I lost the argument with my wife. Should we encourage our children’s faith in Santa Claus? I was concerned that doing so might later undermine both our credibility as parents and our children’s belief in God.
It may not be a conversation that most couples have. Then again, must couples don’t include a former Jehovah’s Witness who was raised without holidays. As a child, I absorbed the cold hard truth dispensed from my parents. There was no Santa Claus. Other children’s parents cruelly lied to them. The privilege of knowing the truth served as consolation for receiving no presents.
Though I’ve long since rejected Jehovah’s Witness beliefs, my parents’ reasoning regarding the Santa fantasy lingered. Is there value in believing in something which is not true?
That question deserves careful consideration, and serves as a check against adult beliefs. In our postmodern, politically correct society, we commonly hear ecumenical equivocations like, “There are many paths to God.” While sharing my Christian faith, friends have more than once told me, “That’s your truth.” That rebuke stops short of saying my faith is false, claiming only that it is no more or less true than any other. But if that proves somehow valid, if one person’s faith in a flying spaghetti monster is no more or less true than my faith in Jesus Christ, what value is there in holding to either?
“Exactly!” an atheist might say. “Faith in Jesus is no better than faith in either Santa Claus or the flights of a pasta god.”
In Leonard Peikoff’s The Ominous Parallels, the ardent atheist and intellectual heir to objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand defines faith as the opposite of reason:
“Faith” designates blind acceptance of a certain ideational content, acceptance induced by feeling in the absence of evidence or proof.
Were this our working definition, I could agree that faith in anything is useless. However, this narrow view of faith does not encompass how the word is used in our culture. When a husband expresses faith in his wife, is he necessarily doing so in the absence of evidence? Or is his faith a bet made on the basis of past experience and intimate knowledge of her characteristics? Either scenario is possible, and surely men and women have been known to invest faith blindly. However, as a friend to a married person, we would not encourage blind faith in the same manner we would that informed by evidence.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and a group of Northern factory workers rushed the victim Nicholas (last name removed to keep his actual identity confidential) to the emergency room. Doctors treated the patient for broken bones after a horrible beating by a gang of schoolchildren. He had been robbed and his sleigh hijacked. The police arrested six suspects. Prosecutors are considering charging these juveniles with grand larceny and aggravated assault.
This sounds more like a horror story fit for Halloween night than a tale meant for a blessed Christmas morning. Then again, it’s eerily something that could have been pulled right out of today’s newspaper.
It makes me think of an old Indian proverb: “Give a stick and in turn get beaten.” In other words, those who try to help in the wrong way can end up causing a problem for themselves. Democrats talk a lot about “helping people.” They expand the federal government because they claim they have a benevolent motive to help others, but they don’t realize how to really help. An overweight Uncle Sam giving away more than he can afford means there are two poor people now, not just one. Don’t walk softly by being naively generous only to get beaten by your own stick.
Democrats like to play up the lie that they are the only compassionate ones in politics. I encountered this misconception firsthand. As a freshman in college, I didn’t really talk about politics much, but one day a friend on my floor interrogated me, “Are you a Republican or a Democrat?” When I told her that I leaned right, she commented, “You can’t be! You are so nice!”
Unfortunately, this friend of mine assumed that Republicans are the mean girls and Democrats the nice ones.
The myth about compassion is something that the Left likes to perpetuate, and this time of the year it may be appropriate to challenge one of their common communication strategies. The Democratic National Committee acts as if it is the Santa Claus Party. Overcome by their bleeding hearts, Democrats tell all the less fortunate people that the government will give everyone (and not just minorities) gifts. The party sells the idea that big government should be our almighty gift-giver and everyone can be the recipients of these gifts. Yes, it’s nice to receive something nicely wrapped up with a bow. It may be signed, sealed, and delivered by the president. The question is: who paid for this gift?
In my last article, “6 Lies You Should Tell Your Kids,” I explained my definition of a “legal” fib:
One day, with a little more age and maturity, he will not only realize I lied, but also understand why — all in the span of one epiphany.
As a child’s logic and understanding of the world develop, the fable’s truth materializes. Maturity comes with his newly acquired wisdom and understanding, not devastation at the loss of a perceived reality.
By breaking this one simple rule, you risk delivering a major blow to his ability to trust.
Disclaimer: I’m not a psychologist — I don’t even play one on TV — but even I know the following lies, from the most common to the unbelievable, can deliver lifelong problems.
5.”Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus.”
I’m amazed by the complaints of former children who still resent their parents’ attempts to create a magical Christmas. The lie (obviously a family tradition) once exposed casts a round, but dark, shadow over their relationship with their parents. For some, this experience shaped their parenting philosophy. This single fabrication has produced enough backlashes to merit a place on this list.
In a powerful blog post titled “The Devastating Power of Lies in a Relationship,” Donald Miller shares his experience of being lied to by two friends. Within his analysis of his own feelings, he articulates some universal truths about deception and its impact on our relationships. Although he writes of lies between friends, they still hold true for children.
When my friends lied, I felt disrespected and unimportant. They didn’t seem to care about me or trust me enough to tell the truth. This made me feel bad about myself, as though I were not important or trustworthy enough to be told the truth.
When I found out the extent of one of the lies, I felt like a fool. … I felt tricked and deceived. Again, without meaning to, she’d made me feel bad about myself because I felt like somebody who could be conned.
The extent that some children experience these feelings relates to both the depth they believed in the story and the degree parents fought to preserve the illusion. There always comes a time for truth to replace childhood fantasy. Parents cross the line of trust when the child believed the parent over his own better judgment.
I do not believe in telling lies to children or to anyone else. The sole exception would be lies told to save innocent human life: telling the Gestapo (or the lynch mob) that you don’t know where their intended victim is.
For instance, tell your children the truth about “Santa Claus.” The life of Saint Nikola of Myra is a far more inspiring story than any folk legend about “Santa Claus” could ever be. “Saint Nick” is a man that you and your children should try to emulate! The real “Saint Nick” was a HERO who fought against tyranny and injustice.
This is also the path my children have taken for their families as well– so far with no known harmful side effects.
However, a truth told in exaggeration is still a lie that can hurt…