if I did him wrong. 

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