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Santa Claus

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nakulanb
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Infancy stands in great contrast to adulthood in many ways.  The role of the parent is to provide for the child and oversee that tremendous transformation from an undeveloped nonrational dependent (indeed helpless) baby through to a fully mature (hopefully flourishing) rational independent adult.

Santa Claus, stands with the baby bottle, the soother, the fluffy blanket, the picture books, and the ignorance of harshnesses of reality which accompany adulthood and which are generally inappropriate and/or too complex for a toddler to understand. 

Santa represents the bounty of virtue, the reward for being good and psychologically IS a bigger than life metaphor for the parents.  As children move from dependency upon the parents, Santa will naturally fall away but the sense of reward and bounty will live on in self dependency and a sense of life that takes reality itself as benevolent... in that sense the child becomes his own parents and in a way  his own Santa.

Belief in a Santa being real, like the toys of youth, is perfectly fine when left behind appropriately as childhood things... but the idea and the sense of Santa is not inimical to life... but can be a valuable lesson for it. 

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I play a game with my son called real or imaginary...  I say a word like “platypus” or “unicorn” or “skeleton” or “ghost” and he categorizes it by saying “real” or “imaginary”.  He’s smart enough now that he says “extinct” for dinosaurs because they no longer exist.  We have a lot of fun and superstitions like curses and ghosts are correctly identified as imaginary.  

I always am careful not to denigrate imaginary things as such, reminding him that pretending things and imagination are fun... but in the end some things are real and others simply are not.

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5 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

Lying to them imposes and/or reinforces a shift in their focal orientation from objective reality to subjective fantasy. 

Surprisingly enough, the opposite is true (it depends what you mean by lying though). There is no empirical evidence that telling kids all about fantasy in any way harms their orientation towards reality or comprehension of what is real or not. Kids are quite able to do this on their own, they don't require adults to help them understand what is real or not when it comes to things they see (or don't see)  in everyday life. If anything, this type of fantasy enhances orientation towards reality in the sense that they are practicing making the distinction between what is right there in front of them, versus things they don't actually have evidence for. They might not have a sophisticated way to talk about unseen versus unseen things, but they are never confused about what is real or not. Kids certainly have a sense of wonder about the imaginary, but they are learning over time exactly what it means for something to be imaginary. 

The same goes for imaginary friends. You can play along with the kid pretending that the imaginary friend is there, even going as far as to set up a place at the kitchen table. This isn't lying; it's pretending. It's not like you would be trying to convince the kid that the imaginary friend really is there. You don't have to remind the kid that it is pretend, they already understand that. The empirical evidence about this is that kids with imaginary friends have superior social skills to kids that do not, without any kind of cognitive deficit or issue whatsoever. Imagination is a very useful thing!

Telling kids about Santa is no different than telling them about the Grinch, or reading any Dr. Seuss book. Some sort of extreme lying like very extravagant ploys or adamantly arguing that Santa really is real probably wouldn't be good though. Leaving out cookies, having them write a list, saying that the reindeer are coming at midnight, these are the equivalent of playing along for fun.

 

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19 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Surprisingly enough, the opposite is true (it depends what you mean by lying though). There is no empirical evidence that telling kids all about fantasy in any way harms their orientation towards reality or comprehension of what is real or not. Kids are quite able to do this on their own, they don't require adults to help them understand what is real or not when it comes to things they see (or don't see)  in everyday life. If anything, this type of fantasy enhances orientation towards reality in the sense that they are practicing making the distinction between what is right there in front of them, versus things they don't actually have evidence for. They might not have a sophisticated way to talk about unseen versus unseen things, but they are never confused about what is real or not. Kids certainly have a sense of wonder about the imaginary, but they are learning over time exactly what it means for something to be imaginary. 

The same goes for imaginary friends. You can play along with the kid pretending that the imaginary friend is there, even going as far as to set up a place at the kitchen table. This isn't lying; it's pretending. It's not like you would be trying to convince the kid that the imaginary friend really is there. You don't have to remind the kid that it is pretend, they already understand that. The empirical evidence about this is that kids with imaginary friends have superior social skills to kids that do not, without any kind of cognitive deficit or issue whatsoever. Imagination is a very useful thing!

Telling kids about Santa is no different than telling them about the Grinch, or reading any Dr. Seuss book. Some sort of extreme lying like very extravagant ploys or adamantly arguing that Santa really is real probably wouldn't be good though. Leaving out cookies, having them write a list, saying that the reindeer are coming at midnight, these are the equivalent of playing along for fun.

The difference between imaginary friends and Santa is that the kid invented the friend whereas the parent tells the child about Santa.  Fiction works are known to be make-believe as well.

Edited by nakulanb
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